Berlin/Brandenburg : six railway enterprises and many projects

(Version en français)

More space, more comfortable trains, faster and better connections, for passengers, Berlin-Brandenburg’s new transport plan includes many projects that will improve passenger rail transport in the years to come.

On 4 October 2017, the Lander of Berlin and Brandenburg signed with Deutsche Bahn AG the framework agreement « i 2030 » for the development of rail transport in Berlin and Brandenburg. This step becomes concrete because the national parliament deliberates on the supplementary budget and thus on the financing of the first measures.

The time for cancellations is over. The 2018 rail traffic plan provides for an additional 10 million train kilometers in the next ten years. In other words, we will make more connections, put more trains on the rails, develop infrastructure and improve the quality of service. We do not just want to make a bigger but better offer, with a better bus and train service, a wireless LAN on trains and more accessibility. To achieve all this, we need to invest in the infrastructure that we have already developed. The new plan is an important step to the implementation of the 2030 mobility strategy.’

Rail transport in the Berlin region.

The greater Berlin area consists of two Lander: Berlin and Brandenburg. The VVB is the transport organizing authority (AOT) covering the two Lander.. It is a private limited company owned jointly by the states of Berlin and Brandenburg (with one third each) and the 18 counties and cities of Brandenburg with 1.85% each. It was founded on 30 December 1996. VBB is one of the largest transport associations in Europe based on the area covered of 30,367 km² with nearly 6 million inhabitants. Common ticketing was launched on 1 April 1999 on a 27.561 km network including :

– 499 km of tram

– 146 km of underground

– 557 km of S-Bahn and

– 3.461 km of regional trains

This network, which also includes 906 bus lines, transported in 2017 nearly 1.47 billion, or 4 million passengers per day.

One the 16 KISS trainsets from ODEG at Berlin-Schönefeld (photo Frank Paukstat via licence flickr)

Like in London, the entire network is shared by many railway companies, including the legendary S-Bahn:

– Deutsche Bahn (DB)

– S-Bahn Berlin (DB subsidiary)


– Hanseatische Eisenbahn (HANS)



The i2030 project

So far, the Lander development plan, the public transport plan and the draft mobility strategy have not been sufficient and, above all, insufficiently ambitious targets for the quality of regional rail transport between Berlin and the Brandenburg cities. However, the Berlin-Brandenburg Capital Region is developing very dynamically.The number of commuters is increasing. The additional rail service orders have repeatedly exceeded the limits of the infrastructure. In the Berlin-Brandenburg region, several extension projects have been launched, such as the extension of Karower Kreuz or Dresdner Bahn. But more needs to be done.

In order to launch the necessary planning processes, the Land of Berlin and Brandenburg have signed a framework agreement with Deutsche Bahn AG in October 2017 for an infrastructure development concept called i2030. This agreement plans to study and develop eight lines:

  • Berlin-Spandau-Nauen
  • Tramway de Potsdam
  • Prignitz Express / Velten
  • Nordbahn / Heidekrautbahn
  • RE1
  • Berlin-Dresde / Rangsdorf
  • Berlin-Cottbus / station Königs Wusterhausen
  • Élimination des goulots d’étranglement et développement du réseau S-Bahn (par exemple, Wannsee-Griebnitzsee).

The Brandenburg Ministry of Transport has drawn up a list of 80 projects for which the Land wants to invest 36 million in the current 2018 budget. This shows the importance of regional power in German transport.

Most of the measures are aimed primarily at implementing accessibility and expanding cycling and hiking options as well as parking options. At peak times, the capacity must also be increased on several lines. The measures provided for the new 2018 transport plan are adapted accordingly. The share of the alone Land of Brandenburg in regional and suburban railway traffic in 2017 achieves 35 million train-kilometers. Traffic will be increased by 10 million train-kilometers over the next 10 years.

Dmu Talent Bombardier VT 565 from NEB, another rail operator of the VBB (Berlin-Wannsee, photo Frank Paukstat via licence flickr)

Other improvements of the transport offer are still under study. The implementation of these measures will increase the performance of approximately 2 million train kilometers from 35 to 37 million over the next two years. From December 2022, additional offers and decreases of travel times are planned.

Beyond project i2030

Beyond the Berlin suburban network, extension by new tracks is necessary. The Federal Government and Deutsche Bahn AG are involved in projects that improve traffic conditions in the rural areas of the capital region.


Various instruments are available to finance the projects. The use of public funds should be increased gradually. With the reorganization of regionalization funds decided in 2016, the Lander have financial security until 2031. From the mid-2020s, spending will increasingly exceed the available regionalization funds. Therefore, others funds for public transport will have to be used.

The same goes for investments in infrastructure, such as the extension of railway stations or the construction of P + R car parks. Since 2013, the State has used a considerable part of what is called unbundled funds for that investments. The Public Transportation Act was revised in 2017, and unbundled funds will no longer be provided directly by the federal government from 2019. The new policy contains provisions and adaptations necessary to help counties and cities become « municipal » public transport authorities.

The objective of transport policy is to continue to promote investment in public transport from 2020. In 2018, 36 million euros will be spent on 80 projects. For example, the reconstruction of Cottbus station, two new bus stops in Brandenburg on the Havel and a new Park and Ride car park in Tuckow. Additional funds will be made available to the transport authorities for the implementation of accessibility in trams, buses and transit stops. This helps to facilitate entry and exit in vehicles for people with reduced mobility.

Reconfiguration de la place de la garede Cottbus (press photo)

Other measures are added to this panel. Berlin is crossing the border and extending its services to Poland. The expansion of cross-border rail traffic beyond the Oder River is also part of the projects. But it does not end only in the transport sector.

Living near train stations

The development of new towns and neighborhoods along the railway lines is also planned, which is new. Finally, housing is associated with transportation. It also supports an affordable urban development and housing strategy, the development of city centers and station environments. The surroundings of Berlin have developed dynamically. The Falkensee / Brieselang region is one of the most promising areas. The particularly fast connection to regional traffic in Berlin’s city center, which has been built since the mid-1990s, has clearly played the role of growth driver for the city and the entire region.

The clear majority of citizens of Brandenburg live – unlike many Berliners – not in villages, but in small or medium-sized cities, ie in urban and peri-urban structures 20 or 40 minutes from the capital. More than 2.45 million people in the state of Brandenburg live in this type of urbanization, which represents 80% of the population. This is why urbanization is part of a larger plan that combines the i2030 public transport project.

With its projects, Berlin is trying to upgrade face to major German cities such as Frankfurt or Munich. We will have the opportunity later to see in detail the promising development of this region.

The legendary S-Bahn of Berlin, today a subsidiary of DB, at Berlin-Ostbahnhof (photo Schnitzel Bank via license flickr)