Regional rail line Oranienburg – Eberswalde

This regional rail line Oranienburg – Eberswalde is part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction, on new rail infrastructure north of Berlin.

Oranienburg (population 42 000), and Eberswalde (population 41 000), are both within commuting distance of Berlin. Oranienburg is closer to Berlin, and is the terminus of S-Bahn line S1. Eberswalde is beyond the built-up area, far enough to have an InterCity service. At present, a journey between them requires three changes of train. A new tangential regional line Oranienburg – Eberswalde, could link to other restored and upgraded tangential infrastructure, on the periphery of Berlin.

Regional rail line using former alignments, between Oranienburg and Eberswalde

There is no historical precedent for this line. There was a line east from Oranienburg, built as part of the Güteraussenring, the predecessor of the present outer rail ring (Berliner Aussenring, BAR). At Wensickendorf, it joined the older Heidekrautbahn, a local line north from Berlin. From Eberswalde, there was a local industrial railway to Finowfurt (EFE).

There was, however, no through line. A new line could use sections of those three, but would require new alignment to link them. The line would cross both branches of the Heidekrautbahn, to Gross Schönebeck and Liebenwalde (disused), but it can not replace their radial function.

The project can be combined with a new regional rail line Neuruppin – Eberswalde, sharing the section through Finow and Eberswalde.

Alignment Oranienburg – Eberswalde

The proposal is a double-track electrified regional line. Trains would start at Oranienburg station, and use the existing Nordbahn main line to Sachsenhausen. The line had a third track for freight, but four tracks would be preferable here. North of Sachsenhausen station, the old Güteraussenring turns east toward Schmachtenhagen. This section is disused, but is outside the built-up area, and in principle available for a new line.

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Regional rail line on former freight ring line, east of Oranienburg.

The line from Schmachtenhagen, which is used occasionally, turns south-east toward Wensickendorf. A new alignment would begin here, and run south of Zehlendorf. It would cross the former Liebenwalde branch, but the most suitable site for a station is where it crosses the road. Reopening of the Liebenwalde branch is problematic, even after the planned restoration of the Heidekrautbahn inside Berlin, so this would probably be the only station here.

The line would pass through Stolzenhagen, cutting through Dorfstrasse. There is only one street here, in this small village, but some demolition is inevitable. This section can run in cutting, minimising environmental impact. This alignment makes it possible to join the existing Heidekrautbahn line south of Klosterfelde. (This is the branch to to Gross Schönebeck).

New line Oranienburg - Eberswalde, using Heidekrautbahn at Klosterfelde.

Trains would serve the existing station at Klosterfelde, and the halt at Lottschesee. The new line would then turn east, off the existing line, and run north of Ruhlsdorf, avoiding a gravel pit. The line would pass south of Marienwerder, with a station at the southern edge of the built-up area.

The line would then cross the Autobahn A11towards Finowfurt. There was a freight siding here, but the abandoned underpass under the motorway is not well aligned for the new line. It would cross further north – or possibly further south, with the line then running alongside a former Soviet barracks (in yellow).

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Regional rail line from Oranienburg using old EFE line at Finowfurt.

The new alignment would join the former industrial railway to Eberswalde, near the old Finowfurt station. The site, on the main road south (Biesenthaler Strasse) is suitable for a new station. Most of the abandoned alignment in Finowfurt is also still available.

The new line would use the old alignment north of the airfield, also a former Soviet facility. A new Finow station would be sited at the crossing with the Biesenthaler Strasse (not the same one as in Finowfurt). The old railway ran through what is now the built-up area of Finow and Eberswalde, but the new line is not intended for urban traffic. (The existing Eberswalde trolleybus line is a better alternative). Instead, the new rail line would follow the southern edge of the built-up area, past Finow and the Brandenburgisches Viertel (GDR high-rise housing). On that last section, parallel to Lausitzerstrasse, there would be a new station, at the south end of Potsdamer Allee.

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Partially reopened EFE line, and new alignment, in Finow and Eberswalde.

The line would then cross a forested area, to join the main Berlin – Szczecin line, about 1 km from the station. If services terminate at Eberswalde, there is sufficient room for extra tracks on the eastern side. Otherwise, a grade-separated junction with the main line would be needed. Eberswalde Hauptbahnhof is west of the town centre and, 45 km from Berlin. The station offers interchange with long-distance and regional services on the Szczecin line, but also with the tangential line to Frankfurt (Oder). Because the new line enters Eberswalde from the south, trains from Oranienburg could continue on a upgraded version of that line.

Eberswalde – Frankfurt (Oder) railway, image by NordNordWest under CC 3.0 licence

However, the resulting 130-km line would not be a true ‘outer circle’, because the distance from central Berlin varies from 30 to 80 km. It would not connect to the equivalent on the western side of Berlin, the Neuruppin – Rathenow – Brandenburg route. It might be better to separate the two services.

The new Oranienburg – Eberswalde line would be about 45 km long. Line speeds would be higher than on existing regional lines such as the Heidekrautbahn, and with about ten intermediate stations, journey time would be around 40-45 minutes.

Regional rail line Oranienburg – Eberswalde

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