Upgrading of the Löwenberg – Templin line, and possible restoration of the line on to Prenzlau, are part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction, on new rail infrastructure north of Berlin.
The single-track Löwenberg – Templin – Prenzlau line connects to the main line north from Berlin (Nordbahn). The junction station at Löwenberg is about 45 km from central Berlin, so the line is not remote. Until the Nordbahn in Berlin itself is restored, however, trains must use the outer rail ring (Berliner Aussenring, BAR), increasing journey times. The 34 km section Löwenberg – Templin Stadt is still in use, for RegionalBahn line RB12 from Berlin-Lichtenberg. The remaining 41 km to Prenzlau were last used (for freight) in 2003, and the track may soon be lifted. Even then, the alignment should be available: this is a thinly populated rural area, and it would not be built over.
The station at Fährkrug on the abandoned section: image by Global Fish under CC 3.0 licence…
Electrification of the branch to Templin is a logical extension of earlier proposals here. Restoration of the Nordbahn in Berlin, and upgrading of the line northwards, was proposed here earlier as part of a high-speed rail line Berlin – Rostock via Neubrandenburg. The proposed regional rail line Neuruppin – Eberswalde would combine the existing Neuruppin – Löwenberg line, with new infrastructure from Löwenberg to Ruhlsdorf. It would require reconstruction of Löwenberg station, minimally with separate tracks for high-speed trains, and a grade-separated crossing. It would be logical to grade-separate the junction toward Templin at the same time.
Click to enlarge: The line to Templin, early 20th century, from an Austro-Hungarian military map.
At 80 km from central Berlin, Templin would be within commuting distance, on a upgraded line. That is not the case at present: journey time is 90 minutes by changing at Löwenberg, otherwise 110 minutes. With journey times of about an hour, the increased traffic would justify the upgrading. The line would be electrified, and the present minimal infrastructure improved, for a line speed of about 120 km/h. Four existing stations serve housing: Zehdenick, Zehdenick-Neuhof, Templin and Templin Stadt. The halts at Bergsdorf, Vogelsang and Hammelspring together serve about a thousand inhabitants, and would not justify anything more than a basic platform.
The halt at Vogelsang, population 104: image by Global Fish under CC 3.0 licence…
The present line ends at Templin Stadt, close to the town centre. Because of the minimal population, reopening of the Templin – Prenzlau section can only be justified in a wider context.
In principle, the line offers a secondary freight route, connecting the Stralsund / Szczecin regions with the Nordbahn line into Berlin. That would only be necessary, however, if the line through Eberswalde and the Berliner Aussenring were overloaded. For passengers, the line has no inter-regional function: the main north-south lines offer better options.
Re-opening would require restoration of track, with modern signaling. No major work in needed. The alignment in Prenzlau would be left as it is, with a 4 km diversion around the town, into the main station. Because the old town is built beside a lake, there is no alternative alignment. A restored Prenzlau Vorstadt station would serve the centre.
The existing service to Templin uses simple diesel units. After upgrading, it would be served by ‘outer-suburban’ electric trains. Templin is a logical terminus for such a service, so even if the line was electrified for freight, extension to Prenzlau is not a good idea. Simple restoration of the former service, with diesel trains all the way from Berlin, is not an option.
What would be possible, is a shuttle service Templin – Prenzlau, with one or two stops. The extra time to change trains is acceptable, because most journeys will be within a limited region: the western half of Landkreis Uckermark, and the southern half of Landkreis Oberhavel. With a low density of population, around 15 persons/km2, only one intermediate station would be justified, probably at Hassleben.
That option could be combined with reopening of the line through Lychen to Fürstenberg, but that has minimal priority. In fact, restoration of the Templin – Eberswalde service (via Joachimsthal) seems more important, than restoration of the Templin – Prenzlau service.