Gleisbauer arbeiten am Mittwoch (18.03.2009) auf dem mit neuen Schwellen ausgerüstetem Hauptgleis in der Nähe von Hagenow Land (Ludwigslust). Die Bahn hat mit dem lange angekündigten Austausch defekter Schwellen auf der Hochgeschwindigkeitsstrecke Hamburg-Berlin begonnen. Insgesamt müssten 250.000 Schwellen ausgetauscht werden. Wegen fehlerhafter Betonmischungen hätten diese statt der üblichen 25 nur etwa 12 Jahre gehalten, so die Bahn. Foto: Jens Büttner dpa/lmv/lno +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

The problems of Deutsche Bahn with concrete sleepers on their tracks after the train accident in Garmisch-Partenkirchen also affect Berlin’s most important logistics hub. Due to a short-term closure of the route by the railway subsidiary DB Netz AG, the Westhafen, the largest location of the Berliner Hafen- und Lagerhausgesellschaft (Behala), is currently no longer accessible by rail. This was confirmed by Behala boss Petra Cardinal to the Tagesspiegel. First, the “Berliner Zeitung” reported about it.

“The route closure includes access from the Berlin Moabit train station to the Berlin Hamburg Lehrter Güterbahnhof,” Cardinal said. The turn is the only connection for trains from the Ringbahn route to the logistics site. Since July 13th, the west port has been isolated from traffic on the rail side – and it should stay that way for quite a while.

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As things stand, the lockdown will last until August 12, Cardinal said. The daily freight train connections to Moabit are currently canceled and with them the delivery of goods for the logistics company’s customers. “All of our direct as well as indirect customers are impacted by the lockdown,” Cardinal said.

In some cases, the goods could instead be transported by truck over the road or by ship. However, this is “associated with a high level of organizational, personnel and financial effort,” made the Behala boss clear. And despite these possibilities, deliveries were certainly canceled. “We do not see a possibility of full compensation.”

The Westhafen is the largest freight station in Berlin. Because of its central location directly on the Ringbahn in Moabit, it is of particular importance for the transport of goods to the city center. Shipping companies such as DHL use this route to transport some of their shipments, but retail companies such as Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof are also supplied with goods via the hub by rail.

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After the train accident in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in which five people were killed and more than 60 injured, Deutsche Bahn is currently examining its route network nationwide. The concrete sleepers used are considered a possible cause of the accident. The company is currently having around 200,000 units of the same type checked and replaced nationwide.

Other routes in Berlin are also affected. DB Netz AG has blocked the section of line RB26 between Lichtenberg and Mahlsdorf since July 15th. However, the work there is nearing completion.

“It looks like we can drive again on Saturday with a few restrictions,” said Holger Reimann from Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB), which operates the line. Only in the mornings and evenings on Saturday and Sunday should several connections fail due to recent work.

The NEB is also struggling with the threshold problem on one of its own routes. In order to replace sleepers, the RB60 line between Letschin and Werbig near the German-Polish border has now also been interrupted. The replacement bus service that already exists due to planned construction work between Werbig and Frankfurt (Oder) will be extended accordingly, explained Reimann.

How long the additional restrictions will last has not been communicated to the NEB by Deutsche Bahn. The closure between Frankfurt 8Oder) and Werbig normally lasts until August 21st.