On 14 of 16 lines, passengers on the S-Bahn in summer have so far only had the choice between a sauna and pike soup. But things will get better next week: After the S47 and S45, another, longer line will be switched to new trains – the only ones with air conditioning in the S-Bahn fleet – with the S46.
“This will benefit 60,000 passengers,” said S-Bahn boss Peter Buchner at an appointment on Friday in Grünau. He promised further improvements for passengers in the coming months.
With additional comfort such as air conditioning, a quieter journey and information on connections, Buchner hopes to also score points with drivers who give the S-Bahn a chance thanks to the nine-euro ticket.
“Passengers are coming back to Corona faster than we dared to hope,” said Buchner. Since May, the level has risen from 85 to 95 percent compared to the pre-Corona period. The S-Bahn alone has already sold almost half a million nine-euro tickets.
The BVG recently even reported 1.25 million tickets sold and a rush that had increased from 80 to 96 percent compared to the time before Corona.
Another piece of news that is remarkable in view of the massive problems with other new rail vehicles: the new S-Bahn trains are not only delivered on time by the manufacturer consortium of Siemens and Stadler, they also function almost without any problems. This is a particularly important point for the S-Bahn, which has been struggling with its fleet for more than a decade with partly design-related and partly homemade technical problems.
The next new trains to be assembled in Pankow are to be used on the S8 from October. So far, like the S46, it has been driven by a fleet of vehicles developed in the GDR and built around the time of reunification, some of which had been rescued from the scrap yard and refurbished after the previous management’s austerity measures.
This time, however, there is no going back: According to Buchner, the old wagons are towed to Krefeld and scrapped there. The S-Bahn even gets money for it from the recycling company – thanks to the car bodies made of valuable aluminum.
If the replenishment continues as before, the last GDR vehicles, which until then will still be driving as S85, are to be discarded in April 2023. However, this line will not get any new trains, but those of the standard model that has been running on the Ring so far.
According to Buchner, it will be equipped with brand-new trains in two stages next year. On this occasion, the often overcrowded Ringbahn trains will also be extended from the previous three to four double carriages – i.e. the possible maximum.
According to Buchner, when all Siemens and Stadler trains are ready to go by the end of 2023, the fleet will have grown by 106 double cars. 65 of these are to be available “for expanding the range”. This corresponds to around ten percent of the current stock. According to Buchner, where more should drive is still being clarified with the federal states and the VBB transport association.
The overall package, which costs around 900 million euros, is being financed by Berlin and Brandenburg. Also included is a new car wash next to the workshop in Grünau. It is the third in the S-Bahn network – and the second from the Polish manufacturer Achat, with whom, according to Buchner, they have had good experiences.
However, with every discarded old train, the distinctive “Lalüla” disappears, which is much more popular than the shrill beeping of the new trains when the doors are opened and closed. There is no other way, says Buchner: EU regulations force people to beep.