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Berlin outer ring

The Berlin outer ring (German: Berliner Außenring, BAR) is a 125 km (78 mi) long double track electrified railway, originally built by the German Democratic Republic to bypass West Berlin in preparation for the building of the Berlin Wall during the division of Germany. It was developed by East Germany for economic, transport policy, and military reasons between 1951 and 1961 and included parts of some older lines (Outer Freight Ring, Jüterbog–Nauen railway, and Michendorf–Großbeeren railway).

Berlin outer ring
Außenring 01.jpg
The outer ring near Sellheimbrücke, on the left
is the route of the planned S-Bahn
Native nameBerliner Außenring
LocaleBerlin, Brandenburg, Germany
Line number
  • 6126 Saarmund–Eichgestell
  • 6080 Eichgestell–Biesdorfer Kreuz
  • 6067 Biesdorfer Kreuz–Karower Kreuz
  • 6087 Karower Kreuz–Priort
  • 6068 Priort–Golm
  • 6116 Golm–Saarmund
  • 6011 Biesdorfer Kreuz–Springpfuhl (S-Bahn)
  • 6012 Springpfuhl–Wartenberg (S-Bahn)
  • 6009 Karower Kreuz–Bergfelde (S-Bahn)
Line length125 km (78 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Operating speed160 km/h (99.4 mph) (maximum)
Route number207, 209.12, 209.20, 209.21, 209.22
Route map

Route (anticlockwise)[1]
The outer ring continues
Kuhfort junction
to Werder and Potsdam
Golm cross
Wildpark West junction
from Werder (Havel)
Potsdam Pirschheide
Nesselgrund Ost junction
former connecting line to IFA works
Genshagener Heide
(passenger station until 2012)
Bft Genshagener Heide Mitte
Genshagener Heide Ost junction
Glasower Damm West junction
to Dresden
from Dresden
Glasower Damm Ost junction
Selchow West junction
Berlin-Schönefeld Airport
Brandenburg / Berlin state border
Grünau cross south
to Görlitz and Schöneweide
Grünau cross
Grünau cross north
from Görlitz
Wendenheide junction
to Schöneweide
(km 0.0: Teltow via Outer Freight Ring)
to Fürstenwalde and Ostbahnhof
from Köpenick
Wuhlheide cross
Berlin Wuhlheide marshalling yard
U5, formerly VnK Railway
Biesdorf cross south
to Lichtenberg (long curve)
Biesdorf cross middle
Berlin–Strausberg (S-Bahn) S 7S 75
Biesdorf cross
from Strausberg and Lichtenberg
Biesdorf cross north
Berlin north-east freight yard
Wartenberg, terminus of S 75
planned until 1990
Karow Ost junction
to Eberswalde and Pankow
Karow cross
(planned station) Berlin–Szczecin S 2
Karow West junction
from Eberswalde and Pankow S 8
planned until 1990
planned until 1990
BerlinBrandenburg state border
Tegel stream
Schönfließ West junction
to Neustrelitz S 8
from Neustrelitz
Hohen Neuendorf West
Velten Canal
to Hennigsdorf
Hennigsdorf Nord
from Hennigsdorf
Schönwalde (Kr. Nauen)
Nieder Neuendorf Canal
Falkenhagen (Kr. Nauen)
to Hamburg and Berlin
Brieselang cross
Hasselberg junction
from Hamburg
to Hannover and Berlin
Wustermark cross
Wustermark cross
from Hannover and Berlin
Elstal (Kr. Nauen)
(km 0.0 from Jüterbog via Jüterbog–Nauen railway)
The outer ring continues

Without the completion of the outer ring it would not have been possible to build the Berlin Wall, sealing off West Berlin, without disrupting East Germany’s transport links. The Potsdam-Schönefeld Expressway was built for similar reasons.

The term Outer ring is used to distinguish the line from the Ring line of inner Berlin.


Starting at the Anhalt line in the south, the outer ring runs from Genshagener Heide to Schönefeld Airport, Grünau Cross, Wuhlheide, Schönfließ, Golm, Potsdam Pirschheide, Saarmund, and back to Genshagener Heide.


In the late 19th century the military sought an outer connection between the railway lines radiating out of Berlin. Such a line also had advantages for freight traffic. 1902, the Bypass Railway (Umgehungsbahn) was opened connecting the Magdeburg railway, the Lehrte Railway and the Hamburg Railway between Wildpark station (now Potsdam Park Sanssouci station) via Wustermark and Nauen. In the following years, the line was extended to Jüterbog on the Anhalt line and Oranienburg on the Prussian Northern line. In the 1920s, the Seddin marshalling yard was built on the Berlin-Blankenheim line and subsequently connected via Saarmund to Großbeeren on the Anhalt line. In the early 1930s a continuation of this link to the east via Schönefeld to Wuhlheide was planned, which would have approximated the route of the current outer ring. During the Nazi period the Outer Freight Ring (Güteraußenring) was built in 1940/41 to create a provisional connection from Teltow on the Anhalt line via Schönefeld to eastern Berlin, linking with the Stettin Railway at Berlin-Karow. It was significantly closer to Berlin’s southern outskirts that the previous plan and the current outer ring.

The division of Germany and Berlin after World War II caused the Soviet zone administration and later the East German government to build an efficient bypass of West Berlin. The first steps were the construction in 1948 of connecting curves to the outer freight ring between Werder and Golm and between the Berlin–Görlitz line and the north at Berlin-Grünau. In 1950, a connection was built at Berlin-Karow to link with Basdorf on the Heidekraut Railway, connecting with the Northern Railway via Wensickendorf to Oranienburg.

Construction of the outer ringEdit

Grunau Cross in 1980

On 8 July 1951, the section between Genshagener Heide and Schönefeld was opened along with the connecting curves between Genshagener Heide east and Ludwigsfelde and between Glasower Damm east and Blankenfelde. This was followed by the opening of the Schönefeld–Grünau Cross section on 12 August 1951 and its extension to Wendenheide on 2 December of that year. On 22 November 1952 the opening of the section from the Outer freight ring at today’s Karow cross and Bergfelde and the connecting curve from Bergfelde junction to Birkenwerder. The next steps were the opening of the connecting curve from Karow West junction to Blankenburg (1953), the Wuhlheide marshalling yard (1 October 1953) and, simultaneously, the section from Bergfelde to Falkenhagen and Brieselang, initially as a single track. This was followed between 1953 and 1955 with the opening of a connection curve between Karow west junction and Karow north junction, the doubling of the former Brandenburg Ring line between Saarmund and Genshagener Heide, and the opening of several connecting curves: between Hennigsdorf west junction and Hennigsdorf, Hennigsdorf east and Hennigsdorf, between Hohen Neuendorf west and Birkenwerder and between Falkenhagen and Finkenkrug and Brieselang. On 2 October 1955, the section between Falkenhagen junction and Wustermark was opened along with the connection curves to Wustermark freight yard and Wustermark. On 11 December 1955 the line from Wustermark Junction to Elstal Junction was opened, completing the connection with the Brandenburg Ring line between Golm and Elstal.

The last section of the line was the difficult section between Saarmund and Golm across the Templiner See. On 30 September 1956, the connecting curve between Potsdam south and Werder was opened to traffic, completing the ring. This was followed by several connecting curves: Nesselgrund east to Wilhelmshorst and Golm to Wildpark (28 September 1957), Genshagener Heide to Birkengrund (north-west curve, 1 June 1958), Werder to Golm (6 February 1959) and finally Glasower Damm - Blankenfelde (south-west curve, 25 May 1961).

In 1958, passenger trains began running on the outer ring as part of the Berlin S-Bahn fare scheme. As this followed the launch of the first Soviet satellite, these trains, which ran partly on a circular orbit around West Berlin, were commonly called "Sputniks”.

Further upgradesEdit

On 13 August 1961, the Berlin Wall was built closing East Germany’s border with West Berlin. This made necessary the construction of an S-Bahn connection between Berlin-Blankenburg and Hohen Neuendorf towards Oranienburg. In 1962 separate S-Bahn tracks between Schönfließ and Bergfelde were put into operation (on the rest of the section S-Bahn and mainline trains shared tracks) and the connection between Bergfelde/Bergfelde East and Birkenwerder were built. Also in 1962 an S-Bahn line from Adlershof station to Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport was opened and this line also made available for long-distance trains. Previously, it had served only as a station for border checkpoint purposes.

In the same year track was completed on the connection between Hasselberg and Brieselang, and the Hennigsdorf–Wustermark section were electrified experimentally with the 25 kV/50 Hz system. Class E 251 locomotives built in the Lokomotivbau Elektrotechnische Werke in Hennigsdorf (now owned by Bombardier) were used on the line. In 1973, the catenary was removed, although some masts were preserved and reused for the 15 kV electrification in 1983.

In 1982, the Saarmund–Glasower Damm section and the connection to Blankenfelde was electrified, including the Saarmund–Michendorf connecting line and the Genshagen Heath/Genshagen Heath east–Ludwigsfelde curves as well as the Priort–Saarmund section. In 1983 this was followed by the electrification of several sections: Wustermark/Wustermark marshalling yard–Priort, Berlin-Schönefeld Airport–Grünau Cross, Birkenwerder junction (near Hohen Neuendorf West)–Wustermark South junction as well as the connecting curves at Golm/Wildpark west junction–Werder, Wustermark north junction–Wustermark marshalling yard/Wustermark and Falkenhagener cross.

On 17 May 1983, the third track—and on 26 September 1986 the fourth track—was opened between Glasower Damm junction and Berlin-Schönefeld Airport. Between Karow Cross and Schönfließ two separate tracks were brought into operation on 2 September 1984 as part of the planned electrification of long-distance tracks.

As a result of the decline in freight traffic after German reunification, the Wuhlheide marshalling yard was decommissioned on 10 June 1994 and later abandoned completely.

With the opening of the North-South mainline on 28 May 2006, its southern connection to the Anhalt Railway was re-opened, but not to the Dresden line. Since then, trains to Dresden have run on the outer ring between Genshagener Cross and Glasower Damm. These trains use a connecting curve from the direction of Teltow and Berlin and use a newly built curve.

As part of the western rail link being built to Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport, in early 2008, the two main lines connecting from the Berlin-Dresden line between Glasower Damm east junction and Berlin-Schönefeld Airport station were taken out of service and the tracks have mostly been removed. The main line to the airport will be constructed from the new grade-separated Selchow junction (between junction Glasower Damm east and Waßmannsdorf) and run south of the Outer ring from the west on a somewhat S-shaped route to the new airport railway station. A total of 15 kilometres of line is being rebuilt for mainline and regional services and eight kilometres is being rebuilt for S-Bahn services. While both routes were expected to open to the airport in early November 2011,[2] continued delays with construction of the new airport[3] have meant that service to Berlin-Schönefeld Flughafen will continue to operate until at least 2020. Airport shuttle services will operate from Berlin Hauptbahnhof via the Anhalt line rather than the shorter Dresden line, because a connecting curve has not been built to connect with the North-South mainline.[4]

Passenger servicesEdit

There is no passenger service around the entirety of the outer ring, but a number of services serve it in part.

Route Stations served Frequency
RE6 SpandauFalkenseeHennigsdorf – Pritzwalk – Wittenberge Hourly
RE7 Dessau – Belzig – WannseeBerlin HbfBerlin OstbahnhofBerlin Schönefeld AirportBlankenfeldeWünsdorf-Waldstadt Hourly
RB12 LichtenbergHohenschönhausenOranienburgTemplin Stadt Hourly
RB14 Nauen – Spandau – Berlin Hbf – Berlin Ostbahnhof – Berlin Schönefeld Airport – Königs WusterhausenLübbenauSenftenberg Hourly
RB20 Potsdam – Golm – Hennigsdorf – Hohen Neuendorf WestOranienburg Hourly
RB21 Griebnitzsee – Potsdam – Golm – Marquardt - Priort - Wustermark Hourly
RB22 Berlin Friedrichstraße, Berlin Hbf, Berlin Zoologischer Garten, Berlin-Charlottenburg, Berlin-Wannsee, Potsdam Griebnitzsee, Potsdam Hbf, Potsdam Charlottenhof, Potsdam Park Sanssouci, Golm, Saarmund, Ludwigsfelde-Struveshof, Berlin-Schönefeld Flughafen, Königs Wusterhausen[5] Hourly
RB60 Lichtenberg – HohenschönhausenBernauEberswalde – Wriezen – Frankfurt (Oder) Hourly


  1. ^ Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland (German railway atlas). Schweers + Wall. 2017. pp. 124–7, 129. ISBN 978-3-89494-146-8.
  2. ^ "Arbeiten für Schienenanbindung BBI kommen gut voran (Construction of BBI link is proceeding well)" (Press release) (in German). Deutsche Bahn. 10 September 2008. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Ist der BER schon fertig?". Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Bahn: Westliche Schienenanbindung zum BBI wird rechtzeitig fertig - Fahrgastverband fordert schnelle Entscheidung für Dresdner Bahn" (in German). Vgl. Berliner Fahrgastverband IGEB. 10 September 2008. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-02-06. Retrieved 2018-02-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


  • Kuhlmann, Bernd (1997). Der Berliner Außenring (in German). Nordhorn: Kenning. ISBN 3-927587-65-6.
  • Adam, Wolfgang (1985). "Tagebuchblätter der Elektrifizierung der Eisenbahnstrecken im Kreis Zossen" [Chronology of the electrification of the railways in the Zossen district]. Heimatkalender für den Kreis Zossen (Home calendar for Zossen district) (in German). Zossen: District Council (28): 50–58.
  • "Berliner Außenring (BAR)" (in German). Axel Mauruszat. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  • "Berliner Außenring (BAR)" (in German). beefland. Retrieved 4 June 2010.