Wroclaw's Ostrow Tumski (Cathedral Island) (photo © Olgacov / dreamstime.com).
This spring has seen the launch of three new local train services from Berlin to western Poland. All three services leave from Lichtenberg station in the eastern suburbs of the German capital.
The new links are in addition to exist cross-border services between Berlin and various cities in Poland: the German capital already has direct links to Gdansk, Szczecin, Poznan, Warsaw and a dozen other Polish towns and cities.
The new services, which are all classified as Regionalbahn (regional train) links, do not require advance booking.
There have been no direct trains from Berlin to the Silesian city of Wroclaw since the EC Wawel was axed in December 2014. But this spring and summer sees the reinstatement of a Berlin to Wroclaw service. Wroclaw is in the limelight this year as one of the European Union’s two designated Capital of Culture cities. The other is San Sebastián. So Deutsche Bahn is playing the culture card and running a Saturday and Sunday excursion train (called the Kulturzug) from Berlin to Wroclaw. Departure from Berlin Lichtenberg is at 08.31 and the return service gets back into Berlin in the evening.
The Kulturzug picks up passengers at Berlin Ostkreuz station, where it stops at the new upper level regional train platforms which opened last December. This is the first international train service to serve the new platforms. The train is normally routed via Cottbus, Forst and Zary.
Table 58 in the European Rail Timetable shows this new train. This journey will be featured in the July 2016 issue of the European Rail Timetable as the Route of the Month.
The one-way fare to Wroclaw is €19. There is no further discount for holders of Railcards.
On the weekend of 27 and 28 August, the Berlin-Wroclaw trains are diverted (in both directions) via eastern Saxony, crossing the River Neiße on the Görlitz-Zgorzelec viaduct to reach Poland. Curiously the longer route, and an extra stop at Görlitz (only for passengers travelling to or from Poland), does not mean a longer travel time.
The start of April also saw the launch of a new direct train from Berlin to Zielona Góra. It runs daily except Thursdays (quite why Thursdays are special is a mystery!).
The inbound service is an early morning departure from Zielona Góra which runs via Frankfurt-an-der-Oder to Berlin Lichtenberg. The return run leaves Lichtenberg at 10.11 on Fridays and Sundays, and half an hour later on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The journey to Zielona Góra takes about three hours.
Quite apart from the quirky timetable, the train is unusual in running non-stop from Berlin to Frankfurt-an-der-Oder – no other regional train does this. There are however plans to add an intermediate halt in Fürstenwalde before too long. The train uses a chord at Biesdorfer Kreuz linking the Berlin Außenring with the Frankfurt line – the only other scheduled passenger train services to use this chord are the EN452/3 Moscow-Paris and vice versa.
The one-way fare from Berlin to Zielona Góra is €14.50. Bahncard holders pay just €10.90.
The much-discussed but much-delayed extension of Ostbahn trains beyond Kostrzyn finally started in late March. There is now an early evening departure each day from Berlin Lichtenberg to Gorzów Wielkopolski and Krzyz.
The inbound train from Poland is an early morning departure from Krzyz which gets into Berlin at 10.28. The timetable is thus geared fair and square at the Polish market. Day trippers from Poland get eight hours in the German capital.
The one-way fare from Berlin to Gorzów is €12.00. Bahncard holders pay €9.00. There is a one-way group ticket: up to five people travelling together pay just €37.50. All tickets are valid for onward transfer by local buses and trams within Gorzów.
Outline timings for the new service are shown in Table 51 in the European Rail Timetable. Note that earlier plans to extend this service east beyond Krzyz to Torun are currently on hold.