Aerial shot of the Rolls-Royce Aerospace plant in Dahlewitz near Berlin. A few years hence, there will be a new dedicated railway station which will bear the name Dahlewitz Rolls-Royce (photo © Steffen Weigelt / Rolls-Royce Deutschland - all rights reserved).
Railway stations intended for company staff, rather than the general travelling public, have had a mixed history. But we have high hopes for a new station in Berlin's hinterland which will be named in honour of Rolls-Royce.
Casting back, IBM had a dedicated company halt serving its huge factory about 40 km west of Glasgow. For forty years, some trains on the Inverclyde Line from Glasgow to Wemyss Bay would stop at IBM Halt. As recently as five years ago, there were still hourly trains from IBM to both Glasgow and Wemyss Bay. But the closure of the factory left the station devoid of its core trade, and IBM Halt closed for good in December 2018.
IBM also managed to secure a place on the rail map of the Paris region. There was a big IBM plant in the Seine Valley upstream from the French capital, served by a station called Le Plessis-Chenet IBM. When the factory was taken over by Altis, a company which is partly owned by IBM, the IBM suffix was quietly dropped from the station name.
Another dedicated company station was British Steel Redcar, on the railway between Saltburn and Middlesbrough. In public timetables, there was an enigmatic footnote warning “Only for passengers with authorized access to BSC Redcar.” This was presumably a considerable challenge to anyone wanting to visit every railway station in Britain. Looking at the timetables for April 2015, we see that there was a daily train from Middlesbrough to British Steel at 07.54 each morning. The homebound run back to Middlesbrough left British Steel at 16.46 in the afternoon. Presumably those without the necessary authorization to visit the steelworks just had to hang around on the platform.
Like IBM Halt in Scotland, British Steel Redcar outlived the factory it served. After the steelworks closed, passenger numbers fell to nearly zero. It held the mixed privilege of being Britain’s least used station for a spell, and was eventually closed last December.
So the good news that Rolls-Royce Aerospace (RRA) is to be honoured with its own dedicated station close to its plant at Dahlewitz near Berlin does of course make us reflect on how stations named in honour of IBM and Bristish Steel didn't fare so well. All the experience is that getting a dedicated railway station doesn’t necessarily bode well for the company’s fortunes. But we do have faith that, despite the current doubts afflicting the aviation industry, RRA might still be good for a few years yet.
RRA actually had what was effectively a private station for its own employees right by its Derby plant. The station was called Sinfin North. It opened in 1976 and closed in 1993.
Dahlewitz Rolls-Royce will be the name of the new station south of Berlin and it is one of three new stations due to be added to the S-Bahn network in about ten years time. The existing S2 route from the city centre to Blankenfelde will be extended five kilometres further south to Rangsdorf with new S-Bahn stations at Dahlewitz (adjacent to the existing regional train station there) and at Dahlewitz Rolls-Royce.
While this is being acclaimed as great progress, with the tentacles of Berlin’s S-Bahn being extended south into virgin territory, that’s not quite the case. S-Bahn trains ran south of Blankenfelde in the days of the German Democratic Republic. The S-Bahn trains were cut back to Blankenfelde to allow the expansion of capacity on the parallel main-line railway.