It seems like i’m slowly turning into a train spotter – or something akin to that. Though i’m not that interested in the trains themselves, i’m interested in the structures that used to house them. While browsing through some Forums, I came across a photo of an interesting structure that seemed vaguely familiar. After doing a bit of research it turns out that the building I was looking for was the Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow Heinersdorf (A Tain Yard) – and that ive actually passed it several times before with the S-Bahn. Seeing as the summer was slowly drawing to an end, I decided to use the opportunity and check it out.
*Warning – Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow Heinersdorf Info*
Now before going off into a short historical wall of text – the name “Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow Heinersdorf” is used to describe the whole Trainyard area, the 2 larger buildings which actually housed the trains (for servicing) are called Roundhouses. In German there are 4 different terms (of course) to more accurately describe the buildings:
- Lokschuppen – is the general term to describe the Building in which a train is serviced.
- Rechteckschuppen – A box type building
- Rundhaus – a circular building with a central turntable
- Ringschuppen – a semi circular building with a large central turntable
Ok, so you’ve got 4 different names for something incredibly boring, so what. The reason why I make the distinction between the names is that the Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow Heinersdorf has the dubious honor of being the last Roundhouse built-in Germany, and being one of only 2 surviving roundhouses in Germany. And because the Bahnbetriebswerk houses both a Roundhouse and a Ringschuppen.
With the industrial revolution rapidly gathering pace in the 19th century, a vast railroad network was built throughout Germany. Steam powered locomotives ruled the nation, with one interesting flaw. These early trains were only designed to travel in one direction, they lacked the capability of going in reverse. So how do you solve this problem? Well instead of designing a train which can go both forwards and backwards, it seemed like the easier solution to design a giant turntable to simply just spin the train around in the right direction.
Theres surprisingly little to be found about the Trainyard, but ive managed to source a few pieces of information. With the construction of the Berlin – Stettin Railway connection in 1843, Pankow Heinersdorf was connected to one of Berlins major railway lines. With this came the need to repair and service the Trains, so a 250000 m2 plot of land was reserved for the construction of a service station. In 1893, the last Roundhouse in Germany was built here, due to the fact that modern Trains were getting longer and these buildings simply lacked the space to accommodate for them. The disadvantage of building a Roundhouses, compared to the semi oval ringschuppen and the block style lockschuppen, was that you couldn’t simply add-on to the structure. You were limited to its original size.
Nevertheless, the Roundhouse was a popular design as its turntable (which was housed inside) was able to operate in all weather conditions. The Berlin Pankow Heinersdorf Station was on opened on the 1st of October 1893, and was officially connected to the Berlin S-Bahn on the 8th of August 1924.
The Trainyard, including the main station and roundhouses were closed down in the mid 1990s. Most of the tracks have been dismantled and the main buildings have been stripped inside (either by the Bahn or by Vandals). Apparently the whole area has been bought by a property investor in 2009, who intends to build a giant shopping center, furniture store and parking lot on the area.
It strikes me as slightly odd, that the Deutsche Bahn (who I assume was the previous owner) would willingly let such a historical building go to waste, especially since there are only 2 buildings of this kind left in Germany (though several German roundhouses still exist in Poland and Russia aka Kaliningrad). You can still find a similar building – sort of a half round house at the Rangierbahnhof Wustermark. The once abandoned train shunting yard was left derelict for years but is currently being renovated.
The Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow Heinersdorf is a massive compound, with about a dozen buildings. Both the Roundhouses are in pretty bad shape, the floors are rotten, and parts of the walls are crumbling. Seems like someone has set fire to several parts of the buildings as well. There are lots of sharp and pointy objects (someone had cut their had on one of the windows and left a trail of blood) so I would advise to bring a pair of gloves. Most of the buildings are empty with not much to see, but there is a nice view of the of the area from the main station building. Don’t bother trying to get into the large chimney – I hoisted myself up and had a peek. Not worth the effort.
As its openly accessible (on purpose or not) it seems to attract quite a few “romantic” couples. While walking through the shrubs I walked into at least 2 couples getting frisky – and interrupted a rather erotic photo shoot in one of the roundhouses. I guess that’s an added bonus if you are into that kind of thing.
Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow Heinersdorf
S-Bahn Station S2/S8 Pankow Heinersdorf
If you want to see more Pictures of the Roundhouse and the rest of the are – Check out the Flickr Album Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow Heinersdorf