Something new to report from Gemany's capital:
On May 26, after ten years of construction, and a whooping 950 Million dollars later, the "traffic cathedral", Berlin's new central railway station will be opened to the public, just in time for the opeing of the world soccer championship in June.
From then on, 1,100 daily trains will approach the new station from all directions, carrying an expected 300,000 travellers: a 1000-ft long east-west commuter train station crosses the 500-ft long station for the long-distance railway, which cuts through the city from north to south.
Two office buildings, approx. 140ft tall, arch over the commuter rail station. Also part of the project were a new subway line and station, a road tunnel and the need to divert the nearby river Spree to make room for the new buildings.
Throughout the entire construction, commuter traffic was not interrupted (the long-distance rail line is new). The parts of the building arching over the railroad tracks were originally build vertically, on the sides, and then slowly lowered into position, similar to a draw bridge.
For a full-blown information site with history, facts, architectural details and progress reports - all in English language, click here. Also, a nice spread of pictures of the project.
Translation of the texts from the German picture site:
1 - Harry Anzer, construction site manager. The construction job brought him a heart attack - he then quit smoking.
2 - A model of the station: Roughly $950M are estimated to be spent on the construction, Deutsche Bahn has not yet published the exact cost. Plans were made in the heyday of the post-reunification frenzy. Nobody would have guessed that Berlin, instead of growing, would shrink to 3.4 million inhabitants.
3 - A model of the arch buildings. In order to not interrupt the commuter trains for months, the parts were built vertically and then lowered like a draw bridge.
4 - six meters per hour - the speed with which the steel constructions, 1,250 tons each, were lowered.
5 - The construction area in July 2005: Site Manager Anzer considered it the largest challenge of his life.
6 - In the background is the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building. Also visible: Deutsche Bahn's headquarter.
7 - The Entrance, shortly before the May 26 opening. All boxes and paint buckets should be removed by then.
8 - A Berliner just relaxing. Locals are already used to the glorious view.
9 - Commuter track. Approx. 1,100 trains per day are expected to stop at the station once it is completed. Deutsche Bahn is expecting some 300,000 travellers per day.
10 - Workers cleaning the glass roof: A machine for the cleaning job is being developed. Until it is completed, the 9,100 windows have to be polished manually.
Update Bonus Add-On pictures: Laser Light Show (Lichtspektakel) at the opening!
Contributed by Berlin correspondant Georg von Braunschweig.