U-Bahnen – all units, aren’t they? Well, yes…but there is an exception in Germany.
Berlin’s underground rapid transit system – its Untergrundbahn (universally referred to be the abbreviation “U-Bahn”) – is a classic of its type. With services running up to every two minutes, it conveys over 1.5 million passengers each day. Much like its equivalent in London, its rolling stock is of both ‘large’ and ‘small’ profile and universally consists of EMUs, drawing their power from upward-facing third rails.
However, on Fridays between April and October, the Berlin U-Bahn also offers some interesting loco haulage beneath the city’s streets. This is offered by the “U-Bahn-Cabrio”, which is fairly self-explanatory – an open-top tour of the U-Bahn tracks!
The “U-Bahn-Cabrio” makes two round trips on the dates that it runs – departing Deutsche Oper station (on the U2 route in the west of the city) at 19:00 and then 22:30.
The tour takes about two hours and covers a distance of approximately 35 kilometres, and includes a number of non-passenger curves. A track plan of the U-Bahn system can be found here.
Above is a link to a YouTube video uploaded by user “Sunshine Radio Line / srl 2.1“, documenting a trip on the “U-Bahn Cabrio”.
The trains are operated in push-pull fashion powered by an Akkulok (battery loco), on a load of four what can best be described as flat wagons with seats on! From photographic evidence the traction can be either 1997 Schalke-built centre-cab “SA97” machines 4052 or 4053, or Siemens/CKG “SD96” locos 4077, 4078 or 4079 dating from 1995 (4077 is currently out of traffic). The push-pull element is provided by unpowered control car 4157.
The trip does not come cheap, at €50, but it does tend to sell out several months in advance.