The gap closure

The project "gap closure U5" connects the traditional line U5 from Hönow to Alexanderplatz with the U55 between Alexanderplatz and Brandenburger Tor. It includes the construction of a 2.2 kilometer tunnel stretch and three new underground stations: Rotes Rathaus, Museumsinsel and Unter den Linden.

Why is the new U5 being built?

After completion, the U5 gap closure will give the major residential areas in the east of Berlin a direct connection to the historic city centre, the government district and the central station. At the same time, those parts of the city that were previously served only by the U55, for example the central station and the government district, will also be fully connected to the underground network.

Furthermore the U5 gap closure will make many of the city’s landmarks easily accessible on just one underground line: from the Television Tower past City Hall, St Mary’s Church, the Neptune Fountain, the historic Nikolaiviertel, the Museum Island and Berlin Cathedral, the Humboldt Forum, the German Historical Museum and the State Opera, Humboldt University and the State Library to the Brandenburg Gate – and many more.

The new U5 will also be Berlin’s first underground line that is designed to fully fit the needs of the disabled.

© PRG U5
U5 for the environment

While the entire BVG and its public transport services account for only some two percent of all carbon emissions in Berlin, private vehicles are responsible for around 15 percent of emissions. That being said, using public transport means making an active contribution to the environment: the transportation of around 900 million yearly BVG passengers results in the reduction of around 750 million car rides per year.

The new U5 relieves the strain on the environment by reducing private vehicle traffic in the inner city. The Unter den Linden boulevard is currently contending with heavy traffic and emissions with an average of 15,000 vehicles every day. Once the U5 gap has been closed, 20 percent of private vehicle traffic is expected to shift to the new U5. This means that around 3,000 to 3,500 fewer cars will use the Unter den Linden boulevard every working day.

We expect 100,000 to 155,000 daily passengers that will be using the 22 kilometres of the new U5, which would be equivalent to transporting an entire city such as Heidelberg or Wolfsburg on a daily basis.

Background

The plans to extend Berlin’s U5 underground line from Alexanderplatz to Hauptbahnhof (the city’s central station, formerly Lehrter Bahnhof) date back to the 1990s. Under what is called the capital city financing agreement, an official approval was granted for the U5 extension and financial support for its construction was secured from the government and the state of Berlin. The first works phase was completed in 2009 and included the three new stations Hauptbahnhof, Bundestag and Brandenburger Tor, which are connected on the U55 line now and will be part of the new U5 once the project is completed.

The symbolic wall-breaking ceremony for the U5 gap closure, merging the existing U5 and the U55 to form the new U5, then took place in April 2010 and will add a another three new stations to the line: Rotes Rathaus, Museumsinsel and Unter den Linden. Following preparatory works including explosive ordnance searches and archaeological excavations, the construction process commenced in 2012. The new stations and the line are expected to be completed by 2019, with the fully merged U5 to open in 2020.

A budget of around 433 million euros was originally allocated for the U5 gap closure. Increased costs,  partly due to new safety requirements and higher material as well as staff costs, have since then led to a revised construction budget of approximately 525 million euros.