Why is the new U5 being built?

On 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.

The U5 gap closure will further 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 fully accessible underground line.

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 vehicle traffic is responsible for around 15 percent of emissions. In other words, using public transport means making an active contribution to the environment: the carriage of around 900 million BVG passengers produces a reduction of some 750 million car journeys a year.

The new U5 relieves the strain on the environment by reducing private vehicle traffic in the inner city. The Unter den Linden boulevard currently has to contend with heavy traffic and exhaust gases from an average 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 passengers per day on what will be the 22 kilometres of the new U5, 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, 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 saw the opening of the U55 line section and the three new stations Hauptbahnhof, Bundestag and Brandenburger Tor.

The symbolic ground-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 further three new stations to the line: Berliner Rathaus, Museumsinsel and Unter den Linden. Following preparatory works including explosive ordnance searches and archaeological excavations, construction commenced in 2012. The new stations and the line are due 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, in part due to new safety requirements and higher material and staff costs, have since led to a revised construction budget of approximately 525 million euros.