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The Rödingsmarkt subway stop in 1913

The history of HOCHBAHN

1955-2018: The subway grows with the city

When Hamburg completed the reconstruction of destroyed buildings in the 1950s, the port was humming and with it the entire economy, the Senate set up the "Commission for Transportation Issues" to develop a sustainable transportation concept for the Hanseatic city. Public transportation played a decisive role in this, and the subway network was to double its length to up to 100 kilometers. At the same time, the tasks of the transportation systems were reorganized: On the important traffic axes, subways were to provide direct and reliable connections to the city center. In the surrounding areas, buses took over traffic development and at the same time fulfilled the feeder function to the rapid transit systems. The streetcars, on the other hand, which were making increasingly poor progress on streets clogged with cars, were gradually phased out and replaced by flexible buses.

The Wandsbek line

The new concept came to full fruition during the construction of the subway line to Wandsbek, which was planned from 1955. Starting at Jungfernstieg and running via Meßberg, Hauptbahnhof, Wandsbek Markt to Wandsbek Gartenstadt, the line connected important residential neighborhoods such as Eilbek and Dulsberg to the subway. As a fast direct connection to the city center, the line at Wandsbek Markt also fulfilled an important bridging function in Hamburg's east. This was because numerous bus lines ran from what was then the most modern bus facility in Europe, for example to Jenfeld, Tonndorf and Rahlstedt, Bramfeld, Horn and Billstedt, and ensured that the area was connected to the subway. In the city center, the area around Meßberg was also opened up to traffic, and at the main train station, a transfer facility to the ring line was created, which strengthened the interconnection of the subway lines.

Large sections could be built openly because of the gaps between buildings and free areas, and new types of prefabricated components were used in tunnel construction, both of which saved time and money. In the case of the 550-meter-long undercrossing of the railroad tracks at the main station, where open cut construction was not possible, the new shield tunneling method was used for the first time in Germany and worked so well that it was also used in the future. The fact that HOCHBAHN was responsible for equipping the station with tracks, signals and all the necessary electrical equipment, and that the construction authority was responsible for the actual construction work, also helped to complete the project quickly.

The Meßberg stop opened in February 1960, followed by Steinstrasse and Hauptbahnhof Süd on October 2. On July 2, 1961, the line was completed as far as Lübecker Strasse, in October as far as Wartenau, and the section as far as Wandsbek Markt went into operation together with the bus interchange on October 28, 1962. Barely six months later, the last two stops, Straßburger Strasse and Alter Teichweg, were completed and the connection to the Walddörfer Bahn was made at Wandsbek Gartenstadt.

Die Haltestelle Straßburger Straße kurz vor der Eröffnung, an welcher zwei Männer arbeiten

The Straßburger Straße stop shortly before its opening, 1963

Eröffnung der Haltestelle Wandsbek Markt, 1962

Opening of the Wandsbek Markt stop, 1962

Branches to the west and east

In 1960, planning began for the next major subway project: the cross connection between Billstedt and Stellingen, with work on both branches being carried out simultaneously and the construction challenge lying in the inner-city central section. Although a free route was available from Berliner Tor to Billstedt and it was possible to build in an open manner, contrary to initial plans the line had to run in a tunnel due to the high groundwater level. Only the last section between Legienstrasse and Billstedt was in a cut. On January 2, 1967, the line went into operation as far as Horner Rennbahn, and Legienstraße was completed on September 24. The Billstedt stop was opened on September 28, 1969, and then Merkenstrasse as the temporary terminus on May 31, 1970. It was not until September 29, 1990 that the two stops Steinfurther Allee and Mümmelmannsberg opened.

Work on the Stellinger section began on May 1, 1964, with the discontinuation of subway service between Schlump and Hellkamp and the demolition of the previous terminus. This was followed by fundamental renovation and reconstruction work at the Christuskirche, Emilienstraße and Osterstraße stops. The opening of the Lutterothstrasse stop on May 30, 1965 was followed by the Hagenbecks Tierpark terminus on October 30, 1966.

This meant that the growth area of Stellingen and populous Billstedt were connected to the subway network. However, this was not to be the end of the story, as the goal was to be able to reach the city center directly.

The extension to Niendorf was later realized in two stages: in 1979, work began on the line and the Hagendeel and Niendorf Markt stops, which were opened on June 2, 1985. In order to connect the new housing developments that had been built in the mid-1980s to the subway network, the extension around the stops Joachim-Mähl-Strasse, Schippelsweg and Niendorf Nord was started. The section went into operation on March 9, 1991.

Noch in Bau: Die Haltestelle Hagendeel, 1984

Under construction: The Hagendeel stop, 1984

Haltestelle Niendorf Markt als Baustelle, 1983

In 1983, interior work on the Niendorf Markt stop is in full swing

The gap closure

At the same time, construction work was also carried out on the inner-city section, which was a major technical challenge due to the densely built-up area. Since the new line at Berliner Tor had to be connected to the subway network from both directions without any crossings, a new four-track tunnel station was built here. After two years of construction, the northern platform could be used for the Ring Line from May 1964, then work began on the southern platform and the demolition of the old Ring Line stop.

In 1965, work began on the section between Schlump and Berliner Tor with the excavation of the starting shafts at the main station and Karolinenstrasse, from where the shield tunnelling machines dug their way deep under the city center, virtually toward each other. While digging was going on in front, the ring-shaped tunnel was being built right behind it. The stops were also laid out in a ring. The stops at the main station and Jungfernsteig were designed with four tracks in anticipation of further subway extensions. The extension of the Jungfernstieg stop was particularly difficult: protected by sheet pile walls, it had to be built openly in the Alster.

The inner-city line was commissioned in sections: The line between Berliner Tor and Hauptbahnhof went into operation on September 29, 1968. Here, the U21 ran from the main station via Berliner Tor to Barmbek. The U22 ran between Schlump and Gänsemarkt from May 31, 1970. On June 3, 1973, the extension at Jungfernstieg was completed and the entire line from Stellingen to Merkenstraße could be operated continuously.

Ein Teil der Schildvortriebsmaschine, 1965

Drilling under the city center - part of the shield tunneling machine, 1965

Innenausbau der nach Plänen des Architekten Otto Kindt gebauten Haltestelle Messehallen, 1970

Interior of the Messehallen stop built according to plans by architect Otto Kindt, 1970

Stop additions

As the structure of the city and its population changed over time, stops were added to the existing subway network to ensure optimum accessibility and public transport connections. For example, the Kiwittsmoor stop went into operation on May 10, 1960, to improve accessibility to nearby hospitals and new housing developments. The Sengelmannstrasse stop, on the other hand, which opened on September 26, 1975, was intended to improve access to the City Nord office district. At the Garstedt stop, which went into operation on June 1, 1969, there was an interchange between the subway and the A2 trains of the Alsternordbahn, which significantly improved access to the surrounding area. The later extension to include the Richtweg and Norderstedt-Mitte stops, which opened on September 28, 1996, also significantly strengthened the connection to the surrounding area by providing a direct AKN connection in Norderstedt.

Die neue Haltestelle Garstedt um 1969

The new Garstedt stop around 1969

Blick auf den Bahnsteig der Haltestelle Sengelmannstraße, um 1975

View of the platform of the Sengelmannstraße stop, around 1975

U4 Expansion

A central subway link was planned from the outset in the development of HafenCity, and construction officially began on August 23, 2007. In 2008, work began in an open excavation pit on Jungfernstieg, which also required reconstruction of the jetty for the Alster ships. The information pavilion there gave interested parties a variety of insights into the extensive project. At Berliner Tor, the U2 and U3 lines were also swapped and the station was thoroughly refurbished. For 15 months, tunnel borer V.E.R.A. dug its way from HafenCity to Jungfernstieg, where it arrived on November 7, 2009 - the first tunnel tube consisting of around 13,000 segments was completed. Starting again from the launch shaft in Versmannstrasse, the second tube of the 2.8km tunnel was then dug and finalized by January 2011. At the same time, interior work began on the tunnels and the two stops at Überseequartier and HafenCity University, so that the tunnels could be connected to the Jungfernstieg stop on February 28, 2011. The U4 was then officially inaugurated on November 28, 2012 and went into regular service at the timetable change on December 9, 2012.

Work on the U4 extension to Elbbrücken began as early as 2013. The subway stop of the same name then went into regular service on December 9, 2018.

Blick auf die U4-Baustelle am Jungfernstieg, 2012

View of the U4 construction site at Jungfernstieg, 2012

U4-Tunnelbohrer V.E.R.A, 2012

U4 tunnel drill V.E.R.A, 2012

Technical development

The history of HOCHBAHN was not limited to the construction and opening of subway lines and bus routes. There were also numerous developments in vehicle and operating technology. New vehicles and drive technologies were just as much an expression of HOCHBAHN's innovative ability as modern means of communication between the control center, drivers and passengers. The picture gallery provides a brief insight.

Experience Hamburg historically!

Climb aboard and be amazed! Whether company anniversary, press conference, club celebration or wedding - the HANSEAT offers a spectacular setting for events. The original 1950s subway has been lovingly restored by HOCHBAHN and converted into a saloon car true to detail. In the Hanseat, you can take up to 50 guests on a (party) tour through Hamburg's total of 104 kilometers of subway network.

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