A City-Heartbeat, Straight from a Train Station

Have you ever thought what your take on train stations is? Do you like taking a train, or would you rather opt for an alternative mode of transport? I was never too fond on trains until I moved to Germany — here I should stress that as a child I travelled quite a lot by train, mostly through Central and Eastern Europe — Deutsche Bahn definitely took European railway industry up to a next level expanding its core business.

When I think back to my childhood, I recognize that my train experience had actually been influenced by gloomy and badly designed train stations. I remember that I was always terribly scared that I would fall in between the train and the platform and that the train would leave while I was stuck in between.  Needless to say, your train journey begins and ends at a train station.

Have you ever been at Berlin’s main train station (Hauptbahnhof)? The moment I arrived to Berlin’s main train station I was transfixed by the number of floors that platforms were located on. I was amazed with the handsome architecture and the numerous newspapers outlets, coffee shops, food choices and shopping that was available. Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof offered enjoyable experience to travelers and residents alike. Besides, numerous cultural and social community events take place at the main station. German Deutsche Bahn offered a state of the art concept (take a note of the list of the things well done at the end of this post).

Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof is a great example of what train stations should be. They should be developed into places of substance providing a fine experience, while being well maintained and safe. At a train station you should be able to eat, buy your groceries, roam interior decorating and apparel shops, get whatever you need from a convenience store and eventually take a train, tram or a bus to wherever you need to go. What Deutsche Bahn did with Berlin’s main train station should be a leading example for other rail companies to follow. They should forget their dated models of operational logic and strive to better understand the needs of a modern society, such as benefits of providing valuable and timely shopping, cultural and gastronomic experiences not only to their customers on board but also to others at their train stations. Ultimately, train stations should be perfect getaways for locals, as well as connection hubs of a city.

Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof is celebrating its tenth birthday at the end of this month and we can only hope that other major European hubs would soon offer similar experiences.

Top 5 examples to take away from Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof:

  1. Clean and safe environment at any time of the day. Police, security guards and information personnel are present, friendly and ready to help
  2. Abundance of shopping and eating choices that are open late, seven days a week (even on Sundays when other places in the city are closed)
  3. Locker-rooms, open 24/7
  4. Easy to read signs and information boards.
  5. Lively and pulsing hub of the city