The Pankow-Heinersdorf station and railyard are located in Berlin, Germany’s capital. Although these separate locations have the same name, they are not in the same state. The first is a working railway station, whereas the second is an abandoned railway depot with a marshaling yard.
An old railway depot called Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf may be found to the north of the Pankow passenger station. The railyard, which covered an area of around 250,000 square meters (almost300,000 square yards), employed hundreds of people during its peak. On this site today, one of Germany’s only two remaining roundhouses may be found.
On October 1, 1893, the Pankow-Heinersdorf station and its adjacent yard opened. The trains in use in Germany at the time were steam trains, and they could only run in one direction efficiently: forward. As a result, roundhouses were created, which had massive turntables that rotated beneath the train, allowing it to change its direction of movement.
Roundhouses were built to store and repair trains in addition to turning them. The one in Pankow- Heinersdorf had 24 tracks going into it, allowing up to 24 trains to pass through at once. The trains were shielded from the elements within the covered roundhouses.
The station was officially connected to the electric Berlin S-Bahn line on August 8, 1924. At that time, new train models began to arrive that were far larger than those previously in use. Unfortunately, the existing roundhouse at Pankow-Heinersdorf could not be extended to handle these heavier trains.
Instead, a semi-circular workshop was created in the depot’s northern section. If required, this structure might be enlarged to handle even larger trains in the future. However, despite the fact that this new structure was the proper size, the turntable was located outside the structure. Because it was exposed to the elements, particularly ice, it didn’t operate as well as it should have.
The roundhouse and water tower at the Pankow-Heinersdorf railway depot were decommissioned in July1997. The station, on the other hand, continued to operate.
The depot’s tracks were disassembled over time, and the buildings were demolished. By 2007, the rail system had been totally removed, and some of the structures had been dismantled. Several structures in the southern half of the depot were razed in 2006, but many others are still intact today. In 2008, the overpasses were dismantled.
This slice of history draws urban explorers, artists, and vandals in its abandoned state. One blogger even claimed to have discovered goldfish and occult rituals under the turntable.
The Pankow-Heinersdorf roundhouse was added to the list of historical monuments because it is one of the last two of its sort in Germany. Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped it from deteriorating into a dreadful state. The flooring is decaying and the walls are disintegrating inside the surviving structures. Graffiti and trash may be seen everywhere.
Kurt Krieger, a business magnate who operates a chain of furniture businesses, purchased the land in2009. On the site of the former railyard, he wanted to construct a retail center (complete with one of his furniture stores, of course) as well as a vast parking lot.
Krieger talked about converting the location into an opera theatre at one time. The current plan, however, is to construct a commercial center, a school, and some flats. However, the site’s information box, which outlines prospective redevelopment proposals, is not only closed but also covered in graffiti, implying that the Pankow-Heinersdorf railyard’s future remains unknown.
If you enjoyed reading about this bit of German railway history, you might also be interested in reading about the Bayshore Roundhouse, which is a piece of American history.
Thank you very much to DetKan, a photographer who shot these stunning photographs of the abandoned railyard and graciously let us use them in our story. This link will take you to more of his images from this place. Det kan maintains a Flickr account where he posts his photographs.