BONN · For many train connections, passengers have to change lines in Cologne or Siegburg. There are few long distance connections in Bonn. This was different when Bonn was capital of Germany.
There were times when the main railway station was considered Bonn's gateway to the world. Since the middle of the 20th century, state guests and royalty have been received here. Several times a day, long-distance trains and, from today's perspective, exotic lines traveled to the major cities of Europe. But the high profile the Bonn station enjoyed when the city became capital, decreased after the federal government moved to Berlin.
The times when Bonn residents felt they were able to stroll to the main train station at any hour and take one of the many train connections to Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt, were over. With the relocation of most of the express trains to Siegburg, transport experts from local politics refer to a "thinning out" of the transport network around the former federal capital of Bonn, and this means longer travel times.
An old pocket timetable of the German Federal Railways from the summer of 1977 shows how much traffic went through the main station 40 years ago. With the Intercity train, the big thing in the seventies, travelers could travel to Munich three times a day in under six hours.
In addition, there were ten more express trains that covered the route in six and a half hours. There were also numerous connections to Frankfurt on offer, with 23 departures a day for the two-hour train ride.
Twelve hours to Vienna
Incidentally, the timetable also revealed that the route to Berlin did not play a major role: only one direct train served the connection, which required much patience on the part of passengers since the journey took just under nine hours. Travelers who wanted to explore Europe by train had to persevere. The Holland-Italy-Express (20 hours to Rome) and the Ostend-Vienna-Express (twelve hours to the Austrian capital) stopped at the Bonn station.
Technical progress of the nineties shortened travel time drastically. Depending on the connection, ICE trains took travelers almost an hour less to Munich or Frankfurt. The number of connections remained almost the same, according to a 1998 timetable.
"In Bonn at the end of the nineties we had around 150 departures of long-distance trains every working day," says a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn (DB). "With the commissioning of the Frankfurt-Cologne high-speed line, the timetable structure changed for good." Today Bonn is well integrated in the long-distance network with more than 60 long-distance departures from Bonn main station and the ICE train station Siegburg / Bonn, according to the spokesman. In fact, the number of direct connections from Bonn Central Station has been halved on many routes. For example, according to the current timetable, you can usually get to Berlin by changing trains in Cologne. Depending on the day of the week, there are only two to four direct connections. Even after Frankfurt and Munich, there are hardly any connections without changing in Siegburg.
Bonn’s increasing UN role and a better infrastructure
Bonn city council member Henriette Reinsberg (CDU) says a better connection is needed to Siegburg. Traffic experts of other parties agree. "The network has thinned out considerably," says Werner Hümmrich (FDP). "The railway structure should be further developed in view of the increasing use of the conference center WCCB and Bonn's role as a UN location." Gabi Mayer (SPD) also calls for expanding the long distance network and adds, "We must ensure that Bonn does not become a regional station and disappears from the focus of the long-distance network”.
Current plans by DB and Rhineland Regional Transport (NVR) focus more on regional routes. At present, no new long-distance connections are planned from the Bonn main station. As part of the upcoming timetable change only one IC connection has been extended to Bonn. The IC train between Cologne and Münster leaves Monday through Friday from Koblenz instead of in Cologne and thus makes a stop in Bonn.
"Bonn Central Station will expand its role as a hub in the future," says Holger Klein, spokesperson for the NVR. "Our visions for the future, include for example, a tram line S 17 from Mehlem via the main station to Deutz or an S 18 between Cologne / Bonn Airport and Bonn Central Station."
(Orig. text: Dennis Sennekamp / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)