Bad Godesberg In the night from Friday to Saturday, the escalators in the direction of the tram underpass at the subway on Moltkestraße in Bad Godesberg were replaced. The new ones weigh around 7.5 tons.
Old escalator out, new escalator in. It sounds so simple. But for the Stadtwerke employees in charge of the replacement works, the night was almost over by the time everything was complete. Over the past week they have had several nights like this: first the long escalators at Godesberg train station were replaced, and then from Friday to Saturday the somewhat shorter escalators at the pedestrian underpass to the Rheinallee. As the Moltkestraße subway had to be used for this latter measure, this kind of work could only be carried out at night.
Seven vehicles had to be deployed: the crane was not allowed to be erected directly above the underpass, explained Florian Montcenis from Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB): "It is too heavy.” A ballast vehicle provided the counterweight. In addition, a cleaning unit was standing ready to remove the dirt from the old pits before the new escalators could be installed. And then four flat-bed trucks arrived one after another: Two of them collected the old escalators and the other two delivered the new ones, still packed up.
The old installations had been exposed to wind and weather and countless passers-by for 26 years. Time for retirement. "The escalators will be scrapped," said SWB technician Gregor Brambach. To do this, they first had to be uncovered and freed from the electrics, and then they were lifted out on thick chains by the crane. Extremely precise work and good coordination via radio were required, because the crane operator worked almost blindly. The escalators hovered over to the semi-trailers for the final journey. Brambach explained that they could not be reused. "The company Thyssen must provide us with a certificate of disposal."
The old escalators weighed a good eight tonnes, the new ones "only" 7.5 tonnes, thanks to more modern technology and lighter materials. They are manufactured in Hamburg, so that no delivery problems were to be feared amidst the corona pandemic. None of the systems have come off the shelf. "Basically, every escalator is made to measure," said Montcenis. They have to fit exactly into the pits and be built in such a way that you can get them in without them causing a collision or getting stuck.
Finally, the new escalators were in their pits. But the Stadtwerke was not yet able to open up the underpass. First the cables had to be pulled back into the installations through the tubes - there is a flap at the bottom of the escalator for this purpose - and new switch boxes had to be installed. The paving stones, which were removed for the replacement works, must be reinstalled, then new railings for the stone staircase in the middle will be installed on the outside of the escalators.
And as a final step, the whole thing has to be approved the Technical Inspection Association (TÜV). The pedestrian lights will still have to be used for another two weeks, as the underground station is only accessible from the side of the city centre and by lift. The stairs there were already replaced in 2017.
Not only the escalators themselves have been modernised. According to Montcenis, the system also includes new sensor technology underneath the black rubber handrails. These sensors detect more quickly if the handrails have come off and then stop the escalator immediately. Until now, if a handrail came off, the system was only disabled when the affected area reached the top of the escalator.
Unfortunately, this often happens, says Montcenis: "Vandalism is the main reason for the installations not operating, often through pickpockets who steal from their victims when the escalators have stopped. "It then takes an hour to fix it." This is something that needs to be reduced.
(Original text: Stefan Knopp, Translation: Caroline Kusch)