BERLIN — Electric vehicle maker Tesla has opened its railway line east of Berlin to passenger trains designed for use by workers at its new ‘Gigafactory’ east of the German capital. Trains started running on Sept. 4, and are free of charge and available to all passengers whether Tesla employees or not.
The short rail line — around 3-miles long — was bought from an independent German rail infrastructure holding company and gives Tesla direct connections to the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) owned main line that links Berlin with Poland [see, “Tesla buys German railway line, plans passenger trains,” News Wire, Feb. 3, 2022]. The rail line has already been used during construction of the factory to bring in materials and will be used once the factory is fully open to dispatch or receive up to six freight trains daily.
Tesla has built its Gigafactory — its first European factory — at Grünheide east of Berlin, in a forested area used before 1990 by the former East German Stasi secret police as a training base, as well as, housing a facility where all parcels sent to East Germany from abroad were opened prior to delivery to check for prohibited items.
Once in full operation the Tesla factory is expected to employ around 10,000 people working three shifts 24 hours a day and whilst many of those people will likely drive cars to get there, a large number, especially those living in Berlin itself, will come by train. Tesla has sponsored the operation of passenger trains to and from the new station built on the branch line, just outside the factory gates. These are being operated by a local passenger rail contractor — the Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NBE) — and run 54 times a day on weekdays, mainly timed for Tesla employee shift changes, from Erkner station, around 5 miles west of the site, which is served by fast commuter rail trains on the mainline and is the terminus of a separate slower (all stations) commuter rail ‘S-Bahn’ line from Berlin too.
Longer term a nearby Deutsche Bahn owned station at Fangschleuse on the mainline, served by regular commuter rail services to and from Berlin, is to be re-located near the new Tesla factory but not before 2025; whether the dedicated Tesla shuttle train will continue long term is not currently known.