News & Reviews News Wire Tesla buys German railway line, now hosting passenger trains

Tesla buys German railway line, now hosting passenger trains

By Keith Fender | September 19, 2023

| Last updated on September 20, 2023

Short line will provide service to Gigafactory

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Yellow train standing at the platform of a new modern passenger station. Tesla buys German railway line, plans passenger trains.
Tesla built a train station at the end of its new short line specifically to serve its new Gigafactory outside Berlin. Once the factory is fully operational around 10,000 people will work there. Many will arrive via some 54 commuter trains scheduled each weekday. The shortline commuter operation will be run by contractor the Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn using DMUs like seen here on Sept. 15, 2023. Ian Hutton

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.

Yellow and red DMU passenger train at station.
The new ‘Tesla’ shuttle train runs from the existing station at Erkner, which is the eastern end for one of Berlin’s main S-Bahn commuter rail routes. One of the systems’ EMUs is stopped at Erkner Sept. 23, 2020. Keith Fender

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.

Red, electric, bi-level passenger train on a curve
From the Tesla short line commuters can transfer to Deutsche Bahn trains, like the one seen here at Erkner on Sept. 23, 2020  Keith Fender

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.

8 thoughts on “Tesla buys German railway line, now hosting passenger trains

  1. It’s almost as though Elon actually knows that conventional passenger trains are better than the stupid gadgetbahns he is trying to sell cities as transit solutions.

  2. Tesla started assembling the Model Y at its sole European factory in March 2022 and reached a production milestone of 5000 units per week a year later. However, a recent Business Insider report suggests that was a one-time achievement, with subsequent production numbers falling to less than 4000 units per week.

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

  3. SECOND HAND SEMI-ELECTRIC NEWS FROM GERMANY! – Tesla’s German diesel-powered train service replaced the bus shuttle that ferries workers between the Grundheinde Gigafactory and the Erkner train station, helping reduce the levels of road traffic congestion in the area.

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

  4. So now Elon Musk appears to be coming down to Earth and going back to basics by his company now buying a railroad. From electric powered cars and a space freighter company that sends satellites into space with his SpaceX company and of course buying Twitter and fring more than half of his employees and changing the name to X whatever that is supposed to mean. Now who knows maybe if can make money on a small rail venture, he might decide to buy more railroads and reinvent the rail industry with new electric technology and new nethods and ideas on how to move both goods and people. Knowing how Elon Musk works, this just might be the start of something new and big and turn the rail industry on its head.
    Joseph C. Markfelder

    1. Twitter. X. Maybe it could be bought by CSX in the future. NS would see no point; they tried owning Piedmont I think it was for a little while.

    1. Maybe Musk should just string up overhead and dispense with the batteries! BTW I never come across anything on how the batteries on the old-time electric autos and a few battery trams were re-charged and how long it took. A mystery.

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