The Bommersheim Tram Depot

Last week the tram depot in Bommersheim (now used to store trains for the U-Bahn) opened its doors to the public for the first time, to allow a small number of people to take a guided tour.

I was able to join one of the tours, and consider myself very lucky because the restrictions in place meant that not just anyone could take part.

A U-Bahn (U2 type) stands across the points in Bommersheim.  The running rails are to the right, the sidings to the left.

A U-Bahn (U2 type) stands across the points in Bommersheim. The running rails are to the right, the sidings to the left.

Click on the photos in this article to enlarge them

Before we started, we were briefed on where and what we could do inside the depot.  The running lines, which link to the depot, were in normal use with trains passing us at close range at about 50kmh.  Inside the engine shed there are pits, used for access to the undercarriages, which posed a danger.  Levers and controls, although not themselves unsafe, were covered with grease that would be difficult to wash out of clothing.

After signing to say that we had understood all of this, the tour could begin.

In the first part, the electrification of the line was explained.  100 years ago the electricity used to be supplied overland from Höchst, even before the rest of Oberursel had an electricity supply.  The sub-station was housed in its own building.  A second building converted the AC current to DC for use on the railway.

Then we moved on to the housing, built between 1910 and 1912 and containing 8 flats for the railway workers.  Even the old washhouse is still standing.

The railway housing in the Zimmersmühlenweg

The railway housing in the Zimmersmühlenweg

Finally, we were allowed to enter the depot itself.  Here the different types of rails and the U-Bahn vehicles in use on our line were explained.

But for me, the absolute highlight – and something that I had wanted to see for many years – was to enter the workshop at the side of the engine shed to see the battery-powered locomotive that used to pull the goods trains through Oberursel.

Locomotive 2020 that pulled the goods trains along the U3 tracks until 1983

Locomotive 2020 that pulled the goods trains along the U3 tracks until 1983

Until 1983 the factories along the Hohemarkstraße would receive their coal by rail, and also send their own products that way.  These included companies such as Rolls Royce, Neubronner, and there was even a siding leading towards the Hohemarkklinik.

Often the wagons would arrive by mainline train, and be pulled by this engine across the special shunting track to the tram network, from where they would be taken up the line to their final destination.

Two U-Bahn trains (types U4 and U5) stabled in the Bommersheim Depot and positioned over the pits

Two U-Bahn trains (types U4 and U5) stabled in the Bommersheim Depot and positioned over the pits

I would like to thank the volunteers from the tram museum who came out to Bommersheim for the day, for giving such an interesting talk, and I feel privileged for having been given access to such a restricted area on the railway that I am so fascinated by.

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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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