Using the U-Bahn at the Hessentag

It has been an interesting week using the local train system (U-Bahn) to get to appointments and to the Hessentag in Oberursel.

The first couple of days were particularly chaotic, as the trains were forced to slow down so much on the part of the line that runs from the main station up to Lahnstraße, that by the time the train had reached the first level crossing the trackside signals had reverted to “halt”.  The driver then had to use his signal key to re-activate them, losing more time.

The new passenger information system was also not coping with the slow trains very well.  They must have been passing over the sensors so slowly, that the boards still showed the train as being in the station.

A U3 train waits to cross Kupferhammerweg in Oberursel during the Hessentag

A U3 train waits to cross the Kupferhammerweg

Since Sunday this has been improved by groups of security personnel at each of the level crossings, who block access to the track for pedestrians to allow the train to pass at reduced speed – but still faster than on the first two days.

Still, things are not perfect.  In my opinion there are still not enough trains running between the main station and the Hohemark in the afternoon and early evenings.  I do not know why the extra trains running between Heddernheim in Frankfurt and Oberursel’s main station terminate there rather than continuing to the end of the line.  Despite part of the line being single track, the final stretch was made into double-track a few years ago to cope with trains at 10-minute intervals.

The mobile phone network has been unreliable at times as well, meaning that people using smartphone apps to buy their tickets have been unable to do so, and there have been queues at the ticket machines.

And then every now and then you get to see something unusual happen on the line.  Such as this signal showing “KK”:

A U3 train waiting at a KK signal at the Kupferhammerweg crossing in Oberursel during the Hessentag

A U3 train waiting at a KK signal at the Kupferhammerweg crossing

At the time I did not know what it meant, but thought I had plenty of time to walk to the station as the train was not going anywhere, until it changed the direction board to show “Frankfurt Südbahnhof” and went back in the other direction.

I believe that the “KK” stands for “Ende der Kontaktstrecke”, ie. that there is a problem with the overhead wires beyond this point.  Can anyone tell me?


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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 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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