The mythical airport in southern Berlin isn’t the only major construction site the Berlin government can’t complete on time — the new Hauptbahnhof-to-Alexanderplatz connection for the U5 subway will likely miss a 2020 debut, according to the Berliner Morgenpost.
The opening date has already been pushed back by one year and now a built-in buffer for construction hiccups has been used up before the most difficult section — the tunnel under Museum Island, according to the paper.
“Relying on an exact date for the opening isn’t very realistic,” Peter Hoppe, the technical lead on the construction, told the Morgenpost. “That’s solely due to geological layers that can be difficult to drill through.”
The U5 extension was part of the ambitious planning to create a capital city out of the detritus of the divided Berlin. The line is designed to connect new construction including the Hauptbahnhof and Paul Löbe Haus with Alex.
The project was held up by Berlin’s budget problems and a mini connection was opened between Hauptbahnhof and Brandenburger Tor as the U55 in 2009.
The Bundestag station, for example, was completed along with the Paul Löbe Haus but stood empty for years until the mini U55 line was completed — it was used for events and parties.
Workers at the Brandenburger Tor station on Wednesday, March 22, reportedly broke through to a newly connected tunnel below Unter den Linden and will soon begin laying track in that section. They will then move onto the Museum Island tunnel, which is likely to create problems.
The construction has already had to deal with unexpected sand slides and flooding, which delayed the project, according to the Morgenpost. One of the main difficulties is the process of freezing the ground around the tunnel to allow workers to pour and seal concrete tunnels.
Officially Berlin is still planning on an opening in 2020 but those involved with the project aren’t so optimistic.
“If there are major problems, we will have to go to 2021,” Stephanie Niehoff, project spokesperson, was quoted by the paper.