Tesla buys German rail line and plans passenger trains

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The trains will connect the existing rail service to the new “Gigafactory” near Berlin

Red German passenger train with electric locomotive and double-deck carriages
A Deutsche Bahn commuter train passes through Erkner, Germany, September 23, 2020. Tesla plans to offer its own train service from Erkner to its new factory about 8 km away. (Keith Fender)

BERLIN — Electric vehicle maker Tesla, which is building a new “Gigafactory” east of the German capital, has bought the rail line connecting the site to the German rail network and plans to offer timed passenger trains for changeovers. team of its employees.

The short rail line – about 3 miles long – was purchased from an independent German rail infrastructure holding company and provides Tesla with direct connections to the Deutsche Bahn-owned main line that connects Berlin to Poland. The rail line was used during construction of the plant to transport construction materials and will be used once the plant is fully open to ship or receive up to six freight trains per day.

Illustration of a very tall square building
A rendering of Tesla’s Gigafactory near Berlin. (You’re here)

Tesla builds its first European factory in Grünheide, east of Berlin. It is located in a wooded area used before 1990 by the former East German secret police, the Stasi, as a training base, as well as a facility where all packages from overseas were opened prior to delivery for check for prohibited items.

Once in full operation, the Tesla factory is expected to employ around 10,000 people working in three shifts around the clock. While many of these people will likely drive there, many, especially those who live to Berlin itself, will come by train. A nearby Deutsche Bahn station at Fangschleuse, served by regular commuter rail services to and from Berlin, is to be moved close to the new plant. However, that won’t happen until 2024-2025 at the earliest, so local media reports that Tesla plans to offer passenger trains to and from the factory. These will depart from Erkner station, about 8km to the west, which is served by fast commuter trains on the main line, and is also the terminus of a commuter rail S-Bahn line separate and slower (all stations) from Berlin.

No date has been announced for the start of passenger trains to the Gigafactory, which is already producing its first vehicles.

Hopper car train with electric locomotive passes station
A Siemens Vectron diesel drives a train of empty aggregate wagons through Zossen on September 22, 2020. The train was returning to a quarry to be filled with foundation fill material for the Tesla factory site. (Keith Fender)

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