#161: U2 fix, judge fired, softened no-car experiment
Plus: the March Revolution that changed nothing
Hey 20 Percent!
I once told my father at the end of the ‘90s that I was surprised how exacting the airlines had gotten in scheduling. “They know my plane next week will arrive in Moline at 7:38!”
“It’s all a big lie,” he said. “They do that so you’ll pick them over another airline and they pad their schedules so if they’re a little late they seem like they’re on time.” You would want my father on your pub quiz team — weird facts leak out of him at all hours.
I thought of that discussion last year when I was getting exasperated with Deutsche Bahn. Trains that didn’t get cancelled or merged with other trains, leading to unpleasant, over-filled cars, would be at least a half an hour late. Out of frustration I started adding a fictitious half an hour to every trip, and my quality of life skyrocketed. Most trains were suddenly on-time.
Last night I had to take a red-eye back from a comedy gig in Hannover. Our train was nearly 45 minutes late because it was having trouble coupling with another train that would accompany us to the Hauptstadt, not a problem with my new Einstellung (attitude). I just thought: Wow, even trains in Berlin have trouble making meaningful connections.
Hoch die Hände Wochenende!
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You broke it, you fix it
The good news: French property developer Covivio is finally starting to repair the beleaguered U2 tunnel at Alex. The bad news: service will get even worse until the fixes are done … in August. The U2 will be closed between Senefelder Platz and Klosterstraße from 8pm Friday to late Sunday — there’ll be 🤮Schienenersatzverkehr (bus replacement service), according to RBB24. Covivio is building a skyscraper adjacent to the century-old U2 tunnel and didn’t properly secure the ground, causing the tunnel to sink at one end. One side of the U2 has been unusable since fall. Covivio now hopes to drill at least 55 holes to pump in cement and raise the tunnel at a cost of €10 mill. They’ll also be fined for every day the U2 has been interrupted. Let’s hope they can do that better than they can do foundation work. More bad news: BVG is also going to renovate the Senefelder Platz station, which means traffic at the intersection of Schwedter/Metzer and Schönhauser Allee will be rerouted (and annoying) for two years.
Right-wing judge is judge no longer
A Berlin judge arrested as part of a raid of right-wing conspiracy theorists in December has been suspended and had her pay cut by half, Tagesspiegel reported. The judge, Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, has been in jail since the raids on the Reichsbürger but also successfully dodged an attempt by Berlin justice senator Lena Kreck (Die Linke) to force her into retirement last year after incendiary remarks against us immigrants. Malsack-Winkemann was a parliamentarian for the right-wing AfD from 2017 to 2021.
Less fewer cars in Xberg xperiment
An experiment to remove parking spots and de-emphasize individual vehicles in Kreuzberg’s Graefekiez has been softened following resident complaints and a fear of legal action, the Tagesspiegel reported. Berlin politicians, it seems, have about as much spine as the person you dated last fall. The project once hoped to eliminate 2,000 spots for most of 2023 as part of an experiment overseen by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin and urban planning thinktank Paper Planes but will now just see the removal of about 400. The spots can be repurposed by residents for other uses if they don’t become parking for delivery vehicles or pickup-and-return areas for shared bicycles, scooters and other rental vehicles. More than 1,600 of the area’s 20,000 residents signed a petition opposing the plan, which would have relocated parking to the Hermannplatz garage.
A series of democratic demonstrations in Berlin peaked 175 years ago tomorrow and Sunday during what is known as the March Revolution. Protestors, spurred on by similar protests elsewhere in Europe, demanded more freedoms from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. The king was surprised by the protests and Berliners eventually built barricades and confronted 20,000 Prussian troops. The clash left as many as 303 dead and led to democratic reforms that included a constitution and elected governing bodies. The monarchies soon reversed the reforms and many revolutionaries had to emigrate to escape prosecution. A special exhibition outside the Humboldt Forum this weekend has more on the failed uprising.
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The bit about train / flight scheduling is interesting.
I have no idea about how it works for flights, but I can definitely confirm that almost all manners of trains were right on time on Japan during my 5 years there. Hell, they even apologised if they left early because people time their connections to the last second too.
Your article on the pared-down car-free zone in Graefekiez reminded me: is Berlin going to allow restaurants to take over parking spots for outdoor dining again this summer? I know it was popular in Xberg/F'schain, but haven't seen any news about it happening again this year.