08. October 2014

A commemorative plaque for Hünfeld station

Train Station of the Year 2014: award ceremony on October 8

A winning appearance: the visiting jury found the station idyllic

Travellers visiting Hünfeld station in the state of Hesse can now read on an engraved brass plaque that even a rural train station can also be worthy of receiving the highest accolade for customer satisfaction. On Wednesday, October 8, transport experts and friends of the railways joined the Pro-Rail Alliance in an award ceremony for the Train Station of the Year 2014. In the presence of the managing director of the Rhine-Main Transport Group, professor Knut Ringat, the jury members unveiled the brass plaque on the front entrance to the award-winning station. The manager of Hünfeld station, Gerd Tucholka from Deutsche Bahn, and Hünfeld’s mayor Stefan Schwenk (CDU) received certificates for their exemplary cooperation in managing the station on behalf of the community.

The jury of six members is made up of representatives from the rail customer groups Pro Bahn and DBV, the transport club VCD, the Autoclub Europa ACE, the German cyclist association ADFC and the German Pro-Rail Alliance made awards to Hünfeld station in the state of Hesse (category small town) and to Saxony’s capital Dresden in the city category.

Video: Dirk Flege, jury member and managing director of the German Por-Rail Alliance, speaking about Hünfeld train station. (in German)

Hünfeld train station – rurally idyllic

The neo-classical reception station building is very clean and very green, with the meadows and fields of the Rhön biosphere reserve beginning immediately beyond the tracks. “Hünfeld is a rural station in the best possible way,” said jury member Karl-Peter Naumann from Pro Bahn after the jury’s first-hand inspection. Hünfeld has obviously decided to look after its guests in an exemplary manner. “You search in vain for travellers with question marks over their heads.” There is a travel agent in the building and unobtrusive signposts to the city centre and hiking routes outside. Travellers have to try hard to get lost, added Naumann.

“In Hünfeld, the town’s desire to look after its guest is almost tangible,” said jury member Dieter Harms from ACE, who pointed out that praise was not just aimed at the smart surroundings. “The station has a well thought out overall concept. This makes Hünfeld, the adopted home of the computer inventor Konrad Zuse, a credit to its ancestors.

Unveiling ceremony: framed by the jury, Gerd Tucholka (Deutsche Bahn, centre left) and Hünfeld’s mayor Stefan Schwenk (centre right) are both very happy about the commemorative plaque next to the station’s entrance.

The long journey to a community station

Jury member Dirk Flege from the German Pro-Rail Alliance pointed to the competition’s 11-year history: “There have been dramatic changes in Germany’s stations during these last ten years because Deutsche Bahn sold-off hundreds of smaller stations.” Many of these stations were initially taken over by real estate investment funds and fell into disrepair. Recently however the jury has encountered an increasing number of local initiatives that have been successful. “Towns and local authorities are buying back station buildings, which are then carefully restored,” said Flege. “In Hünfeld, the main station building and the forecourt are now owned by the town. Hünfeld station, just like last year’s winner Oberursel, is a positive example of the process of returning a train station to its community”.

Out and about with the checklist

The Pro-Rail Alliance has made the awards for the ‘Train Station of the Year’ competition to Germany’s best station in a city and in a smaller town since 2004. Only stations that satisfy the needs of customers and citizens, according to a defined set of criteria, can receive the award. Objective demands such as customer information, cleanliness, and integration with the city and connections with other modes of transport are as important to clinching the vote as more subjective ‘feel-good’ factors. Dirty toilets, for example, are an obvious knockout factor. The previous winners were 2013: Göttingen and Oberursel, 2012: Bremen and Aschaffenburg, 2011: Leipzig and Halberstadt, 2010: Darmstadt and Baden-Baden, 2009: Erfurt and Uelzen, 2008: Karlsruhe and Schwerin, 2007: Berlin Main Station and Landsberg am Lech, 2006: Hamburg Dammtor and Oberstdorf, 2005: Mannheim and Wismar, and 2004: Hannover and Lübben.

Additional information (German)