Marburg and Obstfelderschmiede/ Lichtenhain are the winners

Customer-friendly: Train Station of the Year jury chooses 2015’s best

Berlin, August 26, 2015. After making extensive inspection visits throughout Germany, the jury has reached its verdict: Marburg and Obstfelderschmiede/ Lichtenhain are this year’s winners of the Train Station of the Year award. For the twelfth year in a row, the Pro-Rail Alliance has made the award for Germany’s most customer-friendly train station. The winner in the category ‘Everyday Mobility’ was Marburg, situated in the state of Hesse, which the jury described as “a homestead of intelligent mobility and a contemporary renunciation of a car-friendly city”. In the category ‘Tourist Station’, the two stations on the Oberweißbacher mountain railway won over the jury, which praised “the smooth way in which clever engineering is embedded in a particularly lovely landscape”. 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. For the ‘Tourist Station’ category, the jury was accompanied by travel experts from the German Tourist Association DTV and the association Fahrziel Natur, which aims to get travellers into the countryside.

Video: jury member Karl-Peter Naumann on the winning stations

The federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt praised the winners’ commitment: “Attractive train stations are a win for every community and are highly valued by all rail customers. For the last twelve years, the Train Station of the Year award has been a sought-after tribute for successful commitment to making stations more attractive.

Marburg: The King

Bahnhof des Jahres 2015

“People who travel to Marburg by train are in for a pleasant surprise: the dark train station surrounded by thunderous traffic has vanished. Under the tarpaulin covering the scaffolding, the station building has been transformed into light and tranquil everyday beauty,” was the jury’s praise. “To crown this transformation into a homestead of intelligent mobility, the city has conjured up a generous forecourt at the foot of the station,” said the jury members, who always travel incognito. Since the reconstruction of the building was completed in 2014, the forecourt can offers equal access to all travellers, whether pedestrians, cyclist, bus passengers and car drivers. Only through traffic now has now been excluded. In Marburg, the jury saw the “first signs of a renunciation from the primacy of a car-friendly city. If all train stations in Germany could be redeveloped in this way then public transport would be a real winner.”  

Obstfelderschmiede/ Lichtenhain: Germany’s steepest funicular railway

Bahnhof des Jahres 2015
Just before arriving at the mountain station in Lichtenhain: this is what the Tourist Train Station of the Year 2015 looks like.

The fact that the Oberweißbacher mountain railway enjoys a unique worldwide cult status among railway enthusiasts did not initially make much impression in the jury. However, with the engineering marvels surrounded by flower meadows and idyllic forests, even the sceptics were fascinated. “Germany’s steepest funicular railway offers clever engineering that is embedded in a particularly lovely landscape,” was the jury’s enthusiastic verdict. After the test visit the jury members were sure: “Obstfelderschmiede and Lichtenhain have everything that day trippers need.” It is fortunate that committed employees on the Oberweißbacher mountain railway could save this jewel during the period after reunification. “In Obstfelderschmiede and Lichtenhain, time has simply stood still – in the nicest possible way.”

Twelve years of Train Station of the Year: good stations are common tasks
“In the course of the competition’s twelve year history we have seen time and again that close cooperation at the local level is decisive for winning the award,” said Dirk Flege, jury member and managing director of the German Pro-Rail Alliance on Wednesday in Berlin. In Marburg, the city provided the decisive impulse for the design of the new station. In Thuringia, the Oberweißbacher mountain railway was the essential motor that allowed its various communities to grow together as a region for tourism. “Railway stations are cross-functional responsibilities,” said the Pro-Rail Alliance managing director. “We regard our train stations today as mobility hubs. The award for Marburg shows once again that this strategy is being well received by all our customers. In particular, we were very pleased that the jury highlighted the barrier free access at Marburg station, because we have used brail lettering and a tactile guidance system, as well as reconstruction measures to remove any steps, to make it possible for people with limited mobility to have optimal access the railway system,” said André Zeug, chairman of the board of DB Station&Service. The title of Train Station of the Year for Marburg “strengthens us in our resolve to make consistent progress in our efforts to make rail travel barrier-free. Every year, we upgrade around 100 stations to enable barrier free access, added Zeug.

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 2014: Dresden und Hünfeld ,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.