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April 17, 2013

What's your experience on Germany's trains?

Geisterbahnhof_21_01606@gdickson

During the Cold War, West Berlin residents who wanted to go from one end of their city to another could take subway trains that briefly cut through portions of East Berlin. The trains were allowed by the East German government to pass without stopping, although armed guards kept a close watch to ensure nobody got off the trains (or, perhaps more importantly, to ensure no East Germans got on). As the trains made their way through East Berlin, they would pass through trains stations that had been closed since the Berlin Wall was built. These train platforms - ratty, creepy and abandoned except for the presence of the guards - became known as "ghost stations." If you ever saw one of these stations up close, I would very much like to talk with you for a news story.

Please call 817 390 7796 or send an email to gdickson@star-telegram.com Whether you lived in East Berlin or West Berlin, or just visited, I would like to talk with you about your experiences. Please include a phone number or email address so I can get in touch with you.

Also, if you have experience riding the modern trains of reunified Germany, including the InterCity Express trains that today go 200 mph-plus, I would like to speak with you.

Again, please call 817 390 7796 or send an email to

gdickson@star-telegram.com ...

Last year, I was fortunate to attend the International Transport Forum, an annual event held in Leipzig, Germany featuring renowned goverment officials and transportation experts from around the world.

That trip introduced me to Germany's passenger rail system. (Some of those Cold War "ghost stations," by the way, have been dramatically rebuilt and are now hubs of modernity in Berlin.) Today, I'd like to do a story comparing the German experience to the United States' effort to develop a more effective rail system. I am planning a return trip to this year's International Transport Forum May 22-24 in Leipzig, and I hope to explore the issue of passenger rail more in depth while I'm there.

But before I go, I need your help ...

Please spread the word to anyone you know who spent time in East Berlin, West Berlin or more recently in reunified Berlin. I would very much like to talk.

- Gordon Dickson.

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Photo: Berlin Wall Memorial

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