Berlin has a long tradition as a railway junction (first sentence could be reworded. "as a railway junction" not clear. As a hub between East and West, the city has a prominent position in terms of long-distance rail transport within a united Europe. The Senate Department for Urban Development aims at further developing the railway system and pomoting this mode of transport.
The railway connections to and from Berlin have been substantially developed and upgraded over the last years. Over the coming years, further investment will particularly go into improving the connections between Berlin and Eastern Europe.
Numerous European cities can be directly reached from Berlin by train. Berlin's urban development planning represents an important framework for further increasing Berlin´s international accessibility by rail.
Over the last 15 years, journey times from Berlin to other European cities could be reduced substantially. While the journey time from Berlin to Warsaw was about eight hours in 1990, significant improvement measures, have enabled a journey time of about six hours today. The rail connections to Vienna and Amsterdam are characterised by similar journey time reductions.
Rail connections to Eastern Europe
Considerable progress could be achieved for some rail connections between Berlin and Eastern Europa. For example, the connection Berlin - Szczecin (Stettin) experienced a passenger increase following the improvement of the service completed at the end of 2004, which . Moreover, the tariff structure for this connection was improved, so that the Brandenburg-Berlin ticket, a so-called "Länderticket", will also also be available and valid in Stettin. Since 2005, this ticket also entitles hard colders to use the Berlin urban transport system such as the S-Bahn and Underground. In turn, the Verkehrsbund Berlin-Brandenburg´s (VBB) (Association of public and private transport companies in Berlin and Brandenburg) weekly, monthly and annual tickets can be also be used in the City of Stettin. Due to the enhanced communication between German and Polish stakeholders in summer 2007, a proposal from Berlin could be realised that provides a new late night connection between Berlin and Szczecin, without the need to change trains by using a night sleeper train towards Kaliningrad. The services offered by the VBB tariff and the "Länderticket" can also be used in this case. This can be regarded as a truly cross-border, integrated transport solutions.
Even the rail connection between Berlin and the stations of Kostrzyn, Szczecin and Rzepin (to Zielona Góra), which are located at the border between Germany and Poland, have in many cases been improved considerably, resulting in journey time reductions of between 30 and 50 minutes.
However, certain rail connections from Berlin to Eastern Europe continue to be inadequate despite some improvement measures . For example, the rail connection to Poland is characterised by a number of legal, administrative and organisational challenges .
The state of Berlin promotes a modern German-Polish railway agreement at federal level, which aims at improving the cooperation between the German and Polish national Ministries, supervisory authority and train operating companies. The clear objective is a faster coordination of lines and schedules as well as simple approval procedures.