After making inspection visits in all of Germany’s federal states, the jury has reached its verdict: Stralsund and Steinheim in Westphalia are this year’s winners of the Train Station of the Year award. For the 13th year in a row, the Pro-Rail Alliance has made the award for Germany’s most customer-friendly train station. Stralsund, situated in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, won over the jury with its “typical North-German flair, where being down-to-earth counts for more than pomp and grandeur.” On their journey through North Rhine-Westphalia, the station testers found themselves in Steinheim, situated on the edge of the Weser Hills. During the incognito visit, its rapid transport, S-Bahn Station proved to be a “well provided gem of a station”. The competition’s jury 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. In order to assess station quality from the point of view of tourists, 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.
Stralsund: Gateway to the Baltic Sea
For travellers, the main station in Stralsund is quite literally the embodiment of the typical North-German way of life. “Being down-to-earth counts for more than pomp and grandeur,” praised the jury. “Stralsund is filled with a calmness that seems to herald the Baltic Sea, and that holiday feeling”. The station building particularly impressed the jurors. The entrance hall’s ceiling, with its wooden beams and the room-filling mural, guarantees a fitting reception, while the platform hall is filled with daylight, which further improves the quality of a visit to the station. “Protected from the elements, travellers will easily be able to cope with having to wait for their connections,” was the jury’s feeling. Behind its redbrick gothic exterior, Stralsund station offers “exemplary gastronomy, with the Bio-Insel belonging to the best station bistros in Germany”. The biggest plus factor: the attentive and consistently friendly security personnel. “Passengers feel as if they are being noticed, in the most positive meaning of the word. The people who work in Stralsund station really care.” This is exactly how it should be in the Train Station of the Year 2016.
Steinheim (Westphalia): King of the S-Bahn Stations
He stands well-hidden on the outskirts of the Weser Hills, the King of the rapid transit S-Bahn rail stations. Instead of a grubby, standard platform with a waiting room, travellers will find a fully provided gem of a station. “Steinheim station is like a hospitable country home, opening its doors for tired hikers and cyclist, where they find everything they need and more in the freshly renovated station building,” was the jury’s verdict. A chic hotel with round-the-clock check-in, a bicycle storage cellar with battery charging facilities and a drying room for wet clothing. To ensure that not only tourists but also commuters and local residents are satisfied, Steinheim station offers a large restaurant with beer garden, a ticket counter and a shop for travellers’ needs, as well as fresh bread rolls. The jury was astonished and delighted: “it is an ingenious concept that ensures there are always people around. This remote station is a commitment to a culture of hospitality, and the broad range on offer for all types of customers is worthy of respect. Steinheim truly is a Station of the Year.”
A successful station is a task for the community
“In the course of the competition’s 13-year history, we have seen time and again that close cooperation at the local level is decisive for winning the award,” said Dirk Flege, Station of the Year jury member and managing director of the German Pro-Rail Alliance, on Monday in Berlin. Wherever towns, regions and the railways put their hearts into closely cooperating, a top-class station will eventually appear. With Steinheim, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has now produced its first winner. The town’s cooperation on all levels was exemplary. “The blank areas on our map of Germany are slowly vanishing. The jury is full of hope that a station in the Rhineland Palatiny, Saarland or Schleswig-Holstein will make it onto the winners’ podium,” said the Pro-Rail Alliance managing director. “We need more stations where people feel good. For the jury it is not the size or monumental architecture that counts, but customer focus. So actually, with the commitment of all the local stakeholders, that means any train station could win.”
Station of the Year: Out and about with the checklist
With its ‘Train Station of the Year’ competition, the Pro-Rail Alliance has given awards to Germany’s best stations since 2004. Only stations that satisfy people’s needs, according to a defined set of criteria, can receive the award. Objective demands such as customer information, cleanliness, integration with the city and connections with other modes of transport are as important to winning the vote as more subjective ‘feel-good’ factors. Dirty toilets, for example, are an obvious knockout factor.
The previous winning Stations of the Year were:
- 2015: Marburg and Obstfelderschmiede/Lichtenhain
- 2014: Dresden and Hünfeld
- 2013: Göttingen and Oberursel
- 2012: Bremen and Aschaffenburg
- 2011: Leipzig and Halberstadt
- 2010: Darmstadt and Baden-Baden
- 2009: Erfurt, Uelzen and Heringsdorf
- 2008: Karlsruhe and Schwerin
- 2007: Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Landsberg am Lech
- 2006: Hamburg Dammtor and Oberstdorf
- 2005: Mannheim and Weimar
- 2004: Hannover and Lübben.
About Allianz pro Schiene
Allianz pro Schiene e.V. (The Pro-Rail Alliance) is the German alliance for the promotion of environmentally friendly and safe rail transport. It is an independent umbrella organisation that unites non-profit organisations and the commercial sector for the purpose of lobbying on behalf of the railways.