You can’t exactly say that the location under Sendlinger-Tor-Platz is clear. For more than five years, the subway station has been completely renovated and expanded by 3,000 square meters in order to cope with the number of passengers. This has tripled since the station opened in 1972. And because the individual construction sites are constantly changing, passengers on the U1 and U2 as well as the U3 and U6 regularly have to get used to new routes. But with the signage it works quite well, despite all the site fences.
Only the search for a ticket machine is apparently not easy for everyone. When Andreas Schmid is leading the way through the construction site, he is asked twice where the next machine is because of his orange safety vest, which identifies him as a man from the public utility company. Schmid, who as project manager of the conversion has an overview of the entire construction site, first has to look around the corner to see if there isn’t anyone there. That is the case, but the lady comes right back with her questioning look. “Defect,” she says. And the next? There could be one somewhere back there, in the other direction. With some detailed questions, a project manager obviously gets into trouble.
Almost nothing in the station remains as it was, be it power lines or the stairways. Only the subway tracks will be spared from the conversion. The fact that the lines are interrupted again and again at night and on weekends and only emergency operation is due to the redesign of the platforms. In the meantime, they have largely gotten their new appearance: radiant yellow, rich blue. The new panels are made of enamelled steel and should last as long as possible. In some places the fairing is still missing, here the electronics still have to be worked on. During the construction period, the passengers got to see: Such a subway station consists of more than just a few platforms, tracks and display boards.
The lighting concept created by the late designer Ingo Maurer can already be seen in part. The platforms already have a new surface of natural granite and have been raised to ensure accessibility along the entire length of the platform. The future row of shops is already in the making on the mezzanine floor. Eleven business premises will be built on the south side, and a large shop will move in opposite. Where there is still a logistics area today, there would then be room for a supermarket or a drugstore including a warehouse.
While the new access to Sonnenstrasse was completed two years ago and the access to Sendlinger Strasse almost a year ago, the extension to Blumenstrasse will not open until the very end of the construction work. An escalator will soon be installed here before the expansion begins. After that, the Gärtnerplatzviertel is better connected to the underground station, but access only leads directly to the U1 and U2 levels. The building of the district savings bank stood in the way of a connection to the next higher platform level. Work is also still underway on the extended access to Müllerstraße in front of the Stadtsparkasse. Its opening – then with an additional escalator – is scheduled for mid-October.
Anyone who wants to get to the surface from the U1 and U2 has had to use the new exit on the north side since last week. The old one, which lies between the platforms on the lowest level, is closed until the end of the construction work. New escalators are also being installed here, the workers have already torn out the old floor.
Everything should be ready in the third quarter of 2023, later than initially planned. Actually, the station should have been completely rebuilt by the end of this year. But it soon became apparent that there were surprises lurking underground that were not listed in any plans: steel girders, for example, had to be removed at great expense and an unknown cavity under Blumenstrasse had to be filled. Then water got into the construction site – all this delays the completion.
In addition, because of the major concerts by Andreas Gabalier and Helene Fischer this year, as well as because of the European Championships, the Ed Sheeran concerts in the Olympic Park and the Superbloom Festival, the long-planned blocking breaks for these weekends had to be suspended, which Construction additionally delayed. And finally, there were also delivery delays, for example with natural stone.
According to project manager Schmid, the festival and concert dates were not foreseeable at the time of planning. Surprises cannot be ruled out for next year either. According to Schmid, simply postponing planned closures for a weekend is not possible because the construction companies commissioned by the public utility company cannot simply throw their appointment calendars overboard.
One of the most important sections of the work has already been completed since mid-September with the completion of the newly designed transfer area between U1/U2 and U3/U6. The direct transfer between the platform levels is now via a new escalator system. Four escalators provide more space and new walking routes for faster changes between the subway lines. To do this, one stairway was rotated and an additional one added: This should prevent traffic jams and crossings in the future. Another fixed staircase was also installed. “It will take a few more weeks for people to get used to it,” Schmid suspects.
At the beginning of next year, Stadtwerke will also start redesigning the surface. Contrary to what was initially planned, the state before the construction work is not restored. The city council decided to make the areas more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly in coordination with the building department and the mobility department. This work will probably last until 2024.