Instead of the end of 2020, the handover of the funding decisions took place on May 3, 2021. Both the Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer, and the Brandenburg Minister of Economics, Prof. Jörg Steinbach, as well as the Minister of Infrastructure, Guido Beermann, appeared at the small railway station in Basdorf to hand over the letters of approval for 25 million euros live on site.
The evocatively named Heidekrautbahn, or heather railroad, has a long history: Since 1905 it’s enabled city dwellers to escape from the German capital into the surrounding Schorfheide countryside to the north. However, efforts to resume the passenger service between Basdorf and Berlin-Gesundbrunnen, which was discontinued in 1983, have been drawn out over many years. On Dec. 14, 2020, a grant was due to be awarded that would make this rail link a vital part of a large-scale hydrogen project. According to the proposals, the trains would be powered by fuel cells using renewable energy supplied from regional sources and an electrolyzer would be acquired along with additional hydrogen vehicles. In spite of these preparations, the pandemic has, nevertheless, put the launch on hold.