To cross the Peene river near Karnin, a single-track bridge with a rotary central section was built. This section went into operation on 15th May 1876. The distance from Berlin to Swinemünde was approx. 200 km. The section between Ducherow and Swinemünde was about 40 km, and the section on Usedom island, i.e. from Karnin to Swinemünde main railway station was approx. 27 km. It was now possible to get from Berlin to Swinemünde, "Berlin's swimming pool", in less than 3 hours. The trains to Swinemünde departed from the Stettiner Bahnhof station in Berlin.
Slow trains stopped in Karnin, Dargen and Usedom city, and, later, in Stolpe near Usedom city and in Kutzow. From 1894, the trains also stopped at the Golm. Fast trains went from Ducherow to Swinemünde direct.
As the rotary bridge had worn out after decades of operation and could no longer meet the increased demands, it was replaced by a lift bridge in 1933. The bridge over the Koningshaven of Rotterdam was the model for the new bridge.
Only twelve years later, on 28th April 1945, German destroyed the superstructure of the bridge. The railway connection to the main land was - and remained - interrupted. Until 1948, the remaining railway lines were used by the occupying forces to supply the airbase at Garz and for the transport of reparations goods; afterwards, the railway was dismantled up to Karnin. The lift section of the bridge remained intact in 1945 and is now a symbol of outstanding engineering as well as for the senseless destruction and still-pervading consequences of World War II. However, there is still hope that the train service will be re-established in the future.
The importance of the railway for the further development of the spas on the island of Usedom cannot be overestimated. On 1st July 1894, the section Swinemünde - Heringsdorf (via Ahlbeck) was completed. From 1901, Wollin island was accessible from Swinemünde by a train ferry; from 1911, you could get by train to the station "Wolgaster Fähre", which is only 42 km away from Swinemünde. This railway section included, of course, the spas Bansin, Ückeritz, Kölpinsee, Zinnowitz and Trassenheide. The "Wolgaster Fähre" remained the terminus of the railway until the year 2000. Passengers who wanted to continue their journey had then to walk over the Peene bridge at Wolgast to get to the Wolgast railway station on the main land, the same applied to passengers to Usedom island. After 1945, this was the only possibility to use the "island railway". For more than 50 years, the rail shuttle was reduced to the section between Ahlbeck and the Wolgaster Fähre station.
The consequences for Swinemünde were serious. The railway stations in the town became defunct. The only railway station still in operation was the one at Ostswine. After the old Peene bridge was replaced by a new one in 1996 and the railway connection over this bridge was established in 2000, the Usedomer Bäderbahn now was able to provide a link to the main land. Towards Swinemünde, the railway was renewed up to the border. Nevertheless, to get to Swinemünde from there, one has still to go on foot or to take a taxi.
The railway system on Usedom island includes, last but not least, a branch section leading from Zinnowitz via Karlshagen to Peenemünde. This 12 km railway was built in the 1930s to provide a shuttle service for the employees of the Heererversuchsanstalt at Peenemünde. Since the 1950s, this railway has been used for public transport. Photos (from top): The bridge at Karnin (central section), Karnin railway station, Usedom city railway station, main station of Swinemünde.
Photos (from top): The bridge at Karnin (central section), Karnin railway station, Usedom city railway station, main station of Swinemünde.