SOURCE: YouTube.com – Ghost stations is the usual English translation for the German word Geisterbahnhöfe. This term was used to describe certain stations on Berlin’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn metro networks that were closed during the period of Berlin’s division during the Cold War. Since then, the term has come to be used to describe any disused station on an underground railway line, especially those actively passed through by passenger trains.
An abandoned (or disused) railway station is a building or structure which was constructed to serve as a railway station but has fallen into disuse. There are various circumstances when this may occur – a railway company may fall bankrupt, or the station may be closed due to the failure of economic activitiy such as insufficient passenger numbers, operational reasons such as the diversion or replacement of the line. In some instances, the railway line may continue in operation while the station is closed. Additionally, stations may sometimes be resited along the route of the line to new premises – examples of this include opening a replacement station nearer to the centre of population, or building a larger station on a less restricted site to cope with high passenger numbers.
Notable cases where railway stations have fallen into disuse include the Beeching Axe, a 1960s programme of mass closures of unprofitable railway lines by the British Government. The London Underground system is also noted for its list of closed stations. During the time of the Berlin Wall, a number of Berlin U-Bahn stations on West Berlin lines became “ghost stations” (Geisterbahnhöfe) because they were on lines which passed through East Berlin territory.
Railway stations and lines which fall into disuse may become overgrown. Some former railway lines are repurposed as managed nature reserves, trails or other tourist attractions – for example Hellfire Pass, the route of the former “Death Railway” in Thailand. Many former railways are converted into long-distance cycleways, such as large sections of the National Cycle Network in the United Kingdom. In rural areas, former railway station buildings are often converted into private residences. Examples include many of the stations on the closed Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway in England.