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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006, 01:46 GMT 02:46 UK
Major new station opens in Berlin
Berlin's new central station
Crowds watched a sound-and-light show, including a firework display
The biggest railway station in Europe has been inaugurated in Berlin by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A two-day celebration is being held in the German capital to mark the opening of the 700m euros (480m) Hauptbahnhof.

The station formally opens on Sunday, just two weeks before Germany hosts the football World Cup.

But the festivities were marred when a knifeman attacked spectators leaving the ceremony, injuring at least 19 people, police said.

"A crazy man ran down the street stabbing people arbitrarily," a policeman at the scene told Reuters news agency.

Standing so close to where the Berlin Wall was, the station represents a bridge that brings the city together
Angela Merkel
German Chancellor

Police said a 17-year-old youth has been arrested in connection with the attacks.

The glass-roofed structure has been built close to where the Berlin Wall once cut through the capital.


The station took eight years to build and for the first time will link the railway lines in the north and south of Berlin with those in the east and west.

Around 300,000 passengers are expected to use it every day.

Angela Merkel inaugurates the station
Angela Merkel described the day as symbolic
"The new transparent central station is a symbol of a modern country that is open to the rest of the world," Ms Merkel said as she inaugurated the five-storey station.

"Standing so close to where the Berlin Wall was, the station represents a bridge that brings the city together," she said.

However, some Berliners have complained that the station is too far from the city's main social and commercial attractions

The 151ft (46m) steel and glass structure dwarfs the nearby parliament buildings of the Reichstag and the Chancellery, where Ms Merkel has her office.

Some reports suggest the overall cost of the station, including reconstruction of the area and rails around it, a road tunnel under it and re-routing the Spree River next to it, was about $13bn.

See the scene at the station

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