The Berlin–Halle railway, sometimes called the Anhalt railway (German: Anhalter Bahn), is a twin-track, electrified main line found in the German city and state of Berlin, and the states of Brandenburg and Sachsen-Anhalt. The railway was originally built and managed by the Berlin-Anhaltische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft.
The Anhalt railway runs from Berlin via Jüterbog and Wittenberg to Halle. The line is part of the Line 1 of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). In the Berlin area, Anhalt Suburban Line, which carries Berlin S-Bahn services, runs parallel to the main line.
The Berlin-Anhaltische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (Berlin-Anhalt Railway Company, BAE) was one of the most important railway companies in Germany for about four decades in the 19th century. In addition to the main Anhalt Railway, the BAE built a network of important railway connections between Berlin and the northern parts of the Kingdom of Saxony, the Prussian Province of Saxony, and the duchy of Anhalt, with a total length of 430 kilometres (270 mi) at its apex.
The original Anhalt Railway ran from the Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin via Jüterbog, Wittenberg, and Dessau to Köthen (including the Wittenberg–Roßlau line, the Roßlau–Dessau line and the Dessau–Köthen railway) and was put into service in 1840/1841. The section of the current line north of Jüterbog was opened on 1 July 1841 and the section between Jüterbog and Wittenberg was opened on 10 September 1841. A connection was possible in Köthen over the Magdeburg-Leipzig railway to Halle and Leipzig. In 1859, the trip between Berlin and Halle/Leipzig was considerably shortened with the opening of the direct connection between Wittenberg and Bitterfeld.
The Anhalt railway was one of the most important long-distance railways in Germany at the time of its opening. Some of the first express trains traveled from Berlin via Köthen to Halle, Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main and Munich, as well as to Dresden, Prague, and Vienna via Jüterbog-Röderau. The railway also allowed a connection between Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and Athens.
Starting in 1923, one of the first long-distance express trains (FD-Zug) traveled from Berlin via Halle and Erfurt to Frankfurt. Starting in 1935, express multiple unit electric railcars provided the same service. In 1939, the section between Berlin and Bitterfeld, which carried long-distance services towards the Rhine-Main area and South Germany, was used by 33 pairs of long-distance trains per day, the busiest line in Germany for long-distance traffic.
The property of the Anhalt railway suffered major damage during World War II, and was only repaired in critical areas. After the partition of Berlin, Deutsche Reichsbahn (East Germany) ran services to stations in East Berlin. It was not until 1951 with the completion of the first sections of the Berlin outer ring, that direct connections were possible coming from Halle or Leipzig. The connection to Berlin, and the heavily damaged Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin-Kreuzberg, was completed on 18 May 1952. The internal East German long-distance traffic to East Berlin ran to the terminus stations of Ostbahnhof, Lichtenberg or Schöneweide. Regional service trains terminated at Teltow until the construction of the Berlin Wall, where connections to the Berlin S-Bahn using the Anhalt Suburban Line were possible.