On July 31, 2023, the first passengers used the modernised Gdańsk Main Train station (Gdańsk Główny).
The station was erected between 1896-1900 in place of the western fragment of 16th-century fortifications. The complex of the building, in the Dutch Neo-Renaissance style, was designed by architects Aleksander Ruedell and Paul Thoemer. It officially opened on 30 October 1900.
Anyway, I went along to the railway station to see whether the huge investment enabled the building to regain its historic character and become a modern and comfortable space for passengers.
Glory Days – A return to the Old Colours and Original Shapes of the Station’s Exterior
Conservation works were an important element of the reconstruction of the station. The original shape of the building has been restored. For example, we can witness sloping roofs with turrets and copper sheet cladding over the northern part. Moreover, yellow and greenish zigzag ceramic tiles now cover the roof of the station.
The 48-metre tower with clocks has also undergone significant renovation. Numerous architectural details on the facade have been revamped. These features include the coat of arms of Gdańsk which are held by lions. The coat of arms of Poland towards the top of the front facade above the main entrance has also been renovated.
Interior changes made to Gdańsk Main Train Station
From the outside, Gdańsk Main Train Station now looks like an architectural gem.
However, I was burning with desire to see the changes that have been made inside the building.
The Main Hall
The most obvious changes can be seen in the main hall, which was deprived of architectural details after the Second World War. Firstly, the colours of the walls, the oak casing around the windows of the entrances to the ticket office and the original door joinery have been restored. Secondly, the cartouches with coats of arms of eight Pomeranian cities, including Gdańsk, Tczew and Chojnice, have been recreated with exceptional care – based on preserved archival materials.
Another standout feature in the main hall are the reconstructed stained glass windows. These large-format cathedral glass windows are richly symbolic. The eastern stained glass windows combine motifs which symbolise the power and openness of the city of Gdańsk. By contrast, the western stained glass represents the strength of Polish railways. The side stained glass windows merge geometric patterns with floral motifs.
Although the Main Hall serves as a waiting room, there are only a limited number of benches. This seems to make sense because the Main Hall would become too crowded and disorderly given that the line of people waiting to buy tickets often extends far back into the Main Hall.
In addition to the ticket sales counters, there are also the PKP Intercity Customer Service Centre (Centrum Obsługi Klienta PKP Intercity) and Info Dworzec in the Main Hall. Services provided at Info Dworzec include:
- assistance for disabled people and people with reduced mobility;
- assistance with lost luggage;
- information about public transport in Gdańsk and main tourist attractions;
- information about the possibility of organising events and marketing campaigns at the station.
Away from the Main Hall
Aside from the Main Hall, there are plenty of other spaces and features (new and old) which have been renovated. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Let’s turn right after heading through the main entrance. This is the impressively renovated eastern wing where benches for travellers have been placed in front of the windows:
Just off the eastern wing, there’s an elevator next to some stairs. Toilets are located near the bottom of the stairs. Pay heed to the picture in the background. Modest additions in the right places:
Down to Level -1
In the Main Hall, there are two elevators and escalators which take passengers down to level -1.
Here, there is a spacious waiting room for parents with children (equipped with toys, pouffes and a map with stations from all over Poland):
Even the underground passageway looks tip-top. The commercial premises you see in the picture below will surely fill up in the coming months:
Final Thoughts: A Building With Class
Overall, it’s admirable that the modernisation of Gdańsk Main Train Station has restored the shape of the original building.
From the original lighting (spherical chandeliers), to the interior cartouches with the coats of arms of cities in Pomerania, nothing looks out of place post-modernisation.
There appear to be just the right number of benches, electronic train departure and arrival information boards, elevators, escalators and staircases inside and outside of the station. In sum, the station is not jam-full with clutter. The balance is just right.
FAQ – The Modernisation of Gdańsk Main Train Station
The renovation and restoration of Gdańsk Main Railway Station began in September 2019. It was expected to be completed by the end of 2021. However, for various reasons, including the pandemic and technical complications, the deadline for completing the renovation was significantly extended. The station opened to passengers on July 31, 2023.
The largest investment from the Railway Station Investment Program for 2016-2023, which was co-financed from EU funds, was dedicated to the renewal and restoration of Gdańsk Main Railway Station. It was worth almost 120 million PLN.