Through the Berlin Wall'
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WEST BERLIN has existed for 30 years as an economic, if not political, enclave of the Federal Republic with which it is linked by transport corridors through East Germany.
Since the ratification of the Four Power agreement of 1971 in the following year there has been considerable improvement in the free movement of surface passenger and goods traffic.
While the image of a city under seige has receded, the fact is that the traffic, which provides a lifeline, moves along strictly controlled channels. An unusual transport philosophy has developed in which the imbalance of traffic—raw materials in, high-value manufactured goods out—beats anywhere else in Europe. While rail transport, for instance, supplies 70 per cent of Berlin's solid fuel its total share of the all-modes traffic volume last year was 24pc. West-bound trains carried only 9pc of the inward rail tonnage.
It is the flexibility of road transport, however, which copes best with the erratic traffic-flow pattern generated by the needs of the " island " city calling for an " inward " tonnage which is almost five times that of the volume shipped out.
In 1974 lorries—laden and unladen—made 365,000 trips to Berlin, or 1,000 journeys for each day of the year (traffic with the city is not subject to the general Sunday-ban, in Germany, on vehicles over 7.5 tonnes). A slightly higher number of return journeys was registered although the 2.5 million tonnes carried represented less than half of the 5.1m tonnes going to the city by road. Approximately 68pc of the traffic was carried by hauliers, 30pc by own-account vehicles and the remainder by the Federal Railways' road services or railway contractors. Just over 50pc of all journeys were made by lorries based in Berlin.
Over three-fifths of all commercial vehicle traffic with Berlin uses the HelmstedtMarienborn frontier crossing, east of Brunswick. Since implementation of the Berlin agreement the time for crossing formalities for vehicles conforming to " Berlin Traffic" rules has been reduced to an average of 25 minutes compared with former delays of up to three hours.
With the strengthening of trade with East Germany the growth of traffic between West Berlin and the East Zone has increased by 108pc over the figure for 1965. This 10-year expansion—road now carries 21-pc of this traffic—has brought the total tonnage exchanged between West Berlin and the East to 6.1m tonnes, equivalent to 40pc of freight handled to and from the West.
The city itself has a number of " holes-dn-the-wall " designated as road traffic crossings into the East sector; one of these is regularly used by local operators in the building industry and those carrying fuel. Most of the sand and gravel for building sites in West Berlin comes from the East sector while a 20-year contact between the West Berlin city authorities and their counterpart in the East has been successful in securing tipping sites for refuse and rubble on the other side of the "wall,"