MAN Truck & Bus
Everything is normal as the sun sets over Speicherstadt. Sophisticated lighting technology immerses the world's largest historic warehouse complex in sparkling light. And yet something is amiss: a large hand emerges and places the new MAN bus down on the road. Then corrects its position until the electric bus is perfectly positioned between the other road users. What before seemed like reality is a perfect replica – just smaller. Just like the MAN Lion’s City E, which has been scaled down and is now also part of the world's largest model railway exhibit.
Miniatur Wunderland always astonishes both small and large model bus fans. A typical American half-decker is driving through Miami, a snout bus is fighting its way through the mountains and a fire service bus is rushing to a major incident. The scenes look deceptively real, except everything is 87 times smaller than in reality. Brothers Gerrit and Frederik Braun and their team understand how to create the perfect illusion and take visitors on a journey to another world.
There are 9250 vehicles, several hundred of which are computer controlled. A built-in motor, control board and batteries enable them to make their way completely independently around the model railway facility. The rest is also simply gigantic: around 1000 locomotives with over 10,000 carriages pass by 1300 signals and cross 3500 switches on a 15-kilometre-long rail network within a model area covering more than 1500 square meters.
A specially developed lighting control system ensures almost perfect day and night simulation for the landscapes. Over 950,000 working hours and 35 million euros have already been invested to make Miniatur Wunderland look as it does today.
"The end of this world is a wrought iron railing with wooden armrests," says Gerrit Braun. This arm rest is wide enough to make yourself comfortable with your arms crossed. Visitors look as if from heaven onto Germany's smallest city – far away from the bustle, noise and stress. Employees affectionately refer to their visitors as "railing gods".
The metropolis of Hamburg is also a real eye-catcher in the field of electric mobility. Whether electric buses or a storage unit for discarded batteries, MAN is at the forefront of this transformation in mobility. MAN presented the matching model buses to the makers of Miniatur Wunderland to coincide with handover of the first MAN Lion’s City electric buses to Hamburg Hochbahn and Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein.
Henrik Falk, Toralf Müller and Nora Wolters, directors of the two transport companies in the Hanseatic city, were permitted to place the 87-fold reductions of their electric buses onto the streets of Miniatur Wunderland under the watchful eyes of Gerrit Braun and Rudi Kuchta, Head of Business Unit Bus at MAN Truck & Bus.
THE END OF THIS WORLD IS A WROUGHT IRON RAILING WITH WOODEN ARMRESTS.
have so far been invested in Miniatur Wunderland
is the total surface area dedicated to the models
= models compared to reality
The model makers equipped each of the small MAN Lion’s City electric buses with 16 red LEDs at the rear. There are six yellow side lights on each side, two red marker lights on the rear, five LEDs on the inside plus four white ones at the front. No question, the people of Hamburg understand how to create the perfect illusion to inspire visitors. The shining MAN electric buses now provide one further attraction. Anyone visiting Miniatur Wunderland should look out for MAN models in front of the HSV stadium and by Hamburg Central Station, because that's where the public transport directors have placed their mini-E buses on the street.
A new district is to be developed on the former harbour area south of Speicherstadt by 2025 at the latest. "We do not yet foresee an end to construction," says Gerrit Braun. Yet unlike so many site managers in the HafenCity district, this Hamburg man is completely composed. Completing a new construction phase every two years is a challenge, but not an impossible one. The world's largest model railway attraction opened in 2001. Behind thick red-brick walls, the lift carries tourists and locals up to the fourth floor which is home to Miniatur Wunderland.
Gerrit and Frederik Braun have been building their life's work for twenty years now. They have plenty of ideas. Neither of those involved dares to say whether Miniatur Wunderland will also be finished with completion of the construction work in HafenCity. Although one thing is certain: the people of Hamburg are always up to date, as the small MAN Lion's City E now illustrates once again.