Berlin train station to play atonal music to drive drug users away

Hermanstrasse S-Bahn

Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) is planning on trialling atonal music on its Hermanstrasse S-Bahn station towards the end of the year.

The initiative, formulated by head of DB’s eastern operations Friedemann Kessler, is a bid to reduce crime and deter loiterers from taking drugs at the Neukölln station. As told to German newspaper Tagesspiegel, Kessler said he opted for atonal music because it “completely undermines traditional listening habits.” Thereby, “few people find it beautiful – many people perceive it as something to run away from.”

Kessler has also acknowledged that the initiative could be difficult to get right. Hence, the trial will be carried out at the station but exclude the platform so as to not drive away passengers. Atonal music will be played at different volumes during the experiment.

This isn’t the first time that music has been used to deter the public from engaging in illegal activities at stations. In 2010, Berlin’s public transport company BVG used classical music to prevent people from taking drugs in one of its stations. Furthermore in 2003, London’s Elm Park station on the underground District Line used classical music to counter gang problems. Later in 2008, Transport for London announced that it would pipe classical music into 40 underground tube stations to reduce anti-social behaviour. The idea originated from Canada in the mid-90s, where an experiment with classical music was carried out to reduce crowds of young loiterers.