More than a decade and a half after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a new east-west divide has opened up in the city which was for 40 years the front-line of the Cold War.

As eye-catching new landmarks emerge in the eastern part of the German capital, much of the west - once a proud model of capitalism - is left looking drab and dilapidated.

The latest blow to "City West", as locals know it, came in May when Berlin opened Europe's biggest train station in an area close to the no man's land where the Berlin Wall once stood.

This has deprived Berlin's Zoo station, the former hub in the west, of long-distance trains which now roll straight through to the gleaming new station, some four kilometres away.

"Tourists no longer get out here so restaurants and hotels in the area are suffering," said Klaus-Dieter Groehler, deputy mayor of the western district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf

"It's another blow. We need to make sure that improving the east does not lead to the demolition of the west," said Mr Groehler, who is campaigning for trains to stop at Zoo.

Four months ago, Zoo had 120,000 commuters rushing through it every day. Now, it is eerily quiet.

Homeless people and drug addicts wander the main building and scraggy pigeons seem to outnumber the few passengers who still pass through to catch local trains.

"It is bad," said Horst Flatau, 58, a fruit-and-juice stall owner at Zoo station. "From one day to the next my business went kaput," he said. With sales down 60-70 per cent, he has laid off three workers. In six months, he will have to consider moving.

It is not just the station that has been hit. Long stretches of Kurfuerstendamm, west Berlin's most fashionable boulevard when it was occupied by US, British and French forces after World War II, now look neglected with discount stores and "To Let" boards appearing alongside upmarket cafes and boutiques.

Since reunification in 1990, west Berlin's modern, concrete opera house, the Deutsche Oper, has fallen on hard times as it struggles against stiff competition from eastern rivals.

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