Deutsche Bahn Steps Up Bridge Renewal Works for the 2020s

Deutsche Bahn promised to renew 875 of its railway bridges between 2015 and 2019. By the end of last year it had exceeded that goal, reaching a grand total of 900. The German state rail operator has now put forward a new goal for the decade ahead: 2,000 bridges by the end of 2029, 20 more per year than in the past five years.

As part of the funding package ‘LuFV II’ the state made 28 billion euros available to DB for railway infrastructure upgrade works between 2015 and 2019 of which 3 billion was earmarked for railway bridges. This allowed DB to renew 900 bridges by the end of 2019. The last to be completed was the one crossing Schönower Str. on the northeastern outskirts of Berlin.

DB bridge renewal
Bridge renewal programme: DB performs inspection using a catenaries service car, class 711.

In 2020 DB wants to step up the bridge renewal programme once more, completing 2,000 bridges by the end of the decade.

“The follow-up funding agreement earmarks around 86 billion euros for our railway infrastructure fore the next ten years – a record sum and the right signal for the urgently needed transport transition in Germany. Strong rails are the right solution.”

Deutsche Bahn is responsible for more than 25,700 railway bridges of different construction types. Their condition is regularly assessed by qualified experts who give them grades from 1 (very good) to 4 (very poor). The overall stock of DB bridges achieves the grade ‘good’.

Currently 4 percent of DB’s railway bridges are assessed as grade 4. In this case it is not economically feasible to refurbish the bridges. These ones should be replaced. Deutsche Bahn says that even the bridges with the worst grade of 4 are still safe to use, otherwise they would not be open to railway traffic. This means a bridge given grade 4 could remain in that category for 15 years or more.

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