Electronic Interlocking Commissioned in Duisburg

Electronic interlocking has now been fully commissioned in Duisburg, Germany, after the second expansion stage was completed at the end of May.

The new electronic interlocking has replaced old interlockings at Styrum (Ruhr) near Mülheim and Essen-West and will increase capacity and minimise the number of cancellations and delays on one of the busiest rail lines in Europe.

Over the past four years, DB Engineering & Consulting has provided construction supervision services for this project.

To minimise its impact on rail passengers traveling between Duisburg and Essen, the majority of the work was completed during long work windows when the line was closed. The philosophy was that it was preferable to shut everything down for a relatively short time rather than subject passengers to months of restricted travel. The longest shutdown came in the summer of 2019 and lasted six weeks.

At any given time up to 30 construction supervisors helped guide the project, and the Construction Supervision Centre for line upgrades received support from all construction supervision centres in Region West.

In order to bring the new electronic interlocking online, the rail line between Duisburg and Essen had to be completely closed one last time from 21–26 May. During this time all the old signals were removed, new signals and switches were connected to the new system and four new switches were commissioned in Heissen near Mülheim.

This infrastructure will provide more options for trains traveling on this route, such as the Rhine Ruhr Express (RRX).

In order to test the switches and signals in all possible travel configurations, the last step involved making an enormous number of commissioning runs. Tensions were running high up to the very end because many infrastructure components were only able to undergo initial testing during the brief track closure.

The track closure was also taken as an opportunity to build two provisional bridges over the A40 motorway near Styrum, a district of Mülheim. A traffic accident last September caused damage to five rail bridges, and three were damaged so severely that they needed to be demolished and rebuilt.

DB Engineering & Consulting was also able to assist with this project by providing occupational health and safety coordination services and logistics services in work windows during track closures.

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