New High-Speed Line Opens in Germany

Image Courtesy of Deutsche Bahn AG

The 123km new high-speed rail link between Erfurt and Leipzig / Halle was opened on 9 December 2015 with two special trains travelling on the route and events being held in Halle.

The German Unity Transport Project 8: Berlin Munich in Under 4 Hours

The opening celebrations in Leipzig were attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Federal Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, the Prime Ministers of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia and by board members of Deutsche Bahn AG. Chairman and CEO of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn AG, Rdiger Grube, called the new section a milestone en route to completing the high-speed connection between Berlin and Munich as part of the German Unity Transport Project (VDE) no. 8. In two years time the opening of the final section will reduce the travel time between Berlin and Munich to under four hours. Construction of the 123km line was a challenge to engineers as the upgrade works took place while rail traffic remained in operation.

From Sunday, 13 Dec, travel times between Erfurt and Halle / Leipzig will already be halved. The ICE trains will arrive around 40 minutes sooner in Halle and around 30 minutes sooner in Leipzig as the tracks are designed for speeds of 300 km/h. DB is thereby also offering faster connections between Dresden and Frankfurt (Main) as well as Berlin and Frankfurt (Main).

VDE 8.2: The Route Between Erfurt and Leipzig / Halle

The route runs through the Thuringian Basin before crossing the Finne mountain range via three tunnels with a total length of 15.4km. After the Querfurt Plate, the route splits, with one section heading to Halle, the other to Leipzig. The Halle branch lies on the Elster-Saale Viaduct. This is Germanys longest railway bridge with a total length of 8.6km. Five additional state-of-the-art bridges finish off the route.

Enhancing Inter-connectivity within Europe: the European Train Control System

The 123km new railway line Erfurt Leipzig / Halle is part of the German Unity Transport Project no. 8. Around 500km of tracks are being built between Berlin, Halle / Leipzig, Erfurt and Nuremberg for approx. 10bn. The new section between Erfurt and Halle / Leipzig is the most innovative on the DB network. The new Scherkondetal and Gnsebachtal Railway Bridges have won two bridge building awards the German Bridge Engineering Prize 2012 and 2014. It is also the first time that a standard European Train Control System (ETCS) is being used that can make do without signals along the tracks. Data is transmitted between trains, control centres and transponders by radio. ETCS is now mandatory for all European lines and will replace around 20 security systems that are still preventing cross-border European rail traffic.

Rdiger Grube said at the opening that

“this line was Germany’s launch of the digital railway age. The future of rail mobility is full of challenges and opportunities for those that know how to seize them”.

The European High-Speed Rail Network

This new high-speed line, which is part of the high-speed link between Berlin and Nuremberg and Munich is also a crucial section of the high-speed Trans-European Network (TEN), allowing passengers to travel from Sicily to Scandinavia via Berlin, crossing national borders without switching engines or changing the train control system. This interoperability is vital for Europe’s future rail services. Everything, from the height of platform edges to the train operating system are taken into account. The Berlin-Nuremberg line implements all of the set European standards to create a railway with no boundaries.

VDE 8.2 opens after Federal Railway Authority Approval

After extensive test journeys and authorization procedures, the 123km section was tested over the past months and opened for operation. The operating approval issued by the Federal Railway Authority meant that the opening process could be successfully completed on 8 December 2015

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