(Karlsruhe, August 22, 2017) Deutsche Bahn and the companies of the Rastatt tunnel consortium responsible for construction presented their schedule for restoring service on the Rhine Valley Railway in Karlsruhe today.
After thoroughly reviewing all potential construction methods to secure tunnel construction and repair the section, the consortium and DB agreed that service would be restored by October 7. Extensive construction work will take place along the 160 meter section over the coming weeks. Along with filling the tunnel with concrete, 150 meters of the overhead line have to be dismantled, tracks, ties and ballast have to be removed and preparations have to be made for the 120 meters long, one meter thick concrete slab that will be installed. This concrete slab will be used to stabilize the ground, provide structural support for the loads above and will also serve as the foundation for the new tracks. The consortium calculated three weeks of round-the-clock work for this phase of construction alone. Only then can the tracks be rebuilt.
"Deutsche Bahn had envisaged a much shorter timeline. But securing the tunnel and ensuring safe operations on the Rhine Valley Railway clearly comes first," says Prof. Dirk Rompf, Member of the Management Board of DB Netz AG responsible for large-scale projects. "We are confident that work will be completed on schedule and want passenger and freight service on this heavily traveled section to be restored."
"Considering the complexity of the situation and the how urgent it is to restore service, we are relieved that we have developed this fast but also sound plan together with Deutsche Bahn," says Klaus Pöllath, speaking on behalf of the Tunnel Rastatt consortium.
Around noon on August 12, water and soil penetrated part of the new Rastatt tunnel (upgraded and new-build line between Karlsruhe and Basel) during driving operations for construction. The permanent way subsided and the Rhine Valley Railway tracks above the tunnel warped. The section in the Rhine Valley has been closed since that time.
The damaged tunnel has now been stabilized. A concrete plug was brought into the tube behind the tunnel boring machine to cut off the some 4,000 meter intact tunnel from the damaged section. The section up to the cutting wheel of the boring machine will be filled with concrete.
The next step will be to remove the tracks, ballast and subgrade in the area where the damage occurred.
Then the load-distributing concrete slab will be poured to stabilize the damaged tunnel section and ground. Once the slab is completed and the concrete has fully cured, the tracks will be rebuilt.
DB has introduced various relief measures for freight transport. The Neckar-Alb Railway (Horb–Tübingen–Reutlingen–Plochingen) is already being used as an alternative route for freight trains. DB Netz is also shortening or postponing construction work on potential alternative routes to be able to offer additional capacity and routes for replacement freight service.
Construction on the route between Stuttgart and Hattingen will be completed a week early, on September 5, to allow freight transport which was previously rerouted on the Neckar-Alb Railway to use this route instead. Reduced regional service on the Neckar-Alb Railway will thus be restored starting on September 6. Because there is so much coordination involved, DB Netz AG has established a "route conference" to keep rail companies up to date and to be able to share information with them. "We are aware that capacity on the alternative routes is limited and that the situation is posing significant challenges to rail freight companies," said Prof. Dirk Rompf. "We are providing substantial support here."
DB Cargo is also maintaining close contact with its customers to ensure that transport services for important segments of industry can continue in southern Germany, Italy and Switzerland, including supplying base materials for the chemical industry and supplying steel mills, the mineral oil sector and paper processors. Trains delivering supplies are being given priority.