German Unity Transport Project 8

 Nuremberg – Erfurt – Halle/Leipzig – Berlin

Hallstadt - Ebensfeld phase

The project

(Video: DB AG)

Connection of the new line to the upgraded line

The existing double-track line between Hallstadt and Ebensfeld is being upgraded to four tracks. The 22 km planning phase (18 km of upgraded line plus 4 km of new line) is the northernmost part of the upgraded line which starts in Nuremberg, which will be linked to the new line to Erfurt beyond Ebensfeld, at the Eierberge tunnel. The work should be largely completed in 2017.
Two of the four tracks form part of the upgraded and new line between Nuremberg and Erfurt (VDE 8.1), on which speeds between 200 and 280 km/h will be possible. The two other tracks form part of the existing Bamberg - Hof formation and have a design speed of 160 km/h. This line was built in 1846, as part of the Ludwig South-North railway. Two sets of relief loops are being provided, where, for example, slower freight trains can wait to let a high-speed train through. There will no longer be any protected level crossings on the section following the upgrade. The four existing protected crossings are being replaced by bridges. A total of 28 new under- and overbridges is planned. Two electronic signalling centres are also being installed.
Local residents will be comprehensively protected against noise by an acoustic barrier design prepared in compliance with the applicable statutory provisions. Noise protection barriers and walls are being constructed along the formation and central walls between the tracks, with an aggregate length of about 21 km. Passive noise abatement measures (e.g. the installation of double glazing) are planned in areas which are particularly affected, in addition to these active noise protection measures.
The loop on the River Main at Ebing is being diverted, in close cooperation with the environmental protection authorities. The existing riverbed will be retained as an oxbow lake, linked to the river. It will provide a backwater for fish, birds and plants. Compensatory environmental measures are also being taken elsewhere.


loop on the River Main at Ebing
Loop on the River Main at Ebing (Visualization: DB AG)

Four-track Hallstadt-Ebensfeld upgrade in three construction phases


The planning approval procedure is continuing for this section, about 12.5 km long.



Upgrading is starting in 2015, initially between Breitengüssbach and Zapfendorf. From the south, two tracks extend in parallel into this section, with the other two tracks running in the opposite direction. The upgraded and existing lines will be separated between Breitengüssbach and Zapfendorf, by taking the upgraded northbound line over the two existing tracks in the centre.
Bottlenecks will occur at some points, as the Main, the railway, the A73 motorway and the ST 2197 road are very close together here. This is why the Ebing Main loop is being diverted. The ST 2197 road is being relaid in two places. Breitengüssbach halt and relief loops*, Ebing and Zapfendorf halts and an electronic signalling centre are to be newly built in this construction section.


Haltepunkt Breitengüßbach, Eisenbahnüberführung Kreisstraße BA 16
Halt Breitengüssbach, BA 16 railway bridge Kreisstrasse (Visualization: DB AG 11/2013)


The planning approval process has been completed for this 9.5 km construction phase and construction planning is far advanced. Work on the track will start at the beginning of 2014. It will begin in Unterleitbach, where relief loops and an electronic signalling centre will be built. Diversion of the Unterleitbach Main loop has also been started. Ebensfeld halt is under construction. The line divides to the north. The new double-track line (line 5919) to Erfurt leads northwards to the Eierberge tunnel. The existing line (line 5100) branches off and runs north-east to Hof.


* Overtaking station: there may be a slow train stopped (Rail freight transport) to let pass a fast train (ICE)

How is construction taking place?

Most of the railway construction work is taking place while trains are running. This is very demanding and is further complicated by the topography in this construction phase, so construction can only be completed in small stages. A warning system tells workers when trains are approaching. As there is considerably less traffic on the line at night, some quieter work can be postponed until then. Rail services will also be suspended at night and weekends. Isolated blockades are also possible at weekends. Rail replacement buses will then be available for passengers.

Blockade in 2016

If all the work were to take place while trains were running, it would take eight years. An eight-month blockade of the line will therefore be imposed in 2016. The old double-track line will be removed and then new four-track line constructed during this period. Rail replacement buses will then be available for passengers. The blockade will also reduce the effects on road traffic. After the blockade, work will be continued during test running (on the upgraded line) and operation (on the existing line). Several flyovers, taking one track over two others, will be constructed. Construction work in Breitengüssbach und Ebensfeld should be completed in 2017.

Summary: what is being built?

  • Integration of the new Ebensfeld-Erfurt line into the upgraded Nuremberg-Ebensfeld line
  • A four-track railway line (two tracks for the upgrade of the existing line and two for the high-speed line)
  • 12 road and footpath bridges over the line
  • Removal of four level crossings
  • Two sets of relief loops
  • Two electronic signalling centres
  • Cable ducts for technical equipment and installation of track drainage
  • 21 km of noise barriers and walls
  • One noise barrier
  • Diversion of two loops on the River Main
  • Two new platforms in Ebensfeld

    Two side platforms in Zapfendorf

    One side platform in Ebing

    One island platform in Breitengüssbach

    One island platform in Hallstadt after 2017

Site access roads and site installation areas

The material required to build the line will be brought in either by rail or road, using site access roads, most of which run parallel to the new line. Roads and surfaces which have already been metalled, surfaces within the formation, existing storage and unplanted areas will be given preference for use for site facilities and access. Some access roads with a width of 3.50 metres will be retained parallel to the formation on its completion. In this way every point on the route can be reached quickly if need be.

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The project VDE 8 is supported by :