German Unity Transport Project 8

 Nuremberg – Erfurt – Halle/Leipzig – Berlin

Unterleiterbach–Ebensfeld construction phase

The project

The upgraded Nuremberg-Ebensfeld line meets the Ebensfeld-Erfurt line at Ebensfeld, in the Lichtenfels district of Upper Franconia. An existing double-track line is being upgraded to four tracks on the 9.5 km section (between Zapfendorf and the Eierberge tunnel). Two of the four tracks form part of the upgraded and new line between Nuremberg and Erfurt (VDE 8.1), on which speeds between 230 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 (the existing line was built in 1846 as part of the Ludwig South-North railway).

Streckenverlauf bei Unterleiterbach
Line at Unterleiterbach (3D-Simulation: DB AG)

Facts and figures

Length: approximately 9,5 km
Noise barrier length: approximately 7,7 km
Noise barrier height: 2-5 m
Upgraded/new line tracklaying: 966 track segments
Underbridges, newly-built: 6
Overbridges, newly-built: 2
Temporary overbridges: 1
Culverts: 3
Platforms, newly built, Ebensfeld halt: 2
Earthworks, volume: 400.00 m³
Drainage: approximately 13 km
Permanent way: On ballast
Design speed: Upgraded line 160 km/h
Design speed: New line 280 km/h/230 km/h
Design speed: Relief loops 100 km/h
Line commissioning date: 2017


Two relief loops will also be laid at Unterleiterbach. They will be used to allow slower freight trains to wait, to clear the line for faster ICE trains. The line divides to the north of Ebensfeld halt: the existing line (line 5100) runs north-east to Hof and the new double-track line (line 5919) which begins at this point will run north to Erfurt. The cross-section of the line will generally be widened on the western side. It will only be widened to the east in the vicinity of the Unterleiterbach relief loops, as a loop of the River Main is immediately adjacent.

Streckenverlauf im künftigen Haltepunkt Ebensfeld
Line at Ebensfeld (3D-Simulation: DB AG)

Work on the four-track upgrade began in the first half of 2013. It is very demanding, as it is taking place without suspending services, i.e. with trains running. As there is considerably less traffic on the line at night, some quieter work can be postponed until then.

Construction method in the River Main flood plain

Both the existing Bamberg-Hof line and the tracks of the new Nuremberg-Ebensfeld line are located in the flood plain of the River Main between Zapfendorf and Ebensfeld. Large parts of the construction area are flooded every year, e.g. in the spring thaw. A floodwater management system is therefore necessary during the construction phase. Flood warnings (gauge heights) from the Schwürbitz state River Main gauge are downloaded regularly from the Internet by site management. The gauge is 27 km upstream. If the warning system indicates flooding, mobile plant, building and other materials are moved to areas outside the danger zone. Stationary plant, such as cranes, is secured appropriately. Environmentally-friendly lubricants are used on all construction plant. Existing trenches, e.g. for bridges and culverts, are scheduled to flood when the water level is high and are pumped out when it has dropped, so that work may continue.

Embankment stabilisation

The effects of noise and vibration caused by trains has been examined for the entire line. Some of the spoil is being re-used for noise barriers, to reduce acoustic emissions. Noise barriers are being constructed over an approximate length of 7.7 km in this building phase. The barriers have to be as close as possible to the source of noise in order to stay within the requisite limits. This is why there are also walls in the middle of the track. A detailed planting plan is being prepared for the noise barriers.

Railway construction and noise abatement

Darstellung der Schallausbreitung an Schienenwegen
the sound propagation (Foto: DB AG)

The existing subsoil is being prepared, in order to erect a stable embankment. It consists of alluvial clay, which is excavated and treated with binders. It is then replaced as a stabilised substratum, to provide a firm substructure and thus a secure embankment. The thickness of the stabilising substratum is at least 1.20 metres on the new line and at least 1 metre on the existing line.

Railway construction and environment

Upgrading a railway line entails interference with nature and the landscape. However, this can be reduced or compensated by a detailed landscape management plan. Staff from an ecological building consultancy are monitoring the specified mitigating and preventive measures.
Cuttings, embankments, noise protection walls and barriers in the immediate vicinity of the formation are integrated into their surroundings by planting them with trees, shrubs and climbing plants.
Attractive nature conservation measures are also being taken away from the railway, to improve the habitat of flora and fauna. Thus the River Main is being widened in some places, to encourage the formation of riparian forest, flood pools, small bodies of water and orchard meadows.

Railway construction and noise protection

Beispiel Bepflanzung von Schallschutzwänden
planting at noise barrier (Photo: DB AG)

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The project VDE 8 is supported by :