First part of heavily damaged German Ahr railway reopens after flood

Nearly four months after the heavy floods in July, part of the Ahr valley railway in Germany are reconnected to rail traffic again. It will take a lot more work for trains to return on other parts, because bridges and other structures need to be rebuilt completely.

The first section of the badly damaged Ahr Valley Railway has been in operation since Monday. Trains now run twice an hour in each direction between Remagen and Ahrweiler. Initially the trains will only run on one track, as the repair of the second track will take more time. In addition, the Heimersheim stop has to be canceled for the time being, as the entire platform was washed away.

In July this year, floods hit parts of Germany and other parts of Western Europe due to heavy rainfall. Deutsche Bahn said earlier that 80 per cent of all damaged railways should be completed before the end of the year. However, some repairs may take years to complete.

Tracks and platforms washed away

The flooding after heavy rainfall had swept away the 110-year-old Ahr Valley Railway on many sections of the route in July this year. Heimersheim was particularly affected, there the water carried the entire platform away, destroyed the embankment over a length of 1.5 kilometers and tore more than 1.2 kilometers of tracks out of their position.

For the reconstruction of the destroyed tracks, specialists of Deutsche Bahn (DB) and specialist companies had to remove tons of rubble that had washed up. After this, the tracks, embankments and technologies on the railway were repaired, some of which were rebuilt.

Flooded railway in Germany, DB Regio
Back in July, some parts of the German rail network were literally under water

According to Ronald Pofalla, Board Member for Infrastructure at DB, the works were completed four weeks earlier than originally thought. “The return of trains brings back another piece of normality for the people here in the region.”

A lot more to be repaired

To repair the tracks, a total of 4,200 tonnes of gravel and 7,800 tonnes of ballast were used between Remagen and Ahrweiler. Furthermore, five kilometers of cable, one kilometre of rail, 1,500 sleepers and two level crossings had to be replaced. From the timetable change on December 12th, the next section of the Ahr Valley Railway will go into operation, DB will then also resume traffic between Ahrweiler and Walporzheim.

The work on the rest of the Ahr Valley Railway between Walporzheim and Ahrbrück will take much longer. Here the damage is particularly serious. Eight bridges and almost all supporting structures have to be replaced, and new rails have to be laid. In addition, seven level crossings and the destroyed signal boxes in Dernau and Kreuzberg are being repaired.

The Ahr Valley Railway’s electronic signalling, which is currently under construction, is being redesigned from scratch. Deutsche Bahn is also making first plans for an all-round renewal of the railway infrastructure and a possible electrification. Concrete prognoses for recommissioning are not yet possible, as well as for the Euskirchen – Bad Münstereifel (Erfttalbahn) and Rheinbach – Euskirchen (part of the Voreifelbahn) lines.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor RailTech.com

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