From left to right: Carsten Poralla, Managing Director Non-Aviation of Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH, Bernhard Bauer, Chairman of the Stuttgart-Ulm Rail Project Association, Winfried Hermann, Minister of Transport Baden-Württemberg, Dr. Arina Freitag, Tunnel Sponsor and Chief Financial Officer TenneT Holding BV, Dr. Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, Berthold Huber, Member of the Executive Board, Infrastructure Deutsche Bahn AG, Dr Frank Nopper, Lord Mayor of the City of Stuttgart, Herald Ruijerts, Director Investment, Innovative & Sustainable Transport European Commission, Jörg Rösler, Member of the Executive Board, Strabag SE (Copyright: Deutsche Bahn AG / Reiner Pfisterer)

DB finishes digging all 8 tunnels of the Stuttgart 21 project

Local and Federal German officials and excecutives, as was well as European officials marking the finalisation of the Stuttgart tunneling Deutsche Bahn AG / Reiner Pfisterer

Deutsche Bahn (DB) has reached a milestone in the Stuttgart 21 project, the complete reorganisation of the Stuttgart rail node. 56.256 metres or approximately 56 kilometres of tunnel have now been dug, as the final tunnel breakthrough of the Stuttgart airport tunnel took place on 14 September 2023.

As part of the Stuttgart 21 project, eight tunnels were dug, most of which consist of two tubes. They are the following: the Bad Cannstatt tunnel, Feuerbach Tunnel, Airport Tunnel, Filder Tunnel, Obertürkheim Tunnel, S-Bahn tunnel between Mittnachtstraße station and Hauptbahnhof S-Bahn station, Rosenstein S-Bahn tunnel and the Untertürkheimer Kurve Tunnel. In addition, the rails are already in place in several tunnels: More than 60 kilometres of solid track have been installed.

The symbolic start of construction for the Stuttgart 21 tunnels was on 4 December 2013 in the Obertürkheim tunnel. The tunnels were dug with a large tunnel boring machine, as well as with the so-called conventional construction method, meaning with excavators, blasting and chisels. At times, more than one kilometre of tunnel was dug per month.

The completion of tunnel driving was celebrated today by high-ranking representatives of Deutsche Bahn, federal, state and local politicians, the European Commission, Stuttgart Airport and the construction industry with other guests of honour. Berthold Huber, Director of Infrastructure at Deutsche Bahn states: “56 kilometres of tunnels, built in the middle of the big city, under the trade fair, in the middle of an airport site, under the Neckar river, under the television tower – the challenges were numerous. Now, the tunnelling is complete. The miners can be proud of themselves! Their work underground is essential for the mobility turnaround, from which millions of people and freight transport benefit.”

Goals of the Stuttgart 21 project

Stuttgart 21, a colossal undertaking aimed at overhauling the Stuttgart rail node, commenced its journey in 2009 when a financing agreement was made. Collaborating on this ambitious project were the German federal government, the state of Baden-Württemberg, the city of Stuttgart, Verband Region Stuttgart (representing the Stuttgart region), Stuttgart Airport, and Deutsche Bahn. The venture encompasses the construction of four new stations, a staggering 57 kilometres of fresh railway tracks accommodating speeds up to 250 kilometres per hour, an impressive 59 kilometres of tunnel tubes, 16 tunnels and culverts, and 44 bridges.

One of the primary objectives of Stuttgart 21 is to dramatically slash travel times for long-distance and regional routes while establishing a direct rail link between the airport and the long-distance railway, thereby diverting traffic from the roads. Anticipated travel time reductions are striking, such as the Ulm–Stuttgart airport route dropping from 1 hour and 35 minutes to just 30 minutes. Furthermore, the through station at the heart of this transformation, equipped with eight inbound and outbound tracks, will significantly ease congestion and enhance train traffic capacity compared to the current terminal station, which grapples with crossing conflicts in its station throat.

Moreover, the Stuttgart rail node is set to be equipped with cutting-edge digital control-command and signalling systems, aligning with a nationwide pilot initiative. This technological boost, in line with the promising results of a 2011 stress test, promises to elevate the network’s capacity further. Notably, this expansion is anticipated to benefit over ten million long-distance passengers across Germany annually, with an expected two million additional passengers. The project will also pave the way for the nationwide integrated regular-interval timetable (Deutschlandtakt) in southwest Germany.

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Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at and

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