DB proceeds with pilot project for Riedbahn general overhaul

Rails Stefan Wildhirt (DB)

Deutsche Bahn (DB) is making significant progress in the preparations for the comprehensive refurbishment of the Riedbahn, a critical railway corridor connecting Frankfurt/Main and Mannheim. In the wake of a rigorous Europe-wide procurement process, DB has awarded construction contracts for the pilot project aimed at transforming this rail network into a high-performance system.

The project involves the collaboration of four experienced companies, namely Leonhard Weiss, Spitzke, Swietelsky Baugesellschaft, and Siemens Mobility, responsible for the control and safety technology. To tackle the substantial construction demands associated with a five-month shutdown of the busy Riedbahn corridor, DB has divided the work into two segments: the first encompasses the stretch between Frankfurt/Main and Biblis, while the second covers Biblis to Mannheim.

Overhaul of the Riedbahn

The general overhaul of the Riedbahn involves an array of enhancements along its approximately 70-kilometre route. This includes the replacement of about 120 kilometres of track, 150 switches, 140 kilometres of overhead lines, and a complete modernization of the control and safety technology. All 20 stations along the route are also set to undergo a facelift. Remarkably, the entire infrastructure will be comprehensively modernised across all domains in a record-breaking five-month period. Upon completion, passengers will enjoy the benefits of more punctual trains and upgraded station facilities, along with the construction of over 15 kilometres of noise barriers to mitigate noise for local residents.

This general refurbishment aligns with DB’s Strong Rail strategy, aimed at addressing Germany’s central transport and climate policy objectives. Key goals include doubling transport capacity in passenger service and expanding the market share in rail freight. Achieving these goals necessitates an infrastructure that can accommodate increased traffic, with the work on the Frankfurt/Main to Mannheim route laying a foundational step.

Cost estimate

DB has substantially expanded the project scope for the Riedbahn’s general overhaul, consequently updating the cost estimate. The new budget now encompasses the conversion of the line to electronic interlocking technology, initiated in February of the previous year. It also factors in costs for station improvements and an efficient replacement service. To account for market price fluctuations, DB has included a risk buffer in the budget. The total cost for all these endeavours is approximately 1.3 billion euros, with 1.1 billion euros secured in the federal budget, as planned.

Through the consolidation of various sub-projects within the general refurbishment and prudent risk management, the updated cost planning aligns with the unchanged additional funding requirement of 45 billion euros by 2027, submitted to the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV).

To effectively manage the immense construction workload and avoid disruptions during the European Football Championships in the summer, DB is bundling several preparatory activities between Frankfurt/Main and Mannheim in January. Consequently, the rail line will be entirely closed to train traffic from January 1st to 22nd. This “dress rehearsal” for the general refurbishment provides an opportunity for DB to fine-tune processes, including replacement services, and optimise their approach in anticipation of the upcoming summer.

Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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