Freight train station Usti­ nad Labem, Czech Republic

DB to build Germany’s longest rail tunnel to Czech Republic

Freight train station Usti­ nad Labem, Czech Republic Shutterstock

Deutsche Bahn (DB) will build Germany’s longest railway tunnel in the Eastern Ore Mountains of Saxony, announced the German news agency dpa on Monday. DB is scheduled to break ground in 2032, and construction of this 30-kilometre tunnel, connecting Germany to the Czech Republic, is estimated to take 12 years.

This tunnel would increase the current capacity of the existing Elbe Valley route for both passenger and freight transport via rail, offering a flood-proof alternative. It would also shorten journey times between Dresden to Prague from just under two and a half hours to one hour, reports German media Süeddeutsche Zeitung. The route between these two cities is part of a European rail corridor connecting German North Sea and Baltic Sea ports through southeast Europe to Istanbul and Athens.

Out of several considered options a single, 30-kilometre-long full tunnel between Heidenau (a town about 15 kilometres southeast of Dresden) on the German side and Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic, is now favoured, announced DB. Around 46 kilometres of new tracks are to be built, according to press agency dpa. This would be the longest tunnel in Germany by over a dozen kilometres, as currently, the longest railway tunnel in Germany is the 10.8-kilometre Landrücken Tunnel in Hesse. In contrast, the Fehmarnbelt tunnel between the north of Germany and Denmark, currently under construction, will be about 18 kilometres long.

Current rail connection between Heidenau in Germany, and Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic. Travel times will be reduced by the new tunnel.

According to DB, the full-tunnelling option was also more popular with local residents, and community dialogue is planned from January on. Two parallel tunnel tubes are to be driven through the eastern Ore Mountains, each single-track, to be used by both passenger and goods trains. On the German side, constructing the new tunnel also includes upgrading the line between Dresden and Heidenau. The preferred option is to be finalised in the middle of next year and the documents will then be submitted to the Bundestag. A decision on implementation and financing can then be made at the end of the legislative period.

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Author: Emma Dailey

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

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