Facilitating Germany’s north-south rail transport

A key stretch of new railway line just over 130 km in length is now under construction in eastern Germany. Co-funded by the EU, it is part of an emerging high-speed national line that will enable trains to shuttle between the capital Berlin and Munich in the south in around four hours.

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Dubbed ‘VDE 8.2’, this stretch runs from the city of Erfurt in the state of Thuringia to both Halle an der Saale and Leipzig, cities located in the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony respectively. When completed it will comprise numerous new tunnels and bridges.

Extensive new infrastructure

The VDE 8.2 project received the go-ahead from the European Commission in 2009. It is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the ‘Convergence’ objective.

The project’s total track length will be 131 km, although the route distance between Erfurt in the south and the cities of Halle (Saale) and Leipzig in the north is around half that distance (61 km). It is part of the VDE 8 traffic project, an important new high-speed rail route for passengers and freight travelling between Nuremberg and Berlin. It is therefore also a crucial link in the EU's expanding Trans-European Networks, specifically regarding the north-south route between Berlin and Messina (Sicily).

Impetus for the project came from the realisation that existing rail infrastructure between Berlin and Munich will be unable to cope with expected traffic increases in the near future. Planners of the VDE 8 and sub-sections such as the VDE 8.2 stretch therefore aim to create sufficient new passenger and goods capacity for regions crossed by this rail line – ultimately benefiting international rail traffic too.

Multiple new engineering structures are to be built during the project, covering around 13.9 km in total. They will include nine tunnels and 10 bridges.

Faster travel, easier trips

Once completed, the Erfurt to Leipzig/Halle (Saale) rail line is expected to benefit some two million people living around the project area. They will enjoy easier access to high-speed trains between southern and north-eastern Germany.

Designers are planning for top speeds as high as 300 km/hour for rail passenger traffic. This will cut approximately two hours off the travel time between the cities located at either end of this stretch, to as little as one hour. As a result, the total travel time between Munich and Berlin will be lowered to around four hours.

Further benefits of the project should include a shift  ofpassengers and freight from the road to more environmentally friendly rail transport. This would help to decrease local transport-related carbon emissions and environmental pollution.

Draft date

24/06/2010