Development of the railway infrastructure in Thuringia

Connecting Erfurt to Leipzig and Halle completes a the missing section of a continuous line crossing Germany from north to south, from Hamburg to Munich. The modernisation and completion of the railway not only reinforces national and European mobility, but also creates jobs during and after the implementation of the project.

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The “Traffic project German Unification 8” (VDE 8 project), which was approved by the German Federal Government in 1991, is one of the biggest and most innovative infrastructure initiatives in Germany, with a total cost of about EUR 10 billion, and is made up of six core network corridors crossing Germany.

Replacing the current transport ‘patchwork’ with a European network

Closing the gap between Erfurt and Leipzig/Halle is critical to connecting Munich and Hamburg. This new railway route (VDE 8.2, modules 2 and 3) from Erfurt to Leipzig/Halle is an important step in the east-west railway infrastructure as well as in the north-south direction. The project VDE 8.2, module 3, is the construction of a 29.3 km long electric overhead wire, from Sachsen-Anhalt/Thüringen to Erfurt, module 2 being the section which connects Gröbers (Halle) to the state border Sachsen-Anhalt/Thüringen.

The improvement of the railway connections through these two modules certainly benefits the two million residents in the area, improving the everyday life of travellers, commuters and tourists. But the project also aims to create a more efficient and well-connected network within the EU, as part of the European TEN-T policy programme. 

This EU transport infrastructure policy aims to close the gaps between the transport networks of EU countries and promotes and strengthens seamless transport chains for passenger and freight, while keeping up with the latest technological trends. EU Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Crețu stressed that “transport is vital to the European economy” pointing out that connections like this one help Europe to grow and prosper.

Background and benefits

The existing railway infrastructure was no longer sufficient to cope with the increasing railway traffic. The new route not only improves the density of the connections, but also represents a comfortable alternative to travelling by car or plane, reducing carbon emissions and environmental pollution. 

The innovative aspect of the route is not to be underestimated: on this segment alone (modules 2 and 3), multiple new engineering structures have been built, such as nine tunnels and ten bridges. The Scherkonde viaduct, which stretches over an agricultural water reservoir, was awarded the German bridge construction prize in 2012.

A high-speed train, which can reach speeds of up to 300 km/h on the new line, reduces travel times while improving the comfort level of its passengers. The travelling time from Munich to Berlin decreases from six to four hours.

Apart from benefitting the travellers, this project creates an estimated 808 jobs during – and 696 jobs after – its implementation. The high-speed railway line Halle-Erfurt-Leipzig was inaugurated by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 9 June 2015.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Railways Erfurt-Leipzig/Halle (Saale), module 3 – overhead contact wire in section Thuringia” is EUR 16 000 000, to which the EU’s Euroepan Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 10 400 000 through the “Transport infrastructure of the Federal Republic of Germany” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. Module 2 and 3 combined represent a total EU investment of approximately EUR 33 000 000.

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