Stuttgart 21: Across the highway with rail tracks
Highway turned into "track": The Fildern joint venture (AFIL) starts the hot construction phase of 35 kilometres of slab track between the airport and the Neckar River.
Stuttgart/Bregenz, 23rd of November, 2021 - The joint venture partners Rhomberg Bahntechnik, Ed. Züblin AG and DB Bahnbau Group are delighted: A crucial milestone has been reached in the construction of the 35 kilometres of slab track between Stuttgart Airport, the Neckar River and thus the major project Stuttgart 21. In the night from Monday to Tuesday, the last long rails were transported from Wendlingen station via the A8 motorway to their installation site in an elaborate night-time operation. "Now we can really get started on our rail line," comments a delighted Philipp Nachbaur, Managing Director of Rhomberg Bahntechnik.
One year after the AFIL joint venture was able to secure the contract, the final preparatory work for the track construction has therefore been completed. "We were handed over the first construction field by the client on the 1st of September," explains Philipp Nachbaur. "Since then, we have carried out the surveys, the earthworks, settled the construction team and have concreted the hydraulically bound base course onto the subgrade, so in a sense the supporting slabs for the slab track."
And, as a complicated but also exciting component, the long rails have been transported to their respective locations in a total of eight night-actions since the 15th of November. Long rails are the rail section on which the train ultimately runs. Each of these rails is 120 meters long and weighs around seven tons. 340 rails are installed in total - and have now been delivered via the motorway. The rails were transported from Wendlingen station, where three excavators pulled them from transport trains onto two, 130-meter-long special purpose trucks in front of the west portal of the Albvorland Tunnel. They were then transported some two and a half kilometres along the A8 motorway in the direction of Stuttgart Airport to the new rail line. The special purpose trucks from Gruschina Transport und Vermietungs GmbH could only move forward at six kilometres per hour, so two lanes of the motorway in direction Munich were closed from about 1 - 3 a.m. each night. The direct route over the new section itself was not possible because of the many bridge structures - there are 18 in total between the Filder Tunnel near the airport and the Neckar River - as particularly at the new interchange to be built at Wendlingen several areas are still under construction.
Construction of the actual slab track system is now starting. The complex preparatory work is necessary because Deutsche Bahn trains will later rush along the line at top speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour. "That creates forces that require a perfectly engineered, stable infrastructure," so Nachbaur. With the commissioning of Stuttgart 21, the travel time between Stuttgart and Ulm for long-distance traffic will be reduced by almost half to just under half an hour. Overall, Rhomberg Bahntechnik is working on around 161 kilometers of slab track between Stuttgart and Ulm, including 95 switches, 2 crossings and various infrastructure works. The total investment volume amounts to around 386 million Euros.