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Overloaded rail network: Deutsche Bahn wants to make timetables more stable with new construction method

Overloaded rail network: Deutsche Bahn wants to make timetables more stable with new construction method
Overloaded rail network: Deutsche Bahn wants to make timetables more stable with new construction method

The railway is barely keeping up with the improvements to the network. Construction sites are causing more and more delays. A new construction concept is set to change that.

Deutsche Bahn wants to organize and bundle the many construction projects on the overloaded rail network in a different way in the future – and thus make the timetable more reliable. “We will continue to build at this high level, so we now have to approach the matter in a fundamentally different way,” says the head of the new rail infrastructure subsidiary InfraGo, Philipp Nagl. “The biggest burden for passengers in passenger transport and freight transport companies is the constantly changing timetables due to the endless number of small, often short-term measures.” This will change with the new principle. “We are simplifying the complex driving-building process.”

How construction is currently taking place

In order to slow down the deterioration of the network, which is outdated in many places, more and more construction work has become necessary in recent years. This regularly slows down passenger and freight traffic and leads to train cancellations and delays.

According to Nagl, the construction work is reported to InfaGo as it occurs. This then provides a possible time window, after which the timetable must be adjusted. Because this often happens at very short notice for smaller works, passengers quickly become uncertain and have little reliability.

In addition, not all necessary construction work is always carried out in one go, but spread over months or even years. This leads to ever new restrictions on the same route and to incomprehension and frustration among customers.

The new concept

The railway therefore wants to organize construction differently in the future. Regularly recurring time slots, known as containers, are to be set up for both large investment projects and small maintenance work. The construction work must then be carried out in a bundled manner within these time corridors.

For smaller maintenance work, such as checking signals or switches, these time slots could be scheduled every few weeks. For major measures, the railway plans longer but fixed periods of time per year.

The advantage: The railway no longer has to keep changing the timetable due to short-term construction work. Anyone who wants to build must use one of the fixed time slots. The timetable can be set up early around these corridors. “The new principle halves the need for timetable adjustments that we have over the course of the year in the medium term,” emphasises Nagl.

Freedom to build guaranteed

In addition, the individual trades will have to coordinate better in the future and combine construction measures. After construction has been completed on a section during one of the new time windows, it must remain free of construction for a certain period of time.

For large construction projects, it could take five to seven years before construction can begin again, stresses Nagl. “The shorter or longer the construction window, the shorter or longer the subsequent freedom to build.” This should result in all necessary work being completed within a single closure phase.

The new model is to be implemented for smaller measures as early as mid-July. For major investments, the group plans to change the approach accordingly by 2027 at the latest.

General renovation as a model

The initial spark for the new concept was the plans for the Riedbahn, says the InfraGo boss. The route between Frankfurt and Mannheim is the first of a total of 40 highly frequented rail corridors that are to be completely closed for several months in the coming years and then fundamentally renovated.

Here, too, all the necessary construction work must be completed during the full closure period. “We have noticed how much bundling is possible,” emphasises Nagl. The start on the Riedbahn is this Monday. The route will then be closed for five months. This will show whether the railway’s new construction concept really works.

Source: Stern

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