New tunnel on Rhine-Alpine corridor: a freight-only bypass Offenburg

The project on Germany’s largest tunnel, the Offenburg Tunnel, has entered a new phase. Deutsche Bahn has invited the public to three information sessions, in which it will outline its plans for the construction of the 11km freight dedicated structure.

Although subjective to a change of date due to the corona crisis, the infrastructure manager of German’s railway network announced three dates for the public sessions: on 5, 13 and 19 May. The organisation of these events means completion of preliminary planning. Indeed, this phase was completed by the end of 2019, Deutsche Bahn said.

Under Offenburg

The Offenburg tunnel is part of the Karlsruhe-Basel railway line, a heavily-used German-Swiss connection which is currently upgraded. It leads from its northern end in the area of ​​the district of Windschläg west, under the city of Offenburg to its southern end near Schutterwald. Here, it will be part of the new freight dedicated railway line following the A5 highway. The tunnel is part of the Rhine-Alpine Corridor.

Once the tunnel is in operation, it will be primarily used by freight trains, whereas passenger trains will run above the ground. By using the underground tunnel, freight trains bypass Offernburg’s Main station. It is designed for a maximum speed of 120 km/h and consists of ta single-track twin tube: one of 11 km length and one 9km long.

Planning

Preliminary planning started in 2017. Several options have been discussed regarding the point of connection in the north and the south. Environmental planning as well as noise and vibration protection tests are also part of this phase.

Once public consultation is compleyted, the project will be subjected to an administrative planning approval procedure. This is not expected to start before 2021. The Offenburg Tunnel works will start in 2026 and are planned to be finished by 2035.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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