Study: Faster Frankenbahn requires huge investments

At the Möckmühl-Züttlingen station, the Frankenbahn becomes single-track for several kilometers. The expansion at this point alone would cost more than 30 million euros.

Photo: Archive/Seidel

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At the Möckmühl-Züttlingen station, the Frankenbahn becomes single-track for several kilometers. The expansion at this point alone would cost more than 30 million euros. Photo: Archive/Seidel

The publication of the expertise that the country commissioned had recently been delayed several times. The work is now available and lists on 59 pages where there is a problem on the route feared by commuters. “Now it’s the turn of the federal government as the owner, which has constitutional responsibility for the railway infrastructure,” commented State Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) on the results. His Bavarian colleague Christian Bernreiter (CSU) also took responsibility for Berlin. The study shows “that it is often the many smaller expansion measures that can quickly make a railway line more attractive”.

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Small steps for more reliable Frankenbahn

The study shows one thing in any case: it won’t be cheap. The steps prioritized by experts, which can be implemented by 2030, add up to 116 million euros and have one thing in common: they make the timetable more stable, reduce delays and make it possible to channel more trains over the route. The trains on the Frankenbahn are therefore hardly any faster.

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ICE to the sea: Bahn connects Heilbronn with RügenICE to the sea: Bahn connects Heilbronn with Rügen

One of the larger chunks is an urgently needed third track from the Audi factory in Neckarsulm to Bad Friedrichshall. Light rail, regional trains and freight traffic are channeled here via just two tracks. Estimated cost: 30 million euros. The section in Möckmühl-Züttlingen gained notoriety. Here the second track was bombed out during World War II and never replaced. At this point, delays escalate. According to the expert, a second track would cost at least 31 million euros. Further north, the oddities continue. In Boxberg, for example, trains can only stop at one track because the second platform is missing. The planners have prioritized a dozen measures, only two of which bring slightly more speed to the track.

Only new buildings bring faster connections

It costs a lot of money if you want to shorten travel times on the Frankenbahn. The planners list new routes with a length of almost 25 kilometers. The rough cost estimate is almost 336 million euros and that as of 2021. So it would be significantly more expensive.

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If all this were to be built, a regional express between Würzburg and Heilbronn would travel around eight minutes faster. On some sections, more than one million euros could be saved per second. The study shows no potential at all between Heilbronn and Stuttgart. New lines are not conceivable here because of the narrow route and the dense development.

Minister Hermann: Frankenbahn was neglected

Transport Minister Hermann shows that the Frankenbahn, as “one of the most important north-south axes”, has been “neglected for decades” since the construction of the high-speed line between Stuttgart and Mannheim. “The improvement of the route infrastructure is overdue,” says Heilbronn District Administrator Norbert Heuser, who acts as the coordinator for the municipal side. “Now the federal and state governments have to comment on prioritization, timetables and financing.” A “sign of poverty” sees Neckar-Odenwald District Administrator Achim Brötel.

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Incomprehension about no to the trainIncomprehension about no to the train

The results are sobering and show “that far too little has been invested in the infrastructure”. Now it is “highest level” that everyone is working together for the route. Matthias Lieb, state chairman of the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD), recalls that just ten percent of the measures from a previous study from 2009 have been implemented: “It’s no wonder that punctuality doesn’t improve.”

Politicians from the region had recently accused the federal and state governments of a “bucking game”. On the other hand, Stuttgart protested. The state had registered the project with the federal government for years, but did not get a chance.

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