Filstalbruecke (Photo: Arnim Kilgus)

GERMANY: On January 31 Deutsche Bahn will switch on the 15 kV 16∙7 Hz traction power supply over the full length of the 59∙6 km Ulm – Wendlingen Neubaustrecke. This will pave the way for commissioning trials that will culminate with test runs at up to 275 km/h.

The 250 km/h line will open for commercial traffic on December 11 this year, cutting 15 min off the timings of Frankfurt – München and other long-distance ICE services as well as Paris – München TGVs.

Ulm – Wendlingen Neubaustrecke tracks

The line will also be used by hourly Interregio-Express services that will call at a new station at Merklingen which will open at the same time as the new line. The €53m station did not form part of the original project and has been funded separately.

Construction of the €3∙7bn new line began in May 2012, the 10-year timescale to completion being explained by the need to bore or excavate 12 tunnels with a combined length of 61 km as well as 37 bridges or viaducts. Just over half the alignment will run in tunnel.

At Wendlingen the line will connect end-on with a 25 km section of new railway forming part of the Stuttgart 21 remodelling, which is currently expected to be complete by the end of 2025. This will enable another 15 min to be trimmed off the timings of long-distance ICE services.

Opening of the Ulm – Wendlingen line will release capacity for more freight and regional services on the existing route via the Fils valley, which includes the steeply-graded Geislinger Steige; some freight may also be routed over the new line.