GERMANY: Infrastructure manager DB Netz has announced plans for a major refurbishment of its two oldest high speed lines in a five-year programme costed at €825m. Work on the 327 km Hannover – Würzburg Neubaustrecke is to start in 2019, with the 99 km Mannheim – Stuttgart route following in 2020.

According to DB Netz CEO Frank Sennhenn, both north-south routes need extensive renewals following almost 30 years of operation. The work is to be undertaken in a series of blockades, during which long-distance services are to be diverted onto alternative routes. This will extend journey times by up to 45 min.

Blockades on the Hannover – Würzburg route will enable the replacement of 532 km of track and 224 turnouts, including the laying of 800 000 new concrete sleepers and 500 000 tonnes of ballast at a total cost of €640m. Renewals on the Mannheim – Stuttgart route valued at €185m include 190 km of track and 54 turnouts, requiring 200 000 tonnes of ballast and 315 000 sleepers.

Work is to start in June 2019 with a blockade of the Hannover – Göttingen section from June 11 to December 14. This will be followed by a total closure of the Mannheim – Stuttgart line from April 10 to October 31 2020. The following year will see the focus move back to the Göttingen – Kassel section, which will be closed from April 23 to July 15 2021. Plans are still being developed for renewing the Fulda – Würzburg and Kassel – Fulda sections during 2022 and 2023 respectively.

'We are preparing these two trunk lines for the next decades’, said Sennhenn, announcing the programme on October 1. ‘We are investing and modernising for fast and reliable mobility.’

DB has committed to providing ‘timely information’ about the diversions and schedule changes though a wide variety of channels, including its DB Navigator app and online journey planner as well as leaflets and posters in the stations. There will also be a free telephone information line.