Flood damage July 2021 (Photo: DB)

EUROPE: Rail infrastructure managers are assessing the extent of impact of catastrophic flooding which has destroyed tracks, bridges, earthworks and stations in Germany, Belgium and elsewhere.

Deutsche Bahn reported on July 18 that 600 km of track and around 80 stations in Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz had been badly damaged by water, mud and debris, with some services expected to remain significantly disrupted for at least a week.

Flood damage July 2021 (Photo: DB)

Rheinland-Pfalz regional transport authority SPNV-Nord reported that seven bridges and 20 km of track on the Ahrtalbahn between Remagen and Adenau had been destroyed.

Services in Oberbayern were also disrupted, including at the highest point on the DB network between Mittenwald and Scharnitz in Austria where damage to roads means replacement bus services could not be provided.

Only limited freight services to Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Italy and Austria were operating, although DB Cargo had taken the precaution of stabling trains in locations chosen to enable a quick restart once the main routes were cleared. 

Flood damage July 2021 (Photo: DB)

Around 2 000 DB staff were deployed in repair and clean-up work in the regions affected by the flooding, and limited services have restarted on some of the less badly damaged routes.

In Belgium, infrastructure manager Infrabel reported that routes in the south were most affected, and while some would reopen on July 19 others would have to wait until July 26, or in some cases even into August; a bridge collapse means Line 37 between Liège and Pepinster is not expcted to reopen until around August 30.

Flood damage in Belgium (Photo Infrabel)

The cross-border line between Maastricht in the Netherlands and Visé in Belgium was closed.

The important route along the River Elbe between Bad Schandau in Germany and Dečin in the Czech Republic was down to a single track, while in Austria services on the Kufstein – Wörgl – Schwarzach-St Veit and Salzburg – Golling-Abtenau – Bischofshofen lines were suspended.