FOUR-TRACKING of Germany's oldest railway between Nürnberg and Fürth is the centrepiece of a €160m investment programme to expand S-Bahn services to the 38 km Nürnberg - Fürth - Erlangen - Forchheim route over the next four years.

An agreement signed by DB Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn and Bayern Transport Minister Erwin Huber in February provides for the Land to meet 40% of the construction cost and the federal government 60%. Bayern will also pay for half of the €25m spent on planning.

Between Fürth and Erlangen, the S-Bahn services will be diverted over a parallel route which will allow the operation of three trains/h; three new stations are to be built, but one existing station will no longer be served. Only two trains/h will run through to Forchheim, pending four-tracking of this section in the longer term.

To the east of Nürnberg, Bayern is planning a further expansion programme costing €150m. This will extend route S1 from Lauf-an-der-Pegnitz to Hartmanshof over a newly-electrified section of the line to Bayreuth. S-Bahn trains will also serve the Feucht - Neumarkt section of the line to Passau and the Nürnberg - Ansbach section of the line to Stuttgart. On all three sections the S-Bahn would use existing tracks, with the stations rebuilt with 760mm high platforms. Adding a further 88 km, these three extensions would see the Nürnberg S-Bahn network expanding from 67 km today to 193 km in 2010.