Hamburg S-Bahn Alstom Class 490

GERMANY: After years of discussions, Deutsche Bahn, the federal government and the Hamburg municipality signed an agreement on January 21 to conduct a €1·5m feasibility study into building a second cross-city S-Bahn tunnel linking Hamburg Hbf, Dammtor and Altona.

The stations are currently linked by the 6·5 km four-track Verbindungsbahn which is approaching capacity, carrying almost 300 long-distance and 900 S-Bahn trains per day. This is in addition to the S-Bahn services using the existing tunnel via Jungfernstieg.

Construction of a second tunnel would allow the S-Bahn routes serving Dammtor to be segregated from main line traffic, enabling the pair of above-ground tracks currently used by the S-Bahn to be repurposed to carry additional long-distance and regional trains. The extra capacity is expected to improve traffic flows and increase the punctuality and reliability of services across the entire Hamburg hub, as a key element in the Deutschlandtakt project to develop a national regular interval timetable and encourage more people to travel by rail.

The decision to put the S-Bahn in tunnel rather than the long-distance trains was taken on practical grounds, according to Anjes Tjarks, Hamburg City Councillor in charge of Public Transport. S-Bahn trains are lighter and can climb steeper gradients, meaning that the tunnels can be shorter, while the third-rail power supply could allow a smaller profile.

Three alternative routes are currently being considered: one under the existing surface alignment, one to the north and the other to the south. The results of the feasibility study are expected to be published in early 2023.