The construction of the North-South Urban Light Railway in Cologne is one of the largest urban construction projects currently in Germany. It passes a historic site in Cologne’s centre and is one of the most archaeologically important excavation sites in Europe. This railway forms part of the 194km transport network of Cologne.

The section under construction runs from Breslauer Platz near the main railway station across the old town and city centre to Marktstrasse in the south of Cologne. The North-South Urban Light Railway will connect the main train station and northern neighbourhoods of Cologne with the old city centre as well as the widespread neighbourhoods of the south. This improvement will not only alleviate logistical congestions and provide quick and convenient passenger connections, but also reduce travel time in the city centre from 14 minutes to six. These construction works will finally close an important and long overdue gap in the public urban transport of Cologne and its rail network.The project consists of three phases:

  • Breslauer Platz to Marktstrasse
  • Bonnerstrasse to Gustav-Heinemann-Ufer
  • Marktstrasse to Bonner Verteiler

Rhomberg Rail in Bregenz, Austria, was successful with its tender for the first phase’s works on the North-South Urban Light Railway. In addition to the construction of 7.2km slab track, which consists of four different slab track systems, the project also includes the installation of eight switches, acoustic panels in the station areas, tunnel lining and final cleaning of the tunnel.

Rhomberg commenced the main works at the end of August 2011 and it will continue until the middle of 2012.

The four different types of slab track used for this project are: (a) The Mass Spring System, (b) Continuous Elastic Rail Support, (c) Highly Resilient Rail Base structures mounted on single supports and (d) Highly Resilient Rail Base structures mounted on double-block sleepers.

The contract is basically divided into two work areas, a northern and southern part, which makes the logistics of this project rather challenging. Work is performed in single shifts. Material can only be transported to the northern part of the site during the night, whereas the southern part can only be reached during daytime and is limited to road transport.

In each of the work areas, preparatory work was required. Thereafter, depending on the type of slab track to be installed, the rail grid was set up. For the initial rail grid installation and set-up, Rhomberg’s in-house developed track adjustment systems were used, like the gauge holder and the track adjustment devices. These specialised equipment ensure accurate rail inclination and gauge. The project even necessitated Rhomberg to develop a special gauge holder for the installation of the continuous elastic rail support slab track areas to accommodate this unique design associated with the continuous elastic rail support slab track.

Because the track (rail structure) is directly attached to the tunnel floor, Rhomberg further had to design a special drilling machine to bore holes in the tunnel floor for final accurate joining of the rail structure onto the tunnel floor. The areas where the rail structure is attached to the tunnel floor are then filled with a special type of mortar, which ensures a properly long-lasted secure connection between the rail structure and the tunnel floor.

Rhomberg Rail is delighted to be in a position where technology, experience and expertise can so efficiently be combined and applied to a project, without compromising on quality or time. It is rewarding to know that we can contribute towards setting modern trends concerning mobility.