Capital and main transport hub of the prosperous state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany, Stuttgart combines industrial production and an attractive valley setting. The near-invisibility in the city centre of an extensive light rail system made possible by a tunnel construction programme is set to be a mirrored by relocating heavy rail tracks as part of the ambitious Stuttgart 21 project. Stuttgart 21 is part of the 1,500km-long ‘Magistrale for Europe’ high-speed line that connects Paris, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Ulm, Munich, Vienna and Bratislava.
As with another huge modern infrastructure project by Deutsche Bahn AG (DB), Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Hbf) and north-south tunnel, Stuttgart 21 will yield the opportunity for restructuring and accelerating services that will be felt across the country and on Europe’s high-speed rail network.
Stuttgart 21 comprises 60km of new tracks and a six-mile twin-tube tunnel connecting the city from the new ICE railway station at the airport to the trade exhibition ground. It also involves the construction of a rapid transit route from Wendlingen to Ulm.
Although plans for placing main lines below ground existed several years previously, the Stuttgart 21 project originated in 1994, a plan aimed at tackling the operational penalties created for the many services routed via the city.
The broad ‘Y’ configuration of tracks south into Stuttgart means that trains on key rail arteries like München-Mannheim/Frankfurt Main have to retrace some of the route following reversal at Stuttgart Hbf located at the northern edge of the city’s central zone.
Even with the many light engine movements of former years obviated by push-pull and multiple-unit operation, the reversals and complex track work continue to constrain the potential for shorter journey times.
A related development to Stuttgart 21 is a new Stuttgart to Ulm high-speed line (Neubaustrecke: NBS). This will replace the current more northerly ICE routing over conventional tracks via Bad Canstatt and Plochingen. Once completed, the journey between Stuttgart and Ulm will be reduced from 54 to 28 minutes; while the journey from Stuttgart train station to the airport will come down from 27 to eight minutes.
In a wider context, this will also increase the proportion of high-speed track on the east-west route from Paris via Strasbourg and onwards to central Europe. DB describes the combined projects as the largest expansion for rail transport in Baden-Württemberg since the 19th century.
Approval for the Stuttgart 21 was given in July 2007. This was closely followed by objections in respect of the amount of local funds being committed and the withholding of a referendum on the issue. A total of €2.8bn has been approved via public bodies Deutsche Bahn, Baden-Württemberg and the federal government for Stuttgart 21, with a further €2bn for the Stuttgart-Ulm NBS.
Replacing the current 16 terminus platforms serving tracks from the north will be eight through platforms, set just beneath the surface immediately north of the present concourse. DB is confident that the reduced number of tracks will provide more capacity than at present through shorter dwell times, less complex approaches, reduced maintenance occupations and fewer conflicting movements.
Access to the Hbf from both ends will be via a series of new tunnels within an overall ring configuration to allow reception and dispatch of trains in most directions, a process further aided by several new chords at junctions beyond the city. Allowing for traffic increases in later years, the Hbf design allows for two extra tracks to be added. North-south tunnels beneath the western end of the present station for S-Bahn traffic serving the city centre will be retained, with a new station, Mittnachtstrasse, to be added north of the Hbf.
Part of a competition-winning design from Ingenhoven Overdiek und Partner (now Ingenhoven Architekten) of Düsseldorf, ground-level space over the platforms is to be designated Strassburger Platz. Containing around 30 decorative lighting and ventilation ports, it will extend into the Schlossgarten, the parkland immediately east of the Hbf and present approach tracks.
Three large areas of railway land totalling around 100ha will be freed under Stuttgart 21, and even allowing for returning some to green space, redevelopment will contribute to project funding. The monumental main station building (the ‘Bonatzbau’) constructed between 1911 and 1928 – also the result of an architectural competition – is to be integrated with the new Hbf.
Although running on the opposite side of the present station to the new main line development, sub-surface tracks and stations of Stuttgart’s Stadtbahn in the vicinity of the Hbf will require re-engineering. From central Stuttgart, new track through the 9.4km (5.8 mile) Filder tunnel will carry rail traffic to a new station, Filderbahnhof.
Serving the Messe (trade fair site) and Stuttgart Airport, Germany’s seventh busiest, the eight-minute timing will be much improved over the present S-Bahn S2 service. Onwards, the line will link to 58km (36 mile) of 250km/h (155mph) NBS between Wendlingen, Ulm and Stuttgart Airport, much of this route bundled with the A8 autobahn.
Relating primarily to infrastructure, Stuttgart 21 does not directly cover rolling stock. Some functions of the yard north-east of the station that will be lost under Stuttgart 21 will be moved to Untertürkheim in the east. east. To provide land for redevelopment, the train storage sidings will be moved to Untertürkheim.
However, by the time of project completion, the DB Fernverkehr loco-hauled fleet is likely to have been wholly replaced by multiple units resulting from a procurement process due to be launched in 2008. DB Regio’s services will similarly further reduce conventional loco haulage and the need for stock marshalling.
DB is indicating a range of journey time reductions that will follow commissioning of schemes relating to Stuttgart 21 such as Frankfurt Main-Ulm from 2h16min to 1h46min; a near halving of the present 54min from Stuttgart to Ulm and a varied range of reductions for Baden-Württemberg’s many regional services. With postponements now seemingly over, construction is likely to start from 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2020.