Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Germany's Longest Subway, Billions Upon Billions for Berlin-Munich Bullet Train

By Christian Wüst
Tunnel work at Blessberg Mountain. The fact that so many tunnels are needed is for two reaons: To accommodate high-speed trains, the tracks can only have slight curves; and to accomodate much heavier freight trains, the maximum incline is only supposed to be 1.25 percent. But, to prevent more budget overruns, engineers have the tracks climb at a 2 percent gradiant at four points, causing some to worry that stopped freight trains might potentially clog up the line and present a danger when it is also being used by high-speed trains.
Once completed, the Silberberg tunnel will stretch more than 7 kilometers (4.4 miles), making it one of the longest tunnels on the new railway line between Erfurt, in eastern German state of Thuringia, and Ebensfeld, in the Bavarian region of Upper Franconia. With so many underground stretches, the line could be easily be referred to as Germany's longest subway.
However, rather than taking the most direct route, the train makes a detour to Erfurt and then continues south to Ebensfeld. The Erfurt-Ebensfeld stretch of track will cost taxpayers about €3 billion ($4.2 billion), or about €30 million per kilometer. It's probably the highest price ever paid for a single stretch of track.

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