Germany, Czech Republic | Deutschland, Tschechien

Erzgebirge Base Tunnel Planned for New Line from Dresden to Prague

The line from Dresden to Prague is an important connection for cross-border rail traffic for Germany and the Czech Republic as well as for the neighbouring countries to the southeast. The intention is to widen the line and achieve much shorter travel and transport times, considering this line is part of the Trans-European Network (TEN).

Since the necessary improvement of the existing line along the valley of the Elbe is not possible for environmental and topographical reasons, construction is planned of a new two-track line up to 46 km long through the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) between Heidenau (DE) and Ústí nad Labem (CZ). The key structure of the new line should be a base tunnel with a length of up to 25 km, of which about 11 km will be on the Czech side. The tunnel is planned in accordance with current European escape and safety requirements with two single-track tunnel bores and appropriate cross passages.

An EU-supported feasibility study for the new line including the continuation to Prague was completed in 2015. Based on the preliminary investigations, the new line Dresden–Prague has been registered for the federal German transport route plan for 2030 and its cost-effectiveness has been demonstrated. With the assignment to the category of urgent need, the financial preconditions have been created.

The design of the new line between Germany and the Czech Republic is taking shape: the two railway operators DB Netz AG and the SDC (CZ) have already set up a working group. One particular challenge is tunnelling through the Ore Mountains, because statements about the geomechanical properties of the rocks at the level of the future tunnel alignment can only be estimated at the moment, since only parameters from shallow rock horizons are available at present.

It is also planned to increase the maximum travel speeds for passenger and goods traffic from 200 to 250 km/h for the new line. The journey time from Dresden to Prague, which is currently 2 hours and 15 minutes, would then be only one hour. The project will also create a rail connection safe from flooding, away from the Elbe valley and offers the possibility of relieving the valley of noise from goods trains. G. B.

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