The 3,576 m long Old Schlüchtern Tunnel on the main line between Frankfurt and Fulda was opened in 1914. With a total of 260 passenger and goods trains daily it was one of Germany’s busiest rail tunnels. In the interim it has been revamped as a single-track tunnel. In addition a new tunnel has been built alongside it, which is linked with the Old Schlüchtern Tunnel by cross-passages every 500 m.
As from 2007 the almost 4 km long New Schlüchtern Tunnel was built at a distance of 50 to 90 m to the west of the existing structure with an internal diameter of 9 m using a tunnel boring machine. As from April 26, 2011, rail traffic passed through the New Schlüchtern Tunnel for a period of some 3 years, making it necessary to temporarily provide it with an additional track so that traffic on the busy route could be maintained over two tracks. During this time, the Old Schlüchtern Tunnel was converted to a single-track tunnel and upgraded (new reinforced concrete inner shell and tunnel floor etc.); after these activities were concluded the old tunnel was reopened in late February 2014.
From March 1 to June 9, the new tunnel was closed to traffic to remove one of the tracks and convert this route section for single-track reversible operations through the renovated Old Schlüchtern Tunnel. In their final state each tunnel will cater for one-way traffic. The investment costs for the total scheme will come to some 200 million Euros. ⇥G.B.