Last Saturday morning around 10:30 an alarm went of at the signal box of Karlsruhe's main station: Track distortion at the Rhine valley railway between Rastatt and Baden-Baden. Such a warning may occur when extremely high temperatures extend the welded tracks laid without joints but last Saturday the thermometer only showed 20° C (68°F).
*the 11 signifies that the maximum speed in the following section is limited to 110 km/h
The Swiss are angry and rightly so. Although they have kept their mouths shut for years they now insist on the fulfillment of the 1996 treaty in which Switzerland, Italy, and Germany agreed to finish the Neat (new Alp transversal by rail) by the year 2016. While Switzerland completed the basic train tunnels at the Lötschberg and the Gotthardt in 2007 and 2016 the construction of the feeder lines both in Germany and Italy is far behind schedule. Following the Rastatt disaster Swiss newspapers mockingly asked whether German quality needs some Swiss engineering development aid.
Meanwhile southbound passenger trains end at Rastatt and northbound trains at Baden-Baden with shuttle buses running between the two stations. Railway officials ask passengers to count in an additional hour while people who already travelled the distance experienced at least two hours of additional travel time.
In an earlier statement the German Railway said that the line should have been repaired by August 27. More news are coming in sparsely but at the time of writing it seems that the end of August date cannot be met. To stabilize the ground officials say that the tunnel under the existing track has to be filled with a concrete plug of 50 meter length giving up the expensive tunnel boring machine at the same time. How long this operation will take - inshallah.
|A bird's-eye photo of the disaster site taken on August 18, is showing the progress of the repair work. |
The white surfaces are not ice left over from the freezing technique
but concrete slowly filling the hole (©dpa).