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Berlin–Munich in less than four hours: Chancellor, Federal Minister and heads of the Federal Laender inaugurate the most modern railway line in Germany

Daily services at record speed: more trains and shorter journey times on many routes • Deutsche Bahn expects to double its market share between Berlin and Munich to 40 per cent

(Berlin, 8 December 2017)  Germany’s most modern railway line between Berlin and Munich was inaugurated today with two special trains and a festive ceremony in Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal Minister Christian Schmidt and the heads of various Federal Laender inaugurated the more than 500-kilometre long railway line at five stations along the route, together with Richard Lutz, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn and numerous other DB and government representatives. Completion of the new-build line from Erfurt to Ebensfeld (near Bamberg) has closed the final gap in the German Unification Traffic Projects. As from the change of timetable on 10 December, 35 ICE trains will run daily on the new line.

Federal Minister Christian Schmidt commented, “The largest of all German Unification Traffic Projects has now gone into operation. We have reached the finishing line of a marathon race that began back in 1991. High-performance infrastructure in all parts of Germany is an essential requirement for the unity of our country. A major and final step has now been accomplished in rail transport. That is also the reason why the Federal Government provided funding of around 10 billion euros for the project. The German Unification Traffic Projects are a success story: they have integrated our country, creating new and in-depth human and economic relations.”

Richard Lutz, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn, praised the inauguration of the new high-speed line through the Thuringian Forest as a milestone: “This is a historic day: this superlative railway line has helped Germany to grow closer together. In future, Berlin and Munich will be linked in the record travel time of less than four hours, from city centre to city centre. This service is sure to encourage more people than ever before to travel by rail.”

The inauguration of the Berlin–Munich line ties in with the largest change of timetable since Deutsche Bahn was founded and is accompanies by numerous improvements to services. From Sunday onwards, one third of all DB long-distance trains will run on the basis of the new timetable. 45 stations throughout Germany can be reached directly by ICE via the new high-speed line through the Thuringian Forest.

17 million people in Germany will benefit from shorter journey times, new direct services and better connections. DB expects its market share on this route to double, reaching a figure of 40 per cent. The new service campaign is part of the quality programme entitled “The Future of Rail Operations in Germany”, with which DB intends to make rail travel more comfortable and dependable.

As the new rail hub in central Germany, Erfurt now offers fast connections in all four directions, with long-distance trains departing every hour. These services have been timed to optimise the connections to regional services so that more distant regions will also benefit from the advantages of the new line.

German Unification Traffic Project No. 8 is a project of superlatives: over a period of almost ten years, new railway lines were built and existing lines upgraded along Germany’s largest construction site between Nuremberg, Erfurt, Leipzig, Halle and Berlin. The project involved a total of roughly 500 kilometres of railway line and investments of around ten billion euros. The 26 tunnels have a total length of 57 km. 37 viaducts were built, including Germany’s largest railway bridge (8.6 km) near Halle in the Saale-Elster Valley.

The upgraded line between Berlin and Halle/Leipzig was inaugurated back in 2006 for use at top speeds of 200 km/h. It was joined by the Halle/Leipzig–Erfurt new-build line in December 2015 and the new-build line between Erfurt and Ebensfeld near Bamberg now completes the project. ICE Sprinter trains now travel on both these new-build lines at speeds of 300 km/h. The rail nodes of Halle, Leipzig and Erfurt have also undergone comprehensive refurbishment.

The inauguration ceremonies took place today at various stations along the line in Nuremberg, Erfurt, Leipzig, Lutherstadt Wittenberg and in Berlin. They were attended by high-ranking representatives such as Acting Transport Minister Christian Schmidt, Minister-Presidents Bodo Ramelow (Thuringia), Stanislaw Tillich (Saxony), Reiner Haseloff (Saxony-Anhalt), State Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann (Bavaria) and Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller.

Facts and figures about the Berlin-Munich line
  • Less than 4 hours for the journey by ICE Sprinter (three times a day in each direction) from Berlin to Munich, four and a half hours on board the ICE, which departs at hourly intervals. The journey previously took roughly 6 hours. 
  • 623 kilometres are covered by the ICE between Berlin and Munich via Halle, 652 km on the route via Leipzig. 
  • 300 km/h is the top speed at which the ICE runs through the Thuringian Forest between Erfurt and Nuremberg. 
  • 35 ICE trains per day run on the new high-speed line through the Thuringian Forest.
  • Up to 10,000 additional seats are now available daily between Berlin and Munich, above all because the trains are longer. 
  • 40 per cent market share is the Deutsche Bahn target for the Berlin–Munich route. That is twice as high as today, and higher than the share of air travel. 
  • 80 ICE trains per day stop in Erfurt.  
  • More than a third of all DB long-distance trains will run on new routes as from 10 December 2017, with more modern vehicles or at different times. This is the largest change of timetable in the history of DB.  
  • 45 stations throughout the whole of Germany are served by a direct ICE connection via the new high-speed line at least once per week, for instance ICE trains depart from Stralsund and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. 
  • 17 million people will benefit along the high-speed line from shorter journey times and new direct connections. 
Facts and figures about the construction work
  • 4 million tons of concrete and 156,000 concrete slabs for the new track were installed by DB.
  • 13.6 million cubic metres of demolition material resulted from work on the tunnels.
  • 400,000 archaeological finds were discovered. The most valuable are on show at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle.
  • 4000 hectares of substitute sites have been created by DB as ecological compensation for the construction work.
  • 200,000 people visited the information centres during the construction work.
  • The River Main was moved 170 metres to the west along a length of one kilometre. Approx. 150,000 cubic metres of soil were excavated to create the new riverine landscape
The Top 5 service improvements after the change of timetable
  • Munich and Berlin: passengers travelling between these two cities save up to two hours. Timetables are ideally coordinated to match regional services, which means the benefits are also noticeable in the outlying regions.
  • Erfurt: the state capital of Thuringia is the new long-distance hub in central Germany. The number of ICE trains has increased by 70 per cent to around 80 departures per day. The ICE departs for destinations in all four directions every hour.
  • Frankfurt am Main: the financial metropolis now has more direct connections to Berlin. On average, two trains per hour run to the German capital and back.
  • Gäubahn: DB is doubling its IC services between Stuttgart and Zurich, with modern Intercity 2 trains departing every hour. On the German section of the line, all long-distance trains can also be used at regional fare rates without any surcharge.  
  • ICE 4: the new long-distance traffic flagship will begin regular operations between Hamburg–Munich and Hamburg–Stuttgart. This train stands for comfort, innovative technology and a high level of eco-friendliness. 

Information for journalists:

A multimedia package on this subject can be downloaded from deutschebahn.com/vde8.

For up-to-date material on the inauguration visit deutschebahn.com/mediathek

Online information about German Unification Traffic Project 8 (“VDE 8”) is available at www.vde8.de