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Main-Spessart Railway

Main-Spessart Railway

The Main-Spessart Railway (German: Main-Spessart-Bahn) is a 110 kilometre long railway line in the Bavarian province of Lower Franconia and the neighbouring state of Hesse in south central Germany. It runs from Würzburg via Gemünden (Main) and Aschaffenburg to Hanau. It is particularly important for long-distance and goods traffic because it links the Rhine-Main conurbation immediately northwest of Aschaffenburg with the Lower Franconian city of Würzburg and beyond it to the metropoles of Nuremberg and Munich. Its name derives from the fact that it initially runs parallel to the River Main and then cuts through the Spessart hills. It was opened on 22 June 1854 by the Frankfurt-Hanau Railway Company and is one of the oldest railways in Germany


On 1 October 1854, the Royal Bavarian State Railways opened the section of the Ludwig's Western Railway from Würzburg to Aschaffenburg and the state border at Kahl. The connecting line to Hanau was opened by the Frankfurt-Hanau Railway Company (Frankfurt-Hanauer Eisenbahn Gesellschaft, FHE) on 22 July 1854. The FHE subsequently leased the section from Kahl to Aschaffenburg. In 1863 the Hessian Ludwig Railway took over operations of the line. In 1872 it took over the ownership of the non-Bavarian part of line, which now lay in Prussia, following the Austro-Prussian War. In 1893, Hessian Ludwig Railway was taken over by the Prussian State Railways, including its property and operating rights.

The Spessart Ramp and the following Schwarzkopf Tunnel were built from the beginning as a double track line and other engineering structures were designed to be upgraded for two tracks. The second track was built continuously but slowly until the 1890s. On 10 October 1954 the section from Würzburg to Veitshöchheim was electrified, and the whole line was electrified by 26 September 1957.

Steam operations on the Spessart Ramp before 1957 were very complex. In Laufach, a bank engine was attached behind freight and long-distance passenger trains. Where appropriate, a third locomotive was attached in front of freight trains.

Future projects

The Schwarzkopf Tunnel (926 m long), located between Laufach and Heigenbrücken will be replaced with four new tunnels which will allow for faster operations. Trains will be allowed to double their speed through the new tunnels from the current 70 km/h (43 MPH) to 140 km/h (87 MPH). Current push operations, necessary for heavy freight trains transiting the Spessart Ramp, will cease once these new tunnels go into service which is expected to be by 2017. The new alignment will necessitate the construction of a new station for Heigenbrücken, which will be located to the east of the current station.

The new tunnels are:

  • Falkenbergtunnel (approximately 2600 m, making it the longest tunnel in the group)
  • Hirschbergtunnel (between 360 and 524 m)
  • Metzbergtunnel (between 566 and 621 m)
  • Haintunnel (765 m)

External links

  • NetzNachrichten Dezember 2006 from DB Netz AG
  • Photographs of the tunnels
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