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...catching up on neglected maintenance and using tilting trains would also allow for substantial speed gains so that the net benefit of the new line will be 10-12 minutes.

Even worse: ICE trains in the 1990's used to be able to make the trip to Munich in 2:01. Today they need at least 2:20. S21 + Wendlingen-Ulm are supposed to bring the trip time back down to 1:58.

A study commissioned by the chamber of commerce of Stuttgart, a strong proponent of S21, shows the expected load of the existing lines by 2025 if everything is left as it is. Rail node Stuttgart (blue arrow) doesn't look very overtaxed.

I will disagree on this point, albeit no support for the Stuttgart 21 project as currently envisioned will follow from that.

If you look at that capacity map, you'll notice that while the Stuttgart node has no capacity problems (thanks to the extra S-Bahn tracks), the line to the East does. This line, a climb up the Geislinger Steige, is already heavily used by freight, local and express traffic alike, and at a slow speed.

An attempt to speed up long-distance service by using tilting trains (which are fraught by lots of problems in Germany anyways -- a good summary appeared recently in the June issue of Eisenbahn Kurier) would only worsen the capacity problem, because one fast train would increase the headways between freight/passenger trains before and after. And that's when trains run on time: when not, delays will cascade, freight trains will be forced to make lots of extra stops (especially not a god thing on grades), the faster trains will still get stuck behind late slow trains until the next station. In fact, from what I know, it's just this kind of delays that were the reason to lengthen Stuttgart-Munich ICE schedules.

With the additional consideration that a new line would also add capacity to enable drawing more passengers from other modes of transport, also on longer relations (Paris-Munich), the time and capacity factors lead me to follow that the Wendlingen-Ulm line would be a necessity. What doesn't follow is support for Stuttgart 21, or Wendlingen-Ulm according to the current specifications.

For much of the same reasons as you outline, I don't see any sense in forcing Stuttgart's rapid transit into the same tunnels and same station as the ICEs. As can be seen on your map, Stuttgart already has a tunnel for though S-Bahn trains. If this weren't a real estate project, half the access tunnels and half the underground platforms could be dropped, and the messy routing at the airport could go, too. Some further issues in a follow-up comment.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 07:47:10 AM EST
From my following of its projects over the past two decades, it appears to me that DB spends an awful lot of time and money on planning, yet those plans remain remarkably resistant to changes reflecting the development of technology in the meantime or the consideration of even the most obvious potential problems. Hatchets down, to battle stations. For example, while building lines for 350 km/h is now more or less international standard, DB claims it would cost too much to re-model its decades-old plans for 250 km/h lines.

The cost of tunnels when actually built is also high than in some other places, which is even more remarkable given DB's reluctance to build bi-tube rather than two-track single tube tunnels, and its criminal cost saving on escape shafts and cross-connections. Dealing with geological challenges is another thing ().

City-crossing tunnels with subterranean platforms below the old main station for long-distance and high-speed trains aren't something unprecedented, either: Antwerp already has one, more are in construction in Madrid, Barcelona, Bologna, Firenze. AFAIK none of them cost nearly as much as Stuttgart 21. Such a project needs good organisation -- which the Stuttgart 21 project doesn't have at all.

Maybe DB needs foreign expertise?

As a final note: there is another project of a new through station that seems more a real estate project in disguise, though at least without subterranean platforms: Vienna's new central station. That one is constructed full-throttle. But it will be a funny 'central station', without a subway link...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 08:10:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The new Vienna station is certainly more worthwhile and easier to construct. Tracks will essentially stay in place, no 66km of tunneling. Two terminus stations that lie 'back to back' are transformed into a single through-station. Makes sense.

Unfortunately, there are the same marketing slogans (at least as transmitted by the know-nothing media (German tagesschau)): "removing the dead end", "Center of Europe", "Bahnhofs-City", "Paris-Bratislava", "Danzig-Adria", and as a special twist "Middle Germany - Athens - Black Sea". Who are those people kidding?

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 10:08:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only the slogans are the same, but it is a real estate project in disguise, too. The two old terminus stations were destroyed completely, and so were the servicing tracks and maintenance shops that were next to them: lots of space created for those new office buildings. In addition, the new central station will take over from the third terminus station (the Westbahnhof) and Wien-Meidling as the main long-distance stop -- but unlike those two, it lacks a subway connection.

I also note that like Wendlingen-Ulm, a project adjacent to Vienna's new main station is the Lainzer and Wienerwald tunnel complex, over 27 km of tunnels that are part of TEN-17 which IMO make eminent sense.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 10:28:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The above is fluff; on the following picture, you can see the actual extent of the real estate project better (all the light and medium grey buildings, including the skyscrapers, are planned new construction on former railway area):

...and here is the Stuttgart 21 real estate project:


Someone is gonna get rich, and it's neither taxpayers, nor DB...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 12:31:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Privatize gains, socialize losses.

Although DB gets off pretty well here. They pay almost nothing, less than they would for a simple renovation/modernization. DB Projektbau GmbH is paid handsomely for their expert planning and execution.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 02:36:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 04:14:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be happy with "Vienna-Venice" a connection which just vanished (even using local trains) apart from the night train. But this could be done without building anything new....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 5th, 2010 at 10:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see I didn't finish this:

Dealing with geological challenges is another thing ().

...where DB's planners insist on outdated and supposedly cheap solutions that end up expensive when problems arise. Tunnels can be built in difficult geology: after all, Stuttgart itself already has the S-Bahn (rapid transit) tunnel and a light metro with several tunnels. But DB's planners didn't exactly shine in this in recent times. In addition to the tunnel with cave-crossing viaduct on the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt line, there is the Siegauen-Tunnel on the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed line. DB first didn't want to build this line, then opted to build it (across similar difficult geology as in Stuttgart) with a supposedly cheaper excavating method, rather than some advanced alternative like a pressure-shielded tunnel boring machine. Of course the worst happened.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Oct 6th, 2010 at 03:35:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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