|Voltage:||15 kV 16.7 Hz AC|
The line was built by the Magdeburg-Leipzig Railway Company (German: Magdeburg-Leipziger Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft), with construction starting on 24 January 1838. It was the first German railway that passed through several countries, in addition to the kingdoms of Prussia (Magdeburg, Halle) and Saxony (Leipzig), it also crossed the Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen. Opening dates:
- 29 June 1839: Magdeburg–Schönebeck (14.9 km)
- 9 September 1839: Schönebeck–Saale bridge near Calbe (12.4 km)
- 19 June 1840: Saale bridge–Köthen (22.6 km)
- 22 July 1840: Halle-Köthen (35.7 km)
- 18 August 1840: Halle-Leipzig (33.2 km)
Finally on 18 August 1840 the whole line from Magdeburg to Leipzig was opened. As the Magdeburg station in Leipzig was adjacent to the Dresden station, passengers between Magdeburg and Dresden (the Leipzig-Dresden Railway opened in 1837) changed trains here. Later a short connecting line was built for the transfer of coaches. Between Halle and Leipzig the line passed from Prussia to Saxony. The section of the line in Saxony was operated under contract by the Leipzig-Dresden Railway Company. On 29 April 1874, the Magdeburg-Leipzig Railway Company purchased the Saxon section of the line with effect from 1 January 1875. Duplication of the line from Magdeburg Leipzig, which had started in 1842, was completed on 15 January 1843. On 1 November 1843 regular freight services commenced.
In 1873 a line opened to connect Magdeburg’s two stations. Magdeburg’s walls prevented a joint station being built. There was a station for trains to Wittenberge and Hamburg with the Leipziger station serving trains on the Magdeburg-Leipzig line and trains to Berlin, Braunschweig and Halberstadt.
On 1 June 1876 the Magdeburg-Leipzig Railway Company was taken over by the Magdeburg-Halberstadt Railway Company, which was nationalized by Prussia under an act of 20 December 1879. The Magdeburg-Leipzig line came under the management of the Königliche preußischen Eisenbahndirektion Magdeburg (Royal Prussian railway directorate of Magdeburg). From 1 April 1895 it came under the management of the new railway directorate of Halle-Leipzig.
On 1 May 1912 the Prussian part of the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof was opened, leading to the closure of the Magdeburger station. On 1 April 1920, the Magdeburg-Leipzig line went along with the other German state railways was merged into Deutsche Reichseisenbahnen (German Railways), which on 30 August 1924 became Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (German Railway Company).
In 1920 electrification of the section between Halle and Leipzig began, with the first electric locomotive operating on it on 19 December 1922. Electrification from Magdeburg to Leipzig was completed on 7 October 1934. In 1946, the electrical installations were dismantled as reparations. On 1 September 1955, electric trains started running again between Halle and Köthen, after the Soviet Union returned some electric locomotives. Electrification was restored between Köthen and Schönebeck on 29 December 1955, between Schönebeck and Magdeburg on 12 January 1957, and the final section between Leipzig and Halle on 20 December 1958.
Currently, the section between Magdeburg and Halle is served by Regionalbahn trains. S-Bahn trains operate between Magdeburg and Schönebeck. Between Halle and Leipzig, part of the line is served by Regional-Express trains, and the whole line is served by S-Bahn trains of line S10. In addition InterCity trains on IC lines 56 and 55 operate together providing an hourly service, stopping only in Magdeburg Hbf, Köthen, Halle Hbf, Leipzig/Halle Airport and Leipzig Hbf. Between Halle and Leipzig, these trains run on the only completed section of the Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle high-speed line. The line also carried significant freight traffic.
- Beyer, Peter (1978). "Leipzig und die Anfänge des deutschen Eisenbahnbaus. Die Strecke nach Magdeburg und das Ringen der Kaufleute um ihr Entstehen 1829–1840 (Leipzig and the beginnings of the German railway construction. The route to Magdeburg and the struggle of the merchants for their building 1829–1840.)". Abhandlungen zur Handels- und Sozialgeschichte (Essays on Trade and Social History) (in German) 17. Weimar.