|Leipzig Bavarian station–Hof station|
|Voltage:||15 kV 16.7 Hz AC|
|Maximum incline:||1.0 %|
The Leipzig–Hof Railway is a two-track main line in the German states of Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria, originally built and operated by the Saxon-Bavarian Railway Company (German: Sächsisch-Baiersche Eisenbahn-Compagnie). It runs from Leipzig through Altenburg, Werdau, Reichenbach and Plauen to Hof. The Werdau–Hof section is part of the Saxon-Franconian trunk line (Sachsen-Franken-Magistrale), the line connecting Dresden and Nuremberg. Its first section opened in 1842 and it is one of the oldest railways in Germany.
Modeled after the successful Leipzig–Dresden Railway Company, the Sächsisch-Baiersche Eisenbahn-Compagnie was founded on 12 June 1841 as a private company to fund and build the planned line. Like the Magdeburg-Leipzig Railway the route passed through several states, in addition to the Kingdom of Saxony, it passed through the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg, and the Kingdom of Bavaria.
The construction of the final section between Reichenbach and the Bavarian border was more difficult and required two large viaducts to cross the Göltzsch and Elster valleys. Since no bridges of this size had been built, the two viaducts eventually cost twice as much as originally estimated. Although the railway had run a competition in German newspapers seeking cost-effective ideas on how to build the Göltzsch Viaduct, the resulting ideas were of limited usefulness. On 21 September 1846 the Saxon-Bavarian Railway Company acknowledged that it could no longer finance the construction and asked the Kingdom of Saxony for help. 1 April 1847 the Kingdom of Saxony bought the company and it eventually became part of the Royal Saxon State Railways (Königlich Sächsische Staatseisenbahnen); it the meantime it was operated as the Saxon-Bavarian State Railways (Sächsisch-Bayerische Staatseisenbahn). The remaining sections were completed in 1851.
- Leipzig–Altenburg: 19 September 1842
- Altenburg–Crimmitschau: 15 March 1844
- Crimmitschau–Werdau: 18 September 1845
- Werdau–Reichenbach: 31 In May 1846
- Plauen–Hof: 20 November 1848
- Reichenbach–Plauen: 15 July 1851
1 April 1920 the Royal Saxon State Railways became part of the German Railway (Deutsche Reichsbahn).
Between 1876 and 1878, the inconvenient terminal station in Altenburg was converted into a through station. This required a new alignment with a tunnel through a ridge south of the town. The tunnel had to be opened out prior to the 1958/59 electrification of the line because of its restricted structure gauge and water damage.
1 September 1879 a 9.9 km-long branch line was opened from Gaschwitz (now in Markkleeberg) on the main line branches via Gautzsch (now Markkleeberg West) to the Royal Saxon State Railways’ Plagwitz-Lindenau station on the southern outskirts of Leipzig.
In 1880, the terminal station in Hof was replaced by a through station.
In 1888, the Plagwitz–Connewitz freight railway was built branched off the Bavarian line the south of Connewitz station to connect the Leipzig Bavarian station with the Plagwitz-Lindenau station. This line was closed in 1925 during the construction of new flood defences for Leipzig.
On 2 October 1961 electrification was completed on the line from Leipzig Hauptbahnhof and Leipzig Bavarian station to Böhlen. Several more sections of electrification were opened finally reaching Reichenbach on 20 December 1963.
In the early 1990s there was a proposal to build a new line between Weischlitz on the Plauen-Cheb line to Feilitzsch that would have shortened the Plauen–Hof section from the current 49 km to only 32 km. This did not prove viable due to its high costs and because most long distance traffic between Berlin and Munich travels on the Saal Railway.
Electrification is being extended on the 74 km from Reichenbach to Hof because diesel-powered trains are not allowed to operate through the Leipzig City Tunnel tunnel, which was opened for passenger services in December 2013. This work is estimated to cost €120 million and is being funded by the federal government, the state governments of Saxony and Bavaria and the European Union. It includes the erection of 3,000 overhead line masts, 170 km of overhead wiring and substations in Plauen and Hof. Construction work began on 21 July 2010. Completion is planned to Plauen in 2012 and to Hof in 2013.
The starting point of the line was traditionally at the Bavarian railway station in Leipzig, which is at currently out of service because of construction work on the City Tunnel. At Leipzig–Connewitz station the line connects with the link line to Leipzig Hbf, which currently carries all traffic. First, the line runs through southern Leipzig, which is dominated by coal mining and mining landscapes composed of lakes and slag heaps. As far as Gaschwitz there are four tracks, then three tracks to Böhlen. In the Thuringian town of Altenburg, the landscape becomes hilly and the line then follows the valley of the Pleiße. In Gößnitz the line intersects with the Mid-Germany link line (the line connecting Chemnitz and Glauchau in the east via Gera and Jena to Weimar in the west) and then passes through Crimmitschau and Werdau before reaching the Werdau triangle, where it connects with the Dresden line to Werdau. It then enters northern Vogtland. Two kilometres west of Neumark the line to Greiz branched off until it was closed in 1999. Electrification of the line currently ends at Reichenbach, where a section with interesting structures begins, including the Göltzschtal Viaduct at Netzschkau and the Elstertal Viaduct at Jocketa. The route then reaches Plauen, which has seven stations, but trains on the Saxon-Bavarian Railway only stop at Plauen upper station and Jößnitz. In July 2010, DB launched a project to electrify 73 km Reichenbach - Plauen - Hof, which should be completed in 2013.
After Plauen station, the line turns back to the north, while the line to Bad Bramstedt and Cheb turns off to the south. After Syrau the line turns back to the west and in Mehltheuer it connects with the line from Gera. At Schönberg after connecting with the line to Schleiz and the closed line to Hirschberg, it turns south and three times crosses into very short sections of Thuringian territory. The last station in Saxony is the former border station of Gutenfürst. At the151.699 km mark (from the Leipzig Bavarian station) the line leaves Saxony.
In Bavaria the line crosses the A72 autobahn and passes through the village of Feilitzsch. The station was closed in June 1973, but re-opened on 15 September 2006; it is only served by the Vogtlandbahn. 164 kilometres from Leipzig, the city of Hof is reached.
- "DB plans new freight corridors". Today's Railways Europe (191). November 2011. ISSN 1354-2753.
- "Electrification work begins on Reichenbach - Hof line - International Railway Journal". 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- Beyer, Peter (1965). Leipzig und der Plan einer Eisenbahnverbindung zwischen Sachsen und Bayern: Ein Beitrag zur Rolle der Messestadt in der deutschen Verkehrsgeschichte des Vormärz (Leipzig and the plan for a rail link between Saxony and Bavaria: A contribution to the role of the city of the fair to the German commercial history of the pre-March era) (in German) (2). Sächsische Heimatblätter. pp. 98–125.