|Line number:||1902 (Brunswick–Gifhorn)
|Brunswick–Uelzen (planned: from 2012)|
The Brunswick–Uelzen railway line is a largely, single-tracked, non-electrified branch line in the north German state of Lower Saxony. It serves the northern part of Brunswick Land and the eastern region of the Lüneburg Heath. The most important station en route is Gifhorn. The line has also been called the Mühlenbahn ("Mill Railway") for several years due to the many mills along its route.
The line runs from Brunswick Hauptbahnhof to the north, bridges the Midland Canal and crosses the Hanover–Wolfsburg line (part of the Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway), in Gifhorn (old station name: Isenbüttel-Gifhorn). It then traverses Gifhorn district and the eastern part of the Lüneburg Heath, and reaches Wieren after passing through Wittingen, where there is a junction to the East Hanoverian Railways network, and Bad Bodenteich. At Wieren it merges into the electrified Stendal–Uelzen railway, the eastern section of the America Line, sharing its trackbed to Uelzen.
The Brunswick–Uelzen railway is the shortest link from Brunswick, Salzgitter and Wolfsburg to the north. Because it not been significantly upgraded, however, (maximum speeds on the line up to 80 km/h), routes via Lehrte are much faster.
The railway was taken into service shortly before the end of the 19th century. Since then it has been regularly worked by passenger trains. The first train ran on 1 March 1889, when the line was cleared for goods traffic from Isenbüttel-Gifhorn to Meine, and the first passenger train on the line ran on 1 July 1890. North of Isenbüttel-Gifhorn the next section to Triangel was opened to goods traffic on 1 May 1889 and passenger services on 1 November 1889. Both sections of the route were initially operated by the Berlin-Lehrte Railway Company. The southern link to Brunswick was opened on 1 July 1894 and the northern line to Uelzen on 1 September 1900.
Until 1913 trains from Brunswick ran from the west into the old station of Isenbüttel-Gifhorn. There they had to continue to Uelzen in order to change direction. Following an extensive relaying of the track, from 1913 trains could approach the station from the east which shortened journey times.
During the Second World War there were two serious accidents at Isenbüttel-Gifhorn station. Both were collisions in which two trains were involved. On 22 January 1941 a train ran into a military transport with about 1,000 Belgian prisoners-of-war. As a result, over 120 passengers lost their lives. On 11 October 1944 nine people died in another accident and 15 were seriously injured.
A photograph of Triangel station near Neudorf-Platendorf graces the dust jacket of the first edition of Bernward Vesper's short novel, The Reise ("The Journey", 1977).
In the 1970s so-called Heckeneiltrains ("hedgerow semi-fast trains") worked the line. These were Eilzug trains than ran on secondary routes rather than main lines. For example, in 1975 there were pairs of trains on the Flensburg–Lübeck–Wittingen–Kreiensen and Hamburg–Wittingen–Goslar–Kreiensen routes. Today there are almost no goods trains on the line. To about 1994 there was a siding in Meine to the old sugar factory, that was frequently used by goods trains during the sugar beet season, but in the 1970s was taken out of service.
In early 2008 the urban level crossings in Meine were replaced and the bridge over the Midland Canal near Bechtsbüttel renovated.
Several Regionalbahn trains on the route from Brunswick to Bremen worked the Brunswick–Uelzen railway and the western section of the America Line until December 2008.
In places the line needs to be upgraded. There are sometimes traffic jams at the level crossings near Meine and Ausbüttel due to defective barriers. In these situations, the police have to react quickly to direct the traffic manually.
Very occasionally the line is used by museum railways.
For a long time passenger trains hauled by DB Class 218 diesel locomotives dominated the scene. They ran with driving coaches for the first time in the 2002/03 timetable. In 2003 this chapter in passenger train history came to an end. Since then trains running between Brunswick and Uelzen have been made up almost exclusively of DB Class 628 multiple units. Until December 2008 some trains were provided by Class 614s.
It is intended that the section of line between Gifhorn Stadt and Brunswick will constitute part of the new Brunswick RegioStadtBahn. Several stations and halts will be rebuilt and the number of trains on this stretch will be increased to match the more frequent intervals of the RegioStadtBahn. In another project the line to Uelzen will also be used as a route by the RegioStadtBahn. The whole project is intended to complete in December 2012.
Hundertwasser station, Uelzen, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser
- Dietmar Hamann, Werner Kieselbach (Herausgeber): The Geschichte der Eisenbahn from Braunschweig nach Uelzen im Landkreis Gifhorn. Schriftenreihe of the Kreisarchives Gifhorn No. 15, Gifhorn 1998, ISBN 3-929632-40-3
- Details of timetable route 115: History, description of the line, the present day
- Historic and current photographs of almost all stations on the line
- Detailed home page for Brunswick-Gliesmarode station