The Nuremberg–Crailsheim railway is a major railway in the north of the German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, which links Nuremberg, Ansbach and Crailsheim. The line has the current timetable number of 891.7 and is an important German railway line. The Nuremberg–Ansbach section is used as an alternative route when problems occur for long distance services between Nuremberg and Würzburg (via Uffenheim) and Nuremberg and Treuchtlingen (via Gunzenhausen) and to relieve the Nuremberg–Würzburg railway of some of its freight traffic.
A Bavarian politician, Gustav von Schlör advocated the planning of the line in 1862 during a tour of the route via Fürth and Zirndorf to Crailsheim. On 15 May 1875, the Royal Bavarian State Railways (Königlich Bayerische Staats-Eisenbahnen) opened the Nuremberg–Ansbach section on a direct route, as the industrialist Lothar von Faber had succeeded in having the route of the line moved closer to his factories in Stein. On 15 June 1875, the line was extended to Dombühl and, on 15 April 1876, to Crailsheim in Württemberg. Due to the ever-growing traffic, the line between Nuremberg and the border was duplicated by 1888. On 19 May 1972, electrification was completed between Nuremberg and Ansbach and, on 19 May 1985, electrification was extended from Crailsheim to Goldshöfe.
On 12 December 2010, operations of line S4 of the Nuremberg S-Bahn network was extended from Nuremberg to Ansbach. For this extension, all intermediate S-Bahn stations were upgraded to provide barrier-free access for the disabled, with the exception of Oberasbach, where planning for the redevelopment had not yet been completed. An additional station at Petersaurach Nord, located between Heilsbronn and Wicklesgreuth, is expected to be completed in 2011.
The line leaves Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof to the west, initially running parallel with the lines to Bamberg and to Augsburg. The line crosses the Frankenschnellweg freeway and the connecting tracks to the former main freight yard and the cattle yard and passes through Schweinau, Schweinau station and the industrial area of Tillypark. It then crosses the Ring line (Ringbahn), the Südwesttangente ("South-west tangent" freeway) and the Main–Danube Canal and reaches Nürnberg-Stein station, where the Bibert Railway (Bibertbahn) branched off to Unternbibert-Rügland until 1986. After the line crosses the Rednitz river, it runs through Unterasbach and Oberasbach and continues between the Bibert river to the north and federal highway B14 to the south through Roßtal and Heilsbronn to Wicklesgreuth. There a branch line runs to Windsbach and a siding runs to the United States Army military base at Katterbach. Near Lichtenau forest, the line continues to Sachsen bei Ansbach and from there runs parallel with the Fränkische Rezat and from the Ansbach district of Eyb it runs next to the railway line from Treuchtlingen to Ansbach station.
After the station, the line to Würzburg branches off to the northwest, while the line to Crailsheim turns to the southwest to Leutershausen-Wiedersbach, running along the southern edge of Frankenhöhe (a highland). In Eichholz, the line bends to avoid the Rüsselholz (a forest) and runs to the north west after a left turn between the forest and the Klosterberg (a mountain) runs to the former railway station of Dombühl. This was the starting point of a line to Rothenburg and Steinach and is still the starting point of for the line to Nördlingen, which is now only used for freight and museum excursions. The line continues under the A 7 and A 66 autobahns, through Schnelldorf station to the Bavaria/ Baden-Württemberg border, connects near Beuerlbach with the Tauber Valley Railway (Taubertalbahn) and ends in Crailsheim station.
The route is double track and electrified throughout. The line speed between Ansbach and Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof is between 120 and 160 km/h. Regional traffic between Roßtal-Wegbrücke and the change of tracks Roßtal is restricted to 60 km/h. In addition the stations of Nürnberg-Stein, Roßtal, Wicklesgreuth, Ansbach and Dombühl are equipped with overtaking tracks.
The refurbished goods shed of the former station in Ellrichshausen was one of five winners of the Peter-Haag Prize (for the preservation of Baden-Württemberg rail heritage) in 1989. The shed was built by Georg von Morlok in 1874 and now houses a private automotive museum.
In regional traffic, Regional-Express services on the Nuremberg–Crailsheim–Stuttgart route are formed of Class 111electric locomotives and Silberling carriages as push-pull trains. Between Nuremberg and Ansbach, Nuremberg S-Bahn trains are formed of class 442 (Bombardier Talent 2) electric multiple units or of class 143 locomotives and Silberling carriages.
S-Bahn extension from Ansbach to Dombühl
On 7 October 2009 the Bavarian Ministry of Transport and the Deutsche Bahn signed an agreement to plan to extension of line S4 of the S-Bahn from Ansbach to Dombühl. Construction of the € 5 million project, including the adaptation of the line and signalling and the reopening of Leutershausen-Wiedersbach station, is expected in 2011.
Reactivation of stations
Discussions have taken place to introduce an hourly service from Ansbach to Crailsheim.
- Peter Ramsenthaler (1996). Lokalbahn Nürnberg- Unternbibert-Rügland : Von der Frankenmetropole in den Rangau (in German). Schweinfurt: H-und-L-Publ.-Souvenirs-Verlag Bleiweis. p. 2. ISBN 3-928786-48-2.
- Ortschronik Zirndorf
- "Faktenblatt S-Bahnausbau Nürnberg" (PDF) (in German). Deutsche Bahn. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- Ulrich Gräf (1990). "Der Peter-Haag-Preis 1989 – Private Denkmalerhalter ausgezeichnet". Schwäbische Heimat (in German) (1): 29–34.
- "Hessel: "Positives Signal für westliches Mittelfranken"" (Press release) (in German). Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft, Infrastruktur, Verkehr und Technologie. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- "Kursbuchstrecke 786: Nürnberg - Crailsheim (- Stuttgart)" (in German). Nahverkehr Franken (private). Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- "S 4 Nürnberg Hbf - Ansbach" (in German). Nahverkehr Franken (private). Retrieved 22 April 2011.
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