Mannheim–Karlsruhe–Basel railway

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Rhine Valley Railway
Karte Rheintalbahn.png
Native name Rheintalbahn
Locale Baden-Württemberg
Termini Mannheim Hbf
Basel Bad
Line number
  • 4002 (Mannheim–Heidelberg)
  • 4000 (Heidelberg–Karlsruhe)
  • 4280 (Karlsruhe–Basel)
Line length 270.7 km (168.2 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 15 kV/16.7 Hz AC overhead catenary
Operating speed 250 km/h (160 mph) (max)
Route number
  • 665 (Mannheim–Heidelberg)
  • 701 (Heidelberg–Karlsruhe)
  • 702 (Karlsruhe–Basel)
Route map
 Operating points and lines[1] 
Palatine Ludwig Railway from Ludwigshafen
S 1S 2S 3S 4 (RheinNeckar)
Riedbahn from Frankfurt via MA-Luzenberg
0.0 Mannheim Hbf
Rhine Railway from Karlsruhe
Riedbahn to Frankfurt via MA-Käfertal
HSL from Stuttgart (Container terminal bridge)
4.0 Mannheim Rbf Hp
4.3 Mannheim ARENA/Maimarkt
Mannheim marshalling yard
6.1 Mannheim-Seckenheim
8.5 Mannheim-Friedrichsfeld Süd junction
To Mannheim-Friedrichsfeld and Frankfurt
via the Main-Neckar line
Schwetzingen–Mannheim line
9.0 Mannheim-Friedrichsfeld Süd
Main-Neckar line from Darmstadt
Heidelberg-Wieblingen (junction)
(flying junction)
A 5
14.8 Heidelberg-Pfaffengrund/Wieblingen
to Heidelberg Hbf (old)
16.6 Heidelberg marshalling yard
Heidelberg Hbf
to Heidelberger Hbf (old)
Neckar Valley line to Jagstfeld S 1S 2S 5
from Heidelberger Hbf (old)
Former route from Heidelberg Hbf (old)
22.1 Heidelberg-Kirchheim/Rohrbach
26.5 St Ilgen-Sandhausen
32.1 Wiesloch-Walldorf
37.5 Rot-Malsch
40.1 Bad Schönborn-Kronau
42.4 Bad Schönborn-Süd
46.2 Ubstadt-Weiher
46.6 Ubstadt-Weiher(junction)
Connecting line to Bruchsal Rollenberg
Katzbach Railway from Odenheim S 31
and Kraich Valley Railway from Menzingen S 32
Mannheim–Stuttgart high-speed railway
Connecting line from Bruchsal Rollenberg
49.6 Bruchsal Nord(junction)
Bruchsal Stegwiesen
Bruchsal Schloßgarten
Bruhrain Railway from Graben-Neudorf S 33
51.6 Bruchsalterminus of S 33S 4/S 9
Western Railway to Stuttgart S 9
53.6 Bruchsal Bildungszentrum
55.9 Untergrombach crossover
56.8 Untergrombach
60.5 Weingarten (Baden)
Karlsruhe Stadtbahn S 4S 5
From Pforzheim
68.2 Karlsruhe-Durlach
to Karlsruhe freight yard
Karlsruhe-Hagsfeld–Karlsruhe freight yard line
Former route of the Rhine Valley Line
Rhine Railway Mannheim
former connection from Ausbesserungswerk (until 199x)
Karlsruhe freight yard (old)(until 199x)
Karlsruhe Hbf(until 1913)
former route of the Hardt Railway, Maxau Railway
72.9 Karlsruhe Hbfterminus of S 3
Alb Valley Railway S 1S 11
(former route of the Rhine Valley Line until 1913)
from Karlsruhe Albtalbf (where system changes)
Palatine Maximilian Railway to Wörth
Rhine Railway to Rastatt
Karlsruhe West–Karlsruhe Rbf freight line
Karlsruhe-Dammerstock–Karlsruhe Rbf freight line
freight line from Karlsruhe Rbf (marshalling yard)
Rüppurr(until 1913)
76.2 Karlsruhe-Brunnenstück(junction)
(former route of the Rhine Valley line until 1913)
Km change as a result of route shortening
79.6 Ettlingen West
Alb Valley Railway
82.5 Bruchhausen
87.9 Malsch
91.7 Muggensturm
Rhine Railway from Karlsruhe S 4S 41
96.5 Rastatt
Murg Valley Railway to Freudenstadt S 31S 41
Former route of Rhine Railway to Haguenau
101.3 Rastatt Süd junction(current start of parallel HSL)
102.6 Baden-Baden-Haueneberstein
103.2 Sandweier crossover
105.3 Baden-Baden
Former line from old Baden station
108.3 Sinzheim Nord
109.5 Sinzheim (b. Bühl)
112.5 Baden-Baden-Rebland
116.9 Bühl (Baden)
119.2 Ottersweier
125.3 AchernTerminus of S 4S 32
Acher Valley Railway to Ottenhöfen
127.7 Önsbach
128.4 Önsbach crossover
131.7 Renchen
To Strasbourg
Rench Valley Railway from Bad Griesbach
137.9 Appenweier
138.7 Appenweier-Muhrhaag junctionfrom Strasbourg
141.0 Windschläg junctionto Offenburg freight yard
141.7 Offenburg Nord junction
145.5 Offenburg
146.1 Offenburg SüdCurrent end of the HSL
Black Forest Railway to Singen
former bypass curve from the Black Forest Railway
148.3 Schutterwald
154.4 Niederschopfheim
158.7 Friesenheim (Baden)
163.7 Lahr(Schwarzwald)
former railway to Lahr town
166.1 Kippenheim
171.8 Orschweier
former Rhine–Ettenheimmünster Local Railway
174.8 Ringsheim
177.7 Herbolzheim (Brsg)
181.0 Kenzingen
Kaiserstuhl Railway from Breisach
185.9 Riegel-Malterdingen
HSL will have a separate alignment from here
188.8 Köndringen(crossover)
188.8 Köndringen
190.2 Teningen-Mundingen
192.7 Emmendingen
196.5 Kollmarsreute
Elz Valley Railway from Elzach
199.8 Denzlingen
202.6 Gundelfingen (Breisgau)
202.7 Gundelfingen junction
Freight bypass railway to Freiburg Gbf
205.0 Freiburg-Zähringen
207.0 Freiburg-Herdern
Line from Breisach
208.3 Freiburg (Breisgau) Hbf
Höllentalbahn to Donaueschingen
212.5 Freiburg-St. Georgen
Freight bypass railway from Freiburg Gbf
214.6 Leutersberg(junction)
215.7 Ebringen
217.0 Schallstadt
219.9 Norsingen
Münster Valley Railway from Münstertal
222.9 Bad Krozingen
224.1 Tunsel
228.8 Heitersheim
Flying junction (planned)
End of separate HSL alignment
231.8 Buggingen
232.8 Hügelheim
Müllheim (Baden)
Müllheim-Badenweiler railway (Metre gauge)
Line to Mülhausen
239.7 Auggen
239.7 Auggen(siding)
243.2 Schliengen
HSL has a separate alignment from here
246.8 Bad Bellingen
245.4 Start of Katzenberg Tunnel (9.385 m)
250.0 Rheinweiler
252.8 Kleinkems
255.3 Klotz Tunnel (242 m)
256.0 Kirchberg Tunnel (129 m)
256.4 Istein
256.8 Hartberg Tunnel (307 m)
254.8 End of Katzenberg Tunnel (9.385 m)
258.3 Efringen-Kirchen
End of separate HSL alignment
262.2 Eimeldingen
Kander Valley Railway from Kandern (Heritage railway)
Former railway from Saint-Louis (1878–1937)
267.6 Weil am RheinTerminus of S 5 (Basel)
Garden Railway to Lörrach S 5
267.6 German/Swiss border
270.7 Basel Bad BfTerminus of S 6
Basel Trams
Wiese Valley Railway to Zell S 6
Connecting line to Basel SBB and Olten
Upper Rhine Railway to Konstanz

The Mannheim–Karlsruhe–Basel railway, also known as the Rhine Valley Line (German: Rheintalbahn), is a railway line that runs from Mannheim, Germany, via Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, and Freiburg to Basel, Switzerland. It is part of the Baden Mainline (Badische Hauptbahn).


Further information: Baden Mainline

The line was financed and built by the Grand Duchy of Baden State Railway (Großherzogliche Badische Staatsbahn). The first section between Mannheim and Heidelberg was opened in 1840, and it was completed in several sections to Basel in 1855.

Date Start of section End of section
12 September 1840 Mannheim Hbf Heidelberg Hbf
10 April 1843 Heidelberg Hbf Karlsruhe Hbf
1 May 1844 Karlsruhe Hbf Rastatt
6 May 1844 Rastatt Baden-Oos
1 June 1844 Baden-Oos Offenburg
1 August 1845 Offenburg Freiburg Hbf
1 June 1847 Freiburg Hbf Müllheim (Baden)
15 June 1847 Müllheim Schliengen
8 November 1848 Schliengen Efringen
22 January 1851 Efringen Haltingen
1855 Haltingen Basel

The line was originally built to 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in), but since the surrounding countries built their railways to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge, the line was converted to standard gauge between 1854 and 1855.

Since Schwetzingen and Hockenheim missed by the line through Heidelberg, another line was opened in 1870 on the Mannheim–Schwetzingen–Graben–Eggenstein–Karlsruhe route. A shorter and more direct line from Graben to Karlsruhe via Blankenloch was added in 1895 as a strategic railway. This converted the Karlsruhe–Eggenstein–Graben section of the old line into a branch line, now known as the Hardt Railway and partly incorporated into the Karlsruhe Stadtbahn.

Bad Schönborn-Kronau station

In the northern section between Mannheim and Karlsruhe there are two different lines, the Mannheim–Graben-Neudorf–Karlsruhe line (the Baden Mainline as such) as well as the Mannheim–Heidelberg–Bruchsal–Durlach–Karlsruhe line (the Baden-Kurpfalz Railway). Particularly after World War I it became a major line for international traffic. Beginning in the 1950s,the Rhine Valley line was progressively electrified, with the whole line fully electrified by the middle of 1958.

Under a German-Swiss convention, the entire line was supposed to be converted to at least four lines by 2008, so that it can serve as the main northern approach route to the new Gotthard Base Tunnel line to Italy. Deutsche Bahn is building a high-speed line for this project from Karlsruhe to Basel, including new and upgraded sections.

Between Karlsruhe and Rastatt two lines run relatively near each other, effectively providing four tracks. The double-track section between Rastatt station and Rastatt-Niederbühl is to be widened to four lines, probably by the construction of a parallel tunnel. Between Rastatt Niederbühl and Offenburg two new high-speed tracks have been completed next to the old double-track line. A new section of line from Schliengen to Haltingen between Freiburg and Basel, including the 9385 metre-long Katzenberg Tunnel, was opened on 9 December 2012 to avoid a narrow, winding section between the Rhine and the Isteiner Klotz hills.[2] The remaining sections between Offenburg, Freiburg and the Katzenberg Tunnel are still being planned.


Rhine-Neckar S-Bahn train between Mannheim and Heidelberg

The Rhine Valley line is today one of the most important lines of Germany both for passenger and goods traffic, including international traffic to and from Switzerland and France. The main railway stations are Mannheim, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Offenburg, Freiburg and Basel Bad. Other stations are Baden-Baden, Rastatt and Bruchsal.

Since December 2003, line S3 of the Rhein-Neckar S-Bahn has operated on the Mannheim–Karlsruhe section of line and S4 (SpeyerBruchsal) on the (SpeyerKarlsruhe) section. Lines S31, S32, S4 and S41 of the Stadtbahn Karlsruhe operate between Bruchsal and Achern.

At each end of the line are two of the largest marshalling yards in Europe: Mannheim marshalling yard and Basel SBB marshalling yard in Muttenz. The other marshalling yards of this line in Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Offenburg, Freiburg im Breisgau and Basel Badischer Bahnhof have been closed.

Karlsruhe–Basel high speed line[edit]

On 21 January 1987 the Federal Minister of Transport Werner Dollinger wrote to Deutsche Bundesbahn agreeing to the construction of a new line from Karlsruhe to Offenburg and Basel as part of the 1985 federal transport plan. The cost was estimated at the time to be about 2.3 billion D Mark and building should have begun by the end of 1987. Once finished, travel time between Hamburg and Basel was expected to be reduced by over two hours to five and a half hours. The maximum speed between Karlsruhe and Offenburg would have been 250 km/h and 200 km/h between Offenburg and Basel.[3]

In March 1993 the first section between Bühl and Achern (9 km) was put into service.[4]

The current plan of the project manager, DB ProjektBau, is the continued development of the line as the Neu- und Ausbaustrecke Karlsruhe–Basel (i.e. a mixture of new high-speed line and upgraded line). This line forms the most important northern access route to the Swiss AlpTransit project and is therefore part of a bilateral convention for an increase in the efficiency in rail transport between Switzerland and Germany.

Between Appenweier and Karlsruhe the line is also part of the Magistrale for Europe from Paris to Budapest, which is supported by the European Union as part of its Trans-European Networks.

The federal transport plan forecast that there would be 38 long-distance trains daily each way on the Offenburg–Basel section. It forecast that there would be 137 daily goods trains running from north to south and 147 daily goods trains running from south to north.[5]

Construction arrangements[edit]

The project is arranged into nine sections:

  • Section 1: KarlsruheRastatt-Süd (km 60.66–100.87): 24.3 km, including the 4270 metre-long Rastatt Tunnel, which will pass under the whole of the town of Rastatt and the Federbach-Niederung river. This section has planning approval. At the end of February 2012 a notice concerning the tender of the construction contract was published. The estimated contract value is € 808 million.[6] The tender process began on 2 June 2012.[7] Construction is expected to start in 2013 and be completed in 2022.[8]
  • Section 2: Rastatt-Süd–Sinzheim (km 100.87–114.37): 13.5 km (open)
  • Section 3: BühlOttersweier (km 114.37–121.75): 7.4 km (open)
  • Section 4: AchernSasbach (km 121.75–130.53): 7.8 km (open)
  • Section 5: RenchenAppenweier (km 130.52–140.16): 9.6 km (open)
  • Section 6: Appenweier–Offenburg (km 140.16–145.48): 5.3 km (open)
  • Section 7: Offenburg–Herbolzheim (km 145.48–178.00): 32.6 km (planned)
    • Section 7.1: Offenburg Süd–Hohberg (about 8.7 km): the proposal is to build new tracks for 250 km/h close to current line,[9] in the summer of 2008 46,000 private objections were received[10] and the planning process has not been completed.
    • Section 7.2: Hohberg–Friesenheim (km 154.200 to 161.200): the proposal is to build new tracks for 250 km/h close to current line and Friesenheim station is to be rebuilt. The planning process is not complete.
    • Section 7.3: LahrMahlberg (km 161–172): the proposal is to build new tracks for 250 km/h on the western side of the current line.[11] Planning approval was received in 2011.
    • Section 7.4: Ettenheim–Herbolzheim (km 172.1–178.0): the proposal is to build new tracks for 250 km/h on the western side of the current line, including the rebuilding of Ringsheim and Herbolzheim stations. The planning process is not complete.
  • Section 8: Kenzingen–Heitersheim (km 178.00–222.40): 44.4 km (planned), this involves a bypass for freight trains to the west of Freiburg, generally along the A 5 autobahn, including the Mengen Tunnel (1,956 m), designed for 160 km/h. Passenger trains will run on the current route through Freiburg. The planning process is not complete.
  • Section 9: BuggingenBasel (km 222.40–271.61): 37.4 km (under construction):
    • Section 9.0: Buggingen–Auggen: planning process is not complete.
Katzenberg Tunnel shell during construction
    • Section 9.1: Auggen–Haltingen this 21 km-long section, including the 9.4 km-long Katzenberg tunnel, was put in service in December 2012.[2]
    • Section 9.2: Haltingen-Weil am Rhein, planning approval for this 5 km-long section on the northern edge of Basel was achieved in 2010[12] and construction has started.
    • Section 9.3: Basel, planning process has not been completed.

The line between Rastatt south and Offenburg has a speed limit of 250 km/h. This speed limit will also apply to the sections of new line between Offenburg and Kenzingen and between Buggingen and Basel. Although new lines in Germany are now planned to allow running at 300 km/h, the uncompleted sections of the Karlsruhe–Basel lines are continuing to be built on alignments suitable for 250 km/h running because little saving of time would be achieved with higher speeds.[5]

Time frame[edit]

Originally the project was to have been completed in 2008, in accordance with an agreement with Switzerland. By 12 December 2004, sections 2-6, from Rastatt-Süd to Offenburg, were complete, and other sections were under construction, notably the Katzenberg tunnel. The remaining sections were still in the planning phase. With Federal Budget cuts the project will now not be completed until 2020.[13] The Federal Government has indicated that it intends to make funds available for further sections as planning approvals are achieved.[5]

Cost and finances[edit]

According to unofficial estimates the cost of the project is about € 4.6 billion.[14] In 2006 about € 108 million was invested in it.[15]


  1. ^ Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland (German railway atlas). Schweers + Wall. 2009. ISBN 978-3-89494-139-0. 
  2. ^ a b "Katzenberg cut-off inaugurated". 5 December 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Bau der ABS/NBS Karlsruhe–Basel genehmigt". Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau (in German) 36 (1/2): 102. 1987. 
  4. ^ "Erster Abschnitt der Neubaustrecke Karlsruhe–Basel fertig". Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau (in German) 42 (5): 361. 1993. 
  5. ^ a b c "Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Winfried Hermann, Alexander Bonde, Kerstin Andreae, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, Bundestags-Drucksache 16/5037" (PDF). Answers to parliamentary questions (in German). Parliament of Germany. 14 April 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "D-Karlsruhe: railway construction works". Tenders Electronic Daily. 25 February 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012 (Document 2012/S 39-063501) 
  7. ^ "D-Karlsruhe: railway construction works". Tenders Electronic Daily. 25 February 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012 (Document 2012/S 39-063501) 
  8. ^ "Bund stellt Finanzmittel für den Rastatter Tunnel bereit" (Press release) (in German). Federal Ministry of Transport, Construction and Urban Development. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  9. ^ DB ProjektBau (ed.). "Ausbau- und Neubaustrecke Karlsruhe–Basel: Planfeststellungsabschnitt 7.1: Offenburg Süd–Hohberg" (PDF, 2.0 MB) (in German). Karlsruhe: Deutsche Bahn. Retrieved 3 August 2012 (12 page brochure with status of December 2008) 
  10. ^ "Aus- und Neubau der Rheintalbahn: Erste Bewertung des Regierungspräsidiums Freiburg im Anhörungsverfahren für Offenburg: Antragstrasse der Bahn in der vorgelegten Form nicht genehmigungsfähig" (PDF) (Press release) (in German). Regierungspräsidium Freiburg. 18 January 2011. 
  11. ^ DB ProjektBau (ed.). "Ausbau- und Neubaustrecke Karlsruhe–Basel: Planfeststellungsabschnitt 7.3: Lahr–Mahlberg" (PDF, 1.7 MB) (in German). Karlsruhe: Deutsche Bahn. Retrieved 4 August 2012 (12 page brochure with status of December 2008) 
  12. ^ "Planning approval for Section 9.2 (Haltingen – Weil am Rhein)" (PDF) (in German). Eisenbahn-Bundesamt. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "400 Millionen Euro für weiteren Aus- und Neubau der Bahnstrecke Karlsruhe–Basel" (PDF) (Press release) (in German). Deutsche Bahn. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Holzhey, Michael (31 May 2005). "Wachstumskerne der Schiene – Investitionsschwerpunkte der Zukunft" (PDF) (in German). BDZ Workshop. Retrieved 2007-06-29. 
  15. ^ Investitionsbilanz 2006 der DB AG Eurailpress of 2 January 2007 (German)


  • Röth, Helmut (2006). Auf Schienen zwischen Odenwald und Pfalz. Fotografien 1955-1976. [By rail between the Odenwald and Palatine. Photography 1955–1976] (in German). Ludwigshafen am Rhein: Verlag Pro Message. p. 168. ISBN 3-934845-18-5.