Ries Railway

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Ries Railway
Native name Riesbahn
Type Heavy rail, Passenger/freight rail
Regional rail
Status Operational
Locale Baden Württemberg
Termini Aalen
Stations 17
Line number 4710 (Aalen–Nördlingen)
5300 (Nördlingen–Donauwörth)
Opened Stages between 1847 - 1863
Owner Deutsche Bahn
Operator(s) DB Bahn
Line length 68.6 km (42.6 mi)
Number of tracks Single track
Double track (Aalen-Goldshöfe)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 15 kV 16,7 Hz AC Overhead line
Operating speed 120 km/h (75 mph)
Route number 995
Route map
from Stuttgart
from Ulm
from Dillingen (until 1972)
72.2 Aalen
74.2 Wasseralfingen
76.0 Hofen (b. Aalen)
78.9 Goldshöfe
to Crailsheim
81.5 Frankenreuteuntil 2 June 1991
83.9 Westhausen
88.2 Lauchheim
91.9 Röttingen (Württ.)until 28 May 1972
Bildwasen tunnel (574 m)
95.9 Aufhausen (Württ.)
99.2 Bopfingen
103.6 Trochtelfingen (b. Bopfingen)
106.5 Pflaumloch
from Dombühl
from Gunzenhausen
from Wemding
65.0 Großelfingen
61.2 Möttingen
56.9 Hoppingen
51.7 Harburg (Schwab.)
49.1 Ebermergen
46.2 Wörnitzstein
from Nuremberg
from Ulm
40.8 Donauwörth
to Ingolstadt
to Augsburg

The Ries Railway (German: Riesbahn) is the current name of the line between Aalen and Donauwörth via Nördlingen. The name is derived from the Nördlinger Ries depression, and the line is operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB).

The line consists of a section of the Aalen–Nördlingen railway built by the Kingdom of Württemberg as the Rems Railway and a section of the Nördlingen–Donauwörth railway built as part of the Ludwig South-North Railway by the Kingdom of Bavaria, two of the oldest lines in Germany.


Nördlingen station, from Donauwörth direction
Bildwasen tunnel
Harburg bridge

The line is electrified and built as a single-track, except for the two-track section between Aalen and Goldshöfe. The height of some platform edges is below the minimum standard of about 38 cm above the rails and the central platforms of smaller stations are only accessible by crossing the tracks on plank crossings.

Regional services[edit]

Regionalbahn trains operate on the route every hour on weekday and every two hours on weekends. Trains are mostly operated as electric multiple units consisting of Alstom Coradia Continental (class 440) sets. The journey time in 2010, according to the annual timetable from Aalen to Donauwörth is 69 minutes. In the opposite direction trains take 81 minutes (12 minutes longer), because on the single track line the crossing stations are not located appropriately for symmetric scheduling. The crossings places are at Möttingen and Bopfingen.

Goldshöfe Station was originally built not to serve the location, but as a junction station on the lines from Aalen to Nördlingen and to Crailsheim. It is now used by many people from the nearby Hüttlingen community.

Freight traffic[edit]

The major freight user is the Marker cement plant in Harburg.The Schwäbische Hüttenwerke (steelworks) in Wasseralfingen is also served by freight trains.

Diversion route[edit]

In the case of closures on the StuttgartUlmAugsburg route, the Ries Railway forms part of a diversion route for long distance traffic between Stuttgart and Munich.

As a result, before the Olympic Games in Munich, in 1971 and 1972, the line was electrified from Schorndorf to Donauwörth via Aalen and Nördlingen.


The line was built as part of the Ludwig South-North Railway, opened between Donauwörth and Nördlingen on 15 September 1847, and the Rems Railway, opened between Aalen and Wasseralfingen on 25 July 1861 and extended to Nördlingen in 1863.

In recent years the Ries Railway has been interrupted repeatedly by landslides at different points. The longest of these interruptions was at the Bildwasen tunnel between Lauchheim and Aufhausen between December 2002 and December 2003. It affected the tunnel entrance, which has now been extensively renovated. In the same period, from February 2003 to July 2003, a large slip occurred on a flood embankment between Ebermergen and Donauwörth, bringin traffic on the line almost to a complete halt. These circumstances prompted considerations of closing the track. Before the blocking the route, many trains ran continuously from the Rems Railway to Donauwörth. Since the reopening of the route operations on the Ries Railway are run almost entirely independently.