Infrastructure project expertise

Posted: 8 April 2008 | | No comments yet

DB ProjektBau gathers together specialists within the DB Group from the fields of Project Management, Planning and Engineering Supervision. With expertise from a variety of domains being pooled in this way, DB ProjektBau has unique know-how that enables it to provide all services from a single source – from project conception work through to completion. With orders of between €2-3 billion a year and approximately 4,000 employees, it is one of the largest infrastructure service providers in the rail transport sector.

DB ProjektBau gathers together specialists within the DB Group from the fields of Project Management, Planning and Engineering Supervision. With expertise from a variety of domains being pooled in this way, DB ProjektBau has unique know-how that enables it to provide all services from a single source – from project conception work through to completion. With orders of between €2-3 billion a year and approximately 4,000 employees, it is one of the largest infrastructure service providers in the rail transport sector.

DB ProjektBau gathers together specialists within the DB Group from the fields of Project Management, Planning and Engineering Supervision. With expertise from a variety of domains being pooled in this way, DB ProjektBau has unique know-how that enables it to provide all services from a single source – from project conception work through to completion. With orders of between €2-3 billion a year and approximately 4,000 employees, it is one of the largest infrastructure service providers in the rail transport sector.

As well as focusing on spectacular new-build and upgrade line projects, DB ProjektBau also takes on countless modernisation tasks in the existing railway network. Besides Germany’s largest tunnel construction site – the Katzenberg Tunnel – projects also include the commissioning of around 30 electronic interlockings for DB Netz AG each year.

Stuttgart 21 / NBL Wendlingen-Ulm

Involving an investment volume of approximately €5 billion and a total line length of around 121km, the Stuttgart-Ulm new-build project embraces the major Stuttgart 21 projects and the Wendlingen-Ulm new-build line (NBL). These two major projects effectively add up to the largest upgrade concept for rail passenger transport in Baden-Württemberg since the 19th century.

Under the Stuttgart 21 project, the Stuttgart rail-hub is being remodelled with the aim of preparing it for and integrating it into the European high-speed network. Stuttgart’s terminus station is being rotated through 90 degrees and converted into a lower-lying through station. In future, trains will negotiate tunnels straight out of and into the Stuttgart basin. Capacity at the city’s central station will be raised as a result. In tandem with the onward new-build line to Ulm, the makeover will considerably expand long-distance and regional rail services as well as reducing journey times.

The Stuttgart-Ulm new-build line, a central constituent of the European arterial route from Paris via Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Ulm, Munich and Vienna to Bratislava and Budapest respectively, is being laid out for a maximum design speed of 250km/h.

Topographical dictates mean that tunnel structures figure prominently in both the Stuttgart 21 project and the Wendlingen-Ulm NBL. No less than 32km of a total of 57km of line in the Stuttgart 21 project is tunnelled, for instance, whilst the 61km-long Wendlingen-Ulm NBL involves 27km of tunnelling.

Pursuant to Section 18 of Germany’s General Railway Act (AEG), both projects must be presented for approval by public enquiry before engineering can actually commence. They are being divided into 14 public enquiry lots and bodies representing public interests, specifically the communities and municipalities affected, plus the relevant departmental authorities are participating in the enquiry and are entitled to submit responses at the public hearing. The various public enquiries are now at a very advanced stage. Five sections of Stuttgart 21 have already been finally approved, meaning that construction can commence. Approval has also already been forthcoming for some of the Wendlingen-Ulm NBL – one section, the Danube Bridge, is already being built.

Initial preparations for engineering measures and logistics will begin at the end of 2008 or the start of 2009. The main construction phase will be from 2011-2015. Then the line will be fitted out. Following a year-long phase of trial running, both projects are set to reach completion and come on stream in 2019.

From Munich to Berlin in less than four hours

The railway link between Munich and Berlin is over 670km long and comes within the European Union’s Trans-European Networks concept (TEN), specifically the high-speed line from Stockholm (Sweden) to Verona (Italy) via Berlin and Munich. Once all works have been concluded, the journey time between Munich and Berlin will have been cut from just under six hours today to less than four hours. The railway line is being designed for passenger and freight operations and will constitute a competitive and environmentally compatible alternative in terms of both capacity and speed to road and air transport.

Measured in length of line, more than half the project has already been implemented with entry into service of the Nuremberg-Munich NBL/UGL and the UGL between Leipzig and Berlin in 2006.

Nuremberg-Munich NBL/UGL

The construction of the new Nuremberg-Munich ICE line is divided into two main sections: The Nuremberg-Ingolstadt NBL and the Ingolstadt-Munich UGL. Within Germany, the new line will mainly be used for high-speed-connections from Munich via Nuremberg to Frankfurt/Cologne, to Hanover/Hamburg and to Leipzig/Berlin.

In order to minimise the impact on the environment and ecosystems along the route, most of the new line follows the course of the A9 motorway. Additionally, 27km of the new ICE line runs through tunnels.

Apart from long-distance high-speed passenger services, the new line is also being used by regional passenger and freight trains. Along the UGL section, the Munich suburban tracks between Munich and the final stop at Petershausen were upgraded. For nearly 30km, separate tracks for suburban trains were built beside the long-distance tracks. This is already allowing more frequent suburban train services (since December 2005).

Along the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt NBL, new stations have been built at Allersberg (Rothsee) and Kinding (Altmühltal) with modern design and equipment, including refurbishing of Ingolstadt-Nord freight terminal and the regional station. On the Ingolstadt-Munich UGL, new buildings have been erected for suburban train stops on the Munich-Untermenzing line. This embraces reconstruction and refurbishing of 13 regional or suburban train stops.

Most of the stations have disabled access by means of lifts or ramps. Several existing Park&Ride facilities are being enlarged or rebuilt to reflect an increase in commuters working in and around Munich.

New-build tunnels include nine on the NBL line with a total length of 27km. Six tunnels were driven through sedimentary rock formations using a standardised drill and blast technique. The longest tunnels measure 7.7km (Euerwang Tunnel) and 7.26km (Irlahüll Tunnel).

Three tunnels were constructed by cut-and-cover and there is 7.5km of additional tunnelling for a subsurface rescue system with emergency exits and shafts (with cross-sections of up to 30m). No new tunnels have been built on the UGL Line.

148 bridges have been built for the new-build and upgrade line (the longest measures 305m) and there are also three major river crossings. Further civil engineering structures completed under the project concern:

  • 22km of embankments and 27km of cuttings on the NBL line in order to achieve a maximum track gradient of 1 in 50
  • Acoustic barriers and embankments, notably along the UGL line
  • Solid embankments or walls separating the motorway from the ICE railway to prevent any crossover of road or rail vehicles

The technical innovations adopted on the Nuremberg-Munich NBL/UGL include the slab track system. This is a technically innovative solution where the tracks are embedded in reinforced concrete instead of ‘ballast’ gravel. Advantages are a stabilised position of the tracks, lower costs for maintenance and improved travel comfort for passengers.

In addition, three electronic interlockings have come on stream at Nürnberg Fischbach, Ingolstadt Nord and Petershausen. Electronic signalling is a precondition for high-speed traffic in Germany. The Nuremberg-Ingolstadt NBL is being retrofitted with Level 2 of the European Train Control System (ETCS) in 2008/2009, with existing fixed-location signalling apparatus being retained. This is the first time that a line operated at up to 300km/h will have been fitted out with this new train control technology.

The new-build and upgrade work carried out on the Nuremberg-Munich line cuts journey times between Nuremberg and Munich from more than 100 minutes to just over one hour and between Nuremberg and Ingolstadt from 66 minutes to 28 minutes.

The whole project was divided into eight lots (five on the NBL line and three on the UGL line). Each lot was bid for separately. The client is ‘DB ProjektBau GmbH’ as a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG. Contract partners are mostly working pools of builders who receive the contract to construct the complete railway line for one lot.

The whole Nuremberg-Ingolstadt-Munich NBL/UGL project (including the upgrading of regional and suburban tracks) costs approximately €3,570 million. The principal sources of finance are the German Government, the European Union, Bavaria and Deutsche Bahn AG itself.

Nuremberg-Berlin UGL/NBL via Erfurt and Leipzig/Halle

As already mentioned, the section between Leipzig and Berlin was completed in 2006. The Nuremberg-Erfurt-Leipzig/Halle project segment, covering over 300km, is set to be concluded in stages from 2015/2017. Some €8 billion is being invested for this by the Federal Republic of Germany, the EU under its TEN and EFRD schemes, six German federal states and Deutsche Bahn AG.

Engineering measures for this rail construction venture are currently focused on the 200km Ebensfeld-Erfurt and Erfurt-Leipzig/Halle NBLs. All engineering structures and requirements are due to be at the implementation stage by the end of 2008.

Implementation of the Nuremberg-Ebensfeld UGL

The existing 95km stretch of double-track electrified line between Nuremberg and Ebensfeld is being increased to four tracks and functionally enhanced to allow speeds of up to 230km/h. The engineering works on this portion of line began in August 2006 and are being progressively continued.

Implementation of the Ebensfeld-Erfurt NBL

The construction of a section almost 40km long including eight viaducts and three tunnels is now structurally complete. 11 viaducts are currently under construction, including the Froschrundsee and Grümpental Bridges, which when finished, will be Europe’s widest-span concrete-arch railway bridges, with spans of 270m. During construction, the arches are either supported by provisional piers that are then removed or else they are anchored to pylons approximately 90m high in a cantilevered construction process. It is crucial when building bridges in locations such as the Thuringian Forest to ensure that they encroach as little as possible upon the valley space and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. Currently being built is the Blessberg Tunnel; at 8,314m the longest tunnel in the entire project. It is the means being used to negotiate the crest of the Thuringian Forest at up to 323m below ground level. Following construction of an intermediate connecting adit, work on driving the main tunnel north and south has been proceeding since 2007.

Implementation of the Erfurt-Leipzig/Halle NBL

23km of the line linking up to a new railway station at Leipzig/Halle Airport is already in service. Three major viaducts are currently being built. Worthy of particular emphasis here is the Saale- Elster Viaduct to the south of Halle, which features track elevated up to a maximum height of 20m. It encompasses a through track 6.5km-long serving Erfurt-Gröbers-(Leipzig) and one 2.1km-long that branches off for Halle. Ecological and hydrological conditions that greatly complicate construction have led to the adoption of specialised engineering methods. In some sections for instance, the works road has likewise been built as a bridge whilst in other sections it has been dispensed with altogether. In what is known as the ‘head-on’ construction method, the bridge’s piers are constructed from a temporary bridge 130m long.

Permission to build the new lines was obtained in approximately four years in a multi-tiered procedure laid down by public law, with the degree of planning detail being increased at each stage. Germany’s Traffic Infrastructure Acceleration Act proved beneficial here, since it sets processing deadlines and lays down the stages of judicial appeal without impairing the quality of planning.

All engineering measures are overseen by the EBC, the approval body for TSI lines in Germany, from drafting to the commissioning stage. Where new-build line is involved, all project phases will for the first time be run in conformity with the TSI procedure here. It is designed to ensure in this way that, from a technical point of view, the line lives up to its project aim of being a ‘part element of the trans-European high-speed network’.

Advise, plan, build: expertise in all project phases

As the projects cited eloquently show, DB ProjektBau plans and implements virtually the entire infrastructure managed by the relevant bodies in Germany by dint of its excellently conceived projects.

Lean project management organisation places the project centre-stage

The 1,300 or so operatives at DB ProjektBau’s Project Management Unit take overall responsibility for completion of infrastructure projects to the prescribed quality, deadlines and cost. Acting as it does as the ‘front end’ vis-à-vis the client, its project directors duly bear cumulative responsibility for the achieving of project targets as well as enjoying powers of decision as regards the planning and site-supervision expertise to be applied to the project, inclusive of coordination thereof. To this end, Project Management exercises overall control in respect of the project targets agreed as well as integrated performance control. It is likewise obliged to oversee cross-project technical control, to promptly provide information on changes to the project and to continually report on the state of progress of the project. As well as carrying out project-related tasks, Project Management staff are also responsible for risk management, cost and resource control, job management and project costing as well as being involved in the observance of contractors’ duties (matters relating environmental protection).

Expert planning from a single source

The Planning Unit at DB ProjektBau employs approximately 1,000 people in the various specialist sectors, meaning it is well placed to provide expert planning for railway infrastructure projects from a single source. Its core planning business relates to the sectors of Transport Infrastructure, Structural Engineering, Command/Control Systems and Electrical Engineering. Besides planning itself, testing and acceptance services are also provided. To guarantee the neutrality of planning and acceptance testers, testing and acceptance services are performed by the central testing body, which has regional subdivisions.

Site supervision: on-site quality guarantor

Around 800 Engineering Supervision staff work in constant proximity with railway infrastructure projects. Some 50 Engineering Operation Planning staff are assigned to the regional units. During implementation, Engineering Supervision is the on-site guarantor for quality at the work site as well as for contractually compliant performance of the works specified. Site Supervision signs €2-3 billion per year as being substantively correct. Most of its railway infrastructure projects are completed with ‘wheels rolling’. Our Site Supervisors are thus active in the sensitive operationally and safety-critical sphere.

The Hamburg bridge refurbishment project ably illustrates the exciting tasks taken on by Site Supervision. It concerns the three major bridges located in the run-in to Hamburg’s central station, namely the bridge over Amsinckstraße (one of the busiest roads in Hamburg’s city centre), Deichtor Bridge and the bridge over Hamburg’s Upper Port. The bridges being slid into position during an all-line blockade between Christmas 2007 and New Year 2008 and lifting the Upper Port Bridge out proved to be technically challenging. A pontoon was slid beneath the old bridge at low tide (Figure 6). As the tide rose, the bridge was raised by the pontoon enabling it to be floated out. The main elements of the new steel bridge were already in place on a displacement guideway to one side of the bridge’s subsequent position, by means of which they could be floated in. The main elements are currently attached to small temporary bridges. Final completion of the three bridges will be by autumn 2008.

Besides operative engineering supervision on site, there is also demand in the early planning phases for engineering operations planning, with the engineering measures planned being incorporated into on-going commercial services. This entails an operating concept for the relevant project that facilitates track engineering measures with the aid of track possessions (partial or all-line blockades). Engineering operations planning invariably involves reconciling optimum project completion with the need to disrupt train running as little as possible.

At many points in the implementation phase, the involvement of Site Supervision is determined by the duration of the engineering measures in question. That means that the bulk of costs for site supervision are defined back at the time-scheduling stage. Hence it is particularly vital for the optimisation process that efficacious use is made of staff and that resources are astutely managed. With a view to managing resources as efficiently as possible, DB ProjektBau has developed a staff rostering tool which is at the pilot stage. This builds on data relating to engineering works applications and uses these to generate a time schedule in respect of those track possessions for which engineering supervisors have to be rostered. It makes use of the data from the order book, which may be supplemented by sector-specific requirements. Site supervisors are programmed in along with the nature of their expertise. This makes the actual process of staff rostering inclusive of shift planning a very convenient and efficient one.

Technical know-how in the sphere of tunnel construction

Tunnel structures on DB AG lines are delivered as genuine new-build tunnels within the framework of investment in the public requirement plan set forth in the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (i.e. for new-build and upgrade lines). In the existing rail network, however, it is also necessary to carry out refurbishment and renovation work so as to sustain the serviceability and operational safety of tunnels. DB ProjektBau examines which of the common tunnel construction methods is suitable for a given job and, where required, refines said method accordingly or, indeed, devises its own new ones.

Our tunnel construction experts comprise seasoned staff from private industry, whom we have recruited along with the know-how they possess, alongside young engineers who initially receive training in project management and are then given further training in theory at courses lasting several weeks.

Latest innovation in the field of tunnel construction

The latest innovation by DB ProjektBau concerns the renovation of existing double-track railway tunnels on non-electrified lines, with trains running as usual, adopting what can be described as the ‘tunnel-within-a-tunnel method’.

Adopting this method permits a break with the fundamental principle stating that train running and engineering works cannot be performed concurrently in a tunnel. With the exception of minor works, this has never been possible hitherto on blockaded track. With the ‘tunnel-within-a-tunnel method’, by contrast, both tracks are removed from the tunnel in an initial work stage that only requires the line to be closed for a short period of approximately two days and a track is laid in the middle of the tunnel. The associated signal-related adaptations to ensure safe traffic management during the tunnel engineering works likewise need to be carried out within this time.

Temporary rails along which the tunnel widening machine can be moved are laid to the left and right of the service track. This machine is designed in such a manner that trains can run beneath it whilst a tunnel can be driven above and to the sides of it by stripping out old masonry and removing rock. The rock is secured with shotcrete and the widening machine advances through the old tunnel 1 to 2 metres at a time, enlarging its profile in the process.

Once driving has been completed, a permanent inner shell made of reinforced concrete is installed using a formwork car that runs along the same temporary rails. The final work stage involves completing the double-track line in the tunnel during an all-line blockade.

The great merit of this method is that trains can continue to run single-track throughout the period of the works – with the exception of two track possessions at the beginning and end – and hence there is no need for train cancellations or delays on less busy lines.

Once widened and renovated, the tunnel structure is as new and, having a median width of 4.0m and a walkway 0.50m wide with handrail, complies with the latest specifications laid down by Deutsche Bahn.

The engineering method proved very successful in the two pilot projects on the Nahe line. With widening work advancing by an average of 2.0m per day over 278m in the two tunnels, we are very satisfied with the outcome.

DB ProjektBau: close to the customer nationwide

DB ProjektBau is present throughout Germany. With a Central Unit in Berlin plus seven Regional Units and their various locations, our company is close to its customers throughout Germany. As a result and by dint of leading-edge communications technologies, we can provide all services from a single source at whatever location.

About the authors

Jürgen Seiler

Since 1984, Mr Seiler has filled a variety of executive posts in Engineering Supervision and Project Management at Deutsche Bundesbahn/Deutsche Bahn AG, including that of Corridor Manager, Infrastructure and Operations, North Bavaria. He has directed the major Nuremberg-Munich NBL/UGL project since 2004.

Katharina Klemt-Albert

Dr. Klemt-Albert completed her Civil Engineering thesis at Darmstadt Technical University. Since 2002, she has exercised a variety of responsible functions relating to the implementation of railway infrastructure projects at Deutsche Bahn AG. She has headed the Site Supervision Unit at DB ProjektBau since 2007.

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