Bonn/Cologne · Starting on November 12, Deutsche Bahn will be carrying out construction work on the line between Cologne and Bonn for four weeks. Travelers will be faced with massive cancellations and detours on regional and long-distance services.
Starting Friday, train travelers in Cologne and Bonn will have to contend with major disruptions. For four weeks, lasting until December 10, Deutsche Bahn will be constructing three signal bridges over the tracks between Cologne and Brühl, as it announced on Friday. Other work will also be carried out.
During the week, rail operations between Cologne and Bonn will be single-track only. The RB 48 regional train will be completely cancelled in both directions between Cologne Central Station and Bonn-Mehlem during this period. The regional express RE 5 (RRX) in the direction of Bonn as well as RB 26, RE 22 and RB 24 in the direction of Euskirchen will no longer stop in Cologne South on weekdays. From 9 p.m. and on weekends, the RE5 between the main stations in Cologne and Bonn is completely cancelled. During this time, the RB 26 does not run between Cologne-Dellbrück or Cologne/Bonn Airport and Brühl. As an alternative, there will be an alternate service with buses running between Cologne Central Station and Brühl. During the week, users of the RB 48 can switch to the RE 5 and the RB 25 for part of the route. On weekends, trams 16 and 18 will also run more frequently than usual.
Long-distance traffic also affected
There will also be disruptions for users of the ICE, IC and EC express trains. "Long-distance trains between Cologne and Bonn will be diverted to the right side of the Rhine," announced Karlheinz Breitenbach of DB-Fernverkehr AG. This means that the stops at Cologne and Bonn main stations will be cancelled. Instead, the long-distance trains will stop at Cologne Messe/Deutz and Bonn-Beuel. Anyone wanting to travel from Bonn to Berlin will have to change to regional services between Bonn and Cologne.
Deutsche Bahn is investing around 250 million euros this year in electronic signal boxes, signal towers and a more modern rail infrastructure at the Cologne transport hub. The disruptions in the run-up to Christmas are partly due to the modernization of the "Linke Rheinseite" (Left side of the Rhine) signal boxes. Signal boxes are permanently installed rail facilities that control train traffic with the help of switches and signals. Manfred Gutfrucht, Head of Major Projects at DB Netz in the Cologne area, hopes that this will result in faster and more reliable train services: "This will enable us to reduce the intervals between trains, and track closures can also be bypassed more flexibly." In the long term, the "Linke Rheinseite" interlocking will complement the "Köln Hauptbahnhof" (Cologne Central Station) rail facility, which covers the Cologne area. Deutsche Bahn completed the first extension of the Cologne interlocking, which is to regulate tram traffic, at the beginning of this week. The next step will be to use it to control long-distance and regional traffic.
Pro Bahn says full closures should be avoided if possible
Andreas Schröder, North Rhine-Westphalia state chairman of the passenger association Pro Bahn, also believes that investments in the rail network are important in principle. Nevertheless, the construction measures should not take on an unreasonable dimension, said Schröder, whose association represents the interests of rail passengers. The line between Cologne and Bonn is particularly congested, he said. Full closures should be avoided by the railroad if possible, he said. "This is not always possible due to the bottleneck between the two cities. It is therefore all the more important that Deutsche Bahn keeps disruptions to a minimum," he explained. "The rail replacement service must function smoothly." Important junctions would have to be accessible via detour. Sufficient staff should also be available on the platforms to answer passengers' questions, he said.
Construction work will continue in the coming year. Due to work on the "Linke Rheinseite" signal box, rail customers can expect further restrictions as early as January. At the beginning of October, Deutsche Bahn also announced that it would be raising ticket prices on long-distance services by an average of 1.9 percent from December 12. In regional transport, too, prices are rising outside transport associations. Within the Rhine-Sieg Transport Association (VRS), tickets will become more expensive by an average of 1.5 percent from January.
Orig. text: Nina Bärschneider