German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened a new high-speed rail line linking Erfurt with Leipzig and Halle.
Completion of the 123-kilometre railway marks a major milestone in the German Unity Transport Project No. 8 (VDE8) – a high-speed rail link currently being completed between Berlin and Munich.
In 2017, Deutsche Bahn (DB) hopes to have completed the majority of the construction work on the 500-kilometre corridor, reducing journey times significantly between some of Germany’s largest cities.
The project has involved a combination of existing infrastructure upgrades and building new sections of line capable of supporting high-speed rail services.
The new railway, which goes into service on December 13, is compatible with ETCS signalling and involved the construction of three tunnels and six viaducts. Journey times will be reduced to 40 minutes between Erfurt and Halle and 30 minutes between Erfurt and Leipzig.
At €10 billion, VDE8 is one of the largest rail infrastructure schemes in Europe. The project was launched in 1991 following the reunification of Germany in order to improve rail links between what was East and West Germany.