The expansion of rail traffic between Frankfurt and Bad Vilbel is progressing: a first new track section will start operating on Monday. By the end of 2023, a 13-kilometer line is to have four tracks.

Northwards: The S-Bahn in the direction of Wetterau has its own tracks.

BThe four-track expansion of the previously only two-lane railway line between Frankfurt and Bad Vilbel will be the first section to go into operation in a few days. From next Monday, the S-Bahn will no longer run on the old, but on a separate, additional track on the two and a half kilometers between the Frankfurt district of Eschersheim and Frankfurt Westbahnhof. The first of the two existing tracks can then be decommissioned and rebuilt, so that space is created for the new S-Bahn station Frankfurt-Ginnheim, while construction of the fourth track begins at the same time.

So far there are only two tracks on the total of 13 kilometers between Westbahnhof and Bad Vilbel, which are used by long-distance, regional, freight trains and S-Bahn trains alike. Because the S-Bahn often have to wait to give long-distance trains right of way, there are frequent delays on S-Bahn line 6 between Frankfurt and Wetterau and, as a result, in Frankfurt S-Bahn traffic. The commissioning of the first track section is a “milestone” on a long, arduous journey, said Klaus Vornhusen, Deutsche Bahn’s representative for the state of Hesse, on Tuesday during a tour of the construction site in Frankfurt.

The expansion of the rail route between Frankfurt and the Wetterau had been discussed and argued for decades. “Discussed forever, planned for a long time, complained for a long time in court”, that’s how Vornhusen summed up the story. Knut Ringat, the managing director of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV), spoke of a “generation project”. So far, the regional trains between Frankfurt and the Wetterau have only run in “shaking cycles”, thanks to dedicated tracks for the S6, a uniform 15-minute cycle is finally possible.

“Important building block of the traffic turnaround”

It will not be that far until the end of 2023, when the entire construction section between Frankfurt and Bad Vilbel has been completed. The new construction of this route will cost around 570 million euros, about the same amount will probably be added for the further expansion in the direction of Friedberg. The state of Hesse takes over the planning costs in full and almost a third of the construction costs (27.5 percent). The remainder is contributed by the neighboring communities (12.5 percent) and, above all, the federal government (60 percent). Jens Deutschendorf (The Greens), State Secretary in the Hessian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Energy, Transport and Housing, said the project is an important component of the traffic turnaround in Hesse. The Gießen – Frankfurt railway line is an extremely important connection for commuters who will find it easier to switch from car to train in the future.

Because large parts of the route pass close to residential buildings in the Frankfurt districts of Eschersheim and Berkersheim and in order to interfere with ongoing rail operations as little as possible, almost the entire four-track route expansion takes place in short sections. For the same reasons, the new, additional tracks will be laid on the right and on the left of the existing route. The route is used by around 300 trains every day. Closures, as is currently the case on the summer vacation weekends, should remain the exception. According to railway information, 25,000 cubic meters of earth, a good 10,000 tons of ballast, 5200 meters of rails and around 4,300 railway sleepers were used for the 2.5 kilometer long new track section alone.

Another focus of the construction work on the S-Bahn line is currently between the Frankfurt districts of Frankfurter Berg and Berkersheim. Here the embankment is being widened over a length of around 1000 meters. The soil required for this is not delivered by truck, as initially planned, but by train at night to relieve the residents. According to the railways, this eliminates up to 10,000 truck trips. In Bad Vilbel, however, the Homburger Straße overpass is already being completed.