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Extending the network brings improvements to services

Posted: 25 February 2011 | Wolfgang Arnold, Chairman of the Board of Management, Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB) | No comments yet

On the second weekend of December 2010, all the train, bus and tram operators in Germany set the pre-conceived changes in their timetables and systems into function. For the majority of their customers it may result in little or no changes in their daily mobility routine, but for the customers of the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG this annual adjustment brought on quite a few alterations.

For six routes of the Stuttgart LRT System (Stadtbahn Stuttgart) this meant a substantial change of destinations and relations.

On the second weekend of December 2010, all the train, bus and tram operators in Germany set the pre-conceived changes in their timetables and systems into function. For the majority of their customers it may result in little or no changes in their daily mobility routine, but for the customers of the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG this annual adjustment brought on quite a few alterations.For six routes of the Stuttgart LRT System (Stadtbahn Stuttgart) this meant a substantial change of destinations and relations.

On the second weekend of December 2010, all the train, bus and tram operators in Germany set the pre-conceived changes in their timetables and systems into function. For the majority of their customers it may result in little or no changes in their daily mobility routine, but for the customers of the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG this annual adjustment brought on quite a few alterations.

For six routes of the Stuttgart LRT System (Stadtbahn Stuttgart) this meant a substantial change of destinations and relations.

This project named ‘network 2011’ (Netz 2011) had been triggered mainly by the completion of the light rail extension serving the residential and industrial areas of Fasanenhof in the south of Stuttgart. Other major facts were the shifting of the Stuttgart exhibition complex from the top of the citycentered Killesberg hill to the suburb of Leinfelden-Echterdingen, an improved service for the northern areas of Freiberg and Mönchfeld, and finally the introduction of a new route U12 which will have to undergo several changes in the near future.

New map

U2, formerly Hölderlinplatz-Neugereut, will now run Botnang-Neugereut. Instead, U4 will go from Hölderlinplatz to Untertürkheim, formerly going there from Botnang. U5 is still going to Leinfelden, though no longer from Mönchfeld but from Killesberg. U7 used to start at Killesberg, but now it runs from Mönchfeld to Ostfildern. Also starting from Killesberg is the new U12, going to Vaihingen since U6, still starting in Gerlingen, is now going to Fasanenhof and no longer connects Vaihingen. Such profound alterations made a new timetable and new connections, even for the bus-system, unavoidable.

Killesberg was a very busy station when it serviced the Stuttgart exhibition complex. The exhibition has now moved to the vicinity and it is no longer necessary to operate the Killesberg branch by trains composed of two twin-car units (DT8).

Due to the growing network, additional LRT vehicles are required to meet future demands. In 2010, SSB ordered 20 additional twin-car units; the contractor is Stadler Pankow GmbH. By the end of 2012 the fleet will consist of 184 units. In parallel, SSB are continuing their refurbishing programme for 60 units of their older rolling stock until 2013. Halftime will be approximately reached in the early summer of 2011, when 30 refurbished DT8 will be back on the tracks. The first of the newly built trains will not arrive in Stuttgart before the spring of 2012.

U12

U12 in its later shape will be an integral part of the urban development relating to ‘Stuttgart 21’, a project which will transform the existing over ground central terminus of regional, intercity and high-speed railway services to an underground through station.

The outer branches of U12 will service the vicinity of Dürrlewang in the south and Hallschlag in the north. Then, U12 will meet the tracks of today’s U14 leading to Remseck.

In Dürrlewang, 1.1km of newly built tracks will come into use in December 2013. In this case there will be no tunnel but two new stations and a modified one; construction will probably start in 2012.

For the 1.4km section between Stuttgart main station and the SSB station ‘Milchhof’, construction work is already under way.

Some lengths of these tracks are going to be inside a tunnel, part of which already exists. In the centre of the Stuttgart 21 development area, the new building of the municipal library has been erected. Therefore, in 2009 those 90m of the U12 cut-and-cover tunnel meant to cross underneath the library were constructed before the building could be placed atop. SSB is currently adding approximately 200m of tunnel to the existing fragment. Constructions for the entire section will be completed in 2011.

Another section of the U12-to-be covers 2km and four new stations between Löwentor and the Hallschlag district, with construction starting in the second half of 2011.

Another 1.1km then remain to be constructed connecting Hallschlag, located on a hill, to the already existing tracks along the river valley in Münster. More activity will then be necessary to adapt the platforms up to Remseck along today’s U14, now used by 40m-long trains, for the convenience of trains twice as long, composed of two twin-car units.

The upcoming reconstruction of the SSB stations ‘Türlenstraße’ and ‘Staatsgalerie’ is not a result of U12 but caused by the demands of Stuttgart 21. The central feature of the Stuttgart 21 project is to transform the central railway station, a terminus, to an underground through station and at the same time rotating the tracks by 90 degrees. There is already underground rail infrastructure situated at different levels below the central railway station for both the LRT system run by SSB (the Stadtbahn) and the commuter system run by Deutsche Bahn (the S-Bahn). So around Türlenstraße station, the existing underground line of Stadtbahn has to be modified: new tunnels will have to be driven crossing the future railway tunnels below. To discontinue underground light rail operation during construction around the main station would naturally be a major rupture to the network, concerning five routes. Thus new tunnels will have to be mined next to the existing ones, limiting interruptions to a minimum when connecting the openings. On the other side of the main station, where six routes and the turn-off toward the busy Charlottenplatz station are concerned, an entire station, Staatsgalerie, has to be repositioned to give way to the new underground railway tracks. The new Staatsgalerie station will be under construction with the existing one still in use, a little south of the original station and directly connected to the railway station.

U15

Since 1985, SSB have been transforming their traditional tramway system into a light-rail system, substituting line-by-line as well as extending and adding lines. In December 2007, the last of the remaining tramway routes, 15, appeared on the light-rail map of Stuttgart as U15, albeit only with its central and southern branches. Construction of its northern branch and tunnel will not be completed until December 2011. Building U15 would be extremely challenging; SSB engineers already knew this in the early 90s and therefore saved this line with its narrow radiuses, extreme gradients and closely built adjoining neighbourhoods for last. While by the end of 2010, construction of the 1.6km of the Stammheim part was quite complete, work still has to be done along the Zuffenhausen stretch. Yet another of the Stuttgart light-rail tunnels, the Marie-Tunnel, is now crossing underneath this old district of Stuttgart. One half of the tunnel had to be mined, the other part, closer to the surface, is a cut-and-cover-tunnel. At a festivity in the summer of 2010 the Zuffenhauseners celebrated the joining of the two parts of the tunnel which were constructed simultaneously. Later, at the end of November, five thousand locals took a walk in the underground at the invitation of the SSB and the City of Stuttgart to have a look at the Marie-Tunnel in a progressed state of construction. All the SSB tunnels are named after ‘god mothers’ who act in place of the patron saint of the miners, St. Barbara. In case of the Marie-Tunnel, Marie Richard, the charming mayor of Zuffenhausens French twin-community La Ferté-sous-Jouarre professed to be honoured, delighted, impressed, relieved and proud, since no harm occurred during construction.

U6

The latest change of the Stuttgart LRT system is a new branch 2.75km-long extending the longest of the Stuttgart light-rail routes, U6, towards the Fasanenhof quarter. Construction began in spring 2008 and the opening was in December 2010. The extension includes approximately 1km of tunnel in two parts, four stations offer access, two of them at underground level. SSB expect to service roughly 10,000 passengers along the new tracks.

There are plans to extend U6 even further. Calculations suggest this might not only be convenient for the Stuttgarters but also profitable enough. Both the new Stuttgart exhibition complex and the airport are in plain sight from the present U6 terminus at Schelmenwasen station. A connection by lightrail would almost exclusively be crossing territory of Leinfelden-Echterdingen a neighbouring community, part of Landkreis Esslingen. Finances for the entire project are estimated at €64 million.

In the same region U5, now terminating in the north of Leinfelden-Echterdingen, to be precise at Leinfelden Bahnhof, might be extended to connect Echterdingen by three additional stations.

Level-to-level

In 2010, SSB achieved a long-standing goal: to enable complete accessibility for disabled passengers or passengers with prams, wheelchairs or heavy luggage. When light-rail started in Stuttgart, passengers had to negotiate folding steps from the street level stations to board the high-floored cars. In 2010, the last remaining cars with folding steps, by then servicing exclusively U13, the steps could be disabled and taken out of use. At one of the last street-level stations, ‘Badstraße’ in Bad Cannstatt, the platform could at last be elevated. For the other of these two stations, the U13 platform at ‘Augsburger Platz’, no solution could be found to raise the platform at the original location due to lack of sufficient space. SSB therefore moved it a few hundred metres to the south, naming it ‘Ebitzweg’. Here, it was not only possible to construct a raised platform, but also to service additional Stuttgart citizens at a shorter distance home-to-station. From 2010 on, Stuttgarters will board SSB trains level-to-level at every station within the network.

Among 26 SSB underground stations, four stations do not feature a lift to transport passengers from the platform to the surface. The remaining 22 have either at their time of construction been equipped with lifts, or, in case of the first underground stations dating back to the 1970s, been retrofitted with lifts later on. Two of the remaining four are older stations, waiting for upgrading when the necessary funds are available. The other two stations in question are Türlenstraße and Staatsgalerie where lifts will be included during their reconstruction.

Aside from the enhanced accessibility of the light-rail network, SSB achieved the same goal for the bus-system. From December 2010, the entire bus fleet now consists of low-floor-buses.

About the Author

Wolfgang Arnold is member and current Chairman of the Board of Management of the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB), responsible for planning and realisation of SSB’s services as well as its infrastructure and fleet. He is involved in national and international committees regarding public transport and Chairman to the VDV-committee (Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen) of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. Arnold started working for the public transport of Stuttgart as Head of Conceptual Planning for the Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund Stuttgart (VVS) and joined SSB in 1987.

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