The new Filstal Bridge is a nightmare




A brief ray of hope between two stretches of tunnel: ICE on a test drive over the new Filstal Bridge.
Image: Deutsche Bahn AG

When the timetable changes on December 11, the ICE network will grow by 60 fast kilometers. It is the connection to the new line of the not yet finished, controversial Stuttgart 21 project.

Dhe Filstal Bridge is a filigree, almost fragile beauty in concrete. It has every prospect of becoming a symbol of the railway, which is expected to be built in three years after the completion of another 25 kilometers Stuttgart with Ulm in half an hour across the Alb. With a height of 85 meters it is the third highest German railway bridge. Strictly speaking, there are two structures: the rails lie on two parallel single-track supporting structures that cross the upper reaches of the Fils, a tributary of the Neckar, over a distance of almost half a kilometer near the municipality of Mühlhausen im Täle.

Below her, the lanes of the A8 autobahn wind their way towards Munich. For the Alb crossing, the congested slope is divided into two valleys due to a lack of space for a generous route in this section. From the bottom of the valley, the slender bridge piers seem as high as the sky; they split into a huge Y-shape at a lofty height – as if arms were stretched out to hold the structure safe for the dynamics of the 250 km/h fast train traffic. The reinforced concrete construction is unique among railway bridges in Germany, an “engineering and visual gem,” as the railway proudly says. In several stress tests, for which two diesel locomotives had hauled up a 700-tonne ballast train, the strength of the bridge was monitored by sensors and computers.



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