Railway line

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Two double-track, side by side, electrified railway lines ( Main-Neckar-Eisenbahn ) in Frankfurt am Main

Railway line is the connection of places with a railroad . In contrast, the term (iron) railway line describes the traffic that regularly takes place on these routes. Several railway lines or one railway line can run on several routes. Railway lines serve both passenger and freight traffic.

In Switzerland, the term railway line is used synonymously for railway line in the meaning of the French term la ligne de chemins de fer . In Austria, the names Pottendorfer Linie and Vorortelinie exist analogously .

The route of the railway line can be equipped with one or more track tracks , with signal systems , building structures , kilometrage , switches and crossings , furthermore with stations and stops for passenger and freight traffic , an overhead line for operation with electric and electric locomotives Railcar . The establishment of an accompanying telegraph and electricity connection is already typical in the early days of railway line construction . This not only made it possible to send messages to the railway company , but also to other means of transmission.

The railroad track is constructed from a substructure that is stable in position and absorbs the downward forces of the rail vehicles. In addition, it drains away rainwater so that its stability remains in place even in frost and high amounts of precipitation. On top of it, on a track bed, usually made of gravel, lies a superstructure made of rails, the running edges of which keep the rail vehicles on track.


Route networks and numbering systems

Route number on the map (Biesdorfer Kreuz)

Code designations can be assigned to railway lines for operational and timetable organization. Course books that map traffic relations at the timetable level are widespread . The routes are then addressed with the course book route ZZZ ( KBS ZZZ ).


In addition to the course book routes , the Deutsche Bundesbahn carried out a comprehensive campaign in the 1980s to systematically record the entire network of state railways in Germany at the infrastructure level in the directory of permissible speeds (VzG) and assign four-digit route numbers. These are used - also outside of the railway administration - in spatial planning or in the planning of traffic structures. The division is mainly based on the start of the route in federal states (with the changes in the course of German unification):

According to the internal logic of this numbering, a line has a maximum of two tracks, one in each direction. The so-called Eins-Gleis (written for example 5510-1 between Haar and Zorneding) runs with the kilometer and in the "usual direction of travel". The so-called Zwei-Gleis (written for example Vzg 5555-2, to be used between Baldham and Vaterstetten) runs against the kilometer and against the usual direction of travel. Additional tracks in one of the two directions receive their own route numbers (for example between Munich Waldtrudering and Grafing or between Wolfgang and Gelnhausen). As a result, there are no three-track or multi-track lines in Germany, but routes with one or more lines next to each other.

A parallel run of two trains between two operating points is therefore possible on the two tracks of one line or one track on two lines.

This numbering system is graduated, unequivocally, is also used outside of Deutsche Bahn AG due to its immutability and therefore serves as a universal route numbering system for the majority of routes in Germany, including those that have already been designed, for example in billing matters or other comments on this route.

In addition, in the internal use of the Deutsche Bahn there is the historically grown numbering in the book timetable and the directory of the slow driving positions (La directory). The La directory and the replacement timetable contain routes with up to three-digit numbers, with one direction also having an "a" and the opposite direction a "b": "Area West, route 10a". These route numbers are unique for each DB Netz AG branch. Some of them protrude into areas of neighboring branches up to the next hub station. In station areas or on parallel routes, the travel options are sometimes given in the form of designations such as “Gleis W” for the purpose of differentiation. Since the same La route numbers can occur in different branches and routes from other operators are not necessarily recorded, this numbering system is not as clear and detailed as the route numbers according to VzG.

Infrastructure responsibility

Railway lines are operated by railway infrastructure companies (EIU). There is no prescribed legal form for these. They are checked and registered - for federal railways - by the Federal Railway Authority or - for all other operators - by the state railway supervisory authority in accordance with Section 6 ( AEG ). The spatial end of the responsibility towards another IM is the maintenance limit . An older name for it was the railway master's district boundary . According to Section 4 (3) of the AEG, RIUs are obliged to “build the railway infrastructure safely and keep it in a safe operational condition.” The end of responsibility for a railway infrastructure is reached with the completion of a route closure procedure according to Section 11 AEG.

Line closure

An IM can only discharge its responsibility for a railway infrastructure with a line closure in accordance with Section 11 AEG. To do this, it must have previously been offered in a public tender for submission to another IM in vain. The respective railway supervisory authority is responsible for this procedure. In the past, this procedure was also referred to as "de-dedication".

Earlier naming systems


In Saxony was already at the time of the Kgl. Saxon State Railways introduced a designation system. It consisted of the respective first letters of the start and end points of the routes, possibly supplemented by lowercase letters to avoid duplication. The system was also retained and further developed at the Dresden Reich Railway Directorate as the successor to the Saxon State Railways.



In Austria, the railway lines are entered in the Austrian railway timetable , including the museum railways , liner shipping , cable cars (which are subject to railway legislation), and buses are recorded in the ÖBB-Postbus GmbH .


Railway lines

Railway lines are recorded in the timetable . It is structured according to timetable fields and also includes cable cars , shipping lines and buses in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.

→ See: List of timetable fields , Swiss timetable fields, sorted by route number, with operating company


The Principality of Liechtenstein is accessible via both Austria's railway course books and Swiss buses .



The national route network covers almost 30,000 km and belongs to the railway infrastructure company SNCF Réseau . Most of the passenger traffic is provided by the Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF).

See also


  • Frank Lüdecke : Railway Atlas Federal Republic of Germany , Eisenbahn-Lehrbuch-Verlagsgesellschaft, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-923967-02-0 .
  • Hans-Joachim Kirsche, Hans Müller: Eisenbahnatlas DDR , Tourist Verlag, Leipzig 1987, ISBN 3-350-00293-5 .
  • Railway Atlas Germany , 9th edition, Schweers & Wall, Aachen 2014, ISBN 978-3-89494-145-1 .
  • H.-W. Dumjahn (Hrsg.): Handbook of the German railway lines; Opening dates 1835–1935. Route lengths, concessions, ownership structure . Complete, unchanged reprint in 1984 of the publication published by the Deutsche Reichsbahn. With an illustrated introduction by Horst-Werner Dumjahn (=  documents on railway history . Volume 29 ). Horst-Werner Dumjahn Verlag, Mainz 1984, ISBN 3-921426-29-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Railway line  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Interactive map of the DB of the entire route network in Germany [Link is no longer current]

Individual evidence

  1. Art. 17 of the Railway Ordinance (EBV) of November 23, 1983 (status on October 18, 2016) reads: “Railway lines must be laid out for a balanced speed. … ”Or in the French version :“  Le tracé des lignes de chemins de fer sera choisi de manière à permettre une vitesse de marche régulière.  »