Track change operation

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Double-track railway lines can be operated in track-changing mode (GWB, after the French name also commonplace traffic , especially in Switzerland ), so that both tracks can be used in both directions with complete technical safety. The train journey takes place completely with main signal aspects. There is no reduction in technical safety as with other forms of driving on the opposite track.

The first section with track switching operations in Germany was put into operation on October 17, 1951 on the Bebra – Göttingen railway line between Bebra and Cornberg (in the direction of Bebra – Göttingen).

New high-speed routes are designed for track-changing operations right from the start. Old building lines are increasingly being converted for this, as operations management is simplified in the event of disruptions and construction sites.


Prerequisites for the track changing operation are the corresponding equipment of the signal boxes and a full signaling of the tracks in both directions of travel. From a technical point of view, a line equipped with GWB can be viewed as two parallel single-track lines, but from an operational point of view it remains a double-track line. The full line speed can then also be driven on the opposite track . During the change from one track to the other, however, the speed is limited to the permissible speed of the switches to be used , which is a limiting factor for the operation.

Driving on the opposite track with main signals is announced to the driver by the opposite track indicator (signal Zs 6). This gives him the information that the journey leads to the opposite track and that the signals on the free route to the next operating point to the left of the track must be observed.


The track changing operation can be used to have one train overtake another . In contrast to road traffic , it is common here for the slower train to change track, i.e. to be overtaken on the right (in right- hand traffic ). The reason for this is that the speed limit due to the turnout is less of a hindrance to him when changing track and in some cases he has to reduce his speed additionally so that the overtaking maneuver can be carried out within the intended route section. Without the way working on a would siding waiting slower train to be overhauled.

Another possibility for using the track-changing operation is to let trains run at approximately the same speed in parallel if the operation is temporarily limited to one direction. An example of a corresponding use is the Mannheim – Stuttgart high-speed line that went into operation in 1991 .

The track changing mode can also be used to handle traffic in both directions via the remaining track if a track is temporarily closed.

During construction stages, driving on the opposite track can also be temporarily ordered, in which case the opposite track indicator must also be used for signaling.

Use of the term

With the publication of the DB Group Guideline (KoRil) 408 trains run and maneuver on June 15, 2003, the term platform changing operation was also no longer used in the area of ​​the former Federal Railroad. Instead, the designation driving on the opposite track with main signal and signal Zs 6 was introduced permanently . In other directives, such as the directive (Ril) 406 Driving and Building , the designation track-changing operation was still used. With the announcement 10 of the guideline 408 of June 10, 2012, the term " track change operation" used in § 38 number 3 of the Railway Building and Operating Regulations (EBO) was used again .

In the subway area, Hamburger Hochbahn and Wiener Linien also use the term " platform switching" for communication with their passengers.


In Switzerland, a line that has signals in both directions for both tracks is referred to as a multi-lane line with alternating operation , so that a signal train route can be provided on both tracks . A double-track line that can be driven on both tracks with signals only on the standard track is called a double-track line with a facility for single-track operation and is specially marked in the route table. The dispatcher can introduce single-lane operation on such a route according to a specified process. Subsequently, the section of the route - depending on the equipment of the station with or without notification requiring receipt - can be traveled on without restrictions on the "wrong" track, but oncoming traffic is not possible. Lines with this equipment are therefore only used on the right-hand track when construction work is taking place on the regular track or a fault has occurred. Meanwhile, single-track operation applies to the corresponding section of the route, i.e., in both directions, analogous to a single-track route, only one track is used. Due to this restriction, all newly built multi-track lines are built as multi-lane lines with alternating operations , old lines are constantly being rebuilt. Most of the routes are now designed as multi-lane routes with alternating operations. In the meantime, very rare, but still to be found, are double-track lines without facilities for single-track operation . Such a route cannot be driven on the right track with signals.


  • Base: Railway Technology, Volume 5, Issue 11, report on the one-way track change operation from Bebra to Cornberg
  • Blume: Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau , Issue 12/1953, operating experience in the Bebra - Cornberg platform changing operation

Individual evidence

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. FDV R 300.6 4.5.1
  4. FDV R 300.3 5.6.1