Main line

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Two-track, electrified main line in the Czech Republic (2007)

Main lines (also main railway line ) are railway lines that, in contrast to branch lines, represent the basic network .

Legal basis


According to the Environmental Noise Directive, a main railway line is a railway line with a traffic volume of more than 30,000 trains per year (see Article 3, paragraph o). The EU Commission should all railways are reported with a traffic volume of more than 60,000 trains per year to 30 June of 2005. This notification is to be updated every five years (see Article 7, number 1, paragraph 2).


There is a definition of main and branch lines in the Railway Construction and Operating Regulations (EBO). Section 1 (2) reads:

The routes are divided into main and secondary lines according to their importance. Make the decision about which routes are main lines and which are branch lines

  1. for the federal railways the respective company,
  2. for railways that are not part of the federal railways network ( non- federal railways ), the competent state authority .

With the new version of the operating regulations (BO) from 1958, the permissible speed was increased to 140 km / h.

With the new version of the EBO from May 1967, the permissible speed on branch lines according to § 40 (2) EBO was increased from 60 to 80 km / h and on main lines from 140 to 160 km / h. This meant that exceptional approvals from the Federal Minister of Transport for the Rheingold and Rheinpfeil trains were no longer necessary. For journeys at over 140 km / h, the Federal Railroad issued preliminary guidelines in 1962 for the planning and implementation of train journeys between 140 km / h and 160 km / h .

With the Third EBO Amendment Ordinance in May 1991, the maximum permissible speed for passenger trains on main lines was increased from 160 to 250 km / h. This meant that there was no longer any need for an exceptional permit, especially for intercity trains running at speeds of up to 200 km / h.


Main lines are defined in Section 4 of the Railway Act 1957:

  1. Main lines are railways that are intended for public transport and are of greater transport importance. These include those railways
    1. the according to § 1 of the high-performance route law , BGBl . No. 135/1989, are declared to be high- speed lines ;
    2. which the Federal Minister of Science and Transport has declared to be main railways by ordinance because they are of particular importance for efficient transport - especially with international connections or regional transport - or because they  are to be expanded for this purpose.

Since no regulation according to § 4 Paragraph 1 Z. 2 of the Railway Act has been issued to date, the total of the Austrian main railways results from the 6 ordinances issued by the Federal Government in accordance with § 1 of the High Performance Lines Act.


In Swiss law, there is no longer a distinction between main and branch lines. With the revision of the Railway Act of 2009, the distinction was abandoned.

Before that, until 2009, according to the former Art. 2 of the Railway Act:

  1. The Swiss railway network consists of main and branch lines. The main railways are the standard gauge railways that serve domestic and international through traffic; Branch lines are the standard-gauge railways, which mainly serve only the traffic in a certain area of ​​the country, furthermore all narrow-gauge railways , rack railways , trams and funicular railways .


In Scandinavia, depending on the national language, the term Stammbahn is used in the translation . Its definition does not take place as in Germany with the comparison of the terms main line and branch line . In the respective countries these are routes which, according to the original definition, connect parts of the country with one another .

Normally, they have the standard of main railways, but do not cover a basic network, as in the German definition, but must be viewed at a higher level.

Originally the trunk lines were introduced in Sweden in 1854 by a parliamentary resolution of the Swedish Reichstag . Back then, it was stipulated that a country's main lines would be built by the state, unlike other lines that were supposed to be built by private companies and consortia . Main lines were built in Sweden from 1856 to 1892. The construction of main lines did not end there. In the early 1900s, new lines had to be built, especially in the north. However, like the Inlandsbahn, these were no longer called trunk lines.

In Norway , Stammbahnen is used to denote inner-Norwegian long-distance railways between the different parts of the country ( Norwegian Landsdel ).

Banedanmark uses the term Hovedbaner in Denmark , but defines it as follows: "Hovedbaner udgør det overordnede banenet, der binder landsdelene sammen" ( German: "Hovedbaner denotes the higher-level railway network that connects the different parts of the country." ). In addition, Banedanmark uses the definition regional banners , which connect large cities such as Aalborg and Frederikshavn with the standard of a main line that is used in Germany. Pure branch lines are called sidebaners in Denmark .  


The legal definitions often do not match the everyday language . A rail connection that is viewed as a branch line in public opinion can legally be a main line or vice versa.

  • Long-distance trains usually run on main lines, but some important tourist destinations only reach long-distance trains via branch lines.
  • Many main lines are double-tracked , but there are also single-track main lines and double-track branch lines.
  • In certain countries, many main lines are electrified , but only a few branch lines.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Directive 2002/49 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 on the assessment and control of environmental noise - Declaration by the Commission in the mediation committee on the directive on the assessment and control of environmental noise
  2. ^ Rolf Rückel: InterCity. Two-hour intervals on the rails . In: Deutsche Bundesbahn (Ed.): DB Report 72 . Hestra-Verlag, Darmstadt 1972, ISBN 3-7771-0119-2 , pp. 197-200.
  3. ^ Ernst Kockelkorn: Effects of the new railway building and operating regulations (EBO) on railway operations . In: The Federal Railroad . tape 41 , no. 13/14 , 1967, ISSN  0007-5876 , pp. 445-452 .
  4. ^ Walter Mittmann, Fritz Pätzold, Dieter Reuter, Hermann Richter, Klaus-Dieter Wittenberg: The Third Ordinance to Change the Railway Construction and Operating Regulations (EBO) . In: The Federal Railroad . tape 67 , no. 7-8 , 1991, ISSN  0007-5876 , pp. 759-770 .
  5. ^ AS 2009 5597