Elevated railway

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"Intramural Railway" Chicago 1893
Cross-section of an elevated railway viaduct in Berlin, ca.1902
Ramp from the elevated railway to the paved railway in Berlin-Schöneberg

As high web are webs designated the guideway extends in comparison to the ground surface or to the road or other main traffic level to a higher level. The routes are either elevated on viaducts or dams . Elevated railway sections are mostly inner-city routes or parts of them.


The first elevated railways were built in New York City in 1867 and in Chicago in 1888 and operated with steam locomotives. In Chicago, an electrically powered elevated railway was built for the first time for the World Columbian Exposition in 1893. The railcars on this elevated railway, known as the “Intramural Railway”, were, so to speak, the prototype for the conversion to electrical operation, which did not take place until 1898. Today, the railway, which has since been expanded, is still largely elevated; the name Chicago Elevated, or El for short , has become the norm. The elevated railway of the New York company Interborough Rapid Transit in Manhattan was gradually replaced by the subway starting in the 1930s , as landowners viewed the elevated railway as a negative factor in the development of the districts through which it passed. Since the mid-1950s, at least in Manhattan, almost no elevated route sections have been in operation.

With the monorail in Elberfeld and Barmen (today Wuppertal ) 1901, the first high-railway in Germany was opened, it provides a monorail system is a special form. 1902 was followed by the elevated train with standard gauge track in Berlin in 1912, the elevated railway in Hamburg . The complex construction as an elevated railway was due to the lack of space for a ground level railway and the cost savings compared to an underground railway . In Berlin, expected difficulties with the condition of the ground led to the construction of the first elevated railway line, which, except for the terminus at Potsdamer Platz, was built continuously as a viaduct. It was not until shortly before the city limits of Schöneberg to neighboring Charlottenburg that the railway was continued as an underpaved railway . The extension through the city ​​center , which was put into operation in sections from 1907 , was also laid underground, the end section in Prenzlauer Berg, however, again as a viaduct railway in 1913.

In Hamburg the name Hochbahn was used for the entire system until 1947, the transport company that operates the Hamburg subway is still called Hamburger Hochbahn AG today . Around two thirds of the Hamburg subway run above ground without crossing as an elevated railway or in a cut. Only a small part of it goes on viaducts.

In 1984 Dortmund received its own small elevated railway network with the H-Bahn . With two further construction phases in 1993 and 2003, the Dortmund H-Bahn achieved its current route status and connects stops at the university with the adjacent technology park and the Eichlinghofen district.

There are also elevated railway lines with several stations from the early days of underground construction in Vienna and Paris . The elevated train from Liverpool ( Liverpool Overhead Railway ) was shut down and dismantled, however, and since then is considered the only ever completely abandoned rail network in the world.

Some high-speed rail lines from the 1960s and 1970s were also laid out in sections as elevated trains, such as the subway in Amsterdam and Rotterdam , which have only short tunnel sections due to the high groundwater level and are otherwise at ground level or in an elevated position. The first lines of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London are also to be regarded as elevated railways , and metro networks also emerged as elevated railways in the United States, for example in Detroit and Miami .

In the German-speaking area, over the past four decades in Hamburg (Hammerbrook), Cologne (Northern Belt Line), Frankfurt (Westbahnhof, Römerstadt – Ginnheim, Flughafen-Hochbahn ), Nuremberg (U1 between the Eberhardshof underground stations and the city ​​limits ) and Vienna (U1 to Leopoldau, U2 to Aspern, U6 to Siebenhirten) Elevated railway sections built for the respective underground, S-Bahn or light rail networks, plus some suspension railways .

In the south of Duisburg, a section of the U79 line runs as an elevated railway and the then Mayor Adolf Sauerland had decided to build an elevated railway from the university via the city center to the inner harbor in order to better network the city. His SPD competitor prefers a solution across the Rhine .

The reasons for building an elevated railway can be of very different nature. As a rule, geological features that would make the drilling of a tunnel very difficult and costly lead to building construction, for example a high water table (e.g. in Miami ) or complicated soil layers. In comparison to tunnel construction, the shorter construction time and generally lower construction costs (e.g. New York City ) speak in favor of an elevated railway .

In Basel there is an elevated tram section from Basel SBB train station to Münchensteinerstrasse. This section includes the Peter Merian stop . It is operated by Baselland Transport AG .

Redesign of former elevated railway lines

Viaduc des Arts and bridge over the Rue Traversière der Coulée verte René-Dumont in Paris

Many elevated railway lines from the early days of underground construction are now listed and are generally considered to be “beautiful” or attractive, especially when compared to newer lines made of concrete elements. In some cities, the viaduct arches under the tracks have been renovated and rented out for several years, examples of which are the Berlin light rail arches and the Vienna light rail arches . You will find many trendy bars and small specialist shops there. This revitalization can create new meeting points in previously unsightly and unattractive areas.

In the 12th arrondissement of Paris , the former railway line from Gare de la Bastille to Vincennes was redesigned from 1993 to the Promenade plantée (now: Coulée verte René-Dumont), a green route with walking paths. The High Line in Manhattan was also converted into a park several years after its closure.

Web links

Wiktionary: Hochbahn  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jackson Park Station, Intramural Railway. In: chicago-l.org
  2. Ulrich Lemke, Uwe Poppel: Berliner U-Bahn , Alba, Düsseldorf 1992, ISBN 3-87094-346-7 , p. 14.
  3. Ulrich Lemke, Uwe Poppel, op.cit , p. 29.
  4. ^ Series : Peter Merian (2001) . In: tram.basel.ch , accessed on July 27, 2012.