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Cologne North-South Urban Light Railway, Overview and Construction Stage 1

The Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG is constructing the North-South Urban Light Railway to expand the network and relieve the existing inner-urban tunnel. The route is intended to open up the old Altstadt and southern parts of the city more effectively and link the suburbs in the south to the downtown area with a speedy and comfortable connection. The planned urban light railway joins up with the existing underground route at Breslauer Platz, underpassing complexes such as the Main Station (Hauptbahnhof), Wallraf- Richards Museum/Museum Ludwig, the Philharmonie Hall, Alter Markt, Cäcilienstraße, Waidmarkt and then runs beneath the Severinstraße to Banner Straße (1st construction stage). The route is some 3,900 m long with around 3,600 m of this total running underground, approx. 150 m counted for by a ramp and approx. 110 m for the station Marktstraße  on the surface. The special structures and the underground stations are largely built within covered tertiary excavation pits. The diaphragm wall work required for this purpose was undertaken in 2004/2005. The tunnels were created in two phases. In the northern section two roughly 120 m long tunnel tubes with 5.70 m internal diameter were produced by a shield tunnelling machine. In the southern section the tunnel tubes with 7.30 m internal diameter were built using two shield tunnelling machines over a length of some 2,700 m. The daily rate of advance in the northern section amounted to 6.50 m on average, in the southern section 9.70 m. ln the process a number of buildings were underpassed by the shield tunnelling machines. Towards this end glass fibre reinforcement was used during the construction of the diaphragm walls. In the northern section the Philharmonie Hall and the Museum Ludwig were undertunnelled by mining means over a length of some 100 m using compressed air. In the southern section extensive freezing processes are applied to create the cross-passages and longitudinal drives. On account of the inhomogeneous situation of the soil in the Cologne Altstadt zone (Old Arm of the Rhine, Roman Harbour) with fills of up to 14 m thick, extensive measures for securing buildings were applied (high pressure grouting, grouting solid materials and compensation grouting). The project is scheduled to start operating in 2012 or 2013.


  • Country: Germany
  • Region: North Rhine Westphalia
  • Tunnel utilization: Traffic
  • Type of utilization: Underground, urban and rapid transit
  • Client: Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG
  • Project Engineers/Construction Management: Ingenieurgemeinschaft PNS • Schüßler-Plan • Obermeyer
  • Consulting Engineer: Zerna Ingenieure GmbH, Schüßler-Plan, Pirlet & Partner Baukonstruktionen Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, PSP Beratende Ingenieure, Jessberger, Iproplan
  • Roughwork Supervision: Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG, Ingenieurgemeinschaft IBS • Zerna Ingenieure fürTunnelbau, Grund- und Ingenieurbau • Erdbaulaboratorium Essen {ELE)
  • Contractor: Section North: • Hochtief Construction AG • Keller Grundbau GmbH • Brückner Grundbau GmbH • Bauer Spezialtiefbau GmbH Section South: • Bilfinger Berger AG • Wayss & Freytag AG • Ed. Züblin AG
  • Main construction method: Open/trenchless
  • Type of excavation: Shield machine (SM)/Cut-and-cover
  • Lining: Reinforced concrete segments/Concrete formwork
  • No. of tubes: 2
  • Tunnel total length: 4.0 km
  • Construction start/end: 2006-2013