Press conference on the new ICE facility at the railway museum

“DB-Fernverkehr will start building a seven-track stabling and cleaning facility for ICE trains in the first quarter of 2025.”

This was the key message of the press conference to which Dr Klaus Vornhusen, DB-AG Group Representative for Hesse, invited the regional press to the cafeteria of the Darmstadt-Kranichstein Railway Museum on Friday, 15 March 2024.

The reason for the information round was the disclosure of the planning approval procedure by the Federal Railway Authority (EBA), which acts as the approval authority for this project. As part of this procedure, there is a so-called disclosure, which provides interested citizens with detailed descriptions of the future operating schedule and the general conditions to be expected during the construction period in addition to the plan inspection.

The press conference was based on a projector presentation that clearly illustrated the dimensions of this construction project:

Seven new tracks are being laid on an area of around 50,000m² on the former sorting sidings of the hump. Three will be used purely as sidings, while the remaining four will have supply platforms to provide the ICE multiple units with fresh water and to carry out internal cleaning, including minor repairs. It is understandable that such a facility also includes an extensive infrastructure with administration buildings, car parks for around 100 employees and an enclosed car wash.

The ICE trains enter the station as train movements on two entry and exit tracks next to the core area of the museum. They are then shunted through the outside cleaning facility or directly to the platforms of the stabling facility, where they begin to be refitted for the next day. All of this takes place in shifts for the employees when the multiple-unit trains arrive at the station in the late evening hours from their scheduled operations and the cleaning and refurbishment work then begins. Regular operations involve trains leaving the station in the early hours of the following morning.

The Kranichstein site has the special feature that the new construction is taking place on historic and even listed premises: Parts of the structures from its former use as a marshalling yard will be retained and incorporated into the museum concept in future: The entire core area of the museum, the railway depot with its engine shed, the carriage workshop and the hump with its directional tracks were designated as an area monument in 2017, including the buildings.

Back in 2018, the museum railway was informed at an early stage by the planners at DB-Fernverkehr about the plan to build a modern stabling and cleaning facility for long-distance trains on part of the listed railway site. Both the heritage protection authority and the railway museum act as public interest bodies and were therefore also consulted during the process.

In the planning sequence of feasibility studies for the search for a location, basic investigations and the subsequent actual preliminary planning, there was regular dialogue with those responsible for planning at DB-Fernverkehr, the board of the association and the heritage authority. In this way, the concerns of the heritage protection authorities and the Museumsbahn e. V. as the sponsor of the railway museum and directly neighbouring tenants were taken into account at a very early stage. During the planning process, the loss of previously leased tracks was compensated for by laying new tracks elsewhere. An approx. 2 km long operating track on the museum site will make it possible to recreate historical railway operations of the 1960s and 1970s with newly constructed platforms and transfer facilities for the museum vehicles and at the same time explain the modern infrastructure of today’s ICE operations: What preparatory work and processes are required before an ICE rolls up to the platform ready for boarding?

This will give museum visitors the opportunity to experience the era of the “steam railway” side by side with modern ICE traffic. For a “museum in operation”, which is advertised by those responsible at the Darmstadt-Kranichstein site, this creates another unique selling point in the museum’s presentation of living industrial culture.

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