German railways take stock of flood damage

German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) says heavy rains in mid-July have caused “historic damage” in two German states, most prominently along the Ruhr river, where many steel companies are located.

Slope and embankment slides as well as track undercutting and overtopping have led to massive destruction. “Our infrastructure has never been destroyed on this scale in one fell swoop. We are facing an enormous feat of strength,” says board member Volker Hentschel of the company’s grid operator subsidiary DB Netz.

The damage to over 50 bridges is particularly serious, Kallanish learns from DB. In addition, the flooding severely hit stations and stops as well as technology. 180 level crossings, almost 40 signal boxes, more than 1,000 overhead line and signal masts, power systems as well as lifts and lighting systems in the stations have been affected. “According to initial estimates, the water masses have caused damage of around €1.3 billion ($1.54 billion) in the network and at stations,” DB states.

Thyssenkrupp and several cold-roller companies in the area have declared force majeure, mainly because of logistic impairments due to disruption to the transport ways.

DB’s goal is to have 80% of the damaged infrastructure back in shape by the end of the year. “However, the picture on the ground shows very clearly: some tracks are still flooded or completely gone today. It will take months, if not years, to repair all this,” Hentschel says.

Christian Koehl Germany