After more than ten years since ground breaking, the Leipzig City Tunnel officially opened to rail traffic on 15 December, providing a vital link for S-Bahn trains between the north and south of the city via the central Hauptbahnhof Station. The project was complex; two tunnel bores, each measuring 1.4 km in length had to be built in difficult subsoil conditions at a depth of up to 16m beneath the city centre. Four underground and two above ground stations were also constructed.
The location of the construction site not only made it difficult to master the site installations and material deliveries for the completion of the stations; the necessary transport and assembly technologies and procedures also had to be individually developed and selected for each station – the reason being lack of space. All lower escalator sections had to be delivered before the start of construction on the stations, as there would not have been enough space once the facades were complete. In addition to all the spatial challenges, it was also necessary to work without interruptions to rail traffic, especially in and around Hauptbahnhof Station.
Such a connection in Leipzig has been under consideration for over a century with passengers until now having to circumvent the city to travel north-south in a very time consuming process. The construction of the City Tunnel has been very time and money consuming going beyond programme and budget by a considerable margin. However, with travel time on some routes being reduced by up to 40 minutes and new stations, each designed by different architects wanting to leave a strong aesthetic and functional mark on such an important scheme, the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is especially applicable to the immense challenges and rewards faced in this project.