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Traffic project German Unity 8.1

Since the year 1900 the family enterprise LEONHARD WEISS has been a constant player in track construction. From wooden sleepers to non-ballasted track, from steam engines to the Inter City Express, the yellow and black construction company has accompanied the development of railway traffic. In over a century four generations of track constructors have succeeded in achieving a top position in the market thanks to their quality and they have expanded their competence in many different ways.

Bild Schnellfahrstrecke Stuttgart-Mannheim

With our three operative pillars rail infrastructure, road and network construction, as well as engineering and turnkey construction we supply our market areas in Europe. In our activity we combine an extraordinary range of know-how and flexibility with special quality and reliability. The satisfaction of our customers confirms our policy time and time again. “We refrain from quick successes. We want to do what we do in the long term. And only people who enjoy their work, can make the world go round“, says Marcus Herwarth, Managing Director of Rail Infrastructure.


Thanks to the competences concentrated in our company we are able to execute demanding and complex projects for high-speed rail lines from the green field to the putting into operation. Currently this is being demonstrated on Germany’s largest construction site, the traffic project German Unity 8.1: for the construction of the railway line between Munich and Berlin we are executing several sections. One of them is situated to the north of Bamberg between Hallstadt and Ebensfeld. Over 9.5 kilometres the existing double-track line is upgraded to a modern four-track line for ICE and regional trains in a very short period of time. 70 percent of the entire construction performance must be executed during the eight months of complete shutdown of the line, so that in September the first train can run. The new ICE line is to be put into operation in 2017. As general contractor we are not only responsible for the entire track infrastructure construction, but also for all other corresponding classical construction works (underground engineering, bridge and road construction, as well as the creation of noise protection and parts of the railroad engineering). A unique feature of our company, which we internally like to refer to as “Yellow Construction Site“ and of which everybody knows: “When it’s yellow, it’s large“.


The upgraded line Nuremberg – Ebensfeld is situated on historical railway soil. In 1835 Germany‘s first steam powered railway was opened between Nuremberg and Fürth. Not quite ten years after that, in 1844, the first train of the Ludwig-Süd-Nord- Bahn rolled from Nuremberg to Bamberg.

The section Nuremberg – Ebensfeld was an important part of the connection between the kingdoms of Bavaria and Saxony. The kingdom of Bavaria financed and realised the construction of the long-distance railway from Lindau via Augsburg, Nuremberg, Bamberg and Lichtenfels to Hof. The Saxon state railway continued the line via Plauen and Altenburg to Leipzig. Even today the Bavarian train station in Leipzig is still evidence of this historical connection.

Our ancestors performed their work splendidly. The original routing of the line on the section Nuremberg – Bamberg – almost continuously - still fulfils the requirements of a line of the European high performance network today. During the 19th century the traffic revolution started with the railway. It mobilised people and goods and made the move toward the industrial era possible. The railway became the pacemaker of modernisation. Approximately 200 years later an efficient railway infrastructure is an important factor for a strong and dynamic economy on the regional as well as on the national scale. It is not only Germany who will benefit from the upgrade of the section Nuremberg – Ebensfeld as part of the high-performance line Nuremberg – Erfurt – Leipzig/Halle – Berlin. In the context of European integration investments into railway infrastructure prove to be motors for the roadmap in future directions.

Bild Katzenbergtunnel
Bild Katzenbergtunnel


The route of the construction project includes several challenges: the tracks pass through three provincial towns with numerous crossings, which are to be replaced by six elevated street crossings and eight railway overbridges, as well as three passages built into the groundwater. In every town there is a stop station, within the town limits the track is equipped with a total of almost 10 km noise protection walls. On a section of 600 metres bored piles with a diameter of 1.8 m and a total length of over 6,000 m, part of them arranged in four rows next to one another, support a slope that presents the danger of a landslide next to the rails. Behind the municipality of Breitengüßbach two tracks of the upgraded line are linked up with two tracks of the new line and newly arranged by means of a flying junction which is over 430 m in length. Afterwards the motorway BAB A73 must be crossed and between the river Main and the motorway there is a bottleneck, which must also be passed. There are also eight temporary auxiliary bridges which are connected to the road network and have been installed for the upgraded line – 32 kilometres of track with ballast pavement. In addition to roads, streams and existing lines, the course of the river Main also has to be relocated at the bottleneck – including extensive renaturation measures for fauna, flora and habitats for the protected alcon blue.

Bild Katzenbergtunnel
Bild Katzenbergtunnel
Bild Katzenbergtunnel


This project is an exceptional construction site in the building industry and for LEONHARD WEISS. Project coordinator Hubert Greubel reports: “We are on site with all our trades and 10 percent of all our employees at the same time and we perform a very large construction volume in extremely short time”. This requires very precise planning, brilliant logistics and a perfectly coordinated consolidation of the trades. As general contractor we consistently put into practice our philosophy of local cooperation “We want to build, therefore we solve problems with all parties involved directly and by means of an open dialogue“, confirms Hubert Greubel. This applies to the customer, Deutsche Bahn, as well as for project engineers and the construction supervision up to the municipalities and the general public concerned. “One boat, one direction, and everybody rows“, he describes this policy. When the traffic concept was developed in cooperation with the police, for example, the speed limit within the limits of the towns was set at 30 km/h, in order to protect the residents, and we have got six of our own street sweepers running through the municipalities in continuous operation, in order to keep the dirt of the building site in bearable limits for the residents and the environment.

“The important thing in this case is, that we can make use of our own resources“, he explains further. We have got a comprehensive own machine outfit including maintenance facilities and our own railway operations managers. With such a large construction site LEONHARD WEISS further strengthens their competence: “We now know from experience, that we can carry out such projects with the corresponding planning, that is part of our standard portfolio by now“, says Andreas Köder, Site Manager General Contractor Infrastructure Projects. The “Yellow Construction Site“ has its effects: one can positively feel how proud the employees are of their performance in this very special project.

But we also know the risks connected to projects of this kind. Without evaluating these professionally – from the general decision, to handle such a project, over the organisation and its limits up to cost evaluation – there can quickly be an overlap of potential chances.


The time schedule continues to be tight. In order to be able to keep the finishing date, our construction site team still has to meet several challenges. One important factor this year will also be the unpredictable weather. One week is extremely wet with lots of rain, the next week the temperature goes up to tropical values. This is not an easy task for our employees, who have to come to terms with these adversities.

Bild Katzenbergtunnel