Work has been underway since June 2021 to upgrade almost 28 kilometers of the Zellertalbahn line. The goal is to have extensive excursion traffic between Monsheim and Kaiserslautern in 2023.
Inaugurated in 1872, the Zellertalbahn was once a connecting section of the Munich - Paris line. After the traffic (also for goods) was completely stopped in 1998, the Donnersbergkreis had tried to preserve the infrastructure to safeguard the line. The seasonal excursion traffic on Sundays and holidays, which started in 2001, had to be discontinued in 2017 due to serious technical defects. The excursion service, which is ordered and financed by the Zweckverband Schienenpersonennahverkehr, was supported by a great commitment of the Förderverein Eistalbahn/Zellertalbahn. In the 16 years, 35,000 volunteer hours were contributed for this purpose.
Last year, the green light was given for upgrading the line. The then Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, presented a funding decision for 6.7 million euros. The total costs are calculated at 8.3 million euros. There is hope for further subsidies according to the railway crossing law - for the areas where official roads like district roads cross the railway line. The remaining amount is borne by the Donnersberg district, the Alzey-Worms district and the municipalities of Monsheim, Göllheim, Kirchheimbolanden and Winnweiler.
"Public transport plays a central role in climate protection in the transport sector. Rail transport forms the backbone here: every kilometre travelled by rail instead of in one's own car saves CO2. We have provided 6.7 million euros in funding to ensure that the line through the Zellertal valley is repaired and that tourist excursion traffic can soon be resumed. It is precisely the safeguarding of such secondary routes by seasonal excursion traffic that helps to keep the infrastructure ready for possible future regular operation," said Katrin Eder, State Secretary in the Ministry for Climate Protection, the Environment, Energy and Mobility, on Friday during a tour of the construction site at the Alsenbrück-Langmeil level.
The company Peter Gross Bahnbau GmbH from St. Ingbert had been awarded the contract for the initial work on the line amounting to 1.233 million euros - this includes the track reconstruction in Marnheim, renewal of the superstructure and of points as well as the renewal of a culvert. According to the plan, this should be completed by mid-November.
"For our region, the preservation and further expansion of this line is an important project that is being planned and realized by all parties involved in a trusting cooperation. Since the start of the reactivation in 2001, we have pursued the goal of integrating the line at some point into the Rhineland-Palatinate timetable in order to establish a permanent connection between Worms, Monsheim and Kaiserslautern in the long term and thus an important "bridge" between Rheinhessen and the Palatinate," said Heiko Sippel, the district administrator of the Alzey-Worms district, adding: "We are once again coming a great deal closer to this intention with the progressing construction work and hope that we will also be able to realize this goal in the foreseeable future in the context of the mobility turnaround for the benefit of our citizens."
A project that his colleague Rainer Guth is also pursuing: "We have fought for a long time for the upgrading of the Zellertalbahn line. We are particularly grateful to the Eistalbahn/Zellertalbahn support association and the operations managers for their great commitment. We need this line for the excursion traffic, for the commuters and of course also for the climate protection. It is the shortest rail connection between Kaiserslautern and Worms." Guth also thanked Gustav Herzog, a member of the Bundestag, who was also present and who has campaigned for the preservation and development, as well as his predecessor Winfried Werner, who had recommended the Zellertalbahn to him.
After the upgrade, an extensive excursion service should be running on the line in 2023, on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and every Wednesday during the holidays. Dr. Fritz Brechtel, Chairman of the Rhineland-Palatinate Southern Regional Rail Transport Association, emphasized that the long-term goals are the integration of the Zellertalbahn into the Rhineland-Palatinate timetable and the development of this rail line into an attractive and fast connection between the centers of Kaiserslautern and Worms. As a result, extensive travel time advantages of at least 20 minutes in each direction between the two cities could be realized.
A planning approval procedure is currently being prepared, which is necessary for securing and expanding the level crossings. Guth explained that the timetable for the resumption of excursion traffic ultimately depends on this. Eleven level crossings and 15 bridges on the almost 28-kilometer-long route must be upgraded in accordance with current technical requirements. "It is a major project whose benefits are of great importance for the region," emphasized the Donnersberg District Administrator.
FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT THE ZELLERTALBAHN