The construction of new rail lines naturally raises many questions. The most frequently asked questions about the new Dresden – Prague line can be found here.
A joint cross-border planning area has been agreed upon between DB Netz AG and Správa železnic. This starts at the beginning of the tunnel in Germany and ends at the end of the tunnel in the Czech Republic., as well as the zones for the rescue places in the area of the tunnel portals. In this area, the planning will be jointly harmonised.
Large infrastructure projects have a significant impact on their environment. In order to examine the effects of the project (or of any possible alternatives), a regional planning procedure is carried out at an early stage by the respective authority. The project is examined for spatial compatibility, i.e. whether it is consistent with the planned use of the space and does not collide with other planned projects. The public is involved in the regional planning procedure and can participate by submitting comments. The legal basis for this examination is Section 15 of the Spatial Planning Act (ROG).
Suggestions could be submitted to the Saxony Regional Directorate or the respective administrations of the municipalities up to one week after the end of the presentation period. The concerns were evaluated by the regional planning authority, the Saxony Regional Directorate. The way in which the concerns were considered in the regional planning evaluation is set out in the regional planning assessment, which was published after the conclusion of the procedure and can be viewed here.
First, a definite route must be determined. The first step was the consideration of options in the regional planning procedure. The second step is the preliminary planning. Once the preliminary planning is completed, the route will be determined (probably by the end of 2024). In the next step, the details will be worked out (draft planning) and the planning approval procedure will be prepared (approval planning), with the building permit being the end of that procedure, and only then can construction begin. The duration of the construction work for the tunnel depends on the tunnelling technique, the number of machines, the construction logistics, and the geological conditions. Based on experience from other projects, a construction period of at least 10 to 12 years can be expected.
To quantify the costs of the project in definite terms, numerous aspects must be established, e.g. location of the overtaking station, inclinations, elevation point, materials, escape routes, construction concept, etc. Most of the conceptual work on this is still pending. For a reliable figure that also covers possible risks in the project, several more years of planning are probably necessary.
Route and variants
On double-track lines, the tunnels must be separate, single-track tunnels for long tunnels. Thus, both freight and passenger trains will be able to travel through the tunnel without restrictions. Both tunnel tubes are linked at regular intervals with connecting tunnels so that in the case of an accident, escape and the use of rescue services are possible via the connecting tunnels and the neighbouring tunnel tube. The way the tunnel tubes look in detail and are built depends on the geological composition of the rock and the height of the overburden above the tunnel. It is distinguished by the cut-and-cover and the mining construction methods. Using the cut-and-cover method, the tunnel is built as a rectangular frame structure in a pit that has been excavated beforehand. In the case of mining construction, both blasting and machine drilling are possible. Statements on the possible construction method will first be made after in-depth explorations of the ground.
As part of the approval procedure, the project developer must prove beyond doubt that all possible options have been assessed and that the best option has been selected, considering all aspects (economic efficiency, operational requirements, impact on people and the environment, etc.). During the spatial planning, the Saxony Regional Directorate identified that the full-tunnel options and the partially open route option G are spatially compatible with the spatial requirements. However, numerous factors influencing the selection of the preferred option have not yet been exhaustively elaborated in the regional planning procedure. The goal of the in-depth preliminary planning is now to objectively compare both full-tunnel options and the partially open route that has been classified as spatially compatible. This will ensure that we can find the most suitable option. In the subsequent planning approval procedure, reasons must be provided as to whether there are economically or technically better alternatives to the preferred option.
From the project's point of view, the procedure does not cause any time delays. In the preliminary planning that is currently ongoing, the planning mandate is to examine different options and compare them with each other. This corresponds to the normal planning process and is necessary for proper planning.
From the project's perspective, this approach will not result in any time delay. In the current preliminary planning phase, the planning mandate is to analyze and compare different variants. This is part of the standard planning process and is necessary for proper planning.
Nature, environment, climate
For construction work in the existing structures, closure breaks are mandatory, i.e. time frames in which no train traffic takes place. The noise exposure is thereby reduced to a minimum.
Once the lane plan has been developed for the respective options, it can be used to determine who will be affected by noise and to what extent. Together with experts, the necessary measures will then be planned, whether to use active (such as noise barriers) or passive (such as soundproof windows) measures. These noise assessments will be included in the comparison of options.
According to the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (UVPG), § 2 Definitions, at least the following objects of protection must be considered:
People, in particular human health,
animals, plants, and biological diversity,
land, soil, water, air, climate and landscape,
cultural heritage and other material goods,
the interaction between the above-mentioned objects.
For the comparison of options, the criteria to be examined are defined in the environmental criteria catalogue.
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