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Millions needed to fix five-year-old rail bridge

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Millions needed to fix five-year-old rail bridge
Photo: DPA
12:19 CET+01:00
A bridge leading to Berlin's central train station needs repairs costing at least €10 million because of a cheap construction job done in a rush to get the station finished for the 2006 football World Cup.

The track – and particularly the base on which it is fixed – should have been custom made along the curved bridge which leads to the station, the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel reported on Thursday.

But there was not enough time to do this if the Hauptbahnhof was to be ready for the World Cup, and Deutsche Bahn, which was building the station, got permission from the authorities to skip the procedure. Only those parts of the track which are pretty much straight were mounted on the supporting bases, the paper said.

Now it appears that a number of screws securing the track have worked loose, and some have even broken off. Deutsche Bahn said it was not clear why this happened, but it could not rule out that mistakes were made due to time pressure, the paper reported.

Trains travelling over the bridge are already limited to 40 kilometres an hour in an attempt to minimise further damage to the track fixings.

Work began to replace the damaged fixings in September – with around 1,950 of the 3,250 replaced so far, the paper said.

But the connecting sections also need to be replaced with parts specially designed for curves, and this will take several years, Deutsche Bahn said.

Of the 50 connecting sections, 38 will have to be replaced, with each costing around €100,000. The work to do this will entail removing some track which is embedded in concrete, which will make the process particularly expensive, the paper reported.

It also said that the welding work which will be necessary will force the development of a new fire alarm system for the station itself – otherwise the work will set off the alarms. Roads will also have to be closed during the work, and rail transport will be disrupted. The Tagesspiegel said experts predicted the total costs would exceed €10 million.

Several tracks will have to be closed at the same time – something Deutsche Bahn wanted to avoid during initial construction of the station so much that the signature curved glass roof was not built to its intended length. The paper said the unused parts of the roof had been built and paid for – and are being stored at another station.

Repair work is due on the roof which has become a playground for crows which enjoy pulling the rubber sealant out from between the panes of glass.

The Local/hc

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