The German man faces charges of attempted murder, as he is “strongly suspected of having removed bolts on 80 metres (260 feet) of the rail on a bridge between Cologne and Frankfurt,” said prosecutors in a statement. Investigators were still trying to determine the suspect's motives.
Police on Friday said they could not rule out a “possible attack attempt” after uncovering the problem on the rail. State-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn had described the incident as “sabotage”.
A high-speed Intercity Express (ICE) train driver noticed something unusual in the early hours while crossing a bridge near Niedernhausen, just outside Frankfurt.
Several trains had already passed over the damaged section of track before the tampering was uncovered, police said on Friday.
“Luckily no harm came to any trains or passengers,” they added. News website Der Spiegel reported that the rails were standing five centimetres (two inches) further apart than usual along the section where the bolts had been loosened.
This could have derailed further trains passing along the line, it added, sending them plunging off the bridge.