West Rhine Railway

West Rhine Railway
Other name(s) Left Rhine Railway
Native name Linke Rheinstrecke
Locale North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, Germany
Termini Cologne
Line number 2630
Line length 152 km (94 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 15 kV/16.7 Hz AC Overhead catenary
Operating speed 160 km/h (99 mph) (max)
Maximum incline < 0.02%
Route number 470
Route map
Sieg Railway, HSL, East Rhine Railway
Line from Köln-Mülheim (including S-Bahn)
Köln Messe/Deutz
Line from Köln-Mülheim
−2.0 Köln Hbf
Line to Neuss
Lines to Mönchengladbach and Aachen
0.4 Köln West Wf(station part) from Köln Bbf
1.1 Köln West
Stadtbahn lines 1 & 7
Stadtbahn line 9
3.2 Köln Süd / Köln Süd junction
Vorgebirge Railway (Stadtbahn line 18)
3.0 Cöln-Pantaleon
Original start of line
Cologne freight railway bypass
5.8 Köln Eifeltor freight station
A 4
8.0 Köln Eifeltor freight station
9.4 Hürth-Kalscheuren
Eifel Railway to Euskirchen
10.1 Hürth-Kalscheuren Südkopf junction
12.9 Brühl freight station
Vorgebirge Railway to Vochem
HGK-Cross Railway
14.6 Brühl
19.5 Sechtem
25.8 Roisdorf
Vorgebirge Railway (Stadtbahn line 18)
Voreifel Railway from Euskirchen
31.1 Bonn freight station
31.9 Bonn Hbf
Bonn–Oberkassel train ferry
Bonn UN Campus(planned)
37.2 Bonn-Bad Godesberg Nord
39.0 Bonn-Bad Godesberg
41.3 Bonn-Mehlem
43.6 Bonn Neuer Weg
NRW/RLP border
45.9 Rolandseck
48.2 Oberwinter
52.7 Remagen
Ahr Valley Railway to Ahrbrück
To former Ludendorff Bridge
From former Ludendorff Bridge
56.7 Sinzig
62.5 Bad Breisig
Brohl Valley Railway
65.7 Brohl
69.2 Namedy
73.2 Andernach
Eifelquer Railway to Kaisersesch
76.9 Weißenthurm
81.6 Urmitz
line form Neuwied, East Rhine line
Koblenz substation(siding)
link to Koblenz Rhine port
former line from Mayen
87.0 Koblenz-Lützel Nord(DB Museum)
original route from Mayen
89.4 Koblenz-Lützel
Moselle railway bridge
former port railway
former Koblenz RhE station
freight line to Moselle line
Pfaffendorf Bridge (now road bridge),
formerly to East Rhine line
Moselle line from Trier
91.2 Koblenz Hbf
Horchheim Railway Bridge,
Lahn Valley Railway, to East Rhine line
94.3 Königsbach
99.8 Rhens
103.3 Spay
Hunsrück Railway to Emmelshausen
110.7 Boppard Hbf
115.6 Boppard-Bad Salzig
119.4 Boppard-Hirzenach
122.4 Werlau
125.3 St. Goar
Bank tunnel (367 m)
127.4 Urbar Nord
Bett tunnel (236 m)
Kammereck tunnel (289 m)
128.8 Urbar Süd
132.1 Oberwesel
138.5 Bacharach
142.0 Niederheimbach
146.6 Trechtingshausen
150.6 Bingen Vorbf
152.0 Bingen (Rhein) Hbf
Nahe Valley Railway to Saarbrücken and
Alsenz Valley Railway to Kaiserslautern
Nahe (route change),
former Prussia / Hesse border
1.0 Bingen (Rhein) Stadt
Nahe Valley Railway
former Hindenburg Bridge
Rheinhessen Railway to Worms
4.6 Bingen-Gaulsheim
line from Bad Kreuznach
9.4 Gau Algesheim
former Selz Valley Railway
from Jugenheim-Partenheim
12.5 Ingelheim
former Selz Valley Railway to Frei-Weinheim
17.5 Heidesheim (Rheinhessen)
20.2 Uhlerborn
23.1 Budenheim
Lenneberg viaduct
27.3 Mainz-Mombach
To Emperor Bridge, freight bypass
and Taunus line S8
From Alzey
30.6 Mainz Hbf
Main Railway to Frankfurt S8
to Ludwigshafen

Source: German railway atlas[1]

The West Rhine railway (German: Linke Rheinstrecke, literally 'left (bank of the) Rhine route') is a famously picturesque, double-track electrified railway line running for 185 km from Cologne via Bonn, Koblenz, and Bingen to Mainz. It is situated close to the western (left) bank of the river Rhine and mostly aligned to allow 160 km/h operation between Cologne and Koblenz and between Bingen and Mainz. Line speed between Koblenz and Bingen is restricted by the meandering nature of the Rhine.


West Rhine railway, near Remagen
Map of railway lines in the Koblenz area
Ludendorff Bridge on 17 March 1945 four hours before the collapse

The first section of the line opened on 15 February 1844, by the Bonn–Cologne Railway Company (Bonn-Cölner Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft) between the former station of Cologne St. Pantaleon Cologne and Bonn. It was extended on 21 January 1856, south to Rolandseck station and in 1859 north to the Cologne central station.[2]

After the takeover by the Rhenish Railway Company (Rheinische Eisenbahn Gesellschaft, RhE) on 1 January 1857 the line was extended in 1858 through Remagen and Andernach and crossed the Moselle to Koblenz via the Moselle railway bridge, opened on 11 November 1858. The particularly beautiful section of the line between Koblenz and Bingerbrück (now called Bingen Hbf), which runs close to the river through this winding section of the Rhine Valley was opened on 15 December 1859. Bingerbrück station was at the time on the border of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Grand Duchy of Hesse. Here it connected with the Rhine-Main line of the Hessian Ludwig Railway (Hessische Ludwigsbahn), opened on 17 October 1859, from Mainz and the Nahe Valley Railway to Saarbrücken.

In Koblenz, the Pfaffendorf Bridge over the Rhine was completed in 1864 to connect to the Right Rhine line to Niederlahnstein and Wiesbaden. With the construction of the Horchheim Bridge south of Koblenz, opened in 1879, and the Urmitz Bridge north of Koblenz, opened in 1918, this bridge was progressively given over to pedestrian, vehicular and, eventually, tram traffic and the last train used it at the outbreak of World War I in August 1914.

From 1861 the Nassau State Railways established a train ferry between Bingen and Rüdesheim am Rhein; this was converted to a passenger ferry in 1900. From 1870 to 1914 another train ferry operated between Bonn and Oberkassel to transfer trains between the West Rhine line and the East Rhine railway.

During the First World War three strategic Rhine crossings were built at the request of the German generals in order to bring troops and war materials to the Western Front. The Bingen–Rüdesheim ferry was replaced by the Hindenburg Bridge, built between 1913 and 1915 and connecting the East Rhine line with the West Rhine railway and the Nahe Valley Railway. From 1916 to 1918, the Neuwied–Koblenz line, including the Crown Prince Wilhelm Bridge, was built between Urmitz and Neuwied-Engers. The Ludendorff Bridge between Erpel and Remagen was built from 1916 to 1919. It connected the East and West Rhine railway lines and the strategically important Ahr Valley Railway. The Hindenburg, Ludendorff and Kronprinz-Wilhelm Bridges were destroyed in World War II. Only the Crown Prince Wilhelm Bridge was rebuilt, as the Urmitz bridge, in 1954.

The line was electrified in 1959.

Current operations

Until the opening of the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed rail line, the line was one of the busiest in Germany. The fastest trains connecting the Rhineland and southern Germany ran on the line. The importance of the line for long distance travel has diminished since the opening of the high-speed line. The line is now generally used by one InterCity or Intercity-Express service (stopping at Bonn, Koblenz and Mainz) each hour, the Hamburg-Köln-Express (certain days, stops at Bingen instead of Mainz), one Regional-Express train each hour (the Rhein-Express to Koblenz Hauptbahnhof and one RegionalBahn (stopping) train each hour in each direction, as well as by many freight trains. Before the opening of the high-speed line, freight trains were largely restricted to the Right Rhine line, but with the increased availability of train paths on the Left Rhine line many of them are now routed over it.


  1. Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland (German railway atlas). Schweers + Wall. 2009. ISBN 978-3-89494-139-0.
  2. "Line 2630: Köln - Bingen". NRW Rail Archive (in German). André Joost. Retrieved 30 October 2011.


  • Semmler, Horst (1994). 150 Jahre Eisenbahn Bonn-Köln [150 years of the Bonn-Cologne Railway] (in German). Nordhorn Kenning. ISBN 978-3-927587-23-6. OCLC 75399335. 
  • Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland [Railway Atlas of Germany] (in German) (2005/2006 ed.). Aachen: Schweers + Wall. 2005. ISBN 978-3-89494-134-5. OCLC 190850467.  Also OCLC 71200092 and OCLC 217548594.
  • Kandler, Udo (2007). "Eisenbahn wie auf einer Ansichtskarte. Die Linke Rheinstrecke" [A picture postcard railway: the left Rhine railway line]. Lok Magazin (in German). GeraNova Zeitschriftenverlag. 46 (305): 36–55. ISSN 0458-1822. 
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Coordinates: 50°21′40″N 7°35′25″E / 50.36111°N 7.59028°E / 50.36111; 7.59028

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