Junction (rail)

As a railway nodes are intersections and links in the transport system " railway " means that are necessary for the infrastructure as route nodes and intersections, or operations to Zugbereitstellung or linkage with other modes of transport. Related terms for this are railway junction, railway junction, junction station or rail cross.

For passenger stations are applied to these nodes usually, which are differentiated according to the nature of their route linking and its location in the route network. For the connection to other modes of transport to interface functions that are fulfilled for example by harbor railway stations or airport stations found. Another meaning can obtain railway hub for the operations, if they are used as classification yards of passenger and freight transport ( supply and marshalling yard ).

Importance of the railway junction

In one -dimensional and dense railway network - as it has developed in Germany - is a variety of structural and functional railway junction originated from simple branch points over intersections of one or more routes to large nodal regions with a large number of nodes and operational linkages. The central role of railway junction to link the train current of the various routes, while respecting quality standards at the highest possible capacity. In passenger transport are the accessibility and timeliness of connections between trains and the capacity at peak times in the center of interest. In freight transport, the patency of the node with the smallest possible latency in the foreground. For railway junction, therefore, the mixed traffic of people and goods represent special challenges

In the past, railway junctions have been treated subordinated in the operation and expansion planning. With basic engineering "Power 21" has been provided by the slow movement of the Deutsche Bahn AG, the unbundling of the fast - the separation of passenger and freight transport. This inevitably increases the importance of the railway junction as coupling and dispensaries. In the expansion planning of the rail network is now the performance of the node assigned a major role (see node expansion projects ).

Structure of the railway junction

Most railway junctions are historically grown and characterized in their spatial and structural design by different urban and topographical constraints. For the control of trains in nodes and the temporal dependencies there are numerous variations, so that railway nodes have very individual structures, making it difficult to assign to specific groups.

A distinguishing feature is the type of track link is:

  • Crosses straight through connecting routes across parallel adjacent tracks, which are connected by switches with each other and make Zugübergänge between the trips possible.
  • Intersections with separate permanent routes are allocated to different levels through the crossing point - often at right angles. An interconnection can be provided for the passenger by a tower train station that connects the different levels on walkways. The railway lines in the broad environment can be linked by connecting lines, similar to motorway junctions, albeit with a significantly larger turning radius.
  • Terminal nodes and railway stations are located on a continuous rail line and provide the starting or end point for longer distances,
  • Separation nodes and railway stations are at a distance bifurcation, which are traversed with and without support and have correspondingly powerful track links that are traversable at higher speeds,
  • Contact nodes and railway stations provide the contact portions of two continuous railway lines with the possibility of Zugübergangs dar.

According to the traffic-related tasks, the following station types are distinguished in the nodes:

  • Passenger stations ( Pbf )
  • Freight yards of the general cargo traffic ( Gbf )
  • Transshipment terminals for combined transport ( Ubf )
  • Marshalling yards ( RBF ),
  • Combined forms,

As well as work stations and resolved, historic cargo stations.

The railway nodes are identified by their size divided into the simple intersections of two line, in the "big knot" with crosses or joins of multiple lines and functional areas as well as in the " big node areas " in which a plurality of nodes and operational linkages is located. In the network of the Deutsche Bahn AG are distinguished:

  • Great node areas: Hamburg, Hanover, Berlin, Dortmund, Halle / Leipzig, Dresden, Cologne, Frankfurt, Mannheim / Ludwigshafen, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Munich,
  • Large nodes: Stralsund, Rostock, Lübeck, Bremen, Osnabruck, Minden, Hildesheim, Braunschweig, Magdeburg, Cottbus, Münster, Hamm, Göttingen, Kassel, Dusseldorf, Hagen, Aachen, Erfurt, Zwickau, Giessen, Fulda, Koblenz, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Trier, Würzburg, Saarbrücken, Heilbronn, Karlsruhe, Germany, Regensburg, Ingolstadt, Offenburg, Freiburg, Basel, Ulm, Augsburg.

History of the railway junction

The location in Newton- le- Willows, Merseyside, England Earlestown railway station is considered the world's first railway hub. Here the lines of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and Warrington and Newton Railway at the station with the former name of Newton Junction were married on July 25, 1831.

Another important railway node until today established itself in 1837 and was later Crewe, such as Newton -le- Willows, railroad town. Other railway junction developed in the capital London and other major cities.

Germany's first railway junction was built in Köthen (Anhalt) on September 10, 1841, when the Berlin- Anhalt Railway met the previous year, finished in original route of the Magdeburg- Leipzig Railway Company. Thanks to its central location Köthen became Germany's first Transport Exchange, grew its meaning, as in 1846 the route of the newly built Anhalt -Köthen Bernburger railroad coming from Bernburg (Saale ) was connected in Köthen. The latter was later combined with the Magdeburg- Halberstadt Railway Company, which required the construction of a fourth station. Before the end of the century came routes towards Aken (Elbe ) and Radegast added so that Köthen was accessible from six directions from now on.



The main German railway hub of passenger traffic are today, in terms of number of travelers: Hamburg Hbf, Frankfurt (Main ) Hbf, München Hbf, Berlin Hbf, followed by Cologne main station, Hauptbahnhof Dusseldorf, Stuttgart Hbf, Hanover and Leipzig Hbf Main Station

Major transfer stations are Dortmund Hbf, Mannheim Hbf, Duisburg Hbf, Bremen Hbf, Nürnberg Hbf and Hamm ( Westphalia ).

The main German railway hub of freight transport are the locations of the most important marshalling yards: Mesh RBF (near Hamburg), Seelze RBF ( near Hannover ), Hagen Lobby, Gremberg ( in Cologne), Mannheim and Nuremberg RBF RBF. The Dresden railway junction leads to freight from different directions in Germany and along the border with the Czech Republic on the Elbe Valley Railway to.

One of many typical small railway junction is located, for example in Lower Saxony district town of Rotenburg (Wümme ). Here branch off from the main route Hamburg -Bremen three other routes towards Verden (Aller ) and on to Hanover, in the direction Bremervörde about Zeven and earlier direction Brockel - Visselhoevede to Berlin from. Many of these small railway junctions have lost as a result of the rationalization of the railways with the abolition of cargo traffic and line closures its previous node function.

Crossing stations that are not located on a main route are referred to as secondary line nodes. Due to the strong " retreat from the area " by line closures of the German Federal Railroad since the post-war years, most of them have lost their importance for traffic or even rail transport as a whole. Examples are green city in Rhineland -Palatinate, the Dieringhausen station with depot in Gummersbach or stop ( Halver ) at Wipperfuerth in North Rhine -Westphalia.


The most important Austrian railway junction is located in the Austrian capital Vienna. In the passenger is under construction Vienna Central Station is within a few years take on the role of the central railway junction from Vienna Meidling.

Other important railway junction in the Austrian rail network are located in the provincial capitals Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck. In the other state capitals - except for Eisenstadt - run several railway lines together. Among the most important rail hub in Austria also counts Villach. Other railway hubs are located in smaller towns, as well as about Selzthal, Feldkirch, Puchheim and Bischofshofen.


The most important railway junction of the passenger traffic in Switzerland are the main railway stations Basel SBB, Bern and Zurich HB, followed by the stations Arth -Goldau, Biel, Buchs SG, Lausanne, Lucerne, Olten, Rotkreuz, Brugg and Winterthur HB. The station Genève- Cornavin in the city of Geneva is not a railway junction in the strict sense, but is used in addition to the local traffic as a border station to France.

In freight transport, the main hub stations are the marshalling yards ( RB): Basel SBB RB in Muttenz, Limmat valley to the west of Zurich and Lausanne Triage, located in Denges west of Lausanne and at Red Cross train as an important marshalling yard between Germany and Italy before the Gotthard tunnel.

Node expansion measures

The capacity of railway junction limits the capacity of a railway network sometimes more than the capacity of the routes. This is even more the closer is the power and the higher the nodes are affected by traffic. Node expansions can therefore in inventory systems with a relatively small investment to achieve further growth in capacity Streckenneu or capacity extensions as. The capacity of a railway junction can be increased primarily through practices such as the installation of gates, which are suitable for higher speeds or avoidance of course transitions through the construction of Überwerfungsbauwerken and by signal-based measures, eg automatic operation, train routing, enabling parallel gateways, simplified driveway part resolution.

In complex nodes such construction especially when capacity constraints through tunnels ( Mainz railway tunnels ), bridges (Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne ) or downtown routes ( Berlin) can be very large and thus costly, exist.

In the expansion planning of the rail network in the meantime, the performance of the node assigned a major role, is to understand how, for example, in the two current basic studies to the rail network expansion (such as the German review of the demand plan for the federal railway infrastructure of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development and rail network 2025/2030: Development concept for a powerful rail freight in Germany the Federal Environment Agency ).