Reduced track possession thanks to precast construction

Where underpasses under rail lines must be constructed or renewed, developers as a rule, aim to reduce track possession to a minimum. These are the times during which rail traffic must be blocked, and such measures are frequently taken locally. In such cases, however, prolonged track possession cannot in most cases be avoided, due to the complex auxiliary structures that must be erected before installation can take place.

For this reason, planners are always searching for practicable solution alternatives that can be quickly and easily implemented, with consequently fewer and shorter track possession periods.

Precast reinforced-concrete frame members

Here, the responsible parties decided on the use of precast reinforced-concrete frame members. The old overhead crossing in the eastern part of Duisburg had been in need of rehabilitation for a longer period of time, both technically and economically. The planners had originally intended to manufacture the new reinforced-concrete semi-frames locally and to subsequently install them in their final position by lateral displacement. The frame structures were to be pushed into place during short track possession in order to interfere as little as possible with regular rail traffic.

B.Eng. Henning Herbers – site supervisor of the building contractor Hofschröer GmbH & Co. KG from Lingen. Germany – explained why the project, in the end, was implemented in a different way: “For the planned newbuild, it was necessary to demolish part of the existing bridge construction. Due to the cramped conditions between the railroad embankment and the sewer pipeline routed there, south of the city of Duisburg, temporary shoring of the southwest and southeast sections of the railroad embankment had originally been planned in the form of a reverse-anchored retaining structure. This however, was not possible, since prospecting shafts that had been sunk evidenced that the sewer pipeline, other than stated in the tender documents submitted to us, run farther to the north of the structure. This situation meant that the displacement process described in the invitation to tender, as well as the planned reinforced-concrete works, could not be carried out,” Herbers explained.

Precast reinforced-concrete elements up to 51 tons

The planners, together with the client, DB Netz AG, worked out an alternative solution. This provided that the complete structure, other than the original in-situ-concrete solution, would be delivered as a construction set of precast components to be assembled at the construction site. At the construction site, a mobile crane was used to install a total of 19 structural components with a maximum width of 4.80 m, a maximum length of 8.25 m and an individual weight of up to 51 tons, as delivered by the company Kleihues Betonbauteile GmbH & Co. KG from Emsbüren, Germany.

For this procedure, the full frame was basically manufactured from three large-dimensioned reinforced-concrete frame sections and 12 wing walls of reinforced concrete. After installation, the sections were glued with epoxy resin, braced together and forced-locked for installation in their final position.

Henning Herbers describes the advantages of the solution implemented: “On the one hand, we did not have to dig very deeply, thanks to precast construction, so that the existing sewer pipeline was no longer an obstacle.

Construction without auxiliary bridges and without temporary retaining

On the other hand, the great advantage of this construction method was that the precast elements could be backfilled and the tracks replaced immediately following installation. Complex auxiliary bridges and temporary retaining structures were therefore not required“, explains Herbers.

Reduction of the worksteps

Yet another advantage of the precast construction method makes a major difference: “Precast components are manufactured in the plant under controlled conditions and are subject to continuous quality control,” declares Dipl.-Ing. Paul-Martin Grosskopff, Managing Director of Kleihues, the manufacturer. “This typically results in enhanced concrete quality compared to in-situ construction, and also offers visual advantages. Use of precast components, moreover, requires notably fewer steps of work. This can often simplify a construction project and reduce potential sources of error.”

Restoration of the structure cost a total of 3.2 million euros and took place at the end of 2018. The trains were already able to run over the underpass shortly after end of the track possession time.


Kleihues Betonbauteile

GmbH & Co. KG

Siemensstr. 21

48488 Emsbüren/Germany

+49 5903 9303-0



Related articles:


Precast elements are a perfect match for architectural-landmark retaining walls

The single-span railroad crossing over the Nürnberg – Schirnding railroad line in Hersbruck, in Middle Franconia, Germany, spans Keller Street. The railroad crossing was erected in 1900 with a...

Issue 2015-04 Kleihues Betonbauteile

Switzerland: Railroad underpass built in 52 hours

The station in the Swiss town of Thayngen is part of the railroad line from Zurich to Stuttgart. The European Union has classified this route as a Trans-European Network line or TEN line. In order to...


Faster construction with precast elements – Railway bridge near Steinfurt

The rehabilitation of railway bridges is generally focusing on one central objective: In order to reduce disruptions of the rail traffic to a minimum, the line closures, during which the rail traffic...

Issue 2016-01 Kleihues

Underpass realized with just one track possession

The narrow underpass in Östingstraße had long been a thorn in the flesh of the authorities of the city of Hamm. In the absence of a separate path, pedestrians and cyclists were exposed to great...

Issue 2018-05 Kleihues

Groningen decides on precast concrete bicycle tunnels

The local designation Aanpak Ring Zuid stands for a gigantic traffic project of great importance to the capital of the Province of Groningen in the Netherlands. Major volumes of traffic that...