Liebschwitz Viaduct to Be Demolished

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Photos taken during a bike tour in May 2010

Bridge Removal in connection with the Abandonment of the Railroad Line between Gera and Wünschendorf via Liebschwitz. Current route to be detoured through Gera-Zwötzen

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GERA (THURINGIA), GERMANY-  It spanned the White Elster River on a rail line dating back to 1875. A historic icon for an former East German city that had once thrived on the textile and mining industries. Now, after 124 years in service, the Liebschwitz Viaduct, located in the south of Gera at the streets of Zoitz and Salzstrasse is being taken down. The Baltimore petit deck truss with Warren truss and deck girder spans is 226 meters long and had a total of eleven spans. The main spans over the White Elster and Salzstrasse featured a curve, which because of its one track limit, trains had to cross at slow speeds. According to information from the local newspaper OTZ, based in Gera, the bridge was opened to traffic on 1 December, 1892, serving the line between the suburb of Liebschwitz and the village of Wünschendorf, located 10 kilometers to the south of Gera. The bridge used to be a two-track crossing before the Soviets forced the local government to dismantle one of the tracks as part of the reparation costs associated with World War II. This practice occurred often in the Soviet-occupied zone, which became East Germany (German Democratic Republic) and resulted in one-track lines in many parts of the country.  Thanks to little maintenance on the bridge, the structure, which had bolted and riveted connections, deteriorated bit-by-bit to a point where trains were traveling at a maximum speed of only 20 km/h by 2002.

 

By 2006, officials from the German Railways and the City of Gera were working on a plan to rehabilitate the bridge so that its lifespan would be expanded and it could better accomodate train servic between Gera and Plauen via Greiz. However, the cost of 10 million Euros ($12 million) to renovate the bridge proved to be too exorbitant. End result: rerouting the line through Gera-Zwötzen enroute to Wünschendorf, which included two-tracking theline, rehabilitating and reviving the Elster Crossing at the Zwötzen station, and abandoning the rail line, which includes decommisioning the stations Gera East and Gera Liebschwitz. The new route has just recently opened to traffic and officials at the German Railways just recently celebrated the decommissioning of the viaduct and the old line with vintage trains using them for the last time on 21 October. From December 14th onwards, all trains between Plauen and Gera will use the new route via Zwötzen. This includes Regional Express trains which will provide services to Hof, Saalfeld, Erfurt  and Leipzig from Gera, respectively. Beginning in 2017, the tracks along the Liebschwitz line will be ripped out, and the viaduct, with its 124-year history, will become history at the hands of the wrecking crew. There has been no interested parties who have stepped up to take the viaduct, yet given its location, lack of interest on the part of the locals and the German Railways’ track record with historic bridges, chances are likely the bridge will disappear from the scene quietly. And with that, a 140-year history with a small piece of history.

A map with the location of the bridge and the new detoured rail line can be found here:

Additional pics can be found here:

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Deck girder south approaches
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Main spans over the White Elster
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line. As part of the plan to two-track the line, this bridge will be reactivated.
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line. As part of the plan to two-track the line, this bridge will be reactivated.

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