German railway resumes service to valley devastated by flood

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s national railway on Monday resumed train service to a western valley that was devastated by flooding in mid-July following extensive repair work.

The narrow Ahr valley, near Bonn, suffered the worst destruction in the July 14-15 floods which left more than 180 people dead in Germany and also claimed lives in neighboring Belgium. Heavy rainfall turned small streams into raging torrents, sweeping away houses, bridges and cars.

Railway operator Deutsche Bahn said that, starting Monday, two trains per hour are running each way between the valley’s main town of Ahrweiler and Remagen, on the Rhine river. A further section will be reopened in December, but Deutsche Bahn said it will take much longer to reopen the line as far as its terminus further upstream at Ahrbrueck — a stretch on which eight bridges will have to be replaced.

The company said it had to replace a kilometer (over half a mile) of rails, 5 kilometers (over 3 miles) of cables and 1,500 ties to get one track open again. It is still working to repair the second track.

The German government put in place a roughly 400 million-euro ($474 million) package of immediate aid for flood victims. In August, it agreed to provide 30 billion euros ($36 billion) in longer-term aid to help rebuild the affected regions.

On Friday, the local administration in Ahrweiler said that more than 300,000 metric tons (330,000 tons) of bulky waste have been recovered from the area since the floods — equivalent to 40 years’ worth of junk under normal circumstances.

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