17 February 2016

Rendsburg Transporter Bridge, Schleswig-Holstein

The Rendsburg High Bridge was the last of the three transporter bridges built in Germany: Osten opened in 1909 and remains in use, Kiel opened in 1910 but was demolished in 1923, and Rendsburg opened in 1913 and remains in use.

Designed by Friedrich Voss, construction began in 1911. The bridge was, and is, unique, in that it is properly a railway viaduct, carrying the Neumünster-Flensburg line over the Kiel Canal. From the central bridge (above) is slung a gondola such that the structure doubles as a transporter bridge.

Because the bridge carries a railway, a maximum incline of 1:150 was required. Accordingly, the whole structure is about 4.7 miles long, including the approach embankments. The trussed steel viaduct (first and last photos) boasts a total length of 8,156 feet, an incredible 1.5 miles.

The cantilevered central bridge is 966.5 feet long and has a main span of 459 feet. The towers are 223 feet high, and the bridge provides clearance above the canal water of 138 feet. A design quirk of the viaduct is that on the north side of the canal the 360-degree Rendsburg Loop carries the railway down to Rendsburg Station, at ground level.

The transporter bridge operates daily, making it one of just seven bridges worldwide still operating in transporter form. The journey between Osterrönfeld and Rendsburg takes just 90 seconds, and is repeated every quarter of an hour.

Regrettably, the gondola, which can carry four cars, but is largely used by pedestrians and cyclists, was in January 2016 struck by a cargo ship and badly damaged (above). At the time of writing, the transporter bridge was as a result not operating.

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