Floating craftmanship in Oberhausen

Floating craftmanship in Oberhausen

Work is busily underway on the Emmerich–Oberhausen rail line to expand the capacity of the line and to free up the bottlenecks. The installation of a new rail bridge over the Rhine-Herne Canal in Oberhausen, which will complement the existing four bridges, is a significant milestone in the project.

The engineers at Wagenborg Engineering came up with an ingenious solution to install the entire bridge on the abutments.


They made optimal use of the knowledge and expertise that Royal Wagenborg possesses in the field of transporting ultra-heavy cargo over both land and water.

A 410-tonne colossus

The new rail bridge, a colossal structure that is more than 65 metres long and weighs over 410 tonnes, was constructed at a pre-assembly site adjacent to the canal and the existing rail bridges. Two sets of SPMTs were used to load the bridge in a single piece, then to manoeuvre it into the correct position on the abutment.


The front set of SPMTs placed one side of the bridge on a slide bearing that was installed on the abutment. The rear set of SPMTs were then used to manoeuvre the bridge over the slide bearing and towards the pontoon, on top of which was Wagenborg Nedlift’s new modular support system.

Inching and pinching

Now it was a matter of precisely depositing the front end of the bridge on the modular support system on the pontoon.


The specialists at the Wagenborg Towage sister company performed a secure ballast and winch operation for this purpose, which made it possible to precisely position the pontoon so that it could transport the front end of the bridge.

Some fine coordination

This high-precision operation was followed by a task that required some very fine coordination: using the rear SPMT set, which was positioned on the abutment, to slowly put the bridge in motion. In this way the pontoon was also set in motion and the bridge was transported across the canal in a carefully controlled manner.


The piloting skills of the water transport specialists were put to good use here. The pontoon had to be carefully manoeuvred over to the abutment on the opposite bank without straying from the designated course. With less than a metre between the side of the pontoon and the existing rail bridge, there was very little leeway!

Successful teamwork

This project proved once again that good planning and good preparation are half the battle. With fantastic teamwork on the part of the steel construction, heavy transport and water transport specialists, the whole operation went like clockwork – quite an accomplishment!

Watch the project pictures here!

Wagenborg & Schachtbau Nordhausen

The Oberhausen project is not the first time that the Schachtbau Nordhausen and Wagenborg Nedlift teams have demonstrated top performance on a very large scale. A few years ago the teams collaborated on the Bøkfjord project in Kirkenes, which involved placing a whole bridge over a fjord.

Main rail link in Europe

The Emmerich–Oberhausen rail line is an important link in the international passenger transport and cargo network. The route between Emmerich and Oberhausen forms a direct connection with the Dutch Betuwe Line in the north and the European freight corridor to the northern Italian city of Genoa in the south.


Due to the increase in cargo and passenger traffic in recent years, the Emmerich–Oberhausen line has reached maximum capacity. So Deutsche Bahn, the German rail operator, is carrying out a large-scale expansion project to increase the number of tracks and resolve various bottlenecks on the route.


Ausbaustrecke Emmerich–Oberhausen

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