Main Railway

The Main Railway (German: Mainbahn, pronounced 'mine barn') is a 37.5 km-long double-track electrified railway line, which runs on the south side of the Main River from Mainz to Frankfurt central station.

Main Railway
Native nameMainbahn
OwnerDeutsche Bahn
Line number
  • 3520 (Mainz–Frankfurt Hbf)
  • 3650 (Frankfurt Stadion–Frankfurt Süd)
  • 3538 (drittes Gl. Gustavsburg–Bischofsheim)
LocaleRhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Germany
TerminiMainz Hbf
Frankfurt (Main) Hbf
TypeHeavy rail, Passenger/freight rail
Regional rail, Commuter rail
Intercity rail
Route number471, 645.8, 645.9
Operator(s)DB Regio, Rhein-Main S-Bahn
Opened3 January 1863
Line length37.5 km (23.3 mi)
Number of tracksDouble track
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification15 kV/16.7 Hz AC overhead catenary
Operating speed160 km/h (99 mph)
Route map

From Mainz harbour
Mainz Hbf
Mainz railway tunnel north (northbound)
New Mainz tunnel (southbound)
Mainz railway tunnel south (northbound)
Mainz Römisches Theater
Former line from Mainz Hauptbahnhof
Former train ferry
Mainz-Gustavsburg harbour siding
Rhine-Main Railway to Darmstadt
Mainz-Bischofsheim Ültg II junction
Raunheim Mönchwald junction
Connecting curve to HSL to Frankfurt
Raunheim Caltex & Ticona siding
Raunheim Brunnenschneise junction
Connecting curve from HSL to Cologne
Industrial sidings
Frankfurt Airport loop S8S9
Frankfurt-Schwanheim Fernbahn junction
Mannheim–Frankfurt railway
to Riedstadt-Goddelau S7
Frankfurt (Main) Stadion
bypass line via Forsthaus (see below)
connecting line from Forsthaus
Old Niederräd bridge / new Niederräd bridge
Frankfurt-Niederrad Brücke
Main-Lahn Railway
from Frankfurt-Höchst S1S2
line from Frankfurt-Griesheim
Frankfurt (Main) Gutleuthof (junction)
Taunus Railway from Frankfurt-Höchst
Homburg embankment
from Mainzer Landstraße
Frankfurt outer yard
to Galluswarte
Main-Weser bridge – Galluswarte line
Frankfurt (Main) Hoch/Tief
(station part)
to the City Tunnel S1S2S8S9
former line from Peace Bridge (see below)
Frankfurt (Main) Hbf
(since 1888) S7
Frankfurt western stations
(until 1888)
Originally part of route (now bypass line)
line from Mainz (see above)
Frankfurt am Main Stadion
current line via Frankfurt-Niederrad
(see above)
Forsthaus (Frankfurt)
(junction, former station)
connecting curve to Darmstadt, Frankfurt
current line to Main-Neckar Bridge
(see above)
former Lokalbahn, Main-Neckar Railway
Frankfurt South
Peace Bridge (old Main-Neckar Bridge)
former route of the Main-Neckar railway
current bridge (see above)
Frankfurt (Main) Hbf
(since 1888) S7
Frankfurt (Main) Hbf underground
(since 1978)
S3S4S5S6 and S1S2S8S9
Frankfurt western stations
(until 1888)
Source: German railway atlas[2]


Immediately after the opening of the Rhine-Main Railway from Mainz to Aschaffenburg by the Hessian Ludwig Railway Company in 1858, it was anxious to also own a connection to Frankfurt. Therefore, it built the new line from a branch off the Rhine-Main line at Bischofsheim along the left (southern) bank of the Main to Frankfurt. It thereby put itself into competition with the parallel Taunus Railway, which runs on the right bank of the Main. The concession for building and operating the line was awarded by Grand Duchy of Hesse on 15 August 1861 and by the senate of the Free City of Frankfurt on 17 January 1862.

The building of the line took only one and a half years. A test run took place on 20 December 1862 and it was opened on 3 January 1863. The line originally ran through the former Forsthaus station and today's Friedensbrücke (Peace Bridge, now a road bridge) in Frankfurt across the Main to the former Main-Neckar station. This entry was replaced on 16 January 1882 by the current alignment through Goldstein station (later: Frankfurt-Sportfeld, now: Frankfurt (Main) Stadion), Niederrad station and the Niederräder Main bridge.

On 1 February 1897, it along with the rest of the Hessian Ludwigs railway became part of the Prussian-Hessian Railway Company. Electrification of the line was completed on 15 December 1958.

On 2 February 1990, one of the worst train accidents in the Rhine-Main area occurred near Rüsselsheim when a train from Frankfurt collided with one from Wiesbaden and derailed, killing 17 people and injuring over 80, some seriously.

Since 1999 the Raunheim Mönchwald–Raunheim Mönchhof connecting curve has provided a connection with the Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line, allowing long-distance trains to and from on the Left Rhine line to use the Frankfurt Airport long-distance station.


The following structures are original and those marked are listed monuments:

Location Building Year km Monument
Bischofsheim Station building 1958 08.25 *
Rüsselsheim Linesmen house 1863 12.80 *
Raunheim Station building 1863 15.87 *
Raunheim Linesmen house 1863 17.39 *
Kelsterbach Rail bridge 1863 21.75
Kelsterbach Linesmen house 1863 23.60 *
Kelsterbach Station building 1863 23.81 *
Stadion Station building 1879 31.37 *
Niederrad Station building 1882 33.19 *
Sachsenhausen Rail bridge 1864 34.47


The Main Railway is used by long-distance and local passenger services as well as freight traffic,

Long distanceEdit

ICE 1 on the connecting curve from the Main Railway in Frankfurt-Louisa station

The line is used by "individual services" (not at regular intervals through the day) of ICE lines 20, 31, 50 and 91 as well as IC line 31.

The long-distance services depart from Mainz Hauptbahnhof, passing through Raunheim Mönchwald junction via the connecting line to the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed railway to Frankfurt Airport long-distance station.

From here trains run non-stop to Frankfurt am Main Stadion station and via the current route to Frankfurt South station or via the current route to Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof. A few trains use the Mannheim–Frankfurt railway to Mannheim Hauptbahnhof.

Local servicesEdit

S8 service in Mainz-Bischofsheim station running towards Hanau Hbf

Regional and Rhine-Main S-Bahn services run between Kelsterbach station and Frankfurt-Schwanheim Fernbahn junction over the Airport loop.

Line Route Frequency
RE 55 Frankfurt Airport regional Frankfurt South Offenbach – Hanau – Aschaffenburg Individual services
RB 75 Wiesbaden – Mainz – Mainz-Bischofsheim – Darmstadt 60 min
RE 2/3 Koblenz or Saarbrücken – Mainz – Mainz-Bischofsheim – Frankfurt Airport regional – Frankfurt (Main) Hbf 60 min
  Wiesbaden – Mainz – Mainz-Bischofsheim – Kelsterbach – Frankfurt Airport regional – Frankfurt (Main) Hbf (underground) Frankfurt City Tunnel – Offenbach City Tunnel – Hanau 30 min
  Wiesbaden – Mainz-Kastel – Mainz-Bischofsheim – Kelsterbach – Frankfurt Airport regional – Frankfurt (Main) Hbf (underground) – Frankfurt City Tunnel – Offenbach City Tunnel – Hanau 30 min


  1. ^ Passenger services had stopped serving the halt of Schwanheim by 15 November 1901 ("Sammlung der herausgegebenen Amtsblätter" (in German). 5 (53). Eisenbahndirektion Mainz. 9 November 1901: 372. Cite journal requires |journal= (help), item 508)
  2. ^ Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland (German railway atlas). Schweers + Wall. 2009. pp. 151–53. ISBN 978-3-89494-139-0.


  • Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Hessen, ed. (2005). Eisenbahn in Hessen. Eisenbahnenbauten- und strecken 1839–1939 (in German). 2.1 (1 ed.). Stuttgart: Theiss Verlag. pp. 302ff (line 018). ISBN 3-8062-1917-6.