The state was in the DDR from 1949 until reunification in 1990. The gentle rolling farm land was the front line during the ‘Cold War’. It has taken 24 years and billions of Euros to transform it into a modern state within the Federal Republic. Our exploration starts at Halle – a city that claims the oldest urban tram network in Germany – an important cross roads for rail traffic between the southeast (Dresden and the Czech Republic) the south (Bavaria and Austria) and all points north. South of Halle are two huge chemical ‘cities’- Buna Werke and Leuna Werke. Both owe their existence to local minerals: salt and brown coal, and until the end of WW2 owned by the infamous IG Farben. Since unification vast sums have been spent on modernising these complexes and the rail networks that support them. The Buna plant’s network is operated by MEG a JV between DB and VTG, while Leuna is operated by InfraLuna who are also responsible for other onsite services such as water. A huge variety of operators pick up trains at Großkorbetha yard south of the two plants. After RAILION, ITL (now owned by the French) seems the most frequent visitor. We look at towns to the south – including delightful Naumburg home of Germany’s smallest urban tramway- and Weißenfels. Leaving the electrified network we visit the industrial town of Leitz, where Südzucker prepare trains for dispatch from their high-tech bio-ethanol plant – fascinating stuff. RT 80 mins. Published September 2014. ©FHP 2014
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