Military engineers' railway bridges

I wasn't specific about how quickly a railway bridge could be replaced during wartime when I wrote about pontoon bridges or about the Baltic Invasion scenario. The reason was that researching this topic wasn't very fruitful.

Now I learned why; apparently,

"H-17.  The  MAN SE railway bridge is a panel bridge that is  similar to the Bailey bridge but is much stronger. It has two configurations: upper deck and lower deck. With the upper deck configuration, it can span gaps up to 40.95 meters; with the lower deck up to 50.4 meters. It is designed to withstand the crossing of locomotives with 30 tons per axle and wagons with 20 tons per axle. Installation time is 20 to 30 hours with a 50-man crew and two cranes. This bridge requires a prepared abutment (existing railway abutments or concrete abutment). Spain and Italy are the only NATO countries with  existing military railway bridges in their inventory."
source: FM 3-90.12/MCWP 3-17.1  (FM 90-13), page H-17, (July 2008)

Well, it's difficult to find info if there's hardly anything in existence. Thus this is not a blog article about military engineers' railway bridges as much as about them not having the same.

There is an important Oder bridge at the border between Germany and Poland. I suppose the central span over the water (104 m long) could be taken down by two well-aimed cruise missile hits. The MAN SE railway bridge would be less than half as long as needed.

Maybe there's a way to realise a railway pontoon bridge, but you'd need to lay the rail lines to and from it as well, and would still suffer from the vulnerability of the mostly unguarded rail lines and their signal systems.

This marginal capability to reconnect railway lines of communication reflects the reduced reliance of armed forces on railway transportation; we can make do with roads nowadays, though particularly tank transporter semi-trailers are in rather short supply for this.



  1. Replacement of railway bridge under war conditions can be actually almost impossible.

    But we have another pattern here. Russia now needn`t to attack bridges. Primarily, she attacks minds of the voter.

    In Czech Rep. we got dozens of faked "independent" websites linked to two or three main sources of Russian agitprop (Voice of Russia, Sputnik, RT) back in 2013, before our presidential elections. These secondary webs were created "out of nothing" in just a few months and attracted much attention. Its actually application of "papyrus society" model published in article by Military Review back in 2007. They attack information traffic (and opinion making), not military traffic.

    In the U.S. they now got more than 400 fake news websites linked to Russian sources. Most of them were founded just few months prior 8th November.

    Russians don`t have to attack bridges. They just need to have Moscow-friendly Bundeskanzler in Berlin elected, not willing to stand by any alliances in the first place.

    It`s not only about defense. Freedom is also very important. And if people are so dumb and slavish, if they want to depend on "independent" pro-Russian "news" despising "Luegenpresse" as much as Czechs or Americans, every "defense" effort is doomed, because collective will to defend is broken.

    1. The Soviet Union didn't succeed with it in four decades of Cold War, and I suppose the biggest effect the Russian government can achieve with such action is a similar (already observable) immune system reaction in the West.
      Besides, so far the AfD is rather cementing Merkel's chancellorship than jeopardizing it. All possible coalitions without CDU/CSU are lagging by about 10%. Right now only conservative-liberal and conservative-social democrats appear to be possible constellations.