You are here

Project Nordbahntrasse Wuppertal

Foot and bike Path developed and build as result of cooperation of city administration and citizen’s initiative

Information board Nordbahntrasse
Information board Nordbahntrasse © Rolf Dellenbusch

1. Initial situation, project idea and objectives

The percentage of cycling traffic within the modal split in Wuppertal was only 1% in 2000. In 1979, the city administration developed a first cycle traffic concept and from 1980onwards they pushed the establishment and expansion of a cycle traffic infrastructure. In 1999, the railway line connecting Düsseldorf and Wuppertal to Dortmund, 73km in length, was closed down.

A route of around 23 km of disused railways and trails spreads along the Wuppertal urban area. The special feature of these sections is their large number of artificial structures such as bridges and tunnels due to topography. In Wuppertal are seven tunnels with a total length of more than 2 km, 23 bridges and viaducts and over 200 support retaining structures. In October 2005, the  traffic planning department was contacted by the initiators of the “Wuppertal Movement” (Wuppertalbewegung e.V.), a citizen’s initiative. They promoted their idea of putting the old railway tracks to new use. The Wuppertalbewegung e.V. was founded in 2006 by 21 citizens. Today, The association counts 1,300 members. The primary goal of the association is to help shape the future of the city of Wuppertal by means of voluntary and civic engagement and to promote projects that create immediate, practical and sustainable benefits.

Their distinctive feature was the professional quality of the members, consisting of architects, engineers and media professionals, who were able to adress the public quickly and skillfully. In May 2006 the association presented a feasibility study (cf. Wuppertalbewegung, 2006) on the implementation of the project and the city council decided to support the proposed approach immediately. "Nordbahntrasse" was chosen as a concise project description in the name of the "Wuppertal Nordbahn" association, which was founded in 1991 by the ProBahn association.

2. Project implementation

Construction began in 2010. A plan approval was not carried out for reasons of time. Around 13 kilometers of asphalt were developed and a pavement of 2 m width was paved on a length of 8.4 km in the inner city area. Further, about 7 km in the less frequented outdoor areas, where the route partly passes through landscape and nature protection areas, were 3-3.5 m wide asphalted. About 3.4 km runs over existing roads and paths. The renovation of the more than 135-year-old engineering structures was largely carried out in the years 2013/14. A total of 19 bridges, four large viaducts, as well as six tunnels with a total length of 2,005 m were worked on.

The work on the tunnel renovation was intensively accompanied by an ecological construction supervision as well as by the Lower Landscape Agency. Through appropriate measures, it has been possible to ensure that all tracing tunnels can be used almost without restriction around the clock and throughout the year.

Most of the roughly 50 public entrances could be implemented on existing roads and paths on the ground level with disabled access, only a few of them have only stairs with bicycle sliding rails. At the connecting points on the existing roads, walkway extensions have been made so that vehicle traffic can better recognise the users coming from the route, prevent parking in front of the entrances, and result in walking shorter crossings of the adjacent roads. Also the creation of resting areas with benches, bicycle racks and waste containers was an important project component.

Under the direction of the Municipal Historical Center, an information system was developed on the history of the track field. On 102 panels at 52 locations along the route are brief information texts and historical photos of interesting buildings. Thus, not only the railway history, but also the urban development in the course area is made clear. A total of 525 LED luminaires were installed, as well as nine lighting installations at bridges, tunnel portals, walls and former platform roofs. A different light color for the staging was selected for each tunnel. A total of about 16 km of the track are illuminated. A 7 m high luminaire was installed every 50 m along the route.

In order to ensure safety on the route, a concept for the prevention of intimidating spaces was developed and implemented together with the fire brigade, the police and the administrative authorities.

3. Conclusion and outlook

With the realisation of the Nordbahntrasse, Wuppertal has made a decisive step towards a cycling and walking friendly city and the promotion of active mobility, which has been particularly supported in NRW for several years. Since the completion of the Nordbahntrasse, the proportion of cyclists has increased significantly and visibly in all seasons. On the basis of counts carried out in May 2015, a study predicts an enormous increase in the number of users for the route, as it is possible for the first time to offer a cycle route which is topographically pleasurable, offers cycling infrastructure off the main car traffic routes with attractive connections to the surroundings of the city. In counting, a daily maximum of 1,000 bicycles / h was determined in May 2015. The extension of the route was the decisive impulse to establish the bicycle as a means of transportation even in a hilly city. In addition, many one-way streets were opened for cyclists in both directions and further measures were taken to improve cycling on roads.

Both the Nordbahntrasse project as well as the Wuppertalbewegung association and the city of Wuppertal have now received numerous awards for project implementation and promotion of cycling. In 2015 the Nordbahntrasse received the German Bicycle Award and the first prize at the European Greenway Award. The city of Wuppertal has also been awarded the ADFC Bicycle Climate Test 2014 as newcomer of the year.


32 000 000 €




Project term

On-going since: 
January 2006
Completed on: 
December 2015

Public relation and documents

  • Bergische Entwicklungsagentur (2007): Vereinbarung zur Vervollständigung des Trassennetzes und Vermarktung des Bergischen Trassenverbundes
  • econex verkehrsconsult (2015): Nordbahntrasse Wuppertal: Rund 90 Millionen Nutzer in 30 Jahren
  • HHS (2003): Mobilität in Wuppertal 2002
  • Krause, Juliane - rat+tat (2010): Expertise - Antragsqualifizierung zum Thema Gender Mainstreaming (Querschnittsziel Gender Mainstreaming)
  • Mark, Schewe & Partner (2007): Bergischer Trassenverbund mit Rheinischer Strecke – Potentialanalyse – Marketingkonzept
  • Wichernhaus Wuppertal gGmbH (2000): Die Nordbahntrasse – Wuppertaler Arbeitslose gestalten ihre Stadt
  • Wichernhaus Wuppertal gGmbH (2015): Die Wichernkapelle – Von Wuppertaler Arbeitslosen gebaut
  • Wuppertalbewegung (2006): Machbarkeitsstudie für einen Fuß- und Radweg auf der Nordbahntrasse
  • Projekt: Schaffung eines Fuß- und Radwegs durch Bürgerengagement


Ansprechpartner auf Projektebene: 

Dipl.-Ing. Rainer Widmann
Städtischer Projektleiter (bis Juni 2015)
Waldhof 18a
42283 Wuppertal
Telefon: 01707634096

Dr. Carsten Gerhardt
Wuppertalbewegung e.V.
1. Vorsitzender
Friesenstr. 32a
42107 Wuppertal
Telefon: 0202 447633

Kommunale Ansprechpartner: 

Beigeordneter Frank Meyer
Stadt Wuppertal
Leiter des Geschäftsbereiches 1: Stadtentwicklung, Bauen, Verkehr, Umwelt
Johannes-Rau-Platz 1
42275 Wuppertal

Date (Text as of…)
25. February 2016
Dipl.-Ing. Rainer Widmann
NRVP action fields
North Rhine-Westphalia