The Breitspurbahn (German pronunciation: [braɪtʃpuːrbaːn], translation: broad-gauge railway) was a planned broad-gauge railroad, a personal pet project of Adolf Hitler during the Third Reich of Germany, supposed to run on 3 meter gauge track with double-storey coaches between major cities of Grossdeutschland, Hitler's expanded Germany.
Since reparations due after World War I had to be paid, Deutsche Reichsbahn, Germany's railway company lacked money for appropriate expansion and sufficient maintenance of their track network and rolling stock. After the Machtergreifung (seizure of power) of Hitler and his Party NSDAP, plans for war were laid out and secret preparations started. One of the preparation objectives was to modernize the railway network and increase transport capacity.
Hitler enthusiastically embraced a suggestion from Fritz Todt to built a new high-capacity Reichsspurbahn (Imperial Gauge Railway) with notably increased gauge, and made this one of his favorite pet projects. Objections from railway experts - who foresaw difficulties in introducing an incompatible gauge (and proposed 4-track standard gauge lines instead) and couldn't imagine any use for the vast transport capacity of such a railway - were ignored, and Hitler personally ordered the Breitspurbahn to be built with initial lines between Hamburg, Berlin, Nuremberg, Munich and Linz.
The Breitspurbahn would have had a track width of 3 meters (almost 10 feet), over double the width of the common standard gauge track, and three times the width of narrow gauge or meter gauge track. Planning called for a ballastless track (much as was developed 40 years later for German high speed lines) which consisted of two parallel steel-concrete walls embedded in the ground with the rails fixed on top, with an elastic material between rail and concrete. Without railroad ties this would also have formed an ideal road for maintenance and military purposes.
- Die Breitspurbahn. by Anton Joachimsthaler. Herbig, 1996. ISBN 3-7766-1352-1
- Reichsspurbahn.de Pictures of the "Breitspurbahn"