In the geographical centre of Germany: Erfurt

What has Erfurt won and what has Frankfurt am Main lost?

And that is exactly what happened with German reunification.

The geographical centre of Germany is now in Niederdorla in Thuringia and no longer in Herbstein in Hesse. There is no uniform procedure for determining these points. The most common method is probably to determine the centre of an area bounded by latitude and longitude.

Here are a few key data: 

Geographical center old BRD: Herbstein

  • Distance from Frankfurt:    68 km 
  • Distance from Erfurt:         124 km

Geographical centre BRD: Niederdorla

  • Distance from Frankfurt:   170 km
  • Distance from Erfurt:           43 km

As a result, Erfurt-Weimar airport is now the closest to the current geographical centre of Germany. Before reunification, this was Frankfurt.

After reunification, the logistics industry quickly adapted to this development with new logistics centers northeast of the Kirchheim triangle along the A4 and A7 motorways. It is the Who's Who of the industry, e.g. Amazon, DHL or even Hermes. But Hessen is on the winning side here as well. The analysis "Logistics Location Hesse" (Hessian Ministry of Economics, 2007), on p. 19, shows an increase of 8 % in the number of people employed in logistics in Northern Hesse between 1999 and 2005. In the same period, this figure fell by 5 % in southern Hesse. 

Kassel and Erfurt are the closest airports to these logistics centers and compete with each other. Erfurt is ahead in terms of accessibility in terms of time, which is mainly due to the airport's direct motorway connection. This is a competitive advantage for Erfurt-Weimar airport with regard to air freight and global supply chains that should not be underestimated. Air freight defies Corona due to stable market development.

A wise decision – The ICE junction Erfurt – In the Heart of Germany

Just like the logistics service providers, German Rail has also clearly recognised Erfurt's locational advantage. 

Due to its central location in Central Europe, Erfurt is an important part of the European infrastructure master plan and the European high-speed rail network. The Nuremberg-Erfurt-Leipzig/Halle-Berlin high-performance line (German Unity Transport Project No. 8) operated by Deutsche Bahn serves both passenger and freight traffic. It is integrated into the future trans-European transport network (TEN project No. 1, Berlin-Palermo) as the most easterly north-south axis in Germany, which continues northwards as far as Sweden.

 Within Germany there is the catchy formula :

  • In 2 hours from Erfurt to Munich (new route)
  • In 2 hours from Erfurt to Berlin (new route)
  • In 2 hours from Erfurt to Frankfurt (via an already existing route)

And this is still missing, but very innovative and important:

  • In just under 2 hours from Erfurt to Hamburg; this would take the ICE from Hamburg to Munich in less than 4 hours. Today, the shortest journey time is a little more than 5 ½ hours
  • An ICE through station at Erfurt-Weimar airport

These would be two development steps to further strengthen the most important ICE intersection in Germany. Beyond its national importance, the rail connection of Erfurt-Weimar Airport is also essential for intermodal networking of the Saxonian and Thuringian airports Leipzig, Dresden and Erfurt-Weimar.

Intermodal central German axes

Intermodal networking will enhance the value of the Central German Airports in a more sustainable way. This would initially involve an axis from Erfurt-Weimar Airport via Leipzig-Halle to Dresden Airport. This axis should be supplemented by another axis from "Magdeburg Hbf Airport" to Leipzig-Halle Airport. 


It was to be a fast (ICE) rail connection with corresponding comfort for air travellers, perhaps even with an "Aviation Class" including luggage service. With a view to costs and synergies, the Aviation Product of the trains should be a co-product on trains that serve the regional fast traffic anyway. 


This networking of the airports creates flexibility with regard to the division of labour between the airports, with the aim of improving the overall range of flights available to the three central German states. It also strengthens the negotiating position vis-à-vis the airlines, as higher capacity utilization can be achieved through higher, consolidated demand. 


Now it is simply a matter of making even more out of Germany's geographical centre, its air traffic potential and intermodal networking.

shair - Wolfgang Hildebrand (C)  01.08.2020