I asked whether people would be interested in more medium-at-best-quality aerial photography of railroads, and the answer was inconclusive. Three favs, zero comments, that's not particularly good, but is it bad? Especially now when so many of the people who used to be active here aren't anymore? Hell if I know. So I'll just continue posting them when I feel like it unless someone tells me to stop.
For orientation: This picture is taken over Regensburg, Germany, and is looking towards the south-west, and down obviously. The central feature here is the big triangle that is the central point of all railroading in Regensburg. It brings together the main directions.
First, on the left of the picture, is the railway line to the south-east. A few kilometers down the line, it splits into one that loosely follows the Danube river to Passau and eventually Vienna; and a line to the south to Munich. Immediately to the left of the picture is Regensburg's freight yard (named "Regensburg Ost"), including a big intermodal facility. Among other things, this freight yard is the origin of trains that travel via the Trans-Siberian railway to China. Currently two such trains are run each week on behalf of BMW, carrying car body components to Shenzhen, China. (In reality, this isn't one continuous train; the containers are loaded to wide-gauge flat cars at the border to Belarus, and again to normal-gauge flat cars at the border to China. Apparently that's cheaper than exchanging the bogies or using gauge-changing wheel sets. But in terms of logistics it's still considered one unit.)
Departing towards the bottom, bottom left is the line North, to Hof. It follows the river Regen almost precisely straight north, but on a local level it meanders quite a lot. This line also provides access to
the Czech Republic
Czechia, with some trains running to Prague. Unlike the other mainlines, it is not electrified. Currently there are hopes to have electrification in place by 2022; until then, it's home to some big diesel locomotives. Branching off from that, to the bottom left, is a single track that accesses Regensburg's harbor. This harbor is the biggest in all of Bavaria. Of course Bavaria is completely landlocked, so this isn't saying that much, but it's still a fairly notable operation. The tracks in the harbor are also used as the loading point for "rolling highway" trains, carrying semi trucks and drivers over the alps to Italy.
Finally, towards the top-right, there's the line to the central station. It is technically a lot of lines next to each other; specifically the two tracks to the south-east, the two (unnelectrified) to the north, and some trackage associated with the Agilis maintenance depot that is actually present on this image, but not really well discernible due to haze and hiding behind a historic gas holder. Beyond the central station, the line continues a bit before eventually splitting into one towards Nuremberg (north-west) and one to Ingolstadt (south-west). Of these two, Nuremberg is by far the more interesting city.
The connections between these three lines have vastly differing importance, as can be seen if you look closely. The connection from the central station to the North is used primarily by passenger trains. It also sees those freight trains that don't want to go to the central freight yard.
The connection from the freight yard to the north is used exclusively by freight trains. It would make sense for passenger trains in theory, specifically the Munich-Prague ones, but that would mean passing by the central station and avoiding one of the busiest stations in east Bavaria. Nobody is willing to do that. Also, right now, those trains have to switch from electric to diesel locomotive anyway, so the effort of turning around in Regensburg is not that important.
Finally, the main east-west connector, from the central station to the freight yard, is heavily used. There are the ICE trains to Vienna, regional trains, all sorts of freight trains (both ones to Regensburg and many that are just passing through) and so on. Branching off from it is also a rail yard that is used apparently only to store old freight cars. You can see some of them if you look closely.
In the middle of it all, there's… pretty much nothing. But apparently there's construction going on. I have no idea what they're building there or when it will be done. This doesn't look like a prime location for residential housing, but Regensburg is currently sort of a boom town with very high demand for apartments, so I'm sure even in a place like this, they'd find someone who'd be willing to live there (for example, I totally would, so I could watch the trains).
Bonus content for those with eagle eyes: The red building in the foreground is a supermarket. The red building in the rear is Regensburg's main soccer stadium, the "Continental Arena" (named after the automotive supplier who has a big presence in the city).