German rail connection to Fehmarn Fixed Link delayed
22-01-2015Infrastructure
It is now clear that the German connecting rail tracks will be delayed compared to the original schedule. In a letter to the Danish Minister of Transport, Magnus Heunicke, his German collegue, Minister Alexander Dobrindt, admits that the project design and the construction of an electrified double tracked rail connection will not be ready for the planned opening of the tunnel. Danish Minister of Transport has confirmed this today in a brief to the Danish Transport Committee.

The German rail connections to and from the Fehmarn Fixed Link will be delayed from Bad Schwartau near Lübeck and to the Fehmarn Fixed Link. The delay is in regard to the original plans - not, as there was some confusion about - the stipulations of the Sate Treaty.  In the State Treaty Germany commits to having the German side of the infrastructure ready 7 years after to opening of the tunnel at the latest. Now it seems that an electrified German double track will be ready in 2024. The tunnel itself is planned to open in 2021/2022.

Briefing of the DanishTransport Committee

The Danish Minister of Transport confirmed the news of the delay today in a briefing of the Danish Transport Committee:

- The new plan of the extension of the tracks between Puttgarden and Bad Schwartau to be double tracks entails completely new tracks on parts of the line whereas the original plan was to extend the existing track. The new plan presumably means that the existing track is not to be electrified on the stretches that are to be built anew. It is therefore probable that the overall electrification of the German rail tracks will be delayed by 3 years, the Minister writes and continues:

 - As my briefing of December 16th shows, a new plan for the German extension was to be ready by the end of December 2014. The Federal Minister of Transportation has explained that this plan has been delayed and is now not to be expected until January 2015.

 

STRING: Positive all the same

Chairman of the STRING Network, Henrik Appel, has commented on the current development:

 - In several ways this is still a positive message: Firstly, the total German hinterland connection will be completed 2-3 years after the opening of the tunnel - not seven years after, as the State Treaty states. Secondly, the German Federal Minister of Transportation has, for the very first time, formulated both a solution and a time frame. This means that we will have a newly established rail track on most of the line. It also means a modern rail track between Copenhagen and Hamburg resulting in a reduced travel time of 2 ½ hours. This is crucial for gaining the full economic potential of the new infrastructure. In fact, this is indeed promising for growth and employment along the whole corridor. And so this solution is worth waiting for - it seems to be the right solution, Henrik Appel emphasizes.

New track lines

According to Federal Minister of Transportation Alexander Dobrindt, the delay is due to wishes of a new track line stated by the State of Schleswig-Holstein. Due to local opposition from citizen's movements and environmental organisations, the wish is to avoid an extension on the existing lines near the sea side towns on the coast.

Schleswig-Holstein has suggested a new electrified double track from Bad Schwartau to the tunnel running parallel to the existing A1 motorway. Such a project demands more time for revised public planning approval processes and new feasibility tests, according to the Federal Minister of Transportation. The Minister states that he will put pressure on DB Netz (the German developer) to speed up the process and to prioritize the work

Bottleneck at Fehmarnsund

Furthermore Dobrindt is of the opinion that the delay is also due to the ongoing discussion of the Fehmarnsund Bridge; the existing bridge being too small and worn and is a bottleneck for both rail and road. This means there is a need for an alternative connection across the Fehmarnsund, and this is primarily a decision of the State of Schleswig-Holstein. As of now, there is no decision as to what is to be built (bridge, tunnel or combination) as there is no decision regarding financing.

The Danish Minister of Transport plans to meet his German colleague in February.