Infrastructure sets the scene for societal developments
29-04-2015Infrastructure

The potentials of the upcoming Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link are underrated. Its dynamic effects are largely unaccounted for by research calculations, says Professor of Geography, Christian Wichmann Matthiesen, in a new piece on the Fehmarn Belt project.

Infrastructure sets the scene for societal development - especially when it comes to the development of functional, cross-border city regions with vast potential for new specializations.

A new piece by Christian Wichmann Matthiesen, Professor of Geography at Copenhagen University, now underlines the importance of maximizing the opportunities the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link will bring.

- The Öresund region and the North-German area jointly has between 8 to 10 million inhabitants, which means that the creation of better links and connections between the two regions is highly realistic.  A reduction in the travel times between Copenhagen- Malmö and Hamburg-Lübeck-Kiel offers huge opportunities in the renewal and strengthening of scientific and business cooperation, benefits from the new economies of scale, and securing the introduction of new specializations. That is the clear message from Christian Wichmann Matthiesen to the Femern A/S newsletter, April 22nd.

Numbers aren't everything
Such dynamic effects are pretty much unaccounted for by the economic analysis undertaken by traffic researchers. Similarly, the Fehmarn prognosis does not account for much new traffic. It shows the amount of traffic that will be transferred from other routes, and what market share of the future growing traffic will belong to the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, argues the professor.

- Most likely, the prognosis underestimates the potential. Businesses booming, new opportunities arising from being able to live in one city and work in another, new cooperation's creating new knowledge and new employment - these are just some of the benefits we saw from the Storebælt bridge and the Öresund bridge. Being able to cross the Fehmarn Belt in under 10 minutes makes me very confident that these are benefits that we will also see as a result from this Fixed Link, says Wichmann, who is also the Chair of the STRING Advisory Board.

 - This is about competitiveness, which means that businesses are in the driving seat. Their terms and conditions are, rightly so, in focus.  Success will be achieved by the demand for the individual city or regions offerings, such as businesses, institutions, universities, cultural choices and terminals - along with the costs of using these. The Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link will open up a brand new market through increased accessibility, says the professor.

New European hub
The tunnel under the Fehmarn Belt will, together with the land upgrades on both sides of the Fixed Link, strengthen the most important hub for the Nordics - where European rail and road links meet the Scandinavian ones. The region hosts a range of important ports as well as Kastup, the largest hub and international airport in the Nordics. The airport assures international accessibility to and from the area.

The Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link will connect Scandinavia and Northern Germany. It will however also tie Scandinavia closer together with the rest of Europe - meaning that Europe is becoming smaller whilst trade, competences and integration is growing.

- This is not much accounted for in any research - but it is hugely important to Denmark, Scandinavia and the whole of Europe, Wichmann Matthiesen stresses.

The aforementioned piece is a follow up by the government owned Femern A/S on the 2011 study entitled " Den faste Femern Bælt-forbindelse - Regionale Udviklingsperspektiver", published by Syddansk Universitetsforlag.

Please click HERE to read the whole piece