Archive for the ‘In English’ Category
The Nijmegen – Kleve rail line closed in 1991, leaving Kleve with an isolated terminal station. The restoration of the line via Groesbeek and Kranenburg was described earlier. A new rail tunnel in Kleve itself seems essential. Although the alignment is still available, it crosses a canal and main roads, and passes through a residential area. It also crosses the baroque park and gardens (Tiergarten), just west of the built-up area. The present surface alignment is not suitable for a frequent regional service, which would justify re-opening the line.
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A regional tram line Nijmegen – Kleve was also proposed here earlier. The proposals are not incompatible. The tram does not need the rail alignment – it can enter Kleve via the main road. Restoration of a rail link to Nijmegen would be essential for other routes, such as the proposed regional line Nijmegen – Kleve – Xanten – Wesel, or extending the proposed Münster – Kleve regional line to Nijmegen. A new western exit from Kleve station could be used by the proposed Kleve – Elten line.
At present Bahnhof Kleve is the terminus of the Linksniederrheinische Strecke, with a 30-minute Regional-Express service (Niers-Express). The station location is good – about 5 minutes walk from the main street through the historic centre.
West of the station is the Spoykanal, a short canal which links Kleve to the Rhine. It was opened in 1658, but stayed in use for centuries: the industrial zone of Kleve grew along its banks. The section near the station is not navigable, not even for a canoe. Nevertheless, the rail alignment crosses a main road (Bensdorpstrasse), and passes the buildings of the new Hochschule Rhein-Waal. The canal zone is being slowly redeveloped.
On the line of the old railway is a car park – the only place in Kleve where the tracks are gone. A restored surface line would be possible, but a tunnel is preferable for planning and environmental reasons.
The exact location of the former track: the red wagon is part of the draisine depot, left the Baumarkt, right the Hochschule buildings…
By shifting the station platforms eastward, there would be about 450 m available for a tunnel entrance, between the station and the canal bank. The main road would be raised by a few metres, to clear the descending rail line.
On the other side of the Spoykanal, the rail tracks are still there. They are used for recreational draisines, a tourist attraction, and the depot is next to the car park. On both sides there are industrial / commercial uses (Baumarkt), but no substantial buildings. The Hochschule Rhein-Waal buildings are clear of the line. There is therefore sufficient space for a double-track line, and for a tunnel construction site.
The tunnel can simply continue to the edge of Kleve, passing under the baroque gardens. There is also a double tunnel option: the line would surface after crossing the Flutstrasse, using the surface alignment across the Spyckstrasse. This is a residential street, but without through traffic: there is only a cycle path across the line. The ring road (Klever Ring) crosses the line on viaduct here, directly above the cycle path. A new cycle / pedestrian tunnel would avoid a level crossing.
There are environmental problems with frequent train services here. On the other hand, a tunnel under the ring road would require reconstruction of the viaduct, which is also disruptive.
If the line is on surface at Spyckstrasse, there is just enough space to drop into a shallow tunnel under the Tiergarten park/gardens. A few houses north of the line would need a new access road. A continuous tunnel would avoid that problem. But with or without a surface section, the line must pass the gardens in tunnel.
Railway crosses ornamental lake in Baroque gardens: in the distance is Elten, across the Rhine. Image by Sebastian Veelken under CC 3.0 licence…
What it looks like in the park…
A separate tunnel under the gardens would be about 1000-1200 m long. The continuous tunnel would be about 3000 m long, from Kleve Station to the edge of the gardens. Both variants would surface near the minor road Stiller Winkel.
The tunnel could be built slightly north side of the existing line: that would allow two curves to be improved. In theory the tunnel would allow construction of a second station in Kleve, at Spyckstrasse. However, the surrounding residential area is too small to justify it, and there is no housing further west.
The old railway north to the Rhine diverged on a sharp curve, between the station and the Spoykanal. The alignment is disappearing, as the canal zone is redeveloped. A new line to Elten would probably run west of Kleve. In that case, the junction would be outside the built-up area and the Tiergarten park, near the tunnel portal. Trains to Elten and Nijmegen would then share the tunnel through Kleve. Possible alignments between Kleve and the Rhine, are not considered further here.
The 29-km Nijmegen – Kleve railway closed in 1991, but there are official plans to re-open it. They are limited in scope: the most recent was for a low-frequency diesel ‘tram’ line. No funds have been allocated yet.
New and upgraded rail lines, in the region around Nijmegen and Kleve, were proposed here earlier. That context justifies a double-track electrified regional rail line between the two. The line might form part of a longer regional line to Xanten and Wesel, but this post is about the Nijmegen – Kleve section only.
The line on the ridge at Wolfsberg, and the former halt at Donsbrüggen…
A substantially upgraded line would require new infrastructure, with a new tunnel through Kleve (described separately). That would keep the line separate from the regional tram line proposed here earlier, which follows the road between Nijmegen and Kleve.
Geography and alignment
Nijmegen and Kleve lie on a ridge extending southeast from the Waal (a Rhine distributary). Nijmegen was built where the ridge meets the river, and Kleve on the east flank. The most logical route is along the east flank, through Kranenburg. That is the route of the main road, since Roman times. However, Nijmegen station was built on the west flank of the ridge. To avoid the highest part of the ridge (100 m elevation), the rail line therefore runs south, and then turns east towards Kranenburg.
A new railway along the east flank is technically feasible, but it would not connect to the existing station in Nijmegen. A restored service would therefore use the existing alignment, with local modifications. The alignment is available – most of the track is still in place. Some of it is used for recreational draisines.
From Nijmegen station, the alignment is first shared with the Maas valley line to Venlo. The line to Kleve originally had a third track, alongside the Maas valley line. The earlier proposals here for a high-speed rail line Nijmegen – Köln and upgrading of the Maas line, require four tracks on this section. The only station, at the university campus (Heyendaal), would also be reconstructed.
About 7 km from Nijmegen Station, the line to Kleve diverges, and turns east toward Groesbeek. The junction is in the forest south of Nijmegen: there is no junction station.
Kleve line, Maas valley line visible on the left, with signal post…
The line crosses the ridge in a cutting: there is more than enough room for extra tracks here. It then enters Groesbeek, on the east side of the ridge. The alignment is clear of buildings, but passes through the centre of the village (population 12 000). The former station area is now an open space: a new double-track line would be intrusive. However, the slight eastward slope would allow a subsurface station, without steep gradients on the line. A new underpass is also needed, on the east ring road.
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From Groesbeek, the line runs straight toward Kranenburg, at the edge of the Rhine floodplain. The terrain slopes gently from 30 to 15 m elevation. A sharp curve at the edge of the village can be improved, and the alignment through the station is straight. It is generally well separated from new housing, with enough room for an underpass at two level crossings. On the eastern edge, a few houses adjoin the line, and might need demolition for double-tracking. The station itself is 5 minutes walk from the small historic centre of Kranenburg (population 4000). That is a good reason to retain the alignment, although it would be possible to reroute it.
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The track east of Kranenburg is still fully maintained, for the draisines. The line first passes under the B504 road, and here two curves should be improved. Re-alignment can probably be combined with a new over-bridge for the main road, which crosses the line here. (The bridge would carry the regional tram line over the railway). The rail alignment is now very close to the exact edge of the Rhine floodplain.
The line then passes the villages of Nütterden and Donsbrüggen, which both had simple halts on the old line. Only one new station would be justified, on an upgraded regional line. Nütterden is bigger, with 3000 inhabitants, but a station at Donsbrüggen (1500 inhabitants) is better located, since most traffic will be toward Kleve.
There is a sharp curve just before the former Donsbrüggen halt: it is now surrounded by new housing, and can not easily be realigned. With a new station here, the curve is not a problem, since trains will stop anyway.
The level crossing could be replaced by new bridge, 300 m further east. At Nütterden and Donsbrüggen, most new housing is south of the main road, but a few houses are too close to the line, and would probably be demolished.
About 2 km from Donsbrüggen, the line passes the Tiergarten park, at the edge of Kleve. A double track line through these Baroque gardens is unacceptable, so the line would enter a tunnel, even though there is no adjacent housing. The tunnel in Kleve is described separately: it would end at Bahnhof Kleve, the current terminus of the Linksniederrheinische Strecke.
The present end of the line: Bahnhof Kleve in the background…
The line from Nijmegen was conceived as part of this ‘left-bank Lower Rhine route’ from Köln, via Kempen and Krefeld. That does not necessarily mean that trains will run on the old route, if the line to Nijmegen is restored. The proposed HSL Nijmegen – Köln would displace its original function, and there are alternative routes, which are not considered further here.
There are no major problems with reopening of the Nijmegen – Kleve line, at least outside Kleve. In the forest south of Nijmegen, much of the line is in cutting. Between Groesbeek and Kleve, many minor roads cross the line, but most level crossings can be eliminated. The villages of Groesbeek and Kranenburg have good station sites, and enough room for double track. Kleve itself is the only place, where a regional heavy-rail option will not fit the old alignment.
This Stralsund – Szczecin high-speed rail line (HSL) is part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction: New rail infrastructure north of Berlin.
The existing route Stralsund – Szczecin is via the junction station at Pasewalk, and the main new infrastructure is a northern bypass of that station. The bypass was proposed here earlier, as part of a Neubrandenburg – Szczecin HSL. It would connect upgraded lines east and west of Pasewalk.
Northern bypass of Pasewalk with HSL junction…
High-speed trains from Stralsund would use an additional curve onto the bypass. They would reach it via the existing Stralsund main line, already double-track and electrified. Upgrading from Stralsund to Greifswald was proposed here earlier, as part of a HSL Neubrandenburg – Stralsund. For high-speed services to Szczecin, the section Greifswald – Pasewalk would also be upgraded, as far as the bypass.
Trains on both high-speed routes would use an upgraded version of the existing line toward Szczecin, or possibly a parallel HSL. In both cases, the bypass would shorten the route, and avoid Pasewalk station.
Fast trains from Stralsund would stop at Greifswald: the other 20 intermediate stations would be served by regional trains. An extra stop at Anklam would contradict the aim of a fast service to Szczecin. Fast inter-regional services from Berlin, the successors to the current Regional-Express, could stop at both Anklam and Pasewalk.
These improvements to the rail infrastructure on the Island of Rügen are part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction, on new rail infrastructure north of Berlin.
Rügen is an island opposite the Baltic port of Stralsund (population 58 000). The city is linked to the island by a bridge and causeway, and is the main urban centre for the island. The largest settlement on the island itself is Bergen, with 14 000 inhabitants. Rügen has a total of 77 000 inhabitants.
Rügen: map by by Devil m25 under CC 2.0 licence…
The island is a major tourist destination, and its railways were built to bring tourists from the south. Rügen still has direct Intercity services, with an ICE to München and a Eurocity to Prague, but they are seasonal. Some have only one train per week. All serve Stralsund Hauptbahnhof, in most cases reversing there. There is an hourly regional service from Stralsund to Bergen.
The proposed high-speed lines (HSL) from Rostock to Stralsund and from Lübeck to Rostock would re-align services into Stralsund. Rügen is a logical terminus for these new services, which would not need to reverse at Stralsund. Services from Berlin via the proposed HSL through Neubrandenburg would terminate at Stralsund. The lines on Rügen itself can be upgraded to offer better connecting services.
Rügen has a double track electrified ‘main line’, from Stralsund to Bergen. It splits at Lietzow, beyond Bergen, into two single-track branches, also electrified. That is a lot for an island of that size, and tourism is not the only reason: under the DDR, the train ferry port at Mukran was built as a strategic link to the Soviet Union. It is still a major ferry port, with one passenger train service: the Berlin Night Express to Malmö, three times a week in summer.
Railways of Rügen: map by NordNordWest under CC 3.0 licence…
Sassnitz and Binz are both 51 km from Stralsund. Sassnitz has an hourly regional service from Stralsund, starting in Rostock. Binz has a two-hourly local service from Stralsund, and all the Intercity services terminate there. (Binz is in the southeastern corner of the island, where the main resorts are located).
There is also a non-electric 12-km branch, from Bergen to Putbus. It connects there with a narrow-gauge railway, the Rügensche Kleinbahn, a remnant of a larger system. Although it is part of the public transport network, it is a 750mm gauge steam railway, and extremely slow. With two changes of train, it takes 2h 19 minutes to get from Stralsund to the furthest village, Göhren (53 km by road).
Binz around 1900, public domain…
New bridge or tunnel
Any improvement to the rail lines on Rügen starts with the causeway and bridge from Stralsund, over the Strelasund. There are two channels, separated by the small island Dänholm. The shipping channel, with lifting bridge, is on the Stralsund side of Dänholm. There is insufficient space, for a tunnel to drop under the shipping channel, and then climb to the surface on Dänholm. Any tunnel would therefore cross both channels, and would be at least 5 km long, approximately following the existing rail alignment.
The old road/rail bridge, and new road bridge: image by Klugschnacker under CC 3.0 licence…
The best alternative for a tunnel is a new double-track lifting bridge, higher than the present version. The extra clearance would allow a reduction of the bridge opening times, since smaller boats can pass under it – although it could not match the 42m clearance of the new road bridge. Rügendamm Station would close, and east of Dänholm, the rail line on the causeway would be doubled.
The line speed on the island is relatively low. The regional trains take 51 minutes for the journey to Stralsund, with 9 intermediate stations. The Intercity trains from Binz stop only at Bergen, but still take 47-48 minutes. There are many curves which could be improved: except at Samtens, they are in open country. With moderate improvements, a journey time of under 45 minutes should be possible for the regional trains, and 35-40 for fast trains.
The east side of Rügen has three rail terminals, but no line along the coast. They could be linked by a new alignment between Sassnitz and Prora, which would also give the ferry terminal a regular passenger service.
The new line would diverge from the Binz branch, where it reaches the coast, and turn north via Neu-Mukran. It would cross the ferry port on viaduct, close to the passenger terminal and the ferry ramps. That requires a station on viaduct, but this is the easiest place to cross the port. (Further inland is a broad strip with freight yards and some industry).
To reach Sassnitz, the new line can turn inland and follow the road. At the business park at the edge of Sassnitz, it would turn 90 degrees, to join the existing line 1600 m outside the terminal station. This alignment allows a climb to the higher ground near the station – Sassnitz is built at the edge of the cliffs.
Alternatively, the line could run along the coast, and enter a tunnel behind the cliffs south of Sassnitz. The tunnel could continue to the former harbor station (shown in orange), or climb to the existing line into the main station (yellow). In both cases, the single-track tunnel would be about 2000 m long, and the new alignment about 6 km.
The new alignment would allow a shuttle service Binz – Prora – ferry port – Sassnitz. That is a 15-km route, with 3 intermediate stops. The branch to Binz would be doubled from the junction at Lietzow, also facilitating more inter-regional (Intercity) trains.
Extension south from Binz
The south-east corner of Rügen is served only by the narrow-gauge Rügensche Kleinbahn. It has its own station in Binz, which is not connected to the mainline station. The line continues over the Granitz ridge south of Binz, winding around Jagdschloss Granitz, and descends toward Sellin, ending at Göhren.
The alignment of the Rügensche Kleinbahn, south of Binz, could be converted to a metre-gauge tram line, and extended to the mainline station there. To shorten the route, a new tunnel (1700 m) would replace the line over the ridge at Granitz. The rest of the line, most of it alongside roads on level ground, is suitable for tram conversion.
Tram tunnel under the Granitz ridge…
Alternatively, a longer rail tunnel could carry an extension of the Binz branch. The 10-km extension would be for regional trains only: the long-distance services would still terminate at Binz station. The extension would require an underground platform at that station, connecting to a singel-track tunnel under Binz and the Granitz ridge. South of the ridge, the line would use the alignment of the Rügensche Kleinbahn through Sellin to Baabe, with some adjustments. The tunnel would be about 4 km long.
Both of these options mean the end of the Rügensche Kleinbahn, south of Binz. However, the Binz – Lauterbach section could still operate, as a museum line.
Service frequencies on all new and improved lines would be higher than at present – at least every 30 minutes. The existing service pattern would be generally retained. A regional service would link Stralsund to Sassnitz, possibly starting at Barth. Fast inter-regional services would run through Rostock to Stralsund, Bergen and Binz, and there would be a connecting regional service Bergen – Binz. The coastal shuttle service (Sassnitz to Binz or Baabe), could operate independently of the other services, every 30 minutes, and more often in summer.