This new Ochtrup – Rheine link complements the proposed Twente – Münster high-speed line (HSL, Schnellfahrstrecke). The HSL would parallel the existing line from Enschede, through Gronau, as far as the small town of Ochtrup. The proposal here is, to add a new link to Rheine.
The new link would connect the urban axis of Twente region, via Enschede, with the rail axis Rheine -Osnabrück – Hannover. That is a historically important east-west route, at the edge of the North German plain, parallel to the ridges of the Teutoburger Wald and the Wiehengebirge.
The Osnabrück – Rheine service is currently provided by Regionalbahn 61 which terminates at Bad Bentheim, because of the voltage change. The line itself continues to Hengelo, but the only cross-border services are the six Berlin – Amsterdam trains (which stop at Rheine and Hengelo). Rheine (population 76 000) is the junction with the north-south Ems valley line (Emden – Rheine – Münster – Ruhr), but interchange is restricted by the lack of cross-border services.
The new link would allow a more logical terminus for a regional service from Osnabrück, at Enschede (population 157 000), the largest city in Twente. It could also carry inter-regional services, possibly from Amsterdam to Osnabrück. At Enschede, services from Rheine would connect to the proposed high-speed line to Zwolle. Regional services would also stop at Gronau (population 46 000 ), connecting with regional services to Dortmund.
At present, travel by rail from Rheine to Enschede requires a detour via Hengelo. The Bentheimer Eisenbahn once linked Bad Bentheim to Gronau: that line could be reopened as far as Nordhorn, but it is not suitable as an east-west route.
The proposed new line to Rheine runs roughly parallel to a former local line Ochtrup – Rheine, but further north. At the edge of Rheine, it would join the Ems valley line.
The new section would begin at Ochtrup station. The old alignment (towards Rheine) is still partly available., but it passes through a residential area. A tunnel is necessary: some houses would be demolished. On the edge of Ochtrup, the old alignment is cut by a business park, but this could be passed with limited demolition (red dotted line).
Click to enlarge…
The new alignment would then turn north-west, through open, flat countryside, avoiding the low ridge to the south. The old local line passed south of this ridge (Rothenberg, Bilker Berg, Thieberg), through the villages of Wettringen and Neuenkirchen. There would be no intermediate stations on the new line: it passes only one small village, Haddorf. The alignment shown is indicative.
Near Bentlage, the new line would join the Ems valley line, for about 3 km, to Rheine station. At least one extra track would be needed on this section. Trains would use the eastern platforms (nearest the centre, the others are on the former Duisburg – Quakenbrück line). After the station, a new grade-separated junction is needed, to avoid conflicts between the Münster and Osnabrück lines.
The old line Ochtrup – Rheine was 22 km long, the new line should be a bit shorter, perhaps 21 km. Journey time, on a 39-km double-track electric route from Enschede to Rheine, should be under 20 minutes.