Regional rail line Winterswijk – Bocholt – Wesel

Proposed here is the re-opening of the line Winterswijk – Bocholt, and the upgrading of the line Bocholt – Wesel. The project would include two new sections, one north of Barlo, and one in Wesel.

Restoration of a link from Bocholt to Winterswijk has a regional logic: at Winterswijk it would connect with the existing line to Arnhem (via Doetinchem), and to the line to Zutphen. However, in combination with the proposed new regional line Enschede – Winterswijk, it would also form part of an inter-regional line, from Twente to the Niederrhein.


The line south-east from Winterswijk Station is part of the international line Zutphen – Gelsenkirchen, opened by the Niederländisch-Westfälische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft, in 1880. About 1 km from the station, the 1885 line to Zevenaar branches from the Zutphen – Gelsenkirchen line. Since only the Zevenaar line is in use, the Gelsenkirchen line is closed beyond this point. (The section beyond Borken is still in use).

About 500 m further, the line to line to Bocholt diverged from the Gelsenkirchen line, turning south-west. This line (via Barlo) was also opened in 1880, connecting at Bocholt with the 1878 Wesel – Bocholt line. The route Winterswijk – Wesel was 41 km long, and Bocholt was exactly half-way. Passenger services across the border, from Winterswijk to Barlo, ended during the First World War, and from Barlo to Bocholt in 1952. The line Bocholt – Wesel is still in use, served by Regionalbahn 32.

The alignment between Winterswijk and the border passes through an undeveloped wooded landscape, around Woold. The old line is visible on maps and aerial photographs, but is difficult to follow on the ground. Much of it is overgrown, and the alignment is cut by many small rural roads. The proposal for re-opening therefore begins with re-location of this section. The new line would begin at a reconstructed and enlarged Winterswijk station. Trains would then use the (upgraded and electrified) line to Zevenaar, as far as km 4. From here, a new 4-km line would be built to Eitinghook, on the former alignment north of Barlo. From the new junction, the line would use the old alignment to Barlo (2 200 inhabitants). Most buildings in Barlo lie west of the former line, and it can easily be re-located eastwards to avoid some industrial plant. Barlo has enough inhabitants to justify a station here.


From Barlo to Bocholt, about 6 km, part of the line is in use as a cycle path. In Bocholt (49 000 inhabitants in the town itself, administrative total 75 000), the line from Wesel terminates at a simple station, south-east of the historic centre. Although the alignment from Barlo to this station is available, the are north of the station is built-up. A 1200 m tunnel would be needed, starting about 1500 m north of the station. (Immediately north of the station is an industrial area, where reconstruction will be easier).

At Bocholt station, there would be interchange with the proposed regional line Münster – Coesfeld – Borken – Bocholt – Emmerich – Kleve, which follows roughly the old Baumbergebahn.

New rail line Münster - Kleve crossing Winterswijk - Wesel line at Bocholt

From Bocholt, the line runs almost due south, to Wesel, through flat agricultural landscape. The existing alignment can be upgraded: double-track, electrification, and elimination of level crossings. There would be a second station in the south of Bocholt, for instance at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse (and possibly a third at Bömkesweg or Grüner Weg). At Dingden, (6 900 inhabitants, 7 km from Bocholt), and at Hamminkelen (with Ringenberg 8 500 inhabitants, 10 km from Bocholt), the existing station locations can be used.



The line continues to Wesel (61 000 inhabitants). At Blumenkamp – effectively part of Wesel – the existing halt would be upgraded. From Blumenkamp, the existing line continues to joins the main line from Arnhem , at the Nordstrasse overpass, in Wesel-Feldkamp. A grade-separated junction is essential, and that probably excludes a station at the Nordstrasse bridge. However, there is already a halt Wesel-Feldmark, on the main line. The proposed solution is, to link both lines north of that halt, with a 2-km section of new track. The halt would be upgraded to a station, and from there, the line to Wesel would be widened to four tracks. The line passes the former link to Venlo and to Boxtel, over the Eisenbahnbrücke Wesel. The service from Winterswijk would terminate at a reconstructed Wesel Station, which is only 400 m from the city centre. It would connect there, with services toward Oberhausen and Duisburg. It could also connect with future services across the Rhine, via a new bridge or tunnel, connecting to the right-bank rail line at Alpen and/or Xanten.



Over 41 km with 7 intermediate stations, modern rolling stock should take about 30-35 minutes, for the journey Winterswijk – Wesel. If services run through from Twente via the new regional line Enschede – Winterswijk, the interregional journey should take about 1 h 10 min.

Regional rail line Winterswijk – Bocholt – Wesel

4 thoughts on “Regional rail line Winterswijk – Bocholt – Wesel

  1. Johan says:

    The old line from Winterswijk to the German border is not difficult to follow on the ground: it is an unpaved road with an unpaved bycicle track on the eastern side of the former tracks. Even its name “Oude Bocholterbaan” refers to the old railway line. Even on maps or satelite images you are able to see the curved line, bordered with oaks. For a reopening of this line it is easy to follow the old tracks.

    1. infrastruct says:

      The line is difficult to follow on the ground, and there is no continuous bike track. The alignment is not available without clearance through wooded areas. The landscape is not officially protected but it adjoins other protected zones. Relocation is the best option.

  2. Johan says:

    Hij is echt niet moeilijk te volgen. Vorige week ben ik er nog overheen gefietst: tot op 500 m van de grens ligt het trace er nog. Alleen aan de Duitse kant is een klein deel onder akkers verdwenen. Je argument van beschermde gebieden gaat hier niet op, maar wel bij de Borkense baan waar je een dubbelsporige lijn voorstelt. Dat is namelijk een beschermd natuurgebied. De lijn is daar door NS overgedragen aan Natuurmonumenten en Gelders Landschap.

    1. infrastruct says:

      De voorgestelde verplaatsing is bedoeld om het meest gesloten landschap om Woold te ontzien. Er wordt hier bij voorkeur uitgegaan van tracés door open agrarisch landschap. Dat geldt ook voor de Borkense Baan, ondanks zijn huidige status.

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