The proposed high-speed rail line Nijmegen – Köln would run approximately parallel to the existing Linksniederrheinische Strecke from Krefeld to Kleve. That line originally continued to Nijmegen, but the Nijmegen – Kleve section was closed in 1991.
Linksniederrheinische Strecke: from OSM under CC2.0 licence…
The new HSL would create a shorter and faster route, from Nijmegen to Krefeld, Neuss and Köln. In that case, re-opening of the closed section would have a regional function only. A regional tram line Kleve – Nijmegen is a possible alternative.
It is also possible to extend the Linksniederrheinische Strecke north from Kleve, across the Rhine to Elten, and on to Arnhem. For the 22 km from Elten, trains would use the upgraded alignment of the Oberhausen – Arnhem line. The proposal requires a new 11-km line from Kleve to Elten, crossing the Rhine by a new tunnel. It is not incompatible with re-opening of the closed Kleve – Nijmegen section.
With an additional curve south of Elten, the new Rhine crossing can also be used by trains from Kleve to Emmerich. This would create a direct link between the two towns, which have similar functions as secondary regional centres. The logical pattern is, that some regional services to Emmerich continue to Kleve. Regional services around Kleve would then be completely restructured.
Old and new crossing of the Rhine
A railway from Kleve to Elten opened in 1865, but there was no Rhine bridge. Instead, a wagon ferry operated between Spyck and Welle (south of Elten). Through services ended in the 1920’s. The British Army re-opened the line in 1945, and built a temporary bridge over the Rhine, but it was removed in 1946. The Kleve – Spyck section remained in use for freight until the 1980’s. The Elten – Kleve line was 10 km long: the alignment is still clearly visible, especially the bridge at Griethausen.
Restoration of the old alignment in Kleve itself would be difficult. There is a sharp curve just after the station, and the area is begin slowly redeveloped. An alignment further west, would require tunnels under an industrial area. The best option is a line just west of the built-up area, passing Rindern. It would be about 11 km long – not much longer then the old line.
Trains would first use the old line to Nijmegen. The track is still there, but it passes thorough residential areas and the baroque park and gardens of Kleve. A shallow rail tunnel would be needed. It would be built slightly north of the existing alignment, perhaps in two sections.
Obviously, this tunnel could also be used for a restored service to Nijmegen. If both lines were built, a grade-separated junction is possible, just south of Rinderen.
In any case, the new line to Elten would turn north, passing west of Rindern. This first section might be on the surface, but the line would then drop to tunnel under the former Rhine channel (Altrhein), and the Rhine itself.
It is possible that the entire line would be in tunnel, from the edge of Kleve to the edge of Elten. It crosses the flood-plain of the Rhine, at about 12 to 14 m elevation: in theory the entire plain can be flooded. The additional curve toward Emmerich would require a grade-separated junction in tunnel, just north of the Rhine.
At Elten itself, the alignment is not obstructed by the built-up area, which is all on the eastern side of the existing line. With a grade-separated junction, the line from Kleve can join the line to Arnhem, south of the former Elten station. It is logical to re-open the station, located only 500 m from the centre of the village.
At present the Arnhem – Oberhausen line is double-track. Upgrading is planned, with a third track, but that might not be sufficient for an additional service into Arnhem. A new high-speed rail line Arnhem – Oberhausen might include a bypass of Elten. If not, the entire Emmerich – Elten – Zevenaar – Arnhem section should be 4-tracked.
Regional services on the new line could run from Arnhem to Krefeld, or from Emmerich to Krefeld, or both. They could continue to either Neuss or Duisburg. In any case, an urban-regional service from Arnhem could terminate at Kleve. In turn, the new connections would facilitate re-opening of the line Kleve – Xanten, the currently disused section of the Niederrheinstrecke.