High-speed rail line Venlo – Neuss

The earlier proposed high-speed rail line Nijmegen – Köln follows a direct route from Nijmegen to Neuss. It could not, however, be used by trains from the route Rotterdam – Eindhoven – Venlo. The proposal here is a second high-speed line (HSL), connecting to the new Nijmegen – Köln line.

It would allow trains from Venlo to access the HSL into Neuss. It would also create a high-speed route from Venlo, to Krefeld and Duisburg: there is no direct line at present. The proposal assumes upgrading of the existing Intercity route to Venlo (line-speed and capacity). It is also complementary to a high-speed rail line from Antwerpen to Eindhoven: trains could continue via Venlo, to Duisburg, Essen and Dortmund.

Click to enlarge: HSL from Venlo (blue dotted line), connects to HSL from Nijmegen (red)…

The proposed new line runs east-southeast from Venlo, crossing the Viersen – Krefeld line near Anrath: it would have a junction to that line. South of Krefeld, near Willich, it would join the Nijmegen – Köln HSL. The Venlo – Willich section would be 31 km long, the shared section into Neuss 12 km long. From Venlo to Neuss, station-to-station, the distance is 44 km, which should be covered in 17 to 20 minutes.

The new line would start at Venlo, population 91 000, the regional centre of northern Limburg. Venlo Station once had international through trains, today only an hourly Regional-Express to Düsseldorf and Hamm. It is still an important transfer station for freight, but noise from the trains has created pressure for closure of the line. (The Iron Rhine is a possible alternative).

Venlo lies on the river Maas. The land west of the river is flat, on the eastern side is an escarpment (part of the Maas terraces). The plateau edge on the eastern side of Venlo is about 25-30 m high. 15 km east of Venlo, the new line would also cross a low ridge, the Süchtelner Höhen. This ridge is 30-50 m above the land on each side. Apart from this, the proposed alignment is almost level, typically 30 m to 40 m above sea level.

Click to enlarge…


The existing line to Viersen (1866), climbs from Venlo on a curved section. If this alignment was used for the new line, it would be widened to 4-track (5-track if it was still a freight corridor). The new HSL might use a more direct tunnel. It could run under the Kaldenkerkerweg. The rise is concentrated in a 500-m section, and the first section of line would be on the surface, requiring some demolition. The tunnel could also run north of the Kaldenkerkerweg (red dashed line).

Click to enlarge: the options for the climb out of Venlo…

HSL and rail routes out of Venlo

At Schwanenhaus, the tunnel variants would briefly rejoin the existing alignment. The new line would then diverge from the existing alignment, and cross the Autobahn A61. It would run beside it to Junction 2, by-passing Kaldenkirchen.

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HSL Venlo - Neuss by-passing Kaldenkirchen

The HSL would then turn away from the Autobahn, toward the alignment of the former Kempen – Venlo railway. It would run beside (or parallel to) this alignment, across the river Nette. This is a protected zone, but already crossed by many roads. The old line continued to Lobberich. The former station zone has been redeveloped at low density, so it would be available, but a better option is to shift the new alignment slightly to the north (dashed lines).

Click to enlarge…

HSL Venlo - Neuss crossing the Nette

After Lobberich, the old line turned toward Grefrath: the new HSL would continue almost in a straight line, toward Anrath. First, it must cross the ridge of the Süchtelner Höhen. The ridge is not very high, but locally prominent because the landscape is otherwise flat.

The old line crossed the ridge without a tunnel. The shortest route for the HSL would cross a higher section of the ridge, approximately under Drenker Berg / Windberg (both 80 m). A tunnel would be necessary here, and it would also protect the landscape. It would be about 1800 m long, with a western portal near Ober-Bocholt. A slightly longer variant (shown in blue) would run further north, closer to the old line: it would need a tunnel of 900m, at most.

Click to enlarge…

HSL Venlo - Neuss crossing the Süchtelner Höhen and river Niers

On the other side of the ridge, the HSL would pass north of Vorst (part of Süchteln, which gives its name to the ridge). It would then cross the canalised Niers river. Like the Nette valley, the lower ground along the river is a protected zone, but it is already crossed by motorways and roads.

The new line would pass between another village called Vorst, and Anrath, to reach the existing Viersen – Krefeld line. Here, there would be a grade-separated junction, for trains from Venlo to Krefeld / Duisburg. The HSL itself would cross the line, still in the same direction, toward Willich.

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North of Willich it would join the high-speed rail line (HSL) Nijmegen – Köln , and trains would use that line into Neuss Hauptbahnhof. The line would pass south of Osterath, cross the A57 and the A52, and enter Neuss from the north-west.

Click to enlarge…

As with the HSL from Nijmegen, trains would serve Neuss itself (population 151 000), and connect to S-Bahn services into Düsseldorf (population 582 000), on the other side of the Rhine. Most trains would continue another 36 km, to Köln. With a length of 80 km, the Venlo – Köln journey time should be cut to 30 minutes. Two main services would use the new line from Venlo:

  • an extension of the existing Intercity service from Den Haag, via Rotterdam, Breda, Tilburg, and Eindhoven, on to Köln.
  • a new high-speed service over a HSL Antwerpen – Eindhoven, continuing via Venlo and Krefeld to the main Ruhr axis Duisburg / Essen / Dortmund.

Both of these could be extended to further destinations. Since both would share tracks between Eindhoven and Venlo, upgrading of that line would be needed, and possibly a new HSL by-passing Helmond. The existing line to Viersen and Mönchengladbach would not be affected, and should in any case be upgraded. At Venlo, the new line would also connect with the proposed HSL corridor along the Maas (Nijmegen – Venlo – Maastricht), and with the proposed inter-regional service Antwerpen – Weert – Venlo.

High-speed rail line Venlo – Neuss

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