Regional tram line Kleve – Nijmegen

The old rail line from Nijmegen to Kleve formed part of the longer Linksniederrheinische Strecke via Kempen to Krefeld, Neuss and Köln. It was definitively closed in 1991. Re-opening has been proposed, usually in combination with re-opening of the the line Kleve – Xanten, part of the Niederrheinstrecke.

The proposed high-speed rail line Nijmegen – Köln would replace the former inter-regional function of the Linksniederrheinische Strecke. The proposed new rail line Kleve – Elten with a new Rhine tunnel, would also alter the rail geography of the region. A link from Kleve to Nijmegen is still a good idea, if only for the regional traffic. Nijmegen is the main regional centre and a university city, with 161 000 inhabitants. Kleve has 49 000 inhabitants, and is the administrative capital of Kreis Kleve with 310 000 inhabitants. (The southern part of Kreis Kleve is closer to larger centres such as Moers, Krefeld, and Duisburg).

Historically, there was both a railway and a tram link (Clever Straßenbahn) between Kleve and Nijmegen. The proposal here for a regional tram line combines elements of both: using the old rail alignment from Kleve to Kranenburg, and then alongside the main road (N325) via Beek, parallel to the old tram line. The rail alignment Kleve – Kranenburg is intact: it is used for draisine tourism. In the villages, some new houses directly adjoin the line, and some demolition might be necessary. The proposed tram route follows the edge of the Rhine flood plain: to the south is higher ground, a plateau with some valleys,

Click to enlarge…


A tram line Kleve – Nijmegen does not exclude re-opening of the rail line, or the proposed regional rail line Nijmegen – Kleve – Xanten – Wesel. The tram could use the road between Kleve and Kranenburg. Another simple option is to build a tram line beside the rail line, between Kranenburg and Kleve. That would require some additional demolition in Nütterden and Donsbrüggen, but most of this section runs through open fields. In Kleve itself the tram would run on street: a 4-track alignment into the station would be difficult.

In both cases, the tram would start at Kleve station. The on-street tram line would use the new road at the edge of the centre (Hafenstrasse), and exit Kleve via Tiergartenstrasse. A second stop at the corner Hafenstrasse / Tiergartenstrasse would improve access to the centre: it is 200 m from the street leading up to the castle, the heart of the old town. There would more stop in Kleve, near the Gruftstrasse. (If the tram used the rail alignment, there would be only one stop after the station: at Spyckstrasse, under the viaduct of the ring road).

Click to enlarge…

Tram from Nijmegen through centre of Kleve

The station itself, and the rail line through Kleve, are on lower ground (the Rhine flood-plain). After the Tiergarten park, the line to Kranenburg runs parallel to the road, which is at the edge of the plateau. They enter the first village parallel, and about 200 m apart. This is a suitable place to switch from a road to railway alignment, is that is necessary.

The village of Donsbrüggen (1500 inhabitants) consists of two clusters of houses, and two stops are needed, about 800 m apart. At Nütterden (population 3000), the best place for a tram stop is near the church, on Antoniusweg. Between Nütterden and Kranenburg, the alignment crosses the B9 road: here too, the alignments can switch if necessary.

Click to enlarge: two alignments available…

Tram Kleve - Nijmegen via Donsbrüggen

From here, there is a choice of alignment through Kranenburg (population 4000), a former walled town. Road and railway approach the town parallel, about 50 m apart as they pass under the B504 viaduct. The simplest option is for the tram to leave the railway here, and run through the small historic centre. The main street (a Roman road) is wide enough, and no historic buildings would be damaged. A second option is a tram line along the Kranenburger Bach, a canalised stream at the north edge of the centre. The tram would use an access road for housing, schools and swimming pool.

Click to enlarge: three possible alignments through Kranenburg, the circle of former city walls encloses the historic centre…

Tram Nijmegen - Kleve via Kranenburg

If the tram used the rail alignment, it would run parallel to the main street, about 500 m to the south. It would leave the rail line, at the western edge of Kranenburg. Between Kranenburg and Wyler, the line would turn toward the B9 road, in the fields of the flood plain. (This road was originally planned to by-pass Kleve, connecting to the Rhine bridge at Emmerich). The next stop would be at the border village of Wyler, which has grown in recent years (houses are cheaper on the German side).

Click to enlarge: tram via old Kranenburg Station in green, tram into town centre in blue, northern alignment in brown…

Tram Kleve - Nijmegen via Kranenburg

At the west end of Wyler, the B9 / N325 road rejoins the edge of the higher ground. The tram would use this main road to Nijmegen, or a reconstructed version of it: there is sufficient space for a tram line. At Beek (population 3500), there would be two stops, about 1200 m apart – one at the Nijmegen end, one at the Kleve end.

Click to enlarge…

Tram Nijmegen - Kleve via Beek

From Beek, the road is almost straight: the next stop would be at Ubbergen. This small village at the foot of the plateau has about 500 inhabitants: it is about 700 m (and 50 m uphill) to the housing at Hengstdal, in Nijmegen. The flood plain itself is completely free of housing here. After Ubbergen, the road is directly at the edge of the plateau. Nearing the city centre, it begins to climb: the gradient is acceptable for modern trams.

At Keizer Trajanusplein, the road reaches the plateau, at the edge of the city centre. Here the trams would turn onto the Canisiussingel / Oranjesingel, the inner ring road. There would be a stop here, and one further on at the Keizer Karelplein (and possibly in between these two, at Staringstraat).

Click to enlarge…

Tram Nijmegen - Kleve via Ubbergen

Most of the historical centre of Nijmegen is within 750 m of these stops. The last stop would be at Nijmegen Station, on the proposed HSL Nijmegen – Wageningen – Amsterdam. Passengers could also change for local and intercity trains, on the lines to Arnhem, Venlo, and Den Bosch.

The length of the proposed tram line is 24 km: the alternatives at Kranenburg will make very little difference to that. With 14 intermediate stops, a journey time of around 40 min is realistic. Although trams can be built for 120 km/h, the number of stops would not allow much higher average speeds.

Regional tram line Kleve – Nijmegen

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