This proposed high-speed rail line (HSL) would form part of a high-speed route, from Amsterdam to Aachen and Maastricht. It is the extension of the proposed HSL Utrecht – Eindhoven, and the already 4-tracked and upgraded Amsterdam – Utrecht line. At Sittard, it would join the proposed HSL Sittard – Aachen, and the Sittard – Maastricht line, also upgraded for high-speed services.
In Eindhoven, this ‘south-east HSL’ would cross the proposed HSL Antwerpen – Eindhoven, and its extension toward the Ruhr, the HSL Eindhoven – Venlo. The new line would follow the existing alignment to Weert (blue on the map), and then a new cut-off alignment (red), joining the existing line just north of Sittard.
The existing line from Eindhoven to Sittard and Maastricht uses an indirect route via Roermond. That avoids a double border crossing, into Belgium and back. It is also because the line used the existing alignment of the Antwerpen – Ruhr line, the Iron Rhine (1879). The line from Eindhoven to Weert was not built until 1913 – before that, trains used an even longer route via Venlo. The proposed HSL ignores the border, and runs in an almost straight line from Geldrop (on the outskirts of Eindhoven) to Sittard.
The line Sittard – Roermond would lose its present function, after construction of a cut-off line from Eindhoven, but it could form part of a new north-south HSL corridor, with upgrading for 200 km/h.
There is an alternative for the HSL proposed here: a shorter cut-off line along the A2 motorway, between Weert and Echt. The total route would be longer.
From Eindhoven to Weert, the line could 4-tracked and upgraded for speeds over 200 km/h (Ausbaustrecke), or a new line built directly beside the old. The curve at Geldrop station is a problem, but it can be re-aligned, with the demolition of some industrial buildings.
Approaching Weert, the existing line curves east to join the line from Antwerp, crossing the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal at the junction. The new alignment would diverge here, and continue roughly in a straight line, probably probably crossing the canal on a bridge. It would then cross an industrial zone (some of it empty anyway), for instance along the Havenweg or parallel to it. A short tunnel under the expensive houses at Altweert is probably unavoidable, although some will have to be demolished.
The line would then pass the Tungelerwallen nature reserve (forested inland dunes), on its eastern edge. It would cross the main road south from Weert (N292), near the bridge over the stream Tungelroysche Beek. The stream valleys are almost invisible in the landscape, which is flat over the entire new alignment.
The HSL would then pass the east side of Stramproy. It may be possible to do so without demolishing any houses, but a line in cutting would be necessary. At the next village, Molenbeersel, the HSL would cut one street with dispersed houses (‘lintbebouwing’). Demolition would be very limited, again with the line in cutting.
The line would then pass about 1500 m east of Kinrooi, through a flat landscape with dispersed farms and intensive agriculture. It would then run parallel to the main road (N762 in Belgium), toward Maaseik.
At the small town of Maaseik, the line can pass through a gap in the built-up area, past a brickworks and along the bypass road (Koningin Fabiolalaan). It would cut only two other streets, so again demolition can be limited. The line would cross the Maas on a bridge, on the alignment of the Fabiolalaan.
The line would then descend into tunnel, to pass south of Roosteren, and to cross the shipping canal, Julianakanaal, and the motorway A2. It would resurface south of junction 46, near the sewage works west of Susteren.
The line would then cross the main road to Sittard, the N295, and run parallel to it, passing just west of Nieuwstadt. Near the bridge over the N297 (northern by-pass of Sittard), it would rejoin the existing line coming from Roermond. From there, the alignment would be 4-tracked, for the 3 km into Sittard station.
Sittard is the centre of Sittard-Geleen, with 95 000 inhabitants. Here the HSL route to Aachen would cross the Maas valley line (Nijmegen – Venlo – Maastricht). High-speed trains would continue via the proposed HSL Sittard – Aachen.
The station would also be the terminus of the proposed Sittard – Heerlen- – Aachen regional metro line, and local trains from Maastricht. The station is built on a curve, but this is not a problem since all trains would stop there anyway. It would need full reconstruction – the present long island platform is outdated.
The existing rail line is 77 km long: 30 km Eindhoven – Weert, 24 km Weert – Roermond, and 24 km Roermond – Sittard. Intercity trains take 47 minutes (stopping in Weert and Roermond). The new line would be 58 km long, and the new section could be built for 300 km/h. A journey time of 20 minutes for Eindhoven – Sittard is certainly feasible.