This proposal is complementary to the proposed regional rail line Roermond – Heinsberg – Düren, but each could be constructed independently of the other. If both were in operation, they would share tracks between Dremmen and Heinsberg.
- the line via Ratheim is the the Jülich – Dalheim line (1911). At present it ends at Linnich, but originally it crossed the Aachen – Mönchengladbach line at Baal, where there was a two-level station. The line carried mainly coal, from the multiple shafts of the Zeche Sophia-Jacoba mine. The line was formally closed in 2007
- the line to Heinsberg was a simple 13-km branch line, the Heinsberger Bahn (1890). Part of it is still in use for freight traffic.
The proposal is to connect the two, by a new 4-km line across the Rur (beside the A46 autobahn). That would allow an S-Bahn service from Mönchengladbach to Heinsberg, via Rheydt, Erkelenz and Hückelhoven. The 38-km route could be integrated with an S-Bahn route north of Mönchengladbach Hbf, but that is not considered here.
From Mönchengladbach, S-Bahn trains would use the existing line, for 22 km, to Baal Gbf freight yard. Possibly, the existing passenger station Baal-Hückelhoven could be relocated to the old freight yard, allowing service of Baal by S-Bahn trains. Both locations are accessible from the housing in the village, but the existing station adjoins the (half-empty) business park.
From here, the existing single-track freight line would be doubled and upgraded. There would be three stations in the municipality of Hückelhoven (population 39 500):
- at the village of Doveren (possibly on the site of the old halt)
- in the centre of Hückelhoven: beside the roundabout on the Jülicher Strasse at the end of the Parkhofstrasse, or at the Haagstrasse.
- between Millich and Schaufenberg, where the line crosses the Schaufenberger Strasse.
Before Ratheim, the Autobahn A46 crosses the line. Here, a new line would curve south-west, and then run alongside the A46. Where it crosses the main road (Millicher Strasse), beside junction 6, there would be a station serving Ratheim. The site is at the edge of the built-up area, but only 1000 m from the centre. The line has to cross the motorway, the road, and then the Rur river, so a viaduct seems the only option: some houses in Millich would be demolished.
South of the river, the new link would join the Heinsberger Bahn, east of Dremmen. Possibly, one or two industrial / commercial buildings would be demolished at the junction. From here, the alignment to Heinsberg is almost a straight line, with four distinct settlements: Dremmen, Grebben, Schafhausen and Heinsberg. There would be four stations, about 1500 m apart. The S-Bahn service would terminate at Heinsberg, at the original station site. (The proposed regional line to Roermond would enter a tunnel before this station). The four stations south of the Rur are all in the municipality of Heinsberg, which has a population of 41 000.
The total route length is 38 km. On the section Mönchengladbach – Baal, the station spacing is 4500 m. On the new/upgraded section Baal – Heinsberg it would be 1900 m, typical for an S-Bahn. The end-to-end journey time should be around 40-45 minutes.