This proposal combines old rail alignments and a new section, to create a ‘new’ rail link between Venlo and Krefeld, via Grefrath or Kempen. It is similar to the proposed Moers – Kempen regional line, and might connect with it at Kempen. There are several route options.
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There was never a direct line from Venlo to Krefeld. The only route at present is via the Venlo – Viersen line, changing trains at Viersen. However there was another route: the 23-km Venlo – Kempen line (closed 1999). The lines had parallel tracks for 5 km, from Venlo to Kaldenkirchen: the Kempen line then turned eastwards, via Grefrath. At Kempen, passengers could change for the line into Krefeld (Linksniederrheinische Strecke from Kleve). They could also travel via Hüls, on the former Krefelder Eisenbahn, which operated a small local network between Moers, Krefeld, Viersen and Kempen.
The proposal here is a regional line only. The proposed high-speed rail line Venlo – Neuss would have a connection at Anrath into Krefeld, and would carry all non-regional traffic. Venlo has a total population of 100 000, and a regional service to Kempen (36 000) and/or Krefeld (236 000) would be justified in itself.
The new high-speed line (HSL), and the proposed S-Bahn Venlo – Viersen – Neuss would require a complete renewal of the line out out Venlo. It climbs about 25 m, at the edge of the built-up area. Possibly the HSL would use a new tunnel: in any case there would be 4 tracks in total, and possibly a fifth track for freight.
Click to enlarge: the existing curved climb out of Venlo, and two options for a HSL tunnel…
The new HSL would bypass Kaldenkirchen along the motorway (Autobahn A61). It would then follow the alignment of the Venlo – Kempen line for 3 km, as far as Lobberich. Construction of a HSL does not prevent re-use of that section for a regional line, since the HSL can run alongside the old alignment. (The HSL would have no effect on the line through Kaldenkirchen).
Click to enlarge: HSL Venlo – Neuss crossing the Nette toward Lobberich, a 3-km section would be shared with the regional line…
The HSL does have consequences for the choice of system on the regional line. A separate light-rail line out of Venlo, with 6-7 tracks in total, would be problematic. The regional line would therefore share the tracks used by the S-Bahn to Viersen. That rules out an extension of the Moers – Kempen light-rail line to Venlo. That leave the following options:
- regional line from Venlo terminates at Kempen station, restoring the historical operating pattern
- regional line connects near Kempen with the existing line (Linksniederrheinische Strecke) into Krefeld
- regional line turns south after Grefrath, connects at Anrath with the existing line from Viersen into Krefeld.
Click to enlarge: options for a new rail line east of Grefrath, to Kempen or Krefeld…
In all variants, the line would start at Venlo Station, and serve the small town of Kaldenkirchen (population 10 000). The junction at the south end of Kaldenkirchen station needs to be reconstructed. Possibly the junction can be relocated to the north end of the station, the regional line would then have a separate platform. There is certainly enough space at this decrepit station.
The alignment runs east, across the river Nette: this is part of the cross-border Naturpark Maas-Schwalm-Nette, but it is not a closed ‘national park’. (It is already crossed by two motorways, and many regional roads). This section of the old rail line has recently been converted into a cycle path. The line passes the northern edge of Lobberich (population 14 000). The former station location can be re-used, but since the HSL would run slightly further north, a new station could be built alongside it.
The old line turns toward Grefrath, cutting through a low part of the north-south ridge (Süchtelner Höhen). East of the ridge is the lower ground along the river Niers. In Grefrath (population 8000), the alignment passes through the built-up area, but it is largely intact. Here too the old station site, on the Bahnstrasse, can be used. It is 15,5 km from Venlo.
1500 m further, the line crosses the canalised river Niers. The two route options to Kempen would continue along the old alignment, with a re-opened Mülhausen-Oedt station. In Kempen itself, the alignment survives as a cycle path, but it has new housing directly alongside it. The alternative is a new alignment along the ring road (B509), and then a tunnel to the station, following the Von-Galen-Strasse. Services would terminate there, which limits the utility of this variant.
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A direct service to Krefeld is possible, but it can not be combined with service of Kempen station. Instead, the line along the B509 would simply be extended eastwards, to join the line to Krefeld. Kempen would be served by new station south of the town, “Kempen-Süd”, on the Vorster Strasse. The station would be 1500 m from the centre, but this is the simplest possible alignment. Interchange with the proposed Moers – Kempen regional line would still be possible, since it could be extended to the new station.
The third option is a new link, about 10 km long, starting east of Grefrath (at the Niers crossing). The line would turn 90 degrees in a wide curve, with a new station between Oedt and Mülhausen, at the Hauptstrasse. It would then run along the eastern edge of Oedt (population 5000), with a station at the Tönisvorster Strasse, 500 m from the village street.
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The line would pass just west of Vorst (there are two villages of this name, 5 km from each other), with a station on the Süchtelner Strasse. It would then join the Viersen – Krefeld line, west of Anrath station. Trains would continue to Krefeld Hauptbahnhof, serving Anrath (population 11 500) and Forstwald (part of Krefeld, ‘Forsthaus’ station).
The alignment passing south of Kempen would be 33 km long, with 5 intermediate stations. The variant via Oedt and Vorst would be 36 km long, with 8 intermediate stations. The line is not intended for speed, and the Oedt variant maximises service of the region between Venlo and Krefeld, so it seems the best option.