East of the Rhine, west of Münsterland, south of Twente, and north of the Ruhr, there is a classic ‘peripheral zone’. It does not fully belong to those regions, it is divided between the Netherlands and Germany, and it does not have a specific name. The cross-border rail lines here, and many local lines, were closed. The only main transport axis across the region is the A31 Autobahn (Oberhausen – Emsland).
The peripheral location is evident on the map of rail services in Nordrhein-Westfalen: the ominous green line is the border, which they do not cross…
The proposal here is an east-west rail service across this region, from Münster to Nijmegen. It would run via Coesfeld (or possibly Dülmen), Borken, Bocholt and Emmerich, following the former Baumbergebahn. Most of this line is now closed: trains would use re-opened sections, some new alignments, and parts of existing lines.
Click to enlarge…
The old line ended at Empel-Rees Station: the new service would cross the Rhine via the proposed Kleve – Elten – Arnhem line, using a new Rhine bridge or tunnel. To reach Nijmegen, trains would reverse at Kleve, and use a re-opened rail line to Nijmegen.
The proposal is a double-track electrified line, with a line speed of 150 km/h, suitable for an intensive regional service. (As with other similar proposals at this blog, there is no point in deliberately building a new low-quality line).
The proposed east-west line is complementary to earlier proposals here, for re-opening of the ‘north-south’ lines through the region (in reality, north-west to south-east):
- regional line Winterswijk – Bocholt – Wesel, and
- regional line Apeldoorn – Winterswijk – Borken – Essen.
The line would also connect with existing lines to Enschede, Dortmund, Krefeld, Duisburg, Wesel and Oberhausen, and with Intercity and regional services at Münster and Nijmegen. There are other proposals: the regional rail transport authority ZVM has proposed a new rail corridor Wesel – Bocholt – Borken – Münster. (The disused Wesel – Haltern line would provide a more direct route).
The route in sections
From Münster, the existing 41-km line to Coesfeld would be upgraded: it is the only remaining section of the Baumbergebahn (now RB63). Near Münster the terrain is flat, and the line consists of straight sections. It can easily upgraded: there would be extra stations at Mecklenbeck and Roxel. The section over the Baumberge ridge, between Havixbeck and Billerbeck, has many curves. The terrain does not require them: the climb is at most 60 m, and the section could be re-aligned. Curve improvement is also necessary between Billerbeck and Lutum.
Click to enlarge: the curving line between Havixbeck and Billerbeck stations, highlighted…
The alignment through Coesfeld is shared with the former Ruhr – Wilhelmshafen line, which is closed between Lutum and Rheine. (The two lines ran parallel, but separately). Coesfeld (population 36 000) is the regional centre of western Münsterland. It is served by the only surviving cross-border line in the region, the RB51 Enschede – Dortmund.
After Coesfeld station, the Baumbergebahn made a U-turn, turning north-west to Gescher. From there, it turned south-west to Borken, via Velen. This is an indirect route, and there are two alternatives. One is a more direct route to Velen, and the other is a new line further south, via Reken and Heiden. (The old alignment via Gescher might be used for a new line to Winterswijk: more on that later).
Click to enlarge: two possible alignments, red and brown dotted lines, by-passing former alignment through Gescher…
The new line to Velen would turn west, at the old junction south of Coesfeld, and then run due west to Stevede. It would run alongside the L58, and pass south of Hochmoor, with a station on the Rekener Strasse (L608). It would pass south of Velen, with a station on the L829, also called Rekener Strasse here. (The old station at Velen was on the west side of the village).
Click to enlarge…
West of Velen, the new line would rejoin the ‘old alignment’. In fact, this has been ploughed over, and is no longer visible in most places. The new line would follow it only approximately, although in Ramsdorf the old station site is still available. In the built-up area of Borken itself, the alignment is still available, although there are some buildings alongside it. The new Coesfeld – Borken line via Velen, would be about 28 km long.
A new alignment via Reken would start south of Maria-Veen station, on the line to Dorsten (RB45). The new line would run south of Reken and Heiden, and join the other line from Dorsten (RE14), 3 km south of Borken station. However, the entire 15-km alignment is within the Naturpark Hohe Mark, a protected landscape.
This section would make more sense, as part of a longer alignment via Dülmen, avoiding Coesfeld entirely. Dülmen is on the main Ruhr – Münster – Hamburg line, 29 km south of Münster. The new line would turn west toward Reken, and from there via Heiden to Borken. This option would allow faster services, but it fails to link the regional centres west of Münster, which is a main aim of this proposal.
Click to enlarge…
At Borken (population 41 000), the east-west line would allow interchange with the restored regional route Apeldoorn – Winterswijk – Borken – Essen, and possibly with a longer inter-regional line Zwolle – Essen. The present service is the RE14 Borken – Essen.
From Borken, the east-west line would continue to Bocholt, Emmerich and Kleve. That section is described, in the second half of this post.