This is the third part of a proposal for a high-speed line (HSL, Schnellfahrstrecke, Neubaustrecke) from Enschede to Hannover, part of an Amsterdam – Berlin line. The line takes its name from the Mittellandkanal which it parallels.
Read the introduction first. This part covers the line through Minden and on to Hannover. The previous post ended with the alignment along the Mittellandkanal, between Alswede and Isenstedt (20 km from Minden). There are two main options east from there.
The HSL could leave the canal at Isenstedt, and bypass Minden, about 6 km north of the city centre. This alignment (shown in green) would rejoin the main line to Hannover at Stadthagen. However, if the HSL avoids Minden anyway, then the most direct alignment is straight from Kalkriese to Hannover (shown in yellow). All alignments north of Minden, would cut through the Schaumburger Wald, to reach the existing Minden – Hannover line.
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Minden (population 82 000) is the largest urban centre between Bielefeld and Hannover. Routing the HSL near the city would allow trains from the east to access the station, and the Minden – Hannover section can be used by Dortmund – Bielefeld – Hannover high-speed trains. (The Dortmund – Minden line is partially upgraded for 200 km/h).
The only available surface alignment through Minden (shown in white) is along the southern bypass road (B65), and the former rail siding to Häverstädt. The HSL would follow the Mittellandkanal to Hille, cross the canal, and turn south-east. It would join the old rail alignment at Dützen, on the edge of the built-up area. The old line is free of buildings, presumably for a planned extension of the bypass. The HSL would cross the Weser alongside the road, and then turn east, south of the gravel pits. Very high speed is probably not possible, on the route through Minden.
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The HSL would cross the existing Minden – Hannover line, bypass Bückeburg, and join the line further east.
The new line north of Bückeburg can also link to a new tunnel, under the Wesergebirge ridge (shown in green). The existing main line Dortmund – Minden – Hannover passes through a gorge cut by the Weser, at Porta Westfalica. The new tunnel would be used by high-speed trains between Hannover and Bielefeld, by-passing Minden: more on this later.
An alignment through Minden allows link curves into the station, from east and west (shown in red). The western curve would diverge from the HSL before it crosses the Weser, and requires an additional bridge. The eastern curve is located where the HSL crosses the existing line to Hannover.
About 4 km east of Bückeburg station, the HSL would join the existing alignment. Upgrading of this line as Ausbaustrecke was officially planned, but has been suspended. The HSL would require a 4-track line through Stadthagen, upgraded for high speed. This should not be a problem: the line is almost straight.
A new cut-off line from Haste to Seelze (avoiding Wunstorf) would complete the high-speed route. From there it is 11 km to Hannover Hauptbahnhof.
The entire alignment Enschede – Hannover via Minden would be about 215-220 km long. With a line speed of 300 km/h (except through Minden), that should allow a journey time of around one hour.
The line speed on the connecting HSL Hannover – Berlin is nominally 250 km, but that only applies to its middle section. (Trains take 1h 40min, an average speed of only 155 km/h). New parallel tracks on that line, could bring total Amsterdam – Berlin journey time down to 3 h 20 mins, over a total route length of 615-625 km.