High-speed rail line Neubrandenburg – Szczecin

This Neubrandenburg – Szczecin high-speed rail line (HSL) is part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction: New rail infrastructure north of Berlin.

The HSL to Szczecin is the eastward extension of the HSL Rostock – Neubrandenburg, proposed earlier as a re-routed main line from Berlin. At Neubrandenburg, the line would also cross the proposed north-south corridor Berlin – Neubrandenburg – Stralsund.

Click to enlarge …

HSL Neubrandenburg - Szczecin, Ausbaustrecke and new sections.

The only entirely new alignment proposed is a bypass of Pasewalk, crossing the Berlin – Angermünde – Stralsund line. The rest of the HSL would follow the Bützow – Szczecin line (1864). From Neubrandenburg, this is single-track line, at present carrying only a two-hourly RegionalExpress service, Lübeck – Szczecin. It crosses several ridges, but most of the line seems suitable for upgrading as Ausbaustrecke. In places, the HSL might diverge from the existing alignment, but an alignment along the A20 Autobahn offers no benefits.

East of Pasewalk, the upgraded alignment can also be used by high-speed trains from Stralsund to Szczecin. The section from Stralsund to Greifswald would be upgraded as part of the HSL Berlin – Neubrandenburg – Stralsund. The remaining 75-km section to Pasewalk, through Anklam, is almost straight, and already double-track. It can easily be upgraded for 200 km/h or more. High-speed trains from Stralsund would join the bypass north of Pasewalk, avoiding the station there.

Alignment Neubrandenburg – Szczecin

Neubrandenburg station is aligned east-west, which is convenient for an east-west high-speed route. The eastern exit line climbs along a low escarpment, and the resulting curves need improvement (approaching Küssow). Further east, the alignment would only need local curve improvement.

Click to enlarge: exit from Neubrandenburg…

Rail line east out of Neubrandenburg, toward Pasewalk and Szczecin.

The highest terrain crossed by the line is west of Strasburg station, where these is an S-curve around the ridges. Since high-speed trains can climb steeper gradients, an new alignment (cutting through the S-curve) is possible, with about 6-8 km of new line. The HSL can follow the existing alignment through Strasburg station.

East of Strasburg the terrain is easier, and the line straighter. North of Pasewalk, the existing line turns 90 degrees, to join the Angermünde – Stralsund line. The new HSL would go straight on to the east, running about 2 km north of Pasewalk station. It would then turn more south-east, to rejoin the line to Szczecin, west of Zerrenthin station. The bypass runs through open flat farmland, at 5-15 m elevation.

Click to enlarge …

Pasewalk bypass on HSL Neubrandenburg - Szczecin.

The remaining 35-km line to Szczecin has a good alignment, crossing only a few low ridges (20-30 m above adjoining terrain). Upgrading of the single-track line as Ausbaustrecke is the most appropriate option, with line speeds of 200 km/h or more.

The railway line between Zerrenthin and Stettin: on an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910.

Railway Zerrenthin - Stettin, around 1910.

Szczecin (formerly Stettin) has a population of 408 000, and is the capital of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, with about 1,7 million inhabitants. The line through the urban area is shared with the line from Berlin: the alignment is good, with room for extra tracks.

Directly north of the main station Szczecin Główny is an old swing bridge across Oder / Odra, with sharp curves on the approach. The old Stettin Hauptbahnhof was a through station, on the route from Berlin to the Pomeranian coast and Danzig. After the Second World War, the Oder became the German – Polish boundary, but Stettin and the Oder mouth were also transferred to Poland. The approaches to Szczecin Główny were reconstructed, making it a terminal station for trains from south and east, i.e. the rest of Poland. To restore its function as a through station, a new tunnel could replace the swing bridge, but that is not considered here.

The line into Szczecin Główny…

Rail line into central Szczecin from the east and south-east.

The existing line Neubrandenburg – Szczecin is 94 km long, the new line would be about 2 km shorter. It would have no intermediate stations, but some trains could serve Pasewalk. The present RegionalExpress takes 95 minutes for the journey, high speed trains would take about 35 minutes, depending on the standard of upgrading. The HSL from Rostock to Neubrandenburg would be about 100-105 km long, and the total Rostock – Szczecin journey would take about 75 minutes.

It would be possible to extend this high-speed corridor into Poland: logically, toward Poznan. Szczecin might also retain its present status, as a a terminus for trains from east of the Oder / Odra, and from Berlin. For though journeys, i.e. Rostock – Pomerania, passengers would then change trains at Szczecin. At the other end of the corridor, there would be a high speed line into Rostock from Lübeck.

High-speed rail line Neubrandenburg – Szczecin

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