This Rostock – Stralsund high-speed rail line (HSL) is a logical extension of the earlier proposal for a HSL Lübeck – Rostock. They form part of a series of proposals, for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction: new rail infrastructure north of Berlin.
The new HSL would link Rostock (population 203 000) to Stralsund (population 58 000), with no intermediate stations. It would follow the existing line, the 73-km single-track Rostock – Stralsund line (1888). The alignment is relatively direct, and in places straight. It is suitable for a high-speed line, the only question is whether to upgrade it (Ausbaustrecke), or build a parallel new line (Neubaustrecke).
The line has only minimal passenger services, but it does carry freight between Rostock and the ferry port at Sassnitz-Mukran (on the island of Rügen). A parallel HSL would allow separation of this incompatible freight traffic, and regional services can still use the existing stations. (A completely new alignment, from the outskirts of Rostock to Velgast, is also possible).
The existing line at Behrenshagen, image by Richard Schröder under CC 3.0 licence…
The new line is intended for high-speed services along the Baltic coast. It is not intended for Rostock – Szczecin traffic, since there would be a new high-speed route via Neubrandenburg. It is logical to extend some services to the island of Rügen. The island is a tourist destination, and the ferry port does have passenger services. Extension of a regular service from Lübeck is more logical than the present irregular services from Berlin, which require a reversal at Stralsund.
The line passes through flat agricultural land, with some forest. The area is thinly populated, so there are few obstacles to the construction of new sections, where the old line curves too sharply. The only town on the line is Ribnitz-Damgarten, in fact two large adjoining villages.
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The best solution is a new exit line to Kassebohm station, across the river Warnow floodplain: that would require some limited demolition. The upgraded line through Rostock must also separate high-speed trains from S-Bahn and regional trains, and from port traffic.
Outside Rostock, short sections of new alignment would be needed to bypass stations with sharp curves, as at Rövershagen (junction for the regional line to Graal-Müritz). The line passes the southern edge of Ribnitz, but the existing alignment is wide enough for new tracks. At Damgarten, the new line can run further south, avoiding the village.
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Similar station bypasses would be needed at Velgast (junction for the line to Barth) and Martensdorf. They could be in tunnel or on viaduct, depending on the local circumstances.
In Stralsund, the entry line is almost straight, and suitable for upgrading. However, Stralsund Hauptbahnhof was built as a terminal for services from Berlin, and the less important line from Rostock curves sharply, to enter it. This curve is double-track, but trains from Rostock can only use one platform – the others are terminal platforms, for trains from the south (Berlin). There is no way to improve the curve itself, but the level crossing at this point must be removed (Tribseer Damm).
The line to Rügen is also a problem. Trains from Rostock continue south from the station, turn north-east, and cross to Rügen via bridge and causeway (Rügendamm). Trains from Berlin reverse at the main station. The curved link line to the causeway is inside the built-up area, which restricts its re-alignment.
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There is new road bridge, but the rail line is still single-track with a lifting bridge. The bridge can be doubled, but the lifting section would remain an obstacle to frequent services. A rail tunnel seems the only option, but that is not considered further here.
The new Rostock – Stralsund HSL would be slightly shorter than the existing line, because of the bypass sections. With a new HSL on almost flat terrain, journey time can be very short, about 25 minutes.