Regional rail line Schwerin – Lüneburg

This regional rail line Schwerin – Hagenow – Lüneburg is part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction, on new rail infrastructure north of Berlin.

The proposals is to join two existing lines: the main Berlin – Hamburg line, and the regional line Lübeck – Lüneburg. This requires a relatively short new link, from Boizenburg to Lauenburg.

New rail service Schwerin - Lüneburg.

The new link would allow a new regional service, between Schwerin (population 95 000) and Lüneburg (population 73 000). At present, travel between them requires a change at the village of Büchen. Direct services between regional centres are more logical, and rail infrastructure should be adapted to make that possible. (The current railway geography has historical origins: Lauenburg was part of Denmark until 1876, and was a border town with the GDR, during the division of Germany.)

New Schwerin – Lüneburg route

Schwerin – Lüneburg trains would first use the 29 km line to Hagenow. This double-track line would generally have sufficient capacity for extra services. In central Schwerin it is confined between buildings, and needs four tracks, but that is not considered further here.

At Hagenow, the line joins the main Berlin – Hamburg line. The Schwerin – Lüneburg trains would use this line for 33 km, as far as Boizenburg. The proposed service therefore assumes extra capacity on this section, preferably by construction of a new Berlin – Hamburg high-speed line (HSL), along the A24 Autobahn. It would start somewhere between Ludwigslust and Hagenow. (The A24 was the preferred alignment of the cancelled Transrapid maglev line).

Berlin - Hamburg high-speed rail line along A24 Autobahn, bypassing Hagenow.

A Schwerin – Lüneburg service would be an additional benefit from the HSL, although that alone would not be sufficient to justify such a project.

New alignment Boizenburg – Lauenburg

At Boizenburg, Schwerin – Lüneburg trains would leave the main Hamburg line. They would use a new line to Lauenburg – either through Boizenburg, or around it on the north side. A new line through the town could use the abandoned branch to the former Boizenburg Stadt station. That wool allow a new station close to the historic centre – the present station is about 2 km away.

Click to enlarge…

New rail line Boizenburg - Lauenburg, for through service Schwerin - Lüneburg.

However, Boizenburg lies at the foot of an escapement along the Elbe, and the old branch line was built at riverbank level. A new line here must drop into tunnel, under the built-up area north of the centre, and then climb about 30 m from the lower ground near the river. It would then follow the road to Lauenburg, which is at the edge of the escarpment, and not level either.

The simpler option is a line around Boizenburg. The existing station can be used, there is enough room for a grade-separated junction with the main line, and the ground rises less sharply. The line would first follow the B5 Boizenburg bypass , and then continue almost due west, to join the rail line at Lauenburg. Although this inland option is further from the Elbe escarpment, it would not be much longer – about 14 km station to station.

Click to enlarge…

Lauenburg, junction of new  rail line from Boizenburg (line Schwerin - Lüneburg).

Unlike Boizenburg, Lauenburg (population 11 000) is built on the Elbe escarpment itself. The station is in the floodplain, outside the town, and across the Elbe – Lübeck Canal. The new alignment would join the existing line, just north of its crossing with the B5.

Lauenburg – Lüneburg

Lauenburg station is on the Lübeck – Lüneburg rail line. 200 m from the station, the line crosses the Elbe on a combined road and rail bridge. The bridge was built for two rail tracks: the road was added during reconstruction in 1951.

Elbe bridge at Lauenburg, image by Torsten Bätge under CC 3.0 licence

Elbe road and rail bridge at Lauenburg.

The Elbe bridge would be reconverted to a rail bridge, with a new road bridge beside it, and the whole 17-km line to Lüneburg would be double-tracked and electrified. There is only one intermediate station on this section, at Echem, but the station at Adendorf could be reopened. At Lüneburg, the line would have interchange with the main Hamburg – Hannover line.

The new route would be 93-94 km long. The Schwerin – Hagenow section is almost straight, and the Berlin – Hamburg line has already been upgraded as Ausbaustrecke, for 230 km/h. The line from the Elbe to Lüneburg is also almost straight. With this potential for high speeds, and with 10 intermediate stations outside Schwerin, journey time could be 70-75 minutes. A fast service, stopping only at Hagenow, Boizenburg, and Lauenburg, would take less than an hour. In both cases, trains could start at Wismar, providing a through regional and inter-regional service.

Regional rail line Schwerin – Lüneburg

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