The Nijmegen – Kleve rail line closed in 1991, leaving Kleve with an isolated terminal station. The restoration of the line via Groesbeek and Kranenburg was described earlier. A new rail tunnel in Kleve itself seems essential. Although the alignment is still available, it crosses a canal and main roads, and passes through a residential area. It also crosses the baroque park and gardens (Tiergarten), just west of the built-up area. The present surface alignment is not suitable for a frequent regional service, which would justify re-opening the line.
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A regional tram line Nijmegen – Kleve was also proposed here earlier. The proposals are not incompatible. The tram does not need the rail alignment – it can enter Kleve via the main road. Restoration of a rail link to Nijmegen would be essential for other routes, such as the proposed regional line Nijmegen – Kleve – Xanten – Wesel, or extending the proposed Münster – Kleve regional line to Nijmegen. A new western exit from Kleve station could be used by the proposed Kleve – Elten line.
At present Bahnhof Kleve is the terminus of the Linksniederrheinische Strecke, with a 30-minute Regional-Express service (Niers-Express). The station location is good – about 5 minutes walk from the main street through the historic centre.
West of the station is the Spoykanal, a short canal which links Kleve to the Rhine. It was opened in 1658, but stayed in use for centuries: the industrial zone of Kleve grew along its banks. The section near the station is not navigable, not even for a canoe. Nevertheless, the rail alignment crosses a main road (Bensdorpstrasse), and passes the buildings of the new Hochschule Rhein-Waal. The canal zone is being slowly redeveloped.
On the line of the old railway is a car park – the only place in Kleve where the tracks are gone. A restored surface line would be possible, but a tunnel is preferable for planning and environmental reasons.
The exact location of the former track: the red wagon is part of the draisine depot, left the Baumarkt, right the Hochschule buildings…
By shifting the station platforms eastward, there would be about 450 m available for a tunnel entrance, between the station and the canal bank. The main road would be raised by a few metres, to clear the descending rail line.
On the other side of the Spoykanal, the rail tracks are still there. They are used for recreational draisines, a tourist attraction, and the depot is next to the car park. On both sides there are industrial / commercial uses (Baumarkt), but no substantial buildings. The Hochschule Rhein-Waal buildings are clear of the line. There is therefore sufficient space for a double-track line, and for a tunnel construction site.
The tunnel can simply continue to the edge of Kleve, passing under the baroque gardens. There is also a double tunnel option: the line would surface after crossing the Flutstrasse, using the surface alignment across the Spyckstrasse. This is a residential street, but without through traffic: there is only a cycle path across the line. The ring road (Klever Ring) crosses the line on viaduct here, directly above the cycle path. A new cycle / pedestrian tunnel would avoid a level crossing.
There are environmental problems with frequent train services here. On the other hand, a tunnel under the ring road would require reconstruction of the viaduct, which is also disruptive.
If the line is on surface at Spyckstrasse, there is just enough space to drop into a shallow tunnel under the Tiergarten park/gardens. A few houses north of the line would need a new access road. A continuous tunnel would avoid that problem. But with or without a surface section, the line must pass the gardens in tunnel.
Railway crosses ornamental lake in Baroque gardens: in the distance is Elten, across the Rhine. Image by Sebastian Veelken under CC 3.0 licence…
What it looks like in the park…
A separate tunnel under the gardens would be about 1000-1200 m long. The continuous tunnel would be about 3000 m long, from Kleve Station to the edge of the gardens. Both variants would surface near the minor road Stiller Winkel.
The tunnel could be built slightly north side of the existing line: that would allow two curves to be improved. In theory the tunnel would allow construction of a second station in Kleve, at Spyckstrasse. However, the surrounding residential area is too small to justify it, and there is no housing further west.
The old railway north to the Rhine diverged on a sharp curve, between the station and the Spoykanal. The alignment is disappearing, as the canal zone is redeveloped. A new line to Elten would probably run west of Kleve. In that case, the junction would be outside the built-up area and the Tiergarten park, near the tunnel portal. Trains to Elten and Nijmegen would then share the tunnel through Kleve. Possible alignments between Kleve and the Rhine, are not considered further here.