A new rail line Kleve – Emmerich is an alternative for the Kleve – Elten link, proposed here earlier. Both lines would use a new Rhine rail tunnel. Both are intended as part of a restructured rail network along the Lower Rhine. Both create a new rail link across the river, connecting west-bank and east-bank lines.
Specifically, a Kleve – Emmerich link would create a Nijmegen – Wesel route, an alternative for the proposed Nijmegen – Kleve – Xanten – Wesel line. A restored rail crossing at Wesel is nevertheless desirable.
A Kleve – Arnhem service is not possible via the Emmerich link. However, four rail lines converge on Arnhem from the east anyway. Adding a fifth would overload the section through Arnhem, which would have four tracks at best. Conversely, the Kleve – Emmerich link would not be logical without reopening of the line from Nijmegen, for regional rail services (i.e. not light-rail).
Unlike the line to Elten, the Kleve – Emmerich link would connect secondary regional centres. Kleve has 50 000 inhabitants, and is the administrative capital of Kreis Kleve, with 310 000 inhabitants. Emmerich am Rhein has a population of 30 000. Elten, on the other hand, has less than 5000 inhabitants.
Both lines would be about 11 km long, and in both cases a tunnel in the built-up area is required. The Kleve – Emmerich link is more complex, because there is no existing alignment to follow. The tunnel would require demolition near the station. It does not cross the Altstadt, but there are few historical buildings in Emmerich anyway: it was reduced to ruins in 1945.
Alignment from Kleve
The line alignment would start about 500 m east of Kleve station, before the junction with the disused line to Kalkar. This area is at present completely undeveloped. The line would curve north, crossing the ring road, into open agricultural land. It would pass south and then east of Haus Riswick, an agricultural research centre, still on open fields.
The alignment would then cross an old Rhine meander toward Warbeyen (Kellener Altrhein). Because this is a protected landscape, this section could be in tunnel.
At the small village of Warbeyen, the line would cut through the single street, near the Hövelscher Weg, in a cutting to minimise impact. This is a flood plain, and all tunnels and cuttings present a risk, but the design can accept occasional line closures. (The alternative is to put the line on viaduct, about 8 m above the farmland).
After passing Warbeyen, the line would drop into the main Rhine tunnel. The tunnel location is dependent on the alignment in Emmerich, and must avoid the foundation of the existing Rhine road bridge. The tunnel would probably cross the main Rhine dike near Jansenhof. At that point it would already be 20-30 m below the surface.
The road bridge at Emmerich: the tunnel would cross the Rhine behind the power line…
The alignment would turn toward Emmerich as it crossed the Rhine. On the north bank it could pass under the bridge deck, avoiding both the support towers and the approach road. If it crosses the approach road, it must also avoid the cable anchors, which are buried under the embankment. The alignment is further complicated by the chemical plant next to the bridge.
On the north side of the chemical plant (Wardstrasse entrance), the tunnel can pass under an office building. The alignment would then cross the Eltener Strasse, somewhere near the supermarket. The exact alignment from there to the station can not be given here. It would cross Heerenberger Strasse, Grollscher Weg and Van Gulpen Strasse
This last section would probably be built as a cut-and-cover tunnel, and in any case the tunnel is climbing to the surface here. Demolition is unavoidable: mainly austere post-war three-floor apartments. Average density is low, and there is enough disused open space to build replacement housing, probably 50 to 100 units.
Drastic demolition for new infrastructure in residential areas has generally been abandoned in Europe. (Many inner-city roads were built in that way, in previous decades). Emmerich is exceptional because the town was destroyed in 1944/45, and the reconstruction was of low quality.
The tunnel portal might be located about 400 m east of the station, or alternatively in the station zone itself. The level crossing before the station would be replaced. Possibly the main line would be lowered here: the exact solution depends on the site of the tunnel portal.
At the station, the new line joins the main line from Arnhem to Oberhausen. There is more than enough room here, for extra tracks and platforms. At present this is a terminal station with an infrequent service – the hourly Rhein-Express to Koblenz. With the introduction of the ICE, it lost most of its international trains, and the station looks desolate.
The new tunnel would be pointless without restructured and intensified services. That include restoration of passenger services from Arnhem (already planned), and the reconstruction of the line Arnhem – Oberhausen as a high-speed line (Ausbaustrecke). The proposed Münster – Kleve – Nijmegen line would also use the tunnel. Even without that long route, the tunnel would certainly carry a Nijmegen – Kleve – Emmerich service.