Mittelland high-speed line Enschede – Hannover, part 3

This is the third part of a proposal for a high-speed line (HSL, Schnellfahrstrecke, Neubaustrecke) from Enschede to Hannover, part of an Amsterdam – Berlin line. The line takes its name from the Mittellandkanal which it parallels.

Read the introduction first. This part covers the line through Minden and on to Hannover. The previous post ended with the alignment along the Mittellandkanal, between Alswede and Isenstedt (20 km from Minden). There are two main options east from there.

The HSL could leave the canal at Isenstedt, and bypass Minden, about 6 km north of the city centre. This alignment (shown in green) would rejoin the main line to Hannover at Stadthagen. However, if the HSL avoids Minden anyway, then the most direct alignment is straight from Kalkriese to Hannover (shown in yellow). All alignments north of Minden, would cut through the Schaumburger Wald, to reach the existing Minden – Hannover line.

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HSL Enschede - Hannover through Minden, alignment options

Minden (population 82 000) is the largest urban centre between Bielefeld and Hannover. Routing the HSL near the city would allow trains from the east to access the station, and the Minden – Hannover section can be used by Dortmund – Bielefeld – Hannover high-speed trains. (The Dortmund – Minden line is partially upgraded for 200 km/h).

The only available surface alignment through Minden (shown in white) is along the southern bypass road (B65), and the former rail siding to Häverstädt. The HSL would follow the Mittellandkanal to Hille, cross the canal, and turn south-east. It would join the old rail alignment at Dützen, on the edge of the built-up area. The old line is free of buildings, presumably for a planned extension of the bypass. The HSL would cross the Weser alongside the road, and then turn east, south of the gravel pits. Very high speed is probably not possible, on the route through Minden.

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HSL Enschede - Hannover via Minden

The HSL would cross the existing Minden – Hannover line, bypass Bückeburg, and join the line further east.

The new line north of Bückeburg can also link to a new tunnel, under the Wesergebirge ridge (shown in green). The existing main line Dortmund – Minden – Hannover passes through a gorge cut by the Weser, at Porta Westfalica. The new tunnel would be used by high-speed trains between Hannover and Bielefeld, by-passing Minden: more on this later.

An alignment through Minden allows link curves into the station, from east and west (shown in red). The western curve would diverge from the HSL before it crosses the Weser, and requires an additional bridge. The eastern curve is located where the HSL crosses the existing line to Hannover.

About 4 km east of Bückeburg station, the HSL would join the existing alignment. Upgrading of this line as Ausbaustrecke was officially planned, but has been suspended. The HSL would require a 4-track line through Stadthagen, upgraded for high speed. This should not be a problem: the line is almost straight.

HSL Enschede - Hannover from Minden to Hannover (NBS, ABS)

A new cut-off line from Haste to Seelze (avoiding Wunstorf) would complete the high-speed route. From there it is 11 km to Hannover Hauptbahnhof.

The entire alignment Enschede – Hannover via Minden would be about 215-220 km long. With a line speed of 300 km/h (except through Minden), that should allow a journey time of around one hour.

The line speed on the connecting HSL Hannover – Berlin is nominally 250 km, but that only applies to its middle section. (Trains take 1h 40min, an average speed of only 155 km/h). New parallel tracks on that line, could bring total Amsterdam – Berlin journey time down to 3 h 20 mins, over a total route length of 615-625 km.

Mittelland high-speed line Enschede – Hannover, part 3

Mittelland high-speed line Enschede – Hannover, part 2

This is the second part of a proposal for a high-speed line (HSL, Schnellfahrstrecke, Neubaustrecke) from Enschede to Hannover, part of an Amsterdam – Berlin line. The line follows the Mittellandkanal at the edge of the North German Plain, and takes its name from the canal.

Read the introduction first. The alignment is over 200 km long, and is not described in great detail.

The line would start at a fully reconstructed station in Enschede, the de facto capital of Twente. From there, trains would use a four-tracked line toward Gronau and Münster. Between Gronau and Ochtrup, the HSL to Münster would diverge onto its own alignment. The Mittelland-HSL would follow the of the proposed new link from Ochtrup to Rheine. That line is also intended for regional trains. It would be disruptive to build a 4-track line (with a 300 km/h alignment) through Ochtrup, so the HSL would probably run north of the town. It could run alongside the regional line, for about 10 km.

As it passes the airbase / barracks (Theodor-Blank-Kaserne), the regional line would turn south-east, to join the Ems valley line into Rheine station. The HSL would continue north-east, turning east as it crosses the Ems river, north of Rheine. The closer to Rheine, the shorter the route, However the line must avoid historic buildings at Bentlage, and nature reserves along the river. It could pass south of junction 7 on the A30, cutting through Güterverkehrszentrum Nord-West and crossing the Dortmund-Ems Kanal at Altenrheiner, with a tunnel under the river. A longer but simpler alignment would run north of the Theodor-Blank-Kaserne, north of junction 7, cutting through Industriegebiet Holsterfeld.

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High-speed line Enschede - Hannover by-passing Rheine

In both cases, the HSL would pass south of Dreierwalde, and then run east to the Mittelland Kanal near Obersteinbeck. The eastbound link line from Rheine would join the HSL there. This link could also be used by local trains, onto the Tecklenburger Nordbahn (currently freight-only). The HSL might follow the alignment of the Tecklenburger Nordbahn to Recke, or it might join the canal between Obersteinbeck and Recke.

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High-speed line Enschede - Hannover, from Rheine to Recke

The line would now follow the canal eastwards, although not directly on the canal bank, which was not designed to carry a rail line. Along the canal, there are industrial sites with quaysides, and occasionally housing. The HSL would run about 20-50 m from the canal, and in places diverge from it.

At Bramsche, the line would run south of the Mittellandkanal. The canal alignment is curved, wit housing and industry alongside it. The HSL would cross the canal again, to pass the Kalkrieser Berg on the north bank (avoiding the archaeological zone).

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High-speed line Enschede - Hannover south of Bramsche

Kalkriese is the most northern point on this HSL. The rest of the alignment is determined by the section near Minden. One possibility is that the line simply runs east from Kalkriese to Hannover (shown in yellow below). The versions described here assume a route through Minden, or just north of it.

The line could turn away from the Mittellandkanal at Kalkriese, pass north of Bohmte, and rejoin it on the straight section Wimmer – Alswede. This variant could have a connection from the Bremen line for Osnabrück – Hannover trains, but its utility is reduced by the longer route through Bohmte.

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High-speed line Enschede - Hannover, alignments near Bohmte

The HSL could also follow the Mittellandkanal along the foot of the hills (Wiehengebirge), and pass south of Bohmte. That would allow a more effective connection from Osnabrück: via the existing line through Ostercappeln, or via a new tunnel under the ridge. The HSL would run about 2 km north of the canal at Bad Essen, avoiding a curved section with canal-side housing. It would rejoin the Mittellandkanal at Wimmer, the beginning of the straight section to Alswede.

From Alswede to Isenstedt, the line would follow the canal again. At Isenstedt, 20 km from Minden, the possible alignments diverge. These alignments (passing Minden) are covered in the third part of the description.

Mittelland high-speed line Enschede – Hannover, part 2

Mittelland high-speed line Enschede – Hannover, part 1

This high-speed line (HSL, Schnellfahrstrecke, Neubaustrecke) from Enschede to Hannover, would connect to the existing high-speed line Hannover – Berlin, creating an east-west Amsterdam – Berlin route. The proposal is a completely new line, roughly parallel to the existing main line through Osnabrück. Unlike the old line, it would avoid the hills of the Niedersächsische Bergland. Instead, it would run through the North German Plain at the foot of the hills, exactly like the east-west Mittellandkanal. The name ‘Mittelland HSL’ is therefore appropriate.

The topography of the line: extract from topographic map of Germany by Botaurus, CC 3.0 licence.

High-speed line Enschede - Hannover along Mittelland-Kanal

The new high-speed line would have no intermediate stations. Enschede is not on the existing main line: the proposal assumes construction of a HSL Amsterdam – Zwolle, and a connecting Zwolle – Twente HSL. It is logical for this new HSL to serve Enschede, the largest city in Twente. Another new HSL would extend the high-speed route to Münster.

The Mittelland HSL would diverge from that line, east of Gronau. It would pass north of Rheine, crossing the existing main line. From there, its alignment is determined by the edge of the hills, especially the tip of the Wiehengebirge, at Kalkriese. That is a strategic passage between the hills and the marsh – the probable site of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (Varusschlacht).

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Mittelland-HSL from Enschede to Hannover, north of Wiehengebirge

The high-speed route from Amsterdam to Hannover would be about 355-365 km long. The section Amsterdam – Zwolle – Enschede is about 140-145 km. Depending on the alignment, the Enschede – Hannover line would be about 215-220 km long. (The Hannover – Berlin line is 258 km long).

The new line does not serve any cities. There are no major settlements: that is why there is no existing rail line on this route. The HSL would however connect to the Osnabrück – Bremen line, and to the existing main line near Minden. Part of the Minden – Hanover section would be shared with a Ruhr – Hannover high-speed route. (This section is equivalent to the planned ABS/NBS Seelze – Haste – Minden, which is suspended due to lack of funds).

The geography of the existing east-west main line was determined by the settlements. In contrast to the usual pattern, the hills were densely populated, and the plain relatively empty. From Rheine, the old line runs between the ranges Wiehengebirge and Teutoburger Wald, passing through Osnabrück (population 163 000). At Löhne, it joins the main line from the Ruhr. Together they pass through a gap in the hills near Minden, cut by the river Weser – the Porta Westfalica. The line zig-zags to serve Minden (population 82 000), and then turns toward Hannover, across flat terrain.

The new line would not pass through either Rheine or Osnabrück. It could connect to Rheine station from both east and the west, and it could provide a new route Osnabrück – Hannover, with a south-to-east curve from the Bremen line. The HSL could pass north of Minden, but possibly through the urban area, south of the centre. A HSL through the city, could be used by Minden – Hannover trains, and trains from Dortmund and Bielefeld.

The second and third part of this post describe the alignment, from west to east – but not in great detail, since it is over 200 km long:

Mittelland high-speed line Enschede – Hannover, part 1