For years there has been discussion about re-opening the 29-km Nijmegen – Kleve railway, which closed in 1991. No decision was ever taken, and there is local opposition to re-opening. The last semi-official proposals, for a low-frequency diesel service, have now been abandoned.
Reopening of the line as a double-track regional line was proposed here earlier. This post will look at alternatives. At present Kleve (population 49 000) is the terminus of the Linksniederrheinische Strecke. This rail line itself runs via Kempen to Krefeld, Neuss and Köln, but at present Kleve has only a regional service to Krefeld and Düsseldorf.
The simplest alternative is a regional tram line Kleve – Nijmegen, not connected to any existing railway. The tram would run on street and new alignment from Nijmegen to Kranenburg, and possibly on the old rail alignment into Kleve.
The proposed rail line Kleve – Elten would connect the Linksniederrheinische Strecke, via a new Rhine tunnel, to the line into Arnhem. That has the advantage of improved connections, but the line into Arnhem station would be overloaded.
An alternative for that proposal is a new rail link Kleve – Emmerich, also via a new Rhine tunnel. However, that line is not an alternative for a Nijmegen – Kleve line. In fact it makes little sense without reopening of the line from Nijmegen, so that trains could run from Nijmegen to Emmerich via Kleve.
There are also alternatives which avoid Kleve entirely. The Linksniederrheinische Strecke could be connected to the Maas valley line into Nijmegen, by an east-west link south of the Reichswald. Although a new alignment is possible, the obvious option is restoration of the old Boxteler Bahn between Goch and the Maas valley line south of Cuijk.
The abandoned alignment east of Gennep…
Partial restoration was proposed here earlier for a Nijmegen – Gennep line . It would carry an urban-regional service, comparable to an S-Bahn. There would be room for an additional regional service to Krefeld and beyond, but restoration east of Gennep is difficult. The alignment of the Boxteler Bahn has been built over, on the east side of Gennep itself, and in Goch, and it cuts through a protected landscape. The greatest disadvantage is that the route Krefeld – Nijmegen would be longer, with no other apparent benefits.
It would also be possible to connect the proposed high-speed rail line Nijmegen – Köln to the Linksniederrheinische Strecke.
Again an east-west link south of the Reichswald is possible, on the Boxteler Bahn alignment, or alongside the Autobahn A57. Far simpler is to connect the lines at Nieukerk, where the HSL would cross the Linksniederrheinische Strecke. That would allow a fast inter-regional service from Nijmegen to Krefeld, and then for instance Duisburg. However, it would bypass not only Kleve, but most other towns on the Linksniederrheinische Strecke.
One other option is to abandon the connection with the Netherlands railway network. In that case the line can avoid Groesbeek: the Linksniederrheinische Strecke could be extended to a new station, on the eastern side of Nijmegen. The alignment would be similar to the proposed regional tram: on the old line as far as Kranenburg, then parallel to the main road, at the edge of the Rhine floodplain. Alternatively, it could run through the floodplain, diverging from the old line at Donsbrüggen (and bypassing Kranenburg).
However, a tram could climb the hill into central Nijmegen, and a train can not. Instead the passengers would have to walk uphill into the city centre. If they wanted to travel further by train, they would take a bus to the main station. Regardless of where exactly the new station was located, it would be inconvenient. That would outweigh a faster journey from Kleve: in that case the regional tram seems a better alternative.