Upgraded Krefeld – Mönchengladbach line

Earlier proposals here for a high-speed rail line from Nijmegen and a connecting line across the Rhine to Düsseldorf Airport would transform the position of Krefeld in the rail network. It would be on a main route from the Netherlands to the Rhine-Ruhr region, and therefore more important as a rail junction. Improvement of the existing Krefeld – Mönchengladbach line is logical in that context.

Duisburg – Mönchengladbach line: map by Maximilian Dörrbecker under CC2.0 licence


The line is almost straight to Anrath, and then curves back and forth through Viersen. That is partly because it was rerouted in 1917, adding two additional curves. The line originally followed the present main road (Kölnische Strasse), straight from Viersen to Mönchengladbach.

The line into Krefeld from Anrath would also be used by trains from the proposed high-speed rail line Venlo – Neuss, and from the proposed regional rail line Venlo – Grefrath – Krefeld. It would therefore need four tracks.

The Krefeld – Mönchengladbach line can be shortened, and capacity improved, by a new 5-km bypass of Viersen. It would turn south just west of Anrath station, and run through flat agricultural land, rejoining the line north of the old Helenabrunn station. The alignment shown avoids most housing, but some demolition is inevitable. Just before it rejoined the existing line, the bypass would cross the proposed extension of S-Bahn line S28 Düsseldorf – Neuss – Kaarst.


The bypass only makes sense for fast through trains. If all trains stop at Viersen (population 75 000), no bypass is needed. Two tracks are probably enough for the Anrath -Viersen section, as far as the junction with the line from Venlo. There are four tracks available into Viersen station, which would also be used by the S28, preferably extended to Venlo. That requires either two grade-separated junctions, north and south of Viersen station, or a flyover for the line from Anrath. (In that case the S28 would use the eastern tracks through the station, and on toward Neersen).

Approaching Mönchengladbach, the line has three tracks: one is the start of the freight bypass, which is still in use. It diverges from the main line after the crossing of the A52 Autobahn. Possibly a rerouted Iron Rhine would join the line here, see Eiserner Rhein: Trassenvergleich.

In Mönchengladbach, the curve at Hohenzollernstrasse needs improvement, and especially the curves and junctions at Mönchengladbach Hauptbahnhof. Just before the station is the junction with the line from Neuss.

Possible realignments at Mönchengladbach Hbf …


At present, line from Neuss is used regularly only by line S8 of the S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr, but a grade separated junction would facilitate its planned extension to Rheydt, integration with a regional service to Venlo, and the planned S21 toward Duisburg. There is certainly sufficient space for a new junction outside the station.

South of the station, the line continues through Mönchengladbach to Rheydt: this is the main Aachen line. Near the station it had four tracks, and that can be restored, but most of this section is double-track. Extra tracks are needed here, for about 3 km. A new S-Bahn station (MG-Fachhochschule) is planned here. After Rheydt, the line to Köln and the former Iron Rhine diverge from the Aachen line. These lines, and the junction at Rheydt, are not considered further here.

Upgraded Krefeld – Mönchengladbach line

New line Krefeld – Düsseldorf

The proposed high-speed rail line Nijmegen – Köln would create a new route into Krefeld from the Netherlands. A new line from Krefeld to Düsseldorf is a logical extension of that route. The high-speed line (HSL) would bypass Krefeld itself, but would have a short link to the existing line from Kempen. With a new line across the Rhine, trains from Nijmegen could leave the HSL, serve Krefeld, and then continue to Düsseldorf. The new line would also give the existing regional line from Kleve (Linksniederrheinische Strecke), a more direct route into Düsseldorf.


The proposed HSL Venlo – Neuss would also create a new route into Krefeld. It would connect to the Viersen – Krefeld line at Anrath. In that case, however, it is more logical that trains from Venlo continue toward Duisburg over existing lines.

Existing routes Krefeld – Düsseldorf

There is no direct rail connection from Krefeld to Düsseldorf, at least no mainline railway. The Stadtbahn Düsseldorf has two lines to Krefeld, U70 and U76. Despite the U prefix, only the central Düsseldorf section is in tunnel. With 25 intermediate stations on the 23-km route, this line is not intended for fast travel between city centres. Built in 1898 as an interurban tram line, it is unsuitable for any other type of service.

Otherwise, travel from Krefeld to Düsseldorf requires a detour. The shortest route is south to Neuss, and then across the Rhine into Düsseldorf. It is also possible to go northeast to Duisburg, and then south to Düsseldorf. That route passes Düsseldorf Airport, the third largest in Germany. However, Bahnhof Düsseldorf Flughafen has a peripheral location, with a people-mover connection to the terminals.

There were plans for a new S-Bahn line S22, from the airport terminal across the Rhine, to Meerbusch on the Neuss – Krefeld line. That would have connected Krefeld to Düsseldorf, but again via an indirect route: the plans have been abandoned anyway.

New alignment

The ideal route would be from Düsseldorf, via the airport, to Krefeld. That would require a new station under the terminal and under the existing S-Bahn station, aligned roughly northwest to southeast, with a tunnel under the runways. That seems impossible to build under a functioning airport. There is no point in building a second peripheral station, so the best option is to use the existing line past the airport, and the existing Düsseldorf Flughafen station. Trains would therefore use the main Düsseldorf – Duisburg line for 8 km, to that station. It has sufficient capacity: two platforms for the S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr, and four tracks for the main line.

A new alignment to Krefeld would diverge from the main line at the airport perimeter, and turn west to cross the Rhine. It would join the line into Krefeld at the Oppum rail junction, about 3 km from Krefeld Hauptbahnhof. The exact alignment would be determined by the built-up areas, and possibly by the local geology. Certainly the Rhine would be crossed in tunnel, somewhere between Wittlaer and Kaiserswerth. To pass under the built-up area here, the entire alignment on the east bank could be in tunnel.


On the west bank, the line would probably pass under Nierst: it would still be in deep tunnel here, so close to the river. After that, the line would pass between Gellep-Stratum and Lank, toward Oppum. This is an agricultural area, so the line could be on surface.

Close to Oppum the line must cross a new commercial zone. Some demolition will be inevitable here, but that can be minimised by following the Heinrich-Malina Strasse. This section would be in cut-and-cover tunnel, ending at a grade-separated junction with the line from Duisburg. It would be logical to reconstruct the entire three-way junction at Oppum. If there is insufficient space, then the new line might continue in tunnel alongside Krefeld-Oppum station, joining the existing four-track section west of the station.


The new alignment would be about 13 km long. Krefeld would then be 17 km from Düsseldorf Flughafen station, and 25 km from Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof. The route would have two intermediate stations: Düsseldorf Flughafen and Oppum (if the junction design allows access to the platforms).

The constraints on the alignment will limit high speeds, but the journey time should be under 12 minutes. For the HSL, the new line would create two routes from Nijmegen to Köln: one via Neuss, and one via Krefeld and Düsseldorf. Some high-speed trains might stop at Düsseldorf Flughafen station. All regional services from the Linksniederrheinische Strecke would certainly stop at the airport.

New line Krefeld – Düsseldorf

Rail line Münster – Kleve – Nijmegen, part 1

East of the Rhine, west of Münsterland, south of Twente, and north of the Ruhr, there is a classic ‘peripheral zone’. It does not fully belong to those regions, it is divided between the Netherlands and Germany, and it does not have a specific name. The cross-border rail lines here, and many local lines, were closed. The only main transport axis across the region is the A31 Autobahn (Oberhausen – Emsland).

The peripheral location is evident on the map of rail services in Nordrhein-Westfalen: the ominous green line is the border, which they do not cross…

The proposal here is an east-west rail service across this region, from Münster to Nijmegen. It would run via Coesfeld (or possibly Dülmen), Borken, Bocholt and Emmerich, following the former Baumbergebahn. Most of this line is now closed: trains would use re-opened sections, some new alignments, and parts of existing lines.

Click to enlarge…

New rail line Münster - Bocholt, part of line to Kleve

The old line ended at Empel-Rees Station: the new service would cross the Rhine via the proposed Kleve – Elten – Arnhem line, using a new Rhine bridge or tunnel. To reach Nijmegen, trains would reverse at Kleve, and use a re-opened rail line to Nijmegen.

The proposal is a double-track electrified line, with a line speed of 150 km/h, suitable for an intensive regional service. (As with other similar proposals at this blog, there is no point in deliberately building a new low-quality line).

The proposed east-west line is complementary to earlier proposals here, for re-opening of the ‘north-south’ lines through the region (in reality, north-west to south-east):

The line would also connect with existing lines to Enschede, Dortmund, Krefeld, Duisburg, Wesel and Oberhausen, and with Intercity and regional services at Münster and Nijmegen. There are other proposals: the regional rail transport authority ZVM has proposed a new rail corridor Wesel – Bocholt – Borken – Münster. (The disused Wesel – Haltern line would provide a more direct route).

The route in sections

From Münster, the existing 41-km line to Coesfeld would be upgraded: it is the only remaining section of the Baumbergebahn (now RB63). Near Münster the terrain is flat, and the line consists of straight sections. It can easily upgraded: there would be extra stations at Mecklenbeck and Roxel. The section over the Baumberge ridge, between Havixbeck and Billerbeck, has many curves. The terrain does not require them: the climb is at most 60 m, and the section could be re-aligned. Curve improvement is also necessary between Billerbeck and Lutum.

Click to enlarge: the curving line between Havixbeck and Billerbeck stations, highlighted…

Rail line Havixbeck - Billerbeck along Baumberge ridge

The alignment through Coesfeld is shared with the former Ruhr – Wilhelmshafen line, which is closed between Lutum and Rheine. (The two lines ran parallel, but separately). Coesfeld (population 36 000) is the regional centre of western Münsterland. It is served by the only surviving cross-border line in the region, the RB51 Enschede – Dortmund.

After Coesfeld station, the Baumbergebahn made a U-turn, turning north-west to Gescher. From there, it turned south-west to Borken, via Velen. This is an indirect route, and there are two alternatives. One is a more direct route to Velen, and the other is a new line further south, via Reken and Heiden. (The old alignment via Gescher might be used for a new line to Winterswijk: more on that later).

Click to enlarge: two possible alignments, red and brown dotted lines, by-passing former alignment through Gescher…

New rail line between Coesfeld and Borken, variant alignments

The new line to Velen would turn west, at the old junction south of Coesfeld, and then run due west to Stevede. It would run alongside the L58, and pass south of Hochmoor, with a station on the Rekener Strasse (L608). It would pass south of Velen, with a station on the L829, also called Rekener Strasse here. (The old station at Velen was on the west side of the village).

Click to enlarge…

New rail line on former Baumbergebahn Borken - Ramsdorf - VelenNew rail line Coesfeld - Velen, replacing Baumbergebahn alignment

West of Velen, the new line would rejoin the ‘old alignment’. In fact, this has been ploughed over, and is no longer visible in most places. The new line would follow it only approximately, although in Ramsdorf the old station site is still available. In the built-up area of Borken itself, the alignment is still available, although there are some buildings alongside it. The new Coesfeld – Borken line via Velen, would be about 28 km long.

A new alignment via Reken would start south of Maria-Veen station, on the line to Dorsten (RB45). The new line would run south of Reken and Heiden, and join the other line from Dorsten (RE14), 3 km south of Borken station. However, the entire 15-km alignment is within the Naturpark Hohe Mark, a protected landscape.

This section would make more sense, as part of a longer alignment via Dülmen, avoiding Coesfeld entirely. Dülmen is on the main Ruhr – Münster – Hamburg line, 29 km south of Münster. The new line would turn west toward Reken, and from there via Heiden to Borken. This option would allow faster services, but it fails to link the regional centres west of Münster, which is a main aim of this proposal.

Click to enlarge…

New rail line Coesfeld - Borken via RekenNew rail line Münster - Borken via Dülmen and Reken

At Borken (population 41 000), the east-west line would allow interchange with the restored regional route Apeldoorn – Winterswijk – Borken – Essen, and possibly with a longer inter-regional line Zwolle – Essen. The present service is the RE14 Borken – Essen.

From Borken, the east-west line would continue to Bocholt, Emmerich and Kleve. That section is described, in the second half of this post.

Rail line Münster – Kleve – Nijmegen, part 1

Moers – Kamp-Lintfort regional line

This proposal would use old alignments north of Moers, for local services to Kamp-Lintfort, possibly with a new section. It is complementary to the proposed new line across the Rhine from Oberhausen to Moers.

Moers (population 107 000) is on the Niederrheinstrecke – the former rail line along the Rhine left bank between the Ruhr and Nijmegen. It now stops at Xanten, and carries a limited Regionalbahn service Duisburg – Xanten. Kamp-Lintfort (population 39 000) lies 8 km north-west of Moers. It is a mining town, dominated by Bergwerk West, incorporating the former Friedrich Heinrich mine. This is the last remaining deep coal mine on the Lower Rhine, and is scheduled to close in 2012.

The mine (Friedrich Heinrich shafts 1/2) was served by a separate coal line to a harbour at Homberg (now connected to the Niederrheinstrecke at Rheinkamp). There was originally no link from Moers toward Kamp-Lintfort via this line. A never-completed line from Meerbeck junction (Abzweigstelle) to Geldern passes south of Kamp-Lintfort.

Click to enlarge: even though it was never brought into use, the 1918 Meerbeck junction – Geldern line is clearly visible, as a diagonal line on the image, from north of Moers to south of Geldern…

So the proposed line can not be considered a ‘re-opening’: there never was a passenger rail line from Moers to Kamp-Lintfort. The simplest option is to use the never-opened alignment from Meerbeck junction. Trains would reach it over the Niederrheinstrecke (shown in orange), with a possible new station at Baerler Strasse / Bismarckstrasse.

The ‘new’ line (white dashed line) would have stations at the Rheinberger Strasse, and at the Kamper Strasse. Housing and commercial buildings there, and at Utforter Graben, would need to be demolished. After the crossing with the Autobahn A57, a short section (beside the Norddeutschland-strasse) would connect the line to Kamp Lintfort. There, it would use the existing coal line, ending at a station on the Friedrichstrasse, about 500 m from the centre.

A more difficult option is a new alignment in tunnel, through Utfort, Eick, and Repelen (shown in blue). It would also diverge from the Xanten line at the Meerbeck junction, and descend into tunnel. It would then run north-west under the Rathausallee, probably in cut-and-cover tunnel. The first station would be at the crossing with the Rheinberger Strasse, at the 1910 town hall (Rathaus). In Eick and Repelen, the line would need a bored tunnel, as it can not follow a main street alignment. It would join the coal line to Kamp-Lintfort, at the Kamper Strasse. However, this is an active mining area: it will suffer subsidence, for decades after the last mines close. That makes tunnel construction difficult, even if the mines themselves are much deeper (500-1000 m).

Both route options are about 11 km long. If services start at Moers, then a light-rail option would be appropriate. If trains go further, for instance south to Krefeld, then only a heavy-rail S-Bahn service would be appropriate.

Moers – Kamp-Lintfort regional line

New line across the Rhine from Moers

Moers (population 107 000) is close to the edge of the Rhine-Ruhr agglomeration: it lies across the Rhine from Duisburg. The city is on the Niederrheinstrecke, the rail line along the left bank of the Rhine – originally to Nijmegen, but now only to Xanten. Despite its size, Moers is served by only Regionalbahn 31: every 30 minutes from Duisburg to Moers, every 60 minutes from there to Xanten.

The proposed Nijmegen – Kleve – Xanten – Wesel line would restructure the rail link along the Rhine, connecting it to Wesel. The Duisburg – Xanten service would be retained, with an upgraded line and improved services. However, the existing 16 km line from Duisburg to Moers is indirect: trains run first toward Krefeld, and turn toward Moers at Rheinhausen. The route Moers – Oberhausen (highlighted in green on the map) is roughly semi-circular. A more direct link would improve cross-Rhine travel. It would also facilitate reopening of local lines east of Moers – to Geldern via Vluyn, and via Hüls to Kempen.

Some plans for the Stadtbahn Duisburg included a line to Moers. On the map below the ‘Stadtbahnplanung 1975’ is shown in grey. (Rhein-Ruhr network map by Sebastian Sothen, Creative Commons Licence 3.0).

The only underground line in Duisburg (U79), goes no further than Meiderich-Süd station (north of the river port). That station is on the short line Oberhausen – Duisburg – Ruhrort, and there were also proposals to extend that line across the Rhine to Moers (by bridge or tunnel). It could be connected to the existing freight line across the Rhine, over the Haus Knipp Eisenbahnbrücke. However, the freight line does not serve the built-up area of Moers.

The other options are:

  • an extension of Duisburg tram 901, from the Friedrichsplatz in Ruhrort, across the Rhine on the Friedrich Ebert bridge, and then via Homberg and the Homberger strasse to Moers. Line 901 is a surface tramline, with a short tunnel section in Duisburg city centre. This tunnel to Duisburg Hauptbahnhof is also used by the underground U79 Stadtbahn line. To improve interchange in Ruhrort, the Duisburg-Ruhrort station should be relocated southwards to Friedrichsplatz. (At most a short tunnel is needed, under the Eisenbahnstrasse).
  • a full underground Stadtbahn line, extending the short tunnel section of line 901 to Ruhrort, under the Rhine, and under the Homberger strasse to Moers. At least as far as Ruhrort, the underground line would replace tram 901.
  • an S-bahn line from Oberhausen over the existing alignment to Ruhrort, and then by bridge or tunnel across the Rhine, and under the Homberger strasse to Moers.

Click to enlarge…

Between Moers and Homberg, the Stadtbahn and S-Bahn alignments and stations would be similar. A tram would have more stops (approximately those of bus 911). The stations shown are at Bahnhof Moers on the line to Xanten (about 700 m from the Altstadt), 1100 m further in Hochstrass (Römerstrasse), and 1700 m further in Hochheide (Markt), There wold be two stations in Homberg, both under the Lauerstrasse, about 1100 m and 1800 m from Hochheide Markt.

The S-Bahn option maximises improvement of cross-Rhine travel. It would require a 2000 m link across the Rhine, between Ruhrort and Homberg. The existing alignment from Oberhausen to Ruhrort (highlighted in blue on the first map) would be upgraded, double-tracked, and electrified. One additional station is possible, in Untermeiderich, at the existing underpass (Tunnelstrasse). A new grade-separated junction south of Oberhausen Hauptbahnhof would allow full access to the S-Bahn platforms – a precondition for extension of services eastwards.

Duisburg-Ruhrort station would certainly be relocated to Friedrichsplatz, with a new link line (blue-white). That is primarily to align the Rhine crossing (dashed line) parallel to the Friedrich Ebert bridge, but the new station (red) would be closer to Ruhrort itself. The triangular open space on the image is now occupied by a Kaufland store: the station would be between it and the older buildings. Interchange with tram 901 is unaffected.

After the east-west alignment through Moers, the line could terminate in the historic centre of Moers (Altstadt), at the very end of the Hombergerstrasse. This section probably requires a bored tunnel.

The S-Bahn alignment shown, crosses the Xanten line at right angles. A connection westwards to the Neukirchen-Vluyn line is technically possible, but that is not a good option for an S-Bahn extension. An extension to Kamp-Lintfort would be more logical. In that case, the line would leave the Homberger strasse alignment, to approach Bahnhof Moers from the south (orange line). From there, the existing alignment to Kamp-Lintfort is available (more on these lines later). For operational simplicity, however, it is probably best to separate the lines on the left and right banks of the Rhine, with the S-Bahn service ending in Moers.

The new alignment Ruhrort – Moers would be 8 km long, the existing line Ruhrort – Oberhausen is another 9 km. Journey time should be 20-25 minutes.

New line across the Rhine from Moers

Twente – Münster high-speed line

This proposed high-speed line (HSL, Neubaustrecke) would approximately parallel the existing 67-km single-track route Enschede – Gronau – Münster line. It would extend the proposed Zwolle – Twente high-speed line to Münster. In combination with a high-speed line from Amsterdam to Zwolle, that would create a much faster route from Amsterdam to Münster itself, and on into Nordrhein-Westfalen. Further high-speed lines west of Münster and on to Hannover could make this the fastest route to Berlin, and much of central Germany.

The line would follow the existing alignment from Enschede through Gronau, which would be fully reconstructed as a four-track route. Some sections in Enschede and Gronau would be in tunnel. The proposed new alignment would leave the existing line east of Gronau, and pass south of Ochtrup, north of Steinfurt, and between Nordwalde and Greven. It would then join the existing Ems valley line (Emden – Münster), about 5 km north of Münster Hauptbahnhof.


The present service from the Randstad to Twente consists of a half-hourly Intercity terminating at Enschede. The station in Enschede is built as a terminal station, facing west to the rest of the Netherlands. The line across the border was closed from 1981 to 2001, and is now run as a separate railway, with a single platform built alongside an office building. There is no track connection between the two systems.

The Intercity starts at Den Haag or Schiphol Airport (passengers to/from Amsterdam Centraal must change in Amersfoort). Four times a day, this service is replaced by an international train to Berlin, which acts as an Intercity train in the Netherlands. However, since the line toward Hannover and Berlin branches off at Hengelo, these four trains do not go to Enschede. They use the line to Salzbergen and Rheine via Bad Bentheim. There are no other services across the border here, because the voltage changes at Bad Bentheim, and neither country will pay for dual-system trains. From Rheine, the east-west line continues to Osnabrück and Hannover. The local service, Regionalbahn 61, turns south after Osnabrück, to terminate at Bielefeld. The proposed new link from Ochtrup to Rheine, would allow local, regional and European services to connect at Enschede, the largest city in Twente. Regionalbahn 61 (or its successor) can then serve Enschede, and the line through Bad Bentheim would have a local service with dual-system units, for instance Münster – Rheine – Hengelo.

The starting point of the new high-speed line, would be a new Enschede station – probably below street level since the alignment in central Enschede has many level-crossings. The station would be designed for through services, although it could include terminal platforms on the southern side (roughly the site of the present station). About 1 km east of the station, the line enters a tree-lined cutting, through residential areas. The only way to construct a 4-track line here, is in shallow tunnel. The line curves slightly here, but there should be sufficient clearance for easing the curve, if necessary.


East of Enschede, the line passes the Euregio business park, and housing at Glanerbrug. Here too, there should be sufficient clearance for a 4-track cut-and-cover tunnel. In Gronau itself the station area is wide enough to accommodate the upgraded line. East of the station, the alignment passes through a low-density residential area, where some demolition along the line will be inevitable.


From there the line continues in a straight line toward Ochtrup, and this section would be 4-tracked. The new high-speed alignment would diverge on the south side of the line, toward Bundesstrasse 54. From that point the existing line to Ochtrup and beyond would be double-track (and electrified). The link alignment shown is indicative only. The proposed HSL to Hannover would diverge west or east of Ochtrup.

The Münster HSL would follow the B54 south of Ochtrup, on its northern side. It would then turn almost due east, to avoid the low hills at Burgsteinfurt. Then it would turn south-east, around Steinfurt-Borghorst, toward Münster.


The alignments shown are schematic. From near Steinfurt-Borghorst, to the junction with the Ems valley rail line, the alignment crosses open, flat countryside,. It can be as near to a straight line, as local details will allow. It would join the line from Enschede, where it crosses the former Max-Clemens-Kanal, north of Münster-Kinderhaus. The HSL would run alongside the existing line for about 2 km, to its junction with the main Ems valley line. From there, the line would be 4-tracked into Münster Hauptbahnhof.


The new alignment would be about 65 km long, from Enschede to Münster. Aligned for 300 km/h on the new sections, the line should allow a journey time of under 25 minutes. The average speed of the Talent diesel units, on the existing single-track line, is only 50 km/h. With a high-speed route through Zwolle, an Amsterdam – Münster journey should take about 90 minutes. At present it takes 4 hours 20 minutes, including a 50-minute wait at Enschede: in the other direction it takes 3 hours 23 minutes.

Twente – Münster high-speed line