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