Regional rail line Güstrow – Karow – Wittenberge

The restoration of through passenger services on an upgraded Güstrow – Karow – Wittenberge line is part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction, on new rail infrastructure north of Berlin.

The line crosses the Mecklenburg lake region, a major tourist and recreational region north of Berlin, with several nature reserves. The small town of Karow was once a minor railway junction, and could serve as a rail access point for the region.

The abandoned statin at Karow, image by Niteshift under CC3.0 licence


The route is 117 km long, and consists of three sections:

In the GDR period, a local train service ran south from Güstrow to Neustadt (Dosse), on the main line Hamburg – Berlin. Through services were abandoned after reunification. There are local plans to reactivate the line for freight.

Video: the Güstrow – Karow – Neustadt service before closure…

The disused alignment is protected in the new regional plan, Regionalen Raumentwicklungsprogrammes Westmecklenburg. The proposal here is to switch the southern terminal to Wittenberge, also on the main Hamburg – Berlin line. That would maximize regional and inter-regional interchange. Passengers to Berlin would change at Pritzwalk, onto the Prignitz-Express route (into Berlin via the Kremmener Bahn). The proposed pattern of service is shown below:

Rural regional lines in the Berlin / Schwerin / Rostock region.

The Güstrow – Karow – Wittenberge line is in blue, the Prignitz-Express route in orange. (The line to Neustadt would carry a through service from Schwerin, via a reopened Parchim – Putlitz line, shown in brown). All the lines would be electrified, and double-tracked where necessary, for a 30-minute service frequency.

At Karow, the line would cross the existing Ludwigslust – Waren rail line (light green), and a reopened line from Wismar (dark green). The restored junction would provide rail access to the lake region, with local lines in 5 directions from Karow.

Regional rail line Güstrow – Karow – Wittenberge

Regional rail line Schwerin – Rehna – Lübeck

The single-track railway from Schwerin toward Lübeck ends ‘temporarily’ at the village of Rehna. There was not enough money to build the missing section to Schönberg. 110 years on, there is still no money, but it will be “studied”, according to the new regional plan, Regionalen Raumentwicklungsprogrammes Westmecklenburg. Completion of the line is considered here, as part of a series of proposals for the triangle Hamburg – Berlin – Szczecin. Read first the introduction, on new rail infrastructure north of Berlin.

The proposed high-speed rail line Schwerin – Lübeck would carry all traffic between the two urban regions. The line via Rehna would then have a purely regional function. (It could carry a regional service through Schwerin to Parchim, as at present).

Missing link Rehna - Schönberg on the railway from Schwerin to Lübeck.

Besides construction of the missing section Rehna – Schönberg, the line should be electrified and upgraded. The present line speed is low: Rehna – Schwerin takes 45 minutes, for only 34 km. With a more intensive service on this line, and other proposed lines into Schwerin, the capacity of the line through Schwerin itself would also be a problem. A city-centre tunnel on the existing alignment seems the only solution, but that is not considered further here.

The missing section is about 11 km long. Rehna station is at the edge on the village, and there are no built-up areas to obstruct the alignment. The line would roughly follow the B104, passing only the small village of Roduchelstorf. (With only 250 inhabitants, it seems too small to justify a station). The new section would join the existing line east of Schönberg, probably near the B104 over-bridge. The earlier proposal for a high-speed rail line Lübeck – Rostock would require a bypass of the curves at Schönberg, but would not obstruct completion of the line from Rehna.

Regional rail line Schwerin – Rehna – Lübeck

Inter-regional line Graz – Zalaegerszeg

High-speed rail lines (HSL) along the eastern flank of the Alps, proposed here earlier, would transform the regional railway geography. The proposed HSL from Vienna (Wien) would split at Szombathely. The HSL to Maribor includes an interchange station at Szentgotthárd. That would allow interchange with the existing rail line from Graz, the Steirische Ostbahn along the Rába / Raab valley.

Video: the existing Szentgotthárd – Szombathely line…

The other branch of the high-speed line (HSL) from Vienna, the line to the Drava plains, would pass through Zalaegerszeg. However, there would still be no direct connection, from Graz to Zalaegerszeg.

Passengers from Graz to Zalaegerszeg could travel to Szentgotthárd, change to the HSL, travel north-east to Szombathely, and then back southwards to Zalaegerszeg. That is a long detour. Alternatively, they could travel to Maribor or Murska Sobota, and use the proposed inter-regional line Maribor – Murska Sobota – Zalaegerszeg. That too involves a long detour.

Click to enlarge: new link Maribor – Murska Sobota – Zalaegerszeg…

Maribor to Zalaegerszeg, inter-regional rail line via Murska Sobota.

A new regional service can be created, by building a new line across the Őrség hills. It would connect the Rába / Raab valley to the Zala valley, linking the existing rail lines in those valleys. From Graz into the Raab valley, trains would use the Steirische Ostbahn. In the Zala valley, they would use the Murska Sobota – Zalaegerszeg line. This cross-border line via Hodoš was re-opened in 2001, primarily as a transit route from Hungary to Slovenia. It was rebuilt to high standards, and was electrified in 2010.

Inter-regional rail line Graz - Zalaegerszeg via Szentgotthárd.

The only topographical obstacle is the Őrség ridge, but it is only about 100 m above the valley floors. The region is a national park, but the restored Hodoš line runs through it already, with extra environmental protection.

The new Raab – Zala link would start east of Szentgotthárd Although this is a small town (population 9000), it is a logical site for interchange between HSL and regional rail lines. That includes the proposed new link from the Thermenbahn at Fürstenfeld.

Click to enlarge: new 20-km link line Fürstenfeld – Szentgotthárd…


There are several possible alignments between the Raab and the Zala. The simplest would turn south from the Raab valley near Csörötnek, and pass through the Őrség region near Kondorfa. It would pass north of Őriszentpéter, and join the Zala valley line east of Nagyrákos. It would be about 20 km long: the S-shape is determined by the local topography.

Click to enlarge: The new line superimposed on the original railway geography, from an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910.

New rail line between Szentgotthárd and Nagyrákos, for line Graz - Zalaegerszeg.

The new line could also follow the existing Körmend – Zalalövő rail line, which crosses the ridge about 14 km further east. It is more of a straight line, but the junctions are aligned the wrong way for Graz – Zalaegerszeg traffic. Even with new approaches at both ends, this route would probably be as long as the first option.

In theory, there are many other possible alignments. The Raab and Zala valleys run parallel to each other, about 15 km apart, so all routes between them are approximately equal in length. However, the alignment near Őriszentpéter seems the most logical.

The line along the Zala into Zalaegerszeg is already upgraded, but is single-track. At present, traffic is low, but a regular inter-regional service would require capacity improvements. The Steirische Ostbahn between Graz and Szentgotthárd, about 82 km, also needs upgrading, and enough capacity for separate local and inter-regional services.

The total length of the new route Graz – Zalaegerszeg is about 143-145 km. With upgraded approaches to a new central section, journey time would be under two hours. At Zalaegerszeg, the line would connect to the proposed HSL to the Drava plain, and also to an upgraded line to Budapest (more on that later).

Inter-regional line Graz – Zalaegerszeg

Kutina – Pakrac regional line

The railway line to Pakrac is a rural branch line, in the Slavonian hills of Croatia, between the Sava and Drava valleys. The 30-km line is a remnant of a more extensive network of local railways in the region. It branches from the main line along the Sava, and once continued to the Drava plain, and across the river into Hungary (Barcs – Pakrac railway, 1885). The line is numbered L205, including the currently closed sections beyond Pakrac.

Click to enlarge: The original railway geography, from an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910

Railway Banova Jaruga - Pakrac, circa 1910.

The region was a front line (1991-1995) during the Croatian War of Independence, and was badly damaged. However, it is not ‘remote’: Pakrac is about 120 km from Zagreb. Upgrading of the line (and the minimal services) would integrate it with the Zagreb urban region (population over one million). The proposed Sava high-speed line from Zagreb to Vinkovci, and the associated upgrading of the existing main line, would transform the regional rail infrastructure. The regional centre of Kutina (population 15 000), would then be about 45 minutes from Zagreb, and upgrading of the line to Pakrac is a logical complement.

The junction station for the branch is Banova Jaruga, 9 km from Kutina. During construction of a high-speed line (HSL), it would be easier to relocate the entire line alongside the motorway, bypassing Banova Jaruga. The old Kutina – Banova Jaruga section, would then be treated as part of the Pakrac branch. With an additional third track for about 3 km east of Kutina station, the entire 40-km branch can be kept operationally separate from the main line.

Click to enlarge…

Zagreb - Vinkovci HSL with bypass Banova Jaruga

The line to Pakrac follows the valleys, but is reasonably direct. It climbs slowly, about 70 m over the 30 km from Banova Jaruga. There is no need for major new infrastructure, such as the proposed Nova Gradiška – Požega tunnel, further east. However, the simple rural line should however be upgraded sufficiently, to allow a journey time of about 35 minutes. Four stations are enough: Ilova (population 850), Banova Jaruga (750), Poljana (600), and Lipik (2300). The total population served is about 20 000: the town of Pakrac itself has 8 000 inhabitants.

Click to enlarge: the line approaching Pakrac, along the valley floor, highlighted…

Rail line from Banova Jaruga, L205, approach to Pakrac.

There is no technical obstacle to upgrading and re-opening of the line to Daruvar, 23 km further. However, the extension would only serve about 15 000 people, 9000 in Daruvar itself. Restoration of the entire line to the Drava plain, is not a logical option (discussion at forum). The alignment is circuitous, and does not correspond to any regional structural axis. A better option is a new transit line, parallel to the 70-km main road from Kutina to Virovitica. More on that later.

Kutina – Pakrac regional line

Vinkovci – Šamac cutoff line

The main north-south route through Bosnia was completed in 1966 in Tito’s Yugoslavia. It runs through Samac, Doboj, Sarajevo and Mostar, to Ploce on the Adriatic. However, it starts at the village of Vrpolje, which is on the main Zagreb – Belgrade line, but otherwise ‘in the middle of nowhere’. This illogical route was included in Pan-European Corridor Vc, only because nothing better was planned. No major work was done anyway, and these corridors are now under review.

The logical place for the north-south axis to start is Vinkovci, which is already a main railway junction. It would become more important with the high-speed lines (HSL) proposed here earlier. The Drava plain high-speed line, and the roughly parallel Sava valley high-speed line would converge at Vinkovci, and diverge again as high-speed routes to Belgrade, and to Novi Sad. The HSL Pécs – Osijek – Vinkovci would be the main north-south route into the region. Traffic form the Zagreb direction would however use the proposed Derventa cut-off line.

A new cut-off line from Vinkovci to Šamac would shorten the route between Vinkovci and Doboj, and create a much more logical junction with all other lines in the region.

High-speed lines to / from Vinkovci

There are no topographic obstacles to the line, although the area is low-lying. For about 15 km between Vinkovci and Cerna, the new line would parallel the existing branch line to Županja. The new line would also parallel the planned Sava – Danube canal (it has been planned since 1792).

Šamac is located at the confluence of the Bosna and Sava rivers. The original Austro-Hungarian line from Vrpolje opened in 1878: it terminated on the opposite bank of the Sava. The river was the border with Bosnia, which had just been occupied by Austria-Hungary. Only after the Second World War, was Šamac connected to Doboj and Sarajevo, replacing the earlier narrow-gauge route from Slavonski Brod. The line Šamac – Doboj follows the Bosna river: that is a logical route, but the connection to Vrpolje is not.

Click to enlarge: The original railway geography, from an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910, Šamac branch highlighted in blue…

Railways around Vinkovci and Šamac, Austro-Hungarian period.

Šamac is geographically in Bosnia, and is sometimes known as Bosanski Šamac. However, it is part of the Republika Srpska, which calls it simply Šamac. The settlement across the river, on the Croatian side, is known as Slavonski Šamac. The existing road/rail bridge (single-track) is sufficient for the limited traffic. A new line would need a double-track bridge, with a better approach curve.

The road / rail bridge at Šamac, on the Sava river.

At Vinkovci, the new cutoff line would approach from the west, alongside the local line from Županja (Croatian line L210). It would join the main line from Zagreb near the station. The low density in Vinkovci would allow a surface line with overbridges.

The alignment between Šamac and Vinkovci would be determined by local conditions. The planned canal is also intended for drainage, and runs through the lowest terrain, following smaller rivers. The new rail line can not entirely avoid these former marshes, which are clearly shown on the 1910 map. The best option is probably an alignment just west of Babina Greda, crossing both the canal and the motorway. It would then turn north-east, following the canal toward Cerna: this section would be on viaduct.

Cut-off rail line Vinkovci - Šamac, schematic.

The new line is intended for long-distance traffic, and would have no intermediate stations. The local line to Županja would be left much as it is, with a third track alongside the new line in Vinkovci itself. The new line would be about 38-40 km long, from the Sava bridge to Vinkovci station. That is about 15 km shorter than the existing route via Vrpolje, and with a new alignment, the journey time will be much shorter.

Vinkovci – Šamac cutoff line

Nieuw station Prinsenbeek-Zuid in Breda

Prinsenbeek is een forensendorp met 12 000 inwoners, dat inmiddels tot de gemeente Breda hoort. Het huidige Station Breda-Prinsenbeek ligt op de lijn uit Rotterdam en Dordrecht. Het ligt niet optimaal ten opzichte van de bebouwde kom, en is ook daarvan gescheiden, door de A16 en de HSL-Zuid. Hier werd eerder een tramlijn naar Prinsenbeek voorgesteld, dat ook bij het station eindigt.

Bestaande en nieuwe stations in Breda Prinsenbeek.

Om de bebouwde kom van Prinsenbeek beter te bedienen, is ook een station aan de zuidkant wenselijk, aan de spoorlijn Roosendaal – Breda. Op deze lijn was er vroeger ook geen station bij Prinsenbeek – de voormalige halte Liesbosch lag verder naar het westen (aan de Zanddreef). Inmiddels is Prinsenbeek wel naar deze spoorlijn toe gegroeid.

Over deze lijn rijdt de “Intercity” Roosendaal – Zwolle, dat ook in Etten-Leur stopt. Vroeger had de lijn zeven stations en haltes, tussen Roosendaal en Breda, nu slechts één. Toevoeging van nieuwe stations, in Prinsenbeek-Zuid en mogelijk een tweede station in Etten-Leur, zou een aanvullende stoptrein nodig maken. Dat past wel in de (vage) plannen voor stadsregionale diensten in Brabant.

Het nieuwe station Prinsenbeek-Zuid komt aan de overweg Groenstraat, op 5 km van Station Breda. De locatie ligt aan de rand van de bebouwing, maar is goed daarop aangesloten, want dit is de dorpsstraat. De loopafstand tot de Markt is 1300 m. Uiteraard moet de huidige overweg verdwijnen: een onderdoorgang lijkt de beste optie. De weg kan daarbij iets naar de westkant verschuiven, de perrons komen ook aan die kant te liggen. Er is ook ruimte voor inhaalsporen, door de spoorlijn aan de zuidkant te verbreden.

Klik om te vergroten…

Nieuw station aan zuidrand Prinsenbeek, gemeente Breda.

Het station dient vooral het forensenverkeer vanuit de zuidhelft van Prinsenbeek, dat dichter bij het nieuwe station ligt. Reizen per spoor in de richting Etten-Leur en Roosendaal wordt ook mogelijk. Op dit moment ligt de keuze tussen de bus, of een omweg over Station Breda. De reistijd van Prinsenbeek naar Etten-Leur bedraagt 27 minuten: vanaf Prinsenbeek-Zuid wordt dat circa 5-6 minuten.

Nieuw station Prinsenbeek-Zuid in Breda