After six years, the bridge is finally being replaced
Translated by Thomas Ansell
With main train link between the Northern Netherlands and Germany having had a rail replacement bus service for six years, work is finally beginning to repair the stricken Friesenbrücke, reports the Omrop Fryslân. The bridge is situated just outside of Weener, around 10 kilometres inside the German border, and crosses the large Ems river. In 2015, a cargo ship collided with the bridge causing it to collapse, and since then there have been no direct trains between Groningen and Leer (and beyond).
However, work on a new bridge will begin today and the Director of Arriva (the train company that operates the cross-border line) is one of many to signal their relief. “This has really taken a long time”, says Anne Hettinga, Director of Arriva, “there has been a lot of preparation, and its now been quite a long time since we were able to operate on that bit of track.”
The stricken bridge has also impacted upon Arriva’s plans for expansion in the north of the Netherlands and the north-nest of Germany. “Our bid to gain the rail concession on local Dutch lines included a clear wish to invest into the Groningen-Bremen route. Indeed, my personal vision for the project is that one day people can step into the train at Harlingen, and then stay on all the way to Bremen”, says Hettinga.
Arriva will begin work with the German authorities to get them on board with plans, but there is plenty of will on both sides, says Hettinga. “Certainly, we both want to achieve this. They are big supporters of international links, and we have also looked into connecting everything to the harbour at Hamburg, too.”
The plans also have supporters in the cities of Bremen and Oldenberg, with Hettinga saying that both are convinced by the economic benefits of the better infrastructure.
The new bridge is scheduled to be ready for 2025, and will cost around 160 million euros to complete.