The central government has made €85 million available for the construction of the first phase of the Nedersaksenlijn, or the Lower Saxony line, that aims to connect Groningen-Stadskanaal-Emmen-Enschede with the existing rail lines in the German state of Niedersachsen. The money comes from underspent funds from a state program aimed at compensating northern homeowners for damage to their properties caused by gas extraction induced earthquakes.
At the moment, Stadskanaal and Emmen are dead-ends in the networks of northern rail links. When the connection between these two nodes is established, the overall network’s connectivity will be significantly enhanced, unlocking the north Netherlands’ ability to move more of its people and goods around.
Another reason for the urgency of this connection relates to the desire to open up the northern Netherlands via a different track. It is hoped that the new line will ease the bottleneck between Zwolle and Meppel, which currently is the only rail connection to the north from the Randstad and the rest of the country. Every year, there are multiple train accidents near Zwolle which completely stall access to the northern cities.
Rail traffic is increasingly important in attracting entrepreneurial activity and economic development. There is also a need to retain existing businesses. A number of companies based in the north have an ambition for expansion but require a connection to railways for freight transport. The Lower Saxony line aims to address that need and prevent the relocation of companies.
In addition, the Lower Saxony line has the potential to help the government reach its targets for energy transition and reducing CO2 emissions by 2050 as the new connection will contribute to the decarbonization of freight transport by reducing road freight.
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