The northern provinces are going to be much better connected to Germany and Denmark in the future, promises a detailed concept note shared by the Province of Friesland. According to the plan, by 2050 travelers will be able to go from Groningen to Copenhagen in 5 hours and a half.
At the moment, the train journey from Amsterdam via Groningen to Copenhagen takes 11.5 hours, and features three train changes – Amsterdam-Groningen, Groningen-Leer, Bremen-Hamburg, Hamburg Copenhagen – and one short bus ride from Leer to Bremen.
Thanks partly to the construction of the Lelylijn and to improvements to the Groningen-Bremen railway connection promised by the Wunderline project, the travel time between the Netherlands and the Danish capital will be increasingly shaved down in the next twenty to thirty years.
The ambitious plan needs a series of infrastructural changes and improvements to be implemented.
Several projects are already ongoing, including the re-building of the Friesenbrücke bridge, which will eliminate the need for a bus connection between Leer and Bremen. This will make the trip 30 minutes shorter by 2025.
By 2030, step 2 of the Wunderline will be completed, a new timetable will be implemented in Germany, and a new railway tunnel between Germany and Denmark will be unveiled, the Fehmarnbelt. As a result, passengers from Amsterdam will be able to reach Copenhagen in 8.5 hours, 6.5 for the ones starting from Groningen.
In 2035, it will be the turn of the track between Amsterdam and Groningen to be improved, in accordance with the Delta Plan for the Northern Netherlands. Not much will change though, only an overall shortening of the trip of 15 minutes.
The Lelylijn will be completed in 2038, making the trip from Amsterdam and Groningen 1.5 hours long, and after that authorities hope to be able to use further improvements made by the Wunderline project to make the rail infrastructure between Groningen and Oldenburg suitable for higher speed trains of 160-200 kilometers per hour.
In 2050, we will finally have a fast direct train connecting Amsterdam to Copenhagen, via Groningen and Hamburg, an 800 kilometers trip completed in 7 hours. Traveling by railway then will be faster than by car, and, for Groningen and other northern provinces residents, much more convenient than catching a flight from Schipol airport.
Better connection, less CO2
A time reduction in the train journey between the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark will mean less car travel and air traffic, something that fits very well in the wider EU plan to better connect member states while reducing CO2 emissions.
According to northern Netherlands authorities, the region has a lot to gain from becoming a hub for international train connections. The northern provinces could see an improvement in international trade and tourism, and overall economic growth.
While the Lelylijn project has recently been successful in lobbying the Dutch government in reserving three billion euros for it in the new Mobility Fund, it has not secured European funds yet.
To be eligible for Brussels financing, the Lelylijn needs to be officially included in the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network. The northern authorities are thus calling on the Dutch cabinet to push for such inclusion during the negotiations between member states and the European Commission on the revision of the European rail network that will start in June.