Foto: Fotostudio Scheiwe

Last Friday local and regional officials along the Wunderline railway stretch met in the small town of Apen (Germany). There, the intended steps regarding the realisation of the railway connection between Groningen and Bremen, the development and improvement of door-to-door travelling as well as the reinforcement of cross-border collaboration were discussed. All mayors and district commissioners present recognised the significance of the Wunderline acting as a catalyst for the socio-economic development of the northern border regions.

Travelling comfortably by train between Groningen and Bremen in a little over two hours. That is the aim of the Wunderline. This quality improvement shall boost the economy, the labour market as well as the quality of life within both the German as well as the Dutch border region. Last February the Wunderline steering group has made a decision as to which steps are to be taken in order to realise this fast railway connection.

Sound public transportation is precondition for the socio-economic development of the region. Apart from good connections, acknowledging each other’s certificates and diplomas is another absolute precondition for cross-border employment. It is for all these reasons that the Wunderline project in fact involves a Comprehensive Set of Measures consisting of the following three components: the realisation of a fast railway connection, the improvement of door-to-door travelling time (mobility chain) and the support of different initiatives regarding cross-border collaboration. The intention is to sign an agreement regarding this Comprehensive Set of Measures by the end of 2018.

The importance of the Comprehensive Set of Measures is important

After welcoming his colleagues from the region, Matthias Huber (the mayor of Apen) emphasised the importance of the Wunderline, in terms of its general expected substantial boost to the region.

Dr Wilk of the Ministry of Economy and Transportation of Lower Saxony added: “What makes this project so exceptional is that it is far more than a mere joint transportation project: it shall connect the involved border regions in general on many a level.”

During the meeting the benefits of the project were further highlighted. The Wunderline offers a clear improvement regarding cross-border door-to-door travelling by public transportation. The cooperation agenda aims to facilitate cross-border employment. In this process existing regional collaborations shall be analysed and new initiatives – both on a local as well as on an international level – shall be actively supported.

Wide support for the proposed construction phases of the Wunderline

All leading officials present were supportive of the proposed steps towards the implementation of the Wunderline, which shall already substantially reduce travelling from as early as 2024 onwards. This construction phase shall require a number of infrastructural measures such as the partial duplication of railway tracks as well as the adjustment of railway station platforms and signalling systems. After 2024 the travelling time between Groningen en Bremen shall then gradually be reduced to a little over two hours. At first this shall include a quick transit in Leer, in time however this will no longer be necessary. The measures along the railway stretch between Groningen and Bremen shall also be beneficial for other regional connections. This should for instance include the railway stretches Leer-Emden and Leer-Meppen, on which travelling time is also expected to be significantly reduced.

Sound door-to-door connection

The intended steps towards improving the mobility chain were also well received; during the coming months local measures for every railway station along the line are to be assessed in order to facilitate a sufficient connection with the Wunderline. As mayor Huber emphasises: “I would very much like to establish a HUB, following the Dutch example; the initial talks in this context are already being held. “

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