In order to meet the needs of rail passengers and to make the expansion of train traffic in and around the city of Groningen possible, major modifications shall have to be made not only to the railway track itself, but to Groningen Central Station as well. The municipality, the province, the national government, the ProRail rail infrastructure management body and the NS have all joined forces in order to accomplish this goal. This project has been dubbed Groningen Spoorzone (Groningen Rail Zone).
The Groningen Spoorzone project includes significant modifications to tracks and platforms as well as the construction of a pedestrian tunnel, all in the Groningen Central Station area. In addition, a bus tunnel under the tracks has been planned as well as a bicycle tunnel between the Stadsbalkon (City Balcony, an underground unguarded bicycle parking facility in front of Groningen Central Station) and a new underground bicycle parking facility on the south side of Groningen Central Station. The train terminal area shall be relocated to de Vork (the Fork), an area in the fork of the railway lines towards the cities of Winschoten and Zwolle, just within the municipality of the small town of Haren (near the city of Groningen). A fourth track shall be realised between Groningen Central Station and Groningen Europapark Station, the last of which shall be expanded with an extra side platform.
Increasing number of travellers
The train traffic in the Groningen area is steadily increasing. Each day approximately 35,000 people check in or out of a train at Groningen Central Station. This number is estimated to reach about 45,000 in 2030. Train travel is becoming more popular due to fast connections and comfortable trains and platforms. Groningen Spoorzone strives to further enhance this trend by improving timetables, having more trains run and link with each other more frequently, optimising the use of the two other Groningen stations (Groningen Noord and Groningen Europapark) as well as by ensuring a smoother transition between trains and busses.
For the year 2020 an ambitious timetable has been developed, which shall offer more trains and more transition options. From 2020 onwards trains arriving from the city of Leeuwarden shall continue to Groningen Europapark Station. The train coming from the direction of the small town of Roodeschool shall continue – via the three stations of the city of Groningen – to the cities of Nieuweschans/Leer (and vice versa). The train coming from the direction of the small town of Delfzijl shall continue via the city of Groningen to the small town of Veendam (and vice versa). The aim is to fit the Wunderline into the planned new timetabling as well.
Groningen Spoorzone schedule
The new train terminal area shall be realised first. Construction shall commence in 2016. In 2017-2018, the fourth track to Groningen Europark Station shall be realised as well as the side platform extension of this station. The work on Groningen Central Station has been planned to start in 2018. The whole conversion of the main station should be completed by early 2021.
Want to find out more about Groningen Spoorzone? Please check www.groningenbereikbaar.nl/spoorzone