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What is next?

Next to the process of finding feasible solutions for the allusion with the Friesenbrücke will in the period 2015-2018 the focus be on research. These studies provide insight into which ways the quality on the railway route between the cities of Groningen and Bremen can be improved. They shall also outline the opportunities lying within the Wunderline.

The research period shall consist of different phases, during which the following questions shall be answered:

  • What is the best balance between an optimal timetable on the one and comfort on the other side, and what are the costs involved?
  • How many travellers are expected to eventually use this railway connection?
  • What are the environmental and economic effects?
  • What are the expectations in terms of cross-border freight transport?

The Ems-Friesenbrücke Railway Bridge

In the short term an alternative is being sought in order to keep travel time as low as possible. In the long term it shall be imperative to develop – together with all local stakeholders involved – a new bridge for this region. What are the limitations here, but importantly also, what opportunities shall present themselves now the problem of this damaged German railway bridge shall have to be dealt with at an accelerated rate? In our quest for answers and solutions we must remain focused on connecting our regions economically, socially and culturally as well, in order to earn our place among the major appealing regions within Europe.

Social costs and benefits

Each sub-study provides input for a general social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA), which forms a significant part of the research phase. This analysis provides an assessment of the social impact of the Wunderline, for example in the economic field and in terms of effects for the travellers and the environment, all in relation to the costs involved. The results of the SCBA are of major importance to the Netherlands and Germany in terms of the political decision making process regarding the Wunderline.

Local involvement in the project

During every phase of the Wunderline project all local parties involved, such as stakeholders, national authorities and local residents, shall in various ways be kept informed of the latest developments regarding the project. Through newsletters and this website all interested parties will be able to stay up to date. In addition, various information and participation meetings shall be organised including, for example, individual talks, plenary meetings and discussion tables.

2 Phases

2011 - July 2015 The preparatory phase

This first phase has led to the grant application for the follow-up studies for the Wunderline. This first required research into the possibilities of faster timetabling. After this appeared to be possible, support was created both in the Netherlands as well as Germany for a joint grant application to the European Union.

Research
During the preparatory stage several surveys were conducted. The Swiss railway consultancy firm SMA has, for example, studied 48 alternative timetables in order to achieve a faster and direct railway connection between the cities of Groningen and Bremen. Together with German and Dutch authorities and rail partners, DBNetz, ProRail, Niedersachsen, Bremen and the LNVG, these alternatives have been narrowed down to four promising alternative options. (link naar pagina PS uitwerkingsbesluit, waarin deze onderzoeken genoemd worden. Volgt)

Creating support
In recent years the province of Groningen has managed to bring directors, politicians, civil servants and direct stakeholders on both sides of the border together in the Wunderline Community, the network that is committed to improving the quality of the railway line between the cities of Groningen and Bremen. Some of these involved parties have become ambassadors for the Wunderline and have actively strived to gain support within the EU, the northern parts of the Netherlands and Northern Germany. These ambassadors have, for example, held talks with members of the local government in Niedersachsen as well as with MEPs in Brussels. The success of the Wunderline depends largely on gaining key support at the right German and Dutch governmental level. Support in Brussels is imperative for the ambition of the Wunderline: promoting connection between the Northern Netherlands and Northern Germany.

Grant application
The CEF-T steering group, consisting of AG EMS, Landkreis Leer, Ostfriesland und IHK papenburg and Groningen Seaports have jointly applied for a European CEF-T subsidy for research costs. This application was supported by the German and Dutch governments as well as by several companies from both countries. This resulted in a grant for the Wunderline project in the form of a CEF-T subsidy amounting up to €8.3 million for research during the period 2015-2018.

Budget
The Provincial Councils of the province of Groningen as well as the EU are supplying the funds necessary to study the four above-mentioned timetable options during the following phase. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the province of Groningen have already reserved funds for the realisation of the Wunderline.

Plan development decision (Dutch) pdf

July 2015 - March 2018 Research phase

The research phase should lead to the choice of a final Wunderline realisation variant. In order for this to happen, a preferred alternative must be chosen from the four previously selected options. The preferred alternative shall be deeper studied and developed into a design which can indeed be realised: the realisation variant. To this end, infrastructure measures may be necessary such as track duplication, sound measures or more gently curved sections of track, which shall allow the trains to run faster.

Research
The following topics will be covered during the research phase:

  • What is the best balance between an optimal timetable on the one and comfort on the other side, and what are the costs involved?
  • What are the costs of this timetable? Is an extra train necessary and what are the user charges for the railway tracks?
  • How many travellers are expected to eventually use the railway connection?
  • How many travellers are estimated to eventually use the Wunderline?
  • What are the expectations in terms of cross-border freight transport?
  • What are the expectations in terms of supply of cross-border freight transport?
  • What are the environmental and economic effects?
  • Besides the costs in financial terms, the social impact must also be considered: the environmental impact, the impact on the economic development and prosperity in the Northern Netherlands and Northern Germany./li>

Procedure research
The Netherlands and Germany utilise different environmental impact assessments: the MER (Milieu Effect Rapportage) and UPV (Umweltverträglichkeitsprüfing), respectively. So the question arises: which criteria should both reports meet? And when can these be initiated? In addition, perhaps building permits may be needed in the next phase. What procedures apply in this context in the Netherlands and Germany? A procedure research should answer such questions.

Final decision
March 2018 will be an exciting month. Shall the Wunderline indeed be realised? Is phased implementation an option, thus allowing travellers step by step to travel faster and more comfortably? Based on the research results the Dutch and German political decision makers will ultimately cast their final verdict whether or not the Wunderline will actually happen. If so, then they will choose a technically feasible and affordable rail connection between the cities of Groningen and Bremen, the so-called realisation variant.

March 2018 - 2023 Implementation of the realisation variant

In 2018 we will know whether and how the Wunderline shall be realised. Up until then, we shall continue to follow environmental and construction procedures and create working drawings, in our quest to realise our ambition of a new rapid international rail connection. Subsequently, we hope to then implement our plans, which would allow the Wunderline to indeed become reality.

Information
Before the construction of the infrastructure has started, the local environment shall be – at various different points and stages – actively involved in the project. More information will follow in the future.

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