From 2024 onwards faster and more comfortable travelling with the Wunderline between Groningen and Bremen
The Federal State of Lower Saxony, the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the Province of Groningen have signed a Collaboration Agreement regarding the Wunderline on Thursday 7 February. This is a major step forward in improving the quality of the railway stretch Groningen – Leer – Oldenburg – Bremen. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the German Federal Ministry of Transportation and Digital Infrastructure both support the project. State Secretary Van Veldhoven announced that the final grant of 17 million euros, which had already been reserved for the realisation of the Wunderline, has now officially been made available. ProRail and DB Netz are already making preparations for the planning phase. “We are entering a new phase thus underlining our joint commitment in realising the Wunderline”, noted Henk Staghouwer, Provincial Executive Member of the Province Groningen and Chairman of the Wunderline Steering Group.
The festive signing of the Collaboration Agreement took place during the Wunderline Conference in Winschoten. With this agreement, Dutch and German government officials continue to emphasise the significance of the Wunderline for Europe, the Netherlands, Germany and the entire Northern border region. In addition, all involved project partners, Lord Mayors, District Authorities, Mayors and Municipal Executive Members and other stakeholders along the Wunderline railway connection were thanked for their efforts in this project.
Collaboration Agreement regarding the realisation of the Wunderline
Within the Collaboration Agreement joint decisions are specified regarding the coming three consecutive construction phases, which are to provide an improvement of the railway connection: shorter travelling time, more comfort and better accessibility. The first construction phase takes place simultaneously with the restoration of the Friesenbrücke in 2024. In 2030 travelling time between Groningen and Bremen shall be reduced to a little over two hours. This allows the railway connection to be a valid alternative to car use. The ultimate goal after 2030 is to provide even more comfortable railway travelling between Groningen and Bremen, without needing to switch trains. “The very fact that we have come this far in such a short time is in fact quite extraordinary considering the cross-border element involved here. That fills me with pride. We have now officially determined the goals we were aiming for”, says Dr. Berend Lindner, States Secretary of the Ministry of Economics, Labour, Transportation and Digitalisation of Lower Saxony (Germany).
The Mobility Chain
Sufficient public transportation is a precondition for the socio-economic development of the region. Supported by regional municipalities, the Wunderline has explored the preconditions for door-to-door mobility and shall also supervise future steps regarding improving the so-called last ‘kilometres’ from train to door.
Apart from being well connected, the mutual recognition of diplomas and qualifications appears to be an absolute precondition for cross-border employment. For this reason Lower Saxony, Bremen and Groningen have signed a joint statement, focused on eliminating all barriers regarding education and labour mobility as well as on stimulating cross-border collaboration regarding health care, culture and tourism. This statement aligns with current cross-border collaboration projects between the Northern Netherlands and Lower Saxony.
Until the Friesenbrücke is restored and thus the Wunderline’s maiden-voyage can take place, passengers are offered rail replacement bus services between Groningen and Leer. In order to already improve passengers’ travelling experience at this stage, investments are made in modernising buses and in making them more comfortable as well as in offering clear signage, Wi-Fi and digital displays in the buses. All measures are aimed at keeping passengers committed to travelling by train during this period of rail replacement bus services as well as to attracting even more travellers, ultimately encouraging all travellers to share the experience of the launch of our new international railway connection, the Wunderline.