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Benny Engelbrecht, Danish Transport Minister and Bernd Buchholz, Transport Minister in Schleswig-Holstein , Source: Olaf Malzahn via Femern A/S

One of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects broke ground today

One of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects broke ground today

The underwater tunnel between Germany and Denmark will be a game-changer for Scandinavia, bringing it closer to central Europe

Today, one of the largest infrastructure projects in the European Union to date broke ground on the German island of Fehmarn. The project – an 18-kilometre-long underwater tunnel linking Germany and Denmark, has been in the works for some years now and will end up costing around 10 billion euros.

The ceremony was attended by the Schleswig-Holstein Transport Minister Bernd Buchholz and the Danish Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht. The development will prove quite challenging, though and preparation works on the German and Danish sides have been underway since the start of 2021. The end date for the tunnel is set in 2029.

Trains, but under the water

One of the most impressive features of the Fehmarn tunnel is a two-way electrified railway line, in addition to the six-car lanes. It will run from the German island of Fehmarn, near the town of Puttgarden to the Danish Rødbyhavn on Lolland island.

After the massive project is completed, a train ride from Hamburg to Copenhagen should take under three hours, compared to just under five hours now. Furthermore, the project is part of the EU’s overarching transport vision for the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor.

The corridor starts at the southern tip of Italy and finishes in Helsinki, passing through all of the Scandinavian capitals. This initiative should help to further integration and bring the northernmost parts of the bloc closer to the centre.

Cars will need just 10 minutes to pass through the tunnel at a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour, while trains will be limited to 200 km/h and will need a total of 7 minutes. The whole tunnel will be constructed using 79 pre-fabricated pieces.

The project costs the Danish government 7.1 billion euros and another 3.5 billion for the German one. According to preliminary analysis, the tunnel should have paid for itself by generating cumulative income in less than 30 years.  

After the construction started a nature protection organisation called Nabu filed a lawsuit against the project, as the planned route passed through 36 hectares of reefs that will inevitably be destroyed. The courts gave the go-ahead nevertheless.

According to the project's website, around 15 million cubic meters of sand and soil will be dredged from the seabed. Some of the material will be used for the construction, another portion will be used for the creation of new natural and recreation areas, in an attempt to offset the damage.

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