Lower Saxony: Railway line expanded to Jade-Weser-Port

It is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the north-west: the deep-water port Jade-Weser-Port in Wilhelmshaven now has double tracks and is electrified and connected to the railway network.

Lower Saxony: Railway line expanded to Jade-Weser-Port

It is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the north-west: the deep-water port Jade-Weser-Port in Wilhelmshaven now has double tracks and is electrified and connected to the railway network. For this purpose, 70 kilometers of railway line to Oldenburg were expanded and modernized. The route was officially put into operation on Monday.

The technically demanding construction work on the former mud flats on the Jade Bay lasted eleven years. Deutsche Bahn spent 1.36 billion euros with the federal government, the state of Lower Saxony, the region and the EU. Goods traffic to and from Germany's third largest container port benefits immediately from the connection. Major improvements are still awaited in passenger transport towards the North Sea coast.

At a ceremony in Oldenburg, Bahn Board Member Berthold Huber spoke of a "technical masterpiece for climate protection". The expansion makes it possible to get the freight of around 2,000 trucks from the road to the rails every day. "This saves massive amounts of CO2 and relieves the burden on roads and the environment."

Wilhelmshaven station was also electrified during the expansion. On Monday, Deutsche Bahn let the Regio-S-Bahn run with electricity between Oldenburg and Wilhelmshaven for the first time. But there is still a large construction site: The railway bridge over Alexanderstrasse in Oldenburg has to be renewed. This creates problems in the timetable and, according to the Pro Bahn passenger association, means that there is no continuous connection between Bremen and Wilhelmshaven for a year.

250-year-old nautical charts were used

From the 2023 winter timetable, this route will again be possible without changing trains, Deutsche Bahn promises. Pro-Bahn regional board member Malte Diehl only then expects really noticeable changes. "The most important thing for us is the improved connection to Bremen and Hanover." Then regional express trains from Wilhelmshaven should go directly to the state capital.

When expanding the track on soft ground, the engineers had to come up with new ideas in many places. Huber reported that even 250-year-old nautical charts were used in the planning because they said something about the condition of the ground. "Basically, we are in the Watt."

Between Varel and Sande a 1500 meter long underground bridge was built on piles that go 20 meters deep. At Sande in the Friesland district, the route to the container port was branched off - including a new bridge over the Ems-Jade Canal. 45.5 kilometers of the route were provided with noise barriers.

Upswing for the Jade-Weser-Port?

The rail connection to the German industrial centers is important for the Jade-Weser-Port. The container terminal can "now really pick up speed," said Lower Saxony's Minister of Transport, Olaf Lies. The port would become more attractive for transporters if it was no longer necessary to switch between diesel and electric locomotives, said Holger Banik, managing director of the state-owned port company. The 16 tracks of the port's own freight station have been electrified.

The problem child among German container ports has never exhausted the capacity of 2.7 million standard containers (TEU) per year since it opened in 2012. But when the global schedules for container ships got mixed up because of the pandemic, Wilhelmshaven benefited: many freighters were able to dock here at short notice. In 2021, 713,000 TEU were handled - a record for the port. Wilhelmshaven is set to become more important in the future because even the largest container ships can reach the terminal regardless of the ebb and flow.

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