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Tunnel portal of the planned Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link on the German side
Grafic: Tunnel portal of the planned Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link on the German side

Source: Femern A/S

Recent developments

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In February 2011, the Danish Minister of Transport and the Danish Parliament decided to pursue the construction of an immersed tunnel as the preferred option for the link.

In May 2011, it was decided that Rødbyhavn would be the sole production site for the tunnel elements. The reason for this is EU Directive 85/337/EEC (“EIA Directive”), which states that environmental impact assessments (EIAs) must be carried out not only for the project itself but also at the production sites. This would have required additional planning and approval procedures and, in consequence, would have resulted in delays. The decision was therefore taken in favour of a single production site.

In June 2011, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, Dr Peter Ramsauer, visited Eastern Holstein to see for himself the progress of the project and, in particular, of the hinterland rail connections.

In August 2011, Femern A/S published a consolidated statement of costs. According to this statement, the construction of the immersed tunnel will require investment of 5.5 billion euros, and the Danish hinterland connection will cost approximately 1.1 billion (at 2008 prices). The repayment period is estimated to be 39 years.

In September 2011, the state of Schleswig-Holstein launched the Fehmarnbelt forum for dialogue to provide extensive information to all stakeholders as well as to the general public. The documentation from the meetings as well as documents on the issues covered can be found on the website of the forum.

In January 2012, Femern A/S published a consolidated technical report detailing the main features of the four possible link options: immersed tunnel, cable-stayed bridge, suspension bridge and bored tunnel.

In April 2012, Femern A/S presented a revised schedule. According to this schedule, the opening date of the tunnel will be put back to the end of 2021, because the preparation of the approval procedure in Germany and Denmark is very complicated. Approval of the construction of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel is subject to compliance with European regulations and the laws and procedures that are in force in Germany and Denmark. As the transposition of EU directives differs significantly between the two countries, the need for coordination and detailed planning is considerably larger than expected.

September 2012: On 1 September 2012, Claus F. Baunkjær took over from Leo Larsen as CEO of Femern A/S, with Mr Larsen continuing in his position as CEO of the parent company, Sund & Bælt Holding A/S.

September 2012: Fehmarnbelt Days in Hamburg and Lübeck. During these 3 days, more than 600 participants discussed ideas, opportunities and perspectives for the Fehmarnbelt region. This event was organised by the Baltic Development Forum, the Fehmarnbelt Business Council (FBBC), the Fehmarnbelt Committee, Femern A/S, Femern Belt Development, Lübeck Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the STRING network.

January 2013: In Schleswig-Holstein, a spatial impact assessment procedure was conducted within the context of the planning for the German hinterland rail connection. The documents were available for public inspection until 11 March 2013, and the public had an opportunity to comment until 25 March 2013. More than 8,000 comments on the project were received and are still being evaluated (as at January 2014).

May 2013: As part of a prequalification procedure launched in October 2012, nine consortia (including from Germany) were selected. They were to be invited to submit bids for the 4 major construction contracts at a later date. Tenders were invited for 4 contracts:

  1. Deepening of the sea bed and land reclamation;
  2. Construction of the northern section of the tunnel;
  3. Construction of the southern section of the tunnel;
  4. Construction of portals, ramps and shore facilities.

On 18 October 2013, the plan approval application for the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link in Germany was submitted by the project company Femern A/S in Kiel. The competent plan approval authority is the federal state agency for road construction and transport (Landesbetrieb Straßenbau und Verkehr Schleswig-Holstein). Since November 2013, the documents have been available for inspection on the Femern A/S website.

Current design sketches of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link, immersed tunnel solution

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State Treaty of 3 September 2008

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The Federal Government, in close cooperation with the state of Schleswig-Holstein, has concluded a State Treaty with Denmark on the delivery of the belt link, which was signed on 3 September 2008. The key message is that both sides undertake to do everything in their power to deliver the project. For the implementation of the Treaty, national approval procedures had to be carried out in Germany and Denmark.

In Germany, the Treaty was transposed into national law by the “Act of 17 July 2009 on the Treaty of 3 September 2008 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Denmark on a Fixed Link across the Fehmarn Belt” (Federal Law Gazette II, p. 799). With the exchange of the instruments of ratification between the contracting states on 15 December 2009, the Treaty entered into force on 14 January 2010. The Danish Parliament adopted the national bill on the “Act on Project Planning for a Fixed Link over the Fehmarn Belt, with Associated Land Facilities in Denmark” on 26 March 2009. On 15 April 2009, the Queen of Denmark gave her royal assent to the Planning Act on the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link.

The Project

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The Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link from coast to coast across the 20 km wide strait is to consist of an electrified double-track railway line and a four-lane road link. It will connect Puttgarden on the German island of Fehmarn and Rødby on the Danish island of Lolland. In addition, there will be the necessary road and railway hinterland connections in Germany and Denmark. It is due to start operation by the end of 2021.

The Kingdom of Denmark is responsible for the construction, operation and financing of the structure. The link is to be funded by user charges. For this purpose, the Kingdom of Denmark may impose tolls for road use and charges for use of the railway lines.

Organization

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In April 2009, the Danish Minister of Transport passed a law tasking the Femern A/S company with responsibility for preparatory work, studies and the planning/design for a Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link. Femern A/S is part of Sund & Bælt Holding A/S, which is a fully state-owned enterprise of the Danish Ministry of Transport.

Hinterland connections

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According to the State Treaty, the Kingdom of Denmark has sole responsibility for the construction and financing of the hinterland connections of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link in the Kingdom of Denmark. Upgrading of these hinterland connections is scheduled to be completed by the time the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link is opened.

In accordance with the Treaty, Germany will complete the following hinterland connection schemes by the time the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link is opened:

  • Widening of the B 207 federal highway between Heiligenhafen and Puttgarden to four lanes. According to the Treaty, the Fehmarnsund Bridge is to remain two-lane (but see below).
  • Extension of the A 1 motorway from Oldenburg to Heiligenhafen East (completed in 2012).
  • By the time the Link is opened, the single-track railway line between Lübeck and Puttgarden will have been electrified and upgraded to support speeds of up to 160 km/h.
  • Double-tracking of the line between Lübeck and Puttgarden  is to be completed no later than seven years after the opening of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link. The Fehmarnsund Bridge will remain the same.

On behalf of the Federal Government, DB AG has performed the preliminary design work for the hinterland rail connection. Various alignment options were studied for the area of the Baltic Sea resorts, and additional options were added for the spatial impact assessment procedure. Due to the expected volumes of freight traffic and the substantial changes to the railway line, noise prevention measures will definitely be required. Noise prevention measures are more comprehensive and more expensive than noise mitigation measures

Information on the planning process is available on the DB AG website.

Fehmarnsund Bridge

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Due to the scheduled electrification of the line and the traffic forecast for 2025, stress tests have been carried out on the Fehmarnsund Bridge. The tests showed that the bridge has a limited residual useful life. With the current traffic levels, however, there are no safety issues

The structural solution for the Fehmarnsund Bridge for road and rail traffic is to be explored by means of an appropriate study. The federal state government of Schleswig-Holstein plans to report the Fehmarnsund Bridge to be included as a first priority project in the next Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (FTIP 2015).

Environment

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With transport infrastructure projects of this magnitude, environmental impacts are unavoidable. It is therefore particularly important to address the project’s potential impacts in the ecologically sensitive Fehmarnbelt area. A number of requirements and conditions regarding the planning and construction of the structure are to ensure that adverse effects are avoided or minimized to the greatest extent possible.

In 2006, an innovative environmental consultation procedure was carried out in Germany and Denmark. The public, trade associations and authorities had the opportunity to voice their views on the environmental issues connected with this major project at an early stage of planning during the decision-making process. A summary of the answers as well as a presentation of the key statements and the consultation process can be found in the report on the outcome of the environmental consultation (www.femern.com). In accordance with the applicable EU legislation, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) has to be conducted for the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link in accordance with the relevant German and Danish legislation.

Environmental issues are addressed on more than 8,000 of the 12,000 pages that make up the plan approval application for the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link in Germany, which was submitted on 18 October 2013.

Trans-European Transport Network

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Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 of 11 December 2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) lists the fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt as well as the landside connections in Germany and Denmark as parts of the TEN core network. At the same time, the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link is a key element of the central north-south artery between Scandinavia and Central Europe within the Scandinavian-Mediterranean TEN core network corridor. As studies and preparatory work in Germany and Denmark have already been subsidized with EU funds from the TEN-T programme, the prospects for receiving TEN funds are very good.

Past and ongoing studies

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In 1992, the Transport Ministers of Germany and Denmark agreed to conduct studies in order to create a common basis for the decision-making process regarding the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link. Since then, comprehensive feasibility studies for the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link project (civil engineering, geology, environment, traffic forecast, macroeconomic and fiscal assessment, socio-economic regional study) have been conducted.

In the spring of 2000, an enquiry of commercial interest was conducted  to explore the possibilities for delivery of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link by the private sector. To narrow down the risk factors listed in the enquiry of commercial interest, the traffic forecast was updated and the revenue from rail transport was reassessed. Subsequently, two of the models presented in the enquiry of commercial interest were recalculated based on the updated assumptions. The short report entitled “Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link” (see Annex) contains the detailed results.

In the course of a review of the requirement plans in November 2010, the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link was once again subjected to a value for money assessment. The result was a benefit-cost ratio of 6.7. This confirmed that the project represents extremely good value for money. The assessment was carried out on the basis of the forecast of Germany-wide transport interconnectivity in 2025. The cost-benefit analysis that was applied is a macroeconomic appraisal procedure (similar to the appraisal procedure used for the current Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (FTIP 2003)). The analysis was carried out in an identical way for all evaluated rail projects. The corresponding methodology can be downloaded in German from our website.

Femern A/S conducts intensive publicity campaigns on both sides of the Belt, and information on the latest developments can be found on the company’s website. The same applies to DB AG.