At 18 km, the Fehmarn Belt tunnel is likely to be the world's longest underwater combined road and rail tunnel when it opens in 2021.

DENMARK: Construction of the Fehmarn Belt fixed link road and railway tunnel moved a step closer on April 28 when the Danish parliament adopted the proposed Construction Act for the project.

The fixed link will comprise an 18 km immersed tube tunnel between Rødbyhavn on Lolland and Puttgarden on the German island of Fehmarn. The project also covers upgrading, double-tracking and electrification of the railway between Rødbyhavn and Ringsted, to permit operation at up to 200 km/h with ETCS Level 2. Upon completion of the tunnel and surface works, scheduled for 2021, the journey time for København – Hamburg passenger trains will be reduced to around 2 h from the current 4 h 30 min. The overall budget stands at €5·5bn.

Adoption of the Construction Act means that the Danish state-owned companies Femern A/S and A/S Femern Landanlæg are authorised to construct and operate a fixed link across the Fehmarnbelt and undertake the associated surface works in Denmark respectively. The act is the final environmental approval of the project in Denmark.

In Germany, the political decision to build the Fehmarn Belt link was taken in 2009 with the ratification of a bilateral treaty between the two countries set out in 2008. However, several further hurdles remain before civil works can begin. Formal approval from the authorities in Schleswig-Holstein will take the form of a building permit, and work to finalise this is still ongoing. This will be followed by a final parliamentary review of the project’s social and economic benefits by policymakers in both Denmark and Germany, which is expected to take place in the autumn of this year.

The Construction Act grants powers to acquire farmland, a small number of wind turbines and some industrial land to be used for the road and rail access to the tunnels, and for the future tunnel element factory east of Rødbyhavn. Archaeological investigations will also continue around the planned excavation sites.

A detailed description of the Fehmarn Belt project appeared in the July 2014 issue of Railway Gazette International, available to subscribers via our digital archive.