DANISH Transport Minister Flemming Hansen and his German counterpart Wolfgang Tiefensee announced on June 29 that they had reached agreement on the construction of a fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt, following a meeting in Berlin.

Work on the 19 km bridge between Puttgarden on the German island of Fehmarn and Rødby on the Danish island of Lolland is expected to begin in 2011 for completion by 2018.

Under discussion for almost two decades, the construction of a fixed link has been strongly supported by Denmark and the Land of Schleswig-Holstein. Although the idea was endorsed by the German government in 2005, no decision was reached on financing the project which is now costed at €5·6bn. To unblock the logjam, the Danish government has agreed to provide €4·8bn, of which €1·5bn will come from the EU. Germany will contribute just €800m.

Replacing the current train ferry service, the bridge is expected to cut Hamburg – København journey times to 3 h 30 min, potentially doubling traffic between the two regions. The deal comes shortly after the sale to the private sector of the Scandlines ferry group formerly owned 50:50 by the Danish state and DB AG.