Impression of Fehmarn bridge.

EUROPE: The German and Danish transport ministers signed a treaty for the construction of the Fehmarn Belt fixed link between Puttgarden and Rødbyhavn on September 3.

The DKr33bn fixed link is to be financed, built, operated and owned by Denmark through a state-owned company modelled on the Øresund and Storebælt projects. Opening is planned for 2018.

Although the treaty states that Germany will not make a financial contribution to the link, each country will be responsible for its road and rail connections. Germany will electrify the Lübeck - Puttgarden line and upgrade the B207 road to four lanes, while Denmark will electrify and double-track the Ringsted - Rødbyhavn line. The European Commission has agreed grants of €339m towHamburg to København 'Bird Flight Line' services currently use a train ferry between Germany and Denmark. ards project costs in 2007-13.

The link will carry a motorway and a double-track railway electrified at 25 kV, with passenger trains running at speeds of at least 160 km/h and freight at 120 km/h.

According to the Danish government's project promoter Femern Bælt A/S, the final decision between a bridge or tunnel has not yet been taken.

'After 16 years of preparation, we have today signed the contract to build and operate the fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt. It is an important milestone, because this project is an essential element in completing the central north-south axis between Scandinavia and central Europe', said German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee.

The agreement will now be submitted for parliamentary ratification in both countries.