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Danish MPs confirm backing for tunnel link to Germany

Danish politicians are supporting Femern, the state-owned company in charge of planning the link, proposals to build a EUR 5.1bn (£4.4bn) immersed tunnel under the Fehmarnbelt

One of Europe’s largest ever construction projects, the future Fehmarnbelt link is set to comprise a combined motorway and rail tunnel immersed under the Fehmarnbelt between Rødbyhavn in Denmark and Puttgarden in Germany.

Scheduled to open in 2020, the 18 km long tunnel will cut travelling times between the European continent and Scandinavia, allow high-speed train services to operate between Northern Germany and Scandinavia’s main cities and create a new and important Northern European growth area.

After comparison between the Ramboll, Tec and Arup designed sub-sea tunnel and the Cowi and Obermeyer cable-stayed bridge solutions, it was concluded that the tunnel option will not only have advantages during the construction phase, but also during the operational phase.

The comparison considered technical, environmental and safety aspects. In addition, the impact on the environment and marine traffic are considered to be lower for the tunnel solution. On top of that the construction costs for the tunnel are also lower.

When completed, the Fehmarnbelt link will be the third huge infrastructure project in Southern Scandinavia over the past three decades. In 1997 and 1998, the Storebælt Bridge opened to rail and road traffic respectively, linking the Danish islands of Funen and Zealand. In 2000, the Øresund Bridge between Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, and Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, opened to traffic. Since their commissioning, the two bridges have contributed very significantly to economic growth in their respective areas.

”We welcome the political support for our recommendation that the future link be designed as an immersed tunnel,” said Femern CEO Leo Larsen. ”The decision means that Femern A/S has reached an important milestone in the planning of the fixed link.”

“As our conceptual design projects are based on an extremely thorough, technical foundation we can now focus on ensuring that the authorities approve the project, including from an environmental perspective.”

Over the coming year, Femern will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to be considered by the authorities in Denmark and Germany in accordance with national regulations.

Femern expects to submit an application to the German authorities during the first six months of 2012. A construction bill will then be submitted to the Danish parliament, Folketinget, in 2013. This more or less coincides with the timetable for the German authorities’ approval of the project.

”The aim is to build and operate one of Europe’s safest and most modern tunnels for both trains and cars, which will bring Northern Europe and Scandinavia even closer together,” said Leo Larsen. “As a result we’ll create opportunities for increased growth and prosperity for more than 10M residents in the Fehmarnbelt Region.”

The construction of one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects is expected to commence in 2014. The link is scheduled to open to traffic in 2020.

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