Backward transport connections : end of the line longing

In Bremerhaven, the railroad is negotiating with the Bremen Senate on the expansion of the transport network. The maritime city is flirting with a connection to the IC network.

So much for poor connections: High-speed trains run from Bremerhaven to China. Photo: Siemens

If anyone has a score to settle with Deutsche Bahn, it is surely the people of Bremerhaven. Strictly speaking, it was the transportation company that degraded the city, which according to the census has a population of 108,156, to a backwater in one fell swoop: In the summer of 2001, it cut Bremerhaven off not only from long-distance traffic, but also from the heights of the times.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Deutsche Bahn executives and the Bremen Senate negotiated a renewed direct connection of Bremerhaven to the long-distance network. Will the city finally get back on the Intercity or ICE network? At least that is what Lord Mayor Melf Grantz (SPD) demanded of the railroad, as well as better connections for trains from Bremerhaven.

The feeling of having been badly treated has also left its mark on the people of Bremerhaven. A few young people are standing on the platform on this Thursday morning, waiting for the Regio-S-Bahn of the Nordwestbahn (NWB). It is 15 minutes late, according to the display board.

One raises his voice: "Man, we’re in Bremerhaven here, you know only the people the employment office in Bremen has sorted out arrive here." A woman turns around and shrugs.

She talks about connecting Bremerhaven to long-distance traffic, the expansion of rail infrastructure and noise protection, Bremen’s Senate and railroad executives negotiated in Bremerhaven on Wednesday.

138 million euros 138 million in the expansion of Bremen’s rail network by 2018, according to Deutsche Bahn CEO Rudiger Grube.

To relieve Bremen, freight trains are also to run on the Bremerhaven-Bremervorde-Rotenburg/Wumme line of the Elbe-Weser Railways and Transport Company (EVB) by the end of 2015.

With the demand to reconnect Bremerhaven to the ICE/IC network, Lord Mayor Mayor Melf Grantz (SPD) has so far been in a lonely position.

To reduce noiseIn order to reduce noise, Deutsche Bahn plans to equip around 60,000 existing freight cars with quiet plastic soles by the end of 2020 and to continue the noise abatement program in Bremen.

While it used to be possible to take the ICE to Munich or the Interregio to Bonn here, the connections between Bremerhaven and Bremen today not only require patience, but are also expensive at twelve euros. The Bahncard cannot be used because of the transport federation.

Lately, delays have been piling up. For the 62-kilometer route to Bremen, which is actually approved for speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour, it now takes 48 minutes on the NWB. At rush hour, that means – at least for the taller among us – almost 50 minutes of pain for the kneecaps; they have to hold out pressed against the front seat. In the run-up to Christmas, it will occasionally take even longer: Because until December 23, train traffic in both directions is severely restricted again and again, sections of track can only be used on one track. This is because the railroads are having tracks and bridges renewed here.

In Bremerhaven, it is now possible to see in a negative sense why the railroad once became a symbol of progress. Because where only slow trains now roll in, people have long since been slowed down, but involuntarily. What does passenger traffic matter, you might say, when there are countless goods to be transported to and from Bremerhaven’s seaport, especially in the form of containers and cars. At least as such, real high-speed trains still arrive in the city today – on their way to China.

After all, Bremerhaven is the fourth largest universal port in Europe after Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp. To keep Bremen’s ports competitive, rail executives and Bremen’s Senate representatives have agreed to expand the rail network. Deutsche Bahn plans to spend a proud 138 million euros on this and to intensify noise protection.

However, Bremerhaven’s mayor was alone in calling for an IC connection. But the railroad actually still has something to straighten out.

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