Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) has marked the beginning of construction on the next stage of a major €3.5bn ($3.76bn) rail project connecting the German city of Hamburg to Copenhagen in Denmark through the Fehmarnbelt Link

The 88km line, on the German side, will include 55km of new railway tracks and six new train stations across ten construction phases through to the beginning of operations, planned for the end of 2029. 

DB’s construction of the line continues work begun in 2020 when Denmark began building the historic 18km Fehmarnbelt road and rail tunnel under the stretch of the Baltic Sea separating two countries, which will be the world’s longest immersed tunnel when it is completed. 

Susanna Henckel, the state secretary to the German federal minister for transport, described the project as a “European milestone”, she said: “The connection to the Fehmarnbelt crossing not only brings Germany and Denmark closer together, but also the whole of Europe. 

“From Hamburg to Copenhagen, train travellers will only need half as long as now at 2.5 hours. But the connection brings so much more, a European rail network is being created on which goods can travel more quickly from north to south – from Oslo to Palermo.” 

An aerial image of the beginning of construction in Puttgarden next to a highway and wind turbines in fields
Construction on the German side of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel began in Puttgarden, Fehmarn in 2021. Credit: Femern A/S

The first phase of construction will be the double track expansion and electrification of the 11.4km line between Puttgarden and the Fehmarnsund Bridge, with construction on the other sections to Lübeck beginning in parallel from 2026. 

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By GlobalData

Funding for the project is coming from a joint investment by the European Union, DB, and the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with the official starting signal for construction given by Henckel, DB Infrastructure Board Member Berthold Huber and the state’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther. 

Günther said: “The start of construction on the rail connection is an event that we have been working towards for a long time. I am pleased that we have managed to find a compromise for the route together with the local citizens, the federal government and the DB. 

“With this cross-border transport project connecting countries, we are creating greater proximity between Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein, between our economies and especially between people.”