Green STRING on tour in Germany - Tour de force with authorities and other stakeholders!

The work package leaders of the Green SRTING Corridor project have been on a road trip in Germany where they had meetings with state authorities and relevant stakeholders in Schleswig-Holstein (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Employment, Transport and Technology Schleswig-Holstein), Hamburg (Ministry of Economy, Transport and Innovation) and Berlin (Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development). 


 Roadtrip 1


The purpose of these meetings was to get a feeling of 'what is currently going on the German side of the STRING corridor' and the position of the German stakeholders to the upcoming Fehmarnbelt fixed link. The project also used the opportunity to present some of the results from the project.
Furthermore, it was interesting to hear more about German  involvement in the STRING cooperation and what could be the potential for cross-border activities that the Green STRING Corridor project and its partners could support in an effort to enhance the development of an efficient and greener transport corridor between Hamburg-Öresund.


With the upcoming Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (FTIP) 2015 in Germany each state has the possibility to send their wish list for upcoming infrastructure projects to the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development in Berlin. This wish list more or less represents priorities for infrastructure projects in the upcoming planning period until 2030 and states the focus for the maintenance, new-build and upgrading projects for transport infrastructure in Germany.




Status of the Fehmarnbelt fixed link 'lighthouse infrastructure project' for Europe 



Overall the work package leaders from the Green STRING Corridor project received a positive feedback towards the establishment of the upcoming Fehmarnbelt fixed and most of the stakeholders see a potential for regional development. Nevertheless both business associations and the ministries underline that most of the businesses in the region not yet see the business opportunities with the upcoming fixed link and that more has to be done to make business aware of the opportunities.   


The federal ministry in Berlin states that the fixed link over the Fehmarnbelt is the largest infrastructure lighthouse project in Europe and with enhanced cross-border cooperation it could serve as an example  for Europe's cross-border cooperation and development of green transport corridors. The German cooperation with Scandinavia is very important and appreciated by the Federal Government.


Nevertheless, for cross-border projects such as the fixed link, there are no uniform EU procedures available for cross-border planning on infrastructure and regional development. This is a serious obstacle which causes delay and problems, especially for the ministry in Schleswig-Holstein that is responsible for the planning process on the German side of Fehmarnbelt.



With the treaty a rail expansion is set for completely upgrading and electrifying the existing single-track line connecting Lübeck and the northern coast of Femahrn, but just seven years afterwards, train services will commence on a double-track line to Scandinavia. The DB Netz AG and the Schleswig-Holstein's state planning authority have conducted a voluntary regional planning process - a so called "Raumordnungsverfahren (ROV), before the actual start of the formal planning approval process, to identify if there are any possible points of contention or issues of relevance to rail line construction.



In this ROV, which is to be finished by the end of 2013, the recently proposed alternative was not included, called  the 2 +1 solution (construction of a completely new rail line with double tracks for freight and intercity trains, by-passing the local villages on Fehmarn, and maintaining the existing single track line for local passenger services).  If the current ROV shows that the original single track solution causes too much opposition, the infrastructure management company DB Netz AG has agreed to take in an analysis of the 2+1 alternative. 



This however could cost a further delay for the start of the actual formal planning process (see planning process in German).



Regional Development goes hand in hand with infrastructure planning



Budgets for new infrastructure investments are tight in Germany and with the upcoming federal transport infrastructure plans (FTIPs) in 2015, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development will present a framework program and planning tool, which sets the basis for the development and upgrading of transport infrastructure in Germany.


 Roadtrip 2


Both Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg State have sent their wish list to the federal government that includes a long list of proposed infrastructure projects and it is now up to the federal government to decide which of the projects they want to support. It will be crucial for the political cooperation of STRING, to promote the vision for a future travel time between Copenhagen and Hamburg via train should not take more than 2, 5 hours.


Representatives from the visited ministries agreed on that  infrastructure planning and regional development have to go hand -in- hand as a guiding principle in the on-going process otherwise there will be a risk that future transport infrastructure investments will not contribute to a sustainable environmental and economic development in the STRING Region. Hence,  the establishment of the Fehmarnbelt fixed link in the STRING region should also serve the purpose of being an example region for the implementation of the EU ambition of a green corridor because there is a  political interest in Germany and Scandinavia available for renewable energy solutions. In comparison to other EU cross-border regions this region has also financial opportunities to support this implementation.



In the beginning of 2014 the Green STRING Corridor project will organise a seminar with representatives from the authorities in the STRING region that are responsible for the development of infrastructure planning and regional development with the goal to identify possibilities of mutual areas of interest where a STRING corridor that can be seen as a backbone or example for the 'green corridor approach' in Europe and contributes to regional development.



In the second quarter of 2014 the Green STRING project and the STRING political cooperation will host a workshop with various actors in the STRING region to identify opportunities for increased cooperation. Focus will be on up-coming funding schemes such as Horizon 2020, INTERREG program, TEN-T funding, etc. and how we can work together.


By Leif Gjesing Hansen, Nicole Duem Anine Asklund og Sandrina Lohse