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Germany gives green light to world’s longest rail and road tunnel to Denmark

A top German court on Tuesday approved the construction of the world's longest combined rail and road tunnel that is expected to slash journey times from northern Germany to Denmark.

Germany gives green light to world's longest rail and road tunnel to Denmark
A visualisation of the planned Fehmarn Belt tunnel between Germany and Denmark with the tunnel entrance on the Danish side at Rodbyhavn. Photo: DPA

The 18-kilometre submerged Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is due to open in 2029 but has been beset by legal battles from conservationists and ferry companies.

German regulatory approval is “a historic milestone”, said the project's chief executive Claus Baunkjaer.

The tunnel will be one of Europe's largest infrastructure projects, crossing the Baltic Sea between the ports of Puttgarden in Germany and Rodby on the Danish island of Lolland, reducing road journey times to 10 minutes from an hour-long ferry ride.

It is expected to cost 52.6 Danish kroner (€7.1 billion), with the four-lane, twin railway tunnel section built and paid for by Denmark alongside EU funding, linking Hamburg and Copenhagen in two and a half hours by train.

The idea of a permanent connection across the Fehmarn Belt was mooted almost 30 years ago, originally as a bridge, just as the eight-kilometre Oresund link between Copenhagen and Malmo in Sweden was readying construction.

While Denmark has already begun building work on the project, work on the German side was halted by legal obstacles.

Environmentalists raised concerns over the environmental impact, especially on reefs and porpoises.

Unlike other underwater tunnels, such as the Channel Tunnel under the English Channel, the Germany-Denmark tunnel will not lie under the seabed.

Instead the tunnel is to use hollow concrete sections that are to be submerged and placed in a trench dug into the Baltic Sea floor.

Ferry firms facing vastly reduced trade also took a dim view of the competition from road and high-speed rail.

However, the federal administrative court in Leipzig rejected their arguments.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice is still mulling other complaints related to the project.

READ ALSO: Germany and Denmark to link with massive bridge across strait

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TRAVEL

Holiday homes at North and Baltic Sea 90 percent full as Germans choose staycations

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many more Germans are holidaying at home. Now tourist bosses say popular destinations are almost fully booked already.

Holiday homes at North and Baltic Sea 90 percent full as Germans choose staycations
People enjoying the sunshine at the Baltic Sea coast at Warnemünde on June 15th. Photo: DPA

Holiday homes and apartments are in demand among Germans, according to industry figures.

In the holiday resorts on the North and Baltic Seas, the accommodation for the summer holidays is booked to 90 percent capacity, the German Holiday Home Association (Deutsche Ferienhaus-Verband) said.

Regions in southern Germany, such as the Allgäu and the Lake Constance region, are also very popular at the moment.

The association recommended that anyone who wants to book a spot this summer should be flexible since demand is so high.

On June 15th, the government partially lifted  a travel warning put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus, allowing people to visit EU countries. However, the travel warning for non-EU countries remains in place until August 31st.

“This year, Germans are focusing very strongly on holidays close to nature that allow for the necessary distance,” explained Michelle Schwefel, the association's branch manager, referencing the requirement for people in Germany to keep 1.5 metre distance to others.

READ ALSO:   

The North Sea and Baltic coasts are in particularly high demand, especially the islands such as Rügen. Holidaymakers are also attracted to the Mecklenburg Lake District.

But there are still places that can be booked.

“There is still free accommodation in the low mountain ranges such as the Black Forest or the Hochsauerland and in the big cities such as Berlin and Munich,” said Schwefel.

READ ALSO: Travel in Germany – the best secluded hangouts to visit this summer

This year, bookings are being made at shorter notice than usual due to the uncertainty in the pandemic, added Schwefel. Holidaymakers are paying more attention to Germany or destinations that can be easily reached by car.

Since the coronavirus restrictions began being eased, bookings for holiday homes in Germany increased.

Vocabulary

North and Baltic Sea – (der) Nord- und Ostsee

Popular regions – (die) beliebte Regionen

Mecklenburg Lake District – (die) Mecklenburgische Seenplatte

Free accommodation – (die) Freie Unterkünfte

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

 

 

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