Commission approves Fehmarn planning phase

By Chris Sleight16 July 2009

The European Commission has approved the DKK 1,45 billion (€ 194 million) public sector funding of the planning phase of the Fehmarn Belt fixed link between Denmark and Germany.

The scheme will involve the construction of either a bridge or tunnel across the 19 km Fehmarn Strait that separates Northern Germany and Southern Denmark. A four-lane highway and double-track railway carried by a bridge is the favoured option at present. Initial designs call for three central spans of some 725 m, with a 65 m clearance underneath to allow the passage of large ships.

Although Germany and Denmark share a land border, the new link is expected to lead to a significant reduction in travel times between key cities. The travel time between Copenhagen in Denmark and Germany in Hamburg is expected to come down from 290 minutes to 180 minutes, for example.

The bridge will be financed, built and operated by the Danish government, and the budget for the scheme is put at € 5 billion. Upon completion this company will have the sole right to collect tolls from the link.

The Commission's go-ahead for the public financing of the planning stage is significant because the ruling says the proposal does not fall under the scope of European competition rules on state aid.

Construction of the link is expected to get underway in 2011, with the completion in 2018.

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