The Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link is Northern Europe’s largest transport construction project and will connect Scandinavia with Germany and the rest of continental Europe. The preferred technical solution is an immersed tunnel with an electrified dual-track rail line and a four lane motorway.
Both in its dimensions and due to its character as a cross-border project between Germany and Denmark the project enters new ground. The Fehmarnbelt Tunnel must be approved in accordance with European as well as Danish and German regulations and procedures. Although they are based on the same EU directives to a significant extent, there are great differences between how the regulations are administered in the two countries. This requires more time than originally anticipated.
“The need for coordination and detailed planning is greater than we had expected,” said Leo Larsen, CEO, Femern A/S. “We have a highly constructive partnership with both the Danish and the German authorities, but nevertheless we have to recognise that this is a very challenging task for all parties. In part this is because of the substantial differences in the regulations and procedures between Denmark and Germany. We are in a situation with many unknown factors that have to be tackled as the applications to the authorities are prepared – and this takes time.”
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The new timetable means that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the coast-to-coast link in Denmark will commence in May 2013 and that Folketinget, the Danish parliament, will be able to pass a construction act for the project at the end of 2014. By then the contractual sums for the four major civil works contracts will be known.
In Germany, the authorities will receive the final application material no later than August 2013 after which the approvals are expected to be in place around the turn of the year 2014/2015.
In the autumn of 2012, Femern A/S will begin the process of selecting the contractor consortia that will be invited to tender for the major construction contracts. The contracts are expected to be signed in the summer of 2015.
The revised timetable affects only the current planning stage. The construction period for the immersed tunnel itself is still expected to be six and a half years. With the construction contracts expected to be signed in the summer of 2015, the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link should open towards the end of 2021.
The new timetable is unlikely to impact on the overall costs because those relating to the planning stage will be kept within the budget of EUR 376 million (2008 prices).
The construction estimate for the immersed tunnel remains at EUR 5.5 billion (2008 prices) and the repayment period for the entire Fehmarnbelt project, including the Danish landworks, is still 39 years.