Friday, September 5, 2014

The "Suez Canal" of the Rhine Valley

A month ago....if you had laid out this story....I would have suggested that you were doping up on something.

For years, there's been complaints of railway traffic going along the Rhine River Valley....from Wiesbaden to Koblenz.  Every town along the way....along both sides.....are hyper on the topic.  They hate the passenger traffic.....they hate the freight traffic.

Various gimmicks have been discussed.  Most ideas would muffle the noise by twenty-to-thirty percent.  The residents weren't happy with that idea and wanted traffic shifted.....which meant to the other side of the some cases....adding two or three hours onto a trip for some freight movements.

So, this week.....a CDU political figure from the region has thrown a wildcard onto the table.  The idea?  Building two tunnels under the Taunus Mountain range, going from Wiesbaden to Bonn.  Tunnel one would be seventy-one kilometers (roughly 55 miles) and tunnel two would be forty-seven kilometers (roughly 40 miles).  

The enormous size of this?  Right now.....the longest tunnel for railway traffic is being built in Switzerland....57 km long.  It's cost is roughly seventeen BILLION Euro.

So the press asked the CDU guy about the cost.  He kinda admitted.....he's not an expert, but threw out the number of ten BILLION.

My humble guess?  With various screw-ups seen in recent German construction projects, and figuring this will take ten years....I'm guessing twenty BILLION is the likely number for the final cost.

The SPD guys?  They are shaking heads over this.  This went way beyond their imagination and promises to the public.  The CDU guy as not just doubled-down....he quadrupled-down the game of making a five-star promise to the public.

Would the project ever have enough payback?  NEVER.

If approved, and I would imagine it'd take at least three years to get this approved and past the environmental folks who will fight this the entire way.

The folks along the valley?  It's probably a ninety-percent approval rating for this idea.....they don't care about cost.  Beating Stuttgart-21 or any of the mega projects going on now?  Yes.  Beating BER (the Berlin airport)?  Yes

I've said this several times about the new CDU mentality....they are willing to promise everything that the SPD and Greens used to promise and hoped to never deliver upon.  The CDU guys are serious.....they'd be willing to waste twenty-odd billion.....on a tunnel....just to get rid of noise along the river valley of the Rhine.  As for the title of "Suez Canal of the Rhine Valley"?  That comes from the minister suggesting the idea.

The cheaper approach?  What everyone thought was that the government would step in....forcing everyone to utilize a rail line (upgraded of course) about forty kilometers west of the river.....adding two hours onto every trip.

My bet?  These Germans are just crazy enough to throw billions at a problem......fixing it in the most unique way possible.

What it delivers in the end in an unexpected way?  If you route all rail traffic, including passenger traffic away from the Rhine Valley....that will likely include the local lines which pick up locals and tourists along the Rhine River.  Buses would have to run, and you could expect roads to get clogged up within a year after the tunnel open.  And then what?

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