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  • Writer's pictureVeronika Bajnoková

International students frustrated with no direct train connection between Bremen and Groningen

Many students in Groningen come from across the German border, and rely on trains to get them to their university town and back again. They're frustrated by the poor connection between Groningen and Bremen, which means long, exhausting trips. And there's little improvement in sight.

A new train connection between Bremen and Groningen will start running with an interchange in the German town of Leer by the end of 2024. The connection has been disrupted since a cargo ship damaged the railway bridge Friesenbrücke on the German side near the border with the Netherlands in 2015.

Many students hoped for a direct train connection between the two towns, the so-called Wunderline, but this won’t be possible until 2036 at the earliest, as the Wunderline group announced this June. The decision is based on the research of the Swiss firm SMA commissioned by the provinces of Groningen, Lower Saxony, and Bremen.

The Wunderline group announced its plans to open the bridge by December next year for 20 minutes per hour for train traffic. The extended opening hours of the bridge for ship transport might affect the reliability of the timetable, which could cause delays on the rails. The limited availability of the bridge makes the direct connection not feasible, which means the passengers will have to change trains in Leer.

Groningen Railway Station © Veronika Bajnoková

Frustration among students

After the summer, many international students returning to Groningen experienced difficulties with the current Bremen-Groningen connection.

“It’s frustrating, I don’t get why it’s taking so long for the bridge to be fixed,” says Lina Amelung, a 21-year-old student from Germany. The student changes trains at least every hour on her 300km long train ride home to Lüneburg. ‘It makes travelling very tiring,” Lina told The Groninger.

23-year-old Aleksandra Dudkowiak from Poland needs to make multiple train changes on her way to Poznan. “It gives me a lot of stress and troubles with planning because figuring out a good connection with stopovers that doesn’t take 16 hours is difficult,” says Aleksandra, who already got stranded in Leer once. “It was exhausting and stressful.”

For both Lina and Aleksandra, a direct train connection between the two cities would mean the possibility of travelling home more often.

Groningen Railway Station © Veronika Bajnoková

However, the Wunderline group insists that additional research is needed into the possibility of running a direct train between Bremen and Groningen. Their website states ‘there’s a limited space at both stations for this purpose’ and the group expects ‘higher operating costs’ and that ‘more train sets will be needed.’ Additional investments are further needed at the Groningen station.

Wunderline did not respond to attempts by The Groninger to seek comment.

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