COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Construction of the world’s longest immersed tunnel connecting Denmark and Germany will begin in January next year, the Danish transport minister said on Friday.
The Femern Belt link, which includes an 18 kilometer long rail and road tunnel with an electrified double-track railway and a four-lane motorway, will connect the Danish island of Lolland and Puttgarden in Northern Germany.
In contrast to a bored tunnel, an immersed tunnel is made up of hollow concrete elements, cast on land and assembled section by section at sea to form the tunnel.
Denmark’s government first announced plans for the project in 2015 with a completion date in 2024, but the tunnel is now expected to open for traffic in 2029.
The entire project is estimated to cost 52.6 billion Danish crowns ($7.6 billion) in 2015-prices, according to the Femern Belt Development fund.
In March, EU state aid regulators approved Danish financial support to the project, saying that the positive effects of the project would clearly outweigh any potential distortion of competition.
Currently, travelers have to take a 45 minutes ferry ride to cross the Femern Belt, but when the construction is finished the strait can be crossed in only ten minutes by car or seven minutes by train.
Reporting by Andreas Mortensen; Editing by Toby Chopra