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Hanover opens light rail extension to Hemmingen

The 3.3 km long new light rail line to Hemmingen was officially opened on 9 December I © Philipp Schröder, Region Hannover

The initial planning started over 30 years ago, start of construction seven years ago, track construction has been initiated from 2019 – and in the end it took a whole 20 minutes for the guests of honour from Hanover to reach Hemmingen station on the inaugural journey of the new light rail line 13.

On 9 November 2023, the ÜSTRA lightrail trainset TW 3000 was joined by Regional President Steffen Krach, Ulf-Birger Franz, Head of Transport of the Hannover Region, Belit Onay, Lord Mayor of the State Capital of Hannover, Frank Doods, State Secretary in the Lower Saxony Ministry of Transport, Christian Weske, Managing Director of infra, Jan Dingeldey, Mayor of Hemmingen and ÜSTRA Board Member Elke van Zadel at the new light rail terminus.

Schematic representation of the new Extension I © ÜSTRA

Together, they symbolically cut a blue ribbon after arriving at the terminus. The celebration organised by the Hannover Region and Infrastrukturgesellschaft Region Hannover (infra) at the new terminus of the light rail system in the south of the state capital had already been underway for an hour. infra was responsible for the project Management and execution of the new Infrastructure.

Looking back

The plans for a light rail line to Hemmingen date back to the 1980s. Originally planned for the year 2000, priorities were shifted due to Expo 2000, which meant that investments in infrastructure were brought forward. The construction of the urban railway in the Göttinger Landstraße area was later considered sensible, but only started after the completion of a bypass around the B3 federal road. Planning approval for the “B 3 neu” was granted in 2004 and became legally binding in 2010. The symbolic ground-breaking ceremony for the federal road took place in December 2014 and, after several delays, the new B3 was opened in November 2020. Planning for the light railway began in 2000, but the decision was not made until twelve years later, mainly due to the dependence on the construction of the bypass. The official start of construction for Hemmingen was in May 2019, with the light rail line being in operation from December 2023.

A tram ran to the south of Hanover until 1955. The route of the former Line 7 ended at the Landwehrschänke in Ricklingen, not far from the new line that has now been opened.

Over 90 million euros invested

The federal, state and regional governments have invested over 90 million euros in the approximately 3.3 kilometre-long extension of the A-Süd light rail line between the Hanover district of Oberricklingen and Hemmingen. The client and owner of the transport facilities is infra.

Around 9,200 residents live in the extended catchment area of the six new stops and 5,300 jobs are located in the surrounding area. The double-track section begins at the current Wallensteinstraße light rail stop and runs along Göttinger Chaussee and Göttinger Landstraße to the southern end of Hemmingen-Westerfeld.

Start of the new line at Wallensteinstrasse with a view of Göttinger Chaussee with grass track I © 2023 Andreas Kowollik

“With Hemmingen, seven municipalities in the surrounding area are now connected to the Hannover light rail network,” said a delighted Regional President Steffen Krach in his speech at the opening ceremony: “Our investments in local public transport make it clear that we are serious about the mobility transition and our climate protection goals. But now it’s the turn of the people of Hemmingen. With the light rail system, they now have a convenient alternative to travelling by car.”

“Unter den Birken” station I © 2023 Andreas Kowollik

An aspect that Hemmingen’s mayor Jan Dingeldey also emphasised: “The commissioning of light rail line 13 represents a significant upgrade for our entire city. Together with the associated new construction of the B 3 as a bypass, the light rail is the largest infrastructural project ever realised in this municipality. It is a milestone in the development of our city and will sustainably improve the quality of life of our citizens.”

Hemmingen/Berliner Straße” station I © 2023 Andreas Kowollik

A modern parking facility for cars and bicycles was created at the Hemmingen terminus. The park-and-ride facility with 170 parking spaces for cars and a bike-and-ride facility with space for almost 250 bicycles make the changeover attractive for people from the neighbouring districts of Hemmingen’s town centre.

Hemmingen terminus – view of the departure platform, on the left the transfer to the buses I © 2023 Andreas Kowollik

ÜSTRA board member Elke van Zadel added: “A route extension in the light rail network doesn’t happen every year – and is therefore always something special. The last ones were to the main station/ZOB in 2017 and to Misburg in 2014. The extension to Hemmingen with 3.4 kilometres and 6 barrier-free stations is a strong statement for local transport in the region.”

The alignment

The new light rail line branches off from the existing route at Wallensteinstraße in Hanover and consists of sections with a total of six stops. Section I stretches 1,557 metres to the third stop Hemmingen/Saarstraße, followed by section II with a further three stops to the end point. The entire route measures 3,301 metres and includes extensive road redesigns, including green spaces, improved footpaths and cycle paths and grass tracks. Where the road cross-section has been reduced, emergency vehicles will be able to cross onto the tracks. The elevated platforms are barrier-free with wheelchair-accessible ramps and offer seating, shelters and digital displays. The journey takes 15 minutes from Hemmingen/Centre to Kröpcke underground station in Hanover city centre. Hemmingen is the seventh surrounding municipality with a light rail connection. Bus route 300 will continue to operate in addition to the light rail service.

Overview of the new route to Hemmingen (in red) and the planned extension to Arnim (dashed in red) I © infrastrukturgesellschaft Region Hannover GmbH

New bus connections and journeys from 10 December 2023

The range of feeder buses for the light rail – with level back-to-back transfers on the elevated platform – has also been significantly improved and in some cases even doubled on order from the Hannover Region. The changes to the bus routes have resulted in many new and more frequent travel options as well as more and better connections to the light rail network – not only for Hemmingen passengers – with bus routes 300, 360, 363, 365, 366 and 367 as well as the NachtLiner N31. The sprintH line remains in addition to the light rail and continues to run between Pattensen and Hanover through Hemmingen.

Changes to the light rail network too

The new light rail line 13 from Hemmingen will replace line 9 on the north-eastern section between the underground stations Hauptbahnhof and Fasanenkrug and will be shortened again to the Empelde-Hauptbahnhof section from 10 December 2023. Due to the high passenger demand, longer trains than before will run on line 9 during weekday rush hours. With the likewise new line 12, the line labelling of line 10, called “half ten” or “dash ten”, disappears. It could be seen on the night star service, from Ahlem to the underground station Hauptbahnhof and on diversions on line 10 through the tunnel to Hauptbahnhof.

And: With line 13 through Linden-Süd and Ricklingen, three light rail lines (3, 7, 13) now run every ten minutes along Ricklinger Stadtweg for the first time. This means that the 17 now runs every 20 minutes on weekdays, while on Sundays and public holidays the interval remains at 30 minutes.

We would like to thank www.stadtbahn-h.de for their kind support in the preparation of this article and their permission to publish the photos.

The first train on 9.12.2023 consisted of TW3000 and was colourfully decorated I © 2023 Andreas Kowollik