The core of the connection is the 19-kilometre (12 mi) ferry link between Rødby (Denmark) and Puttgarden (Germany). The line is operated by Scandlines. Ferries take 45 minutes and operate twice an hour, 24 hours a day. The ships act as car and train ferry simultaneously.
The projected Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, an undersea tunnel, will eventually replace the ferries. Danish-German negotiations on June 29, 2007 culminated in an agreement to complete the link by 2021, essentially on the basis of Danish funding.
The road connection consists of:
- European route E47 on the Danish side.
- Autobahn A1 (European routes E 47 and E22) on the German side, and the two-lane Bundesstraße 207/E 47 on the northernmost section. An additional 10 km (6.2 mi) of motorway was completed by 2008, still leaving the last 25 km (16 mi) a two-lane road.
The rail connection consists of:
- 118 km (73 mi) of double track from Copenhagen to Vordingborg; maximum speed 160 to 180 km/h (99 to 112 mph); electrified for 64 km (40 mi) to Ringsted
- 65 km (40 mi) of single track from Vordingborg to Rødby; maximum speed 120 km/h (75 mph)
- 89 km (55 mi) of single track from Puttgarden to Lübeck
- 64 km (40 mi) of double track from Lübeck to Hamburg, electrified.
Passenger services between Copenhagen and Hamburg number three to five EuroCitys a day in each direction, operated with DBAG Class 605 trains of Deutsche Bahn and Danish IC3 trains. Since completion of the Great Belt Bridge freight trains are not directed via Rødby-Puttgarden any more, but via Funen and Jutland which is 160 km (99 mi) longer.
These current bridges and tunnels are part of the connection:
- Masnedsund Bridge and Storstrøm Bridge, Sealand/Falster (rail)
- Farø Bridges, Sealand/Falster (motorway E47)
- Frederick IX Bridge, Falster/Lolland (two-lane road and rail)
- Guldborgsund Tunnel, Falster/Lolland (motorway E47)
- Rødbyhavn (harbor, Denmark)
- Puttgarden (harbor, Germany)
- Fehmarn Sound bridge, Fehmarn/Germany (two-lane road E47 and rail)
Proposals for a more direct "bird flight line" date back from the 1920s. Construction was started on the Danish side in 1941 after the Nazi occupation force pushed the matter, but work was halted again in 1946. After World War II, Warnemünde (near Rostock) was included in the territory of East Germany. Political divisions made traffic between Denmark and West Germany via Warnemünde inconvenient.
From 1951 to 1963 a ferry line from Gedser to Großenbrode operated as a temporary solution. In addition, traffic between Copenhagen and Hamburg would either be directed over the Great Belt ferry, Funen and Jutland or the Gedser-Warnemünde ferry. Construction of the "bird flight line" was restarted in 1949 and completed in 1963.
Beeline in pictures
M/S Prinsesse Benedikte, one of the ferries
The ICE-TD/type 605 is now used on the Vogelfluglinie
Planned route of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link