The project includes the installation of 16km of noise barriers and under-sleeper pads along the section, which is intended to improve conditions for residents, as well as track renewal and upgrades to signalling and control systems. A busy level crossing at Alexanderstrasse will also be replaced with a bridge while 2000 houses along the route will receive additional soundproofing.

Trains will operate at up to 120km/h once the project is completed at the end of 2022 with electric passenger services running at 30-minute intervals on the route. JadeWeserPort is Germany’s only deep sea port with a rail connection.

The ceremony was attended by Mr Enak Ferlemann, parliamentary secretary of state in the Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Mr Ronald Polaffa, infrastructure director at German Rail (DB), and Dr Berend Lindner, state secretary in the Lower Saxony Ministry of Economics, Labour, Transport and Digitalisation.

The complete project is financed by the German federal government, DB and the European Union through the Connecting Europe Facility. The federal government and DB reached a €423m financing agreement for the project in October 2015.

“With our Strong Rail strategy we want to increase the market share of rail freight from 18 to 25%,” Pofalla says. “This corresponds to 13 million fewer truck trips per year on German roads.”