Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg, Germany

Regulators in Germany have approved a plan for an $8 billion underwater tunnel connecting Denmark and Germany.

Officials in Germany's northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein approved the plan Friday, which calls for 19 kilometers of rail and road tunnel, linking the Danish island of Lolland to the German island of Fehmarn.

The project, to be built by Denmark's state-owned Femern A/S, includes a four-lane motorway and a two-track railway. It was partly funded by the European Union.

Femern A/S now has 14 days to review the approval from the Schleswig-Holstein state transport ministry before it is signed.

The company's project director, Claus Dynesen, said in a statement that environmental conditions, which have delayed the process since the project's launch five years ago, have been met.

The application to build the tunnel was first submitted in 2013 and has been through two rounds of public consultation in Germany.

Most of the construction work will take place at a factory in the Danish city of Rodbyhavn. The project is expected to be completed by 2024.

The train and road link will provide a fast corridor between Copenhagen and Hamburg. It is expected to cut the train journey between the two cities from the current time of just less than five hours to a little more than two hours.