UPDATE: An information center set up to provide information and answer questions about the light rail system will be open from 20 June to 9 September, 2015 in the Nordea building at Budolfi Plads. The exhibition opens in connection with the recently published EIA report and the public hearing phase of the project. At the exhibition you can find answers to questions such as where the light rail will run and what the light rail will mean for Aalborg and its citizens. The exhibition will be staffed during business hours by information officers who will respond to questions about the project. Opening times each week are: Monday – Friday from 15:00 to 17:30 and Saturday from 10:30 to 13:00. Read the press release about it (in Danish) here.
[Original post}: At a public meeting last Thursday, 10 April, 2014 Aalborg’s Mayor Thomas Kastrup-Larsen presented to 130 city residents plans for a new light rail or bus rapid transit (BRT) system that will be built to cross the city, from the new university hospital in the east (currently under construction) to Mølholm in the west. Along with Regional Council Chairman Ulla Astman and city architect Peder Baltzer Nielsen, the mayor fielded questions and comments following a presentation made by Nielsen.
Aalborg Light Rail/BRT, as the project is being called, is a joint effort by Aalborg Kommune, Region Norjylland, and Norjylland Transport; funding and support are also being provided by the Danish government. The project is currently in the beginning planning stage. In 2014 and 2015 the city will carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will be followed by funding and decisions on which type of system, design and construction, expected to be completed by 2018. Construction will take place after that and the system is expected to be up and running in 2021, one year after the hospital opens.
Light rail/BRT advocates argue that such transit systems are environmentally friendly; that light rail/BRT vehicles are more comfortable to ride in than city buses; that they can accommodate more passengers than city buses; and that they are not delayed due to priority traffic signals, which allow them to drive fluidly through the city. Roughly 500 cities world-wide have light rail transit systems and a new system opens every month on average .
Aalborg city officials make a strong case for the creation of an additional mode of public transportation. ‘Aalborg is growing quickly. Analysts predict that there will be 25,000 more inhabitants by 2025, which will increase demands on infrastructure and public transportation. A light rail is the best option for a good and sustainable solution [to these problems],’ claims Kastrup-Larsen. Astman concurs: ‘It is crucial for us that staff, patients and visitors from across the region have easy access to and from the future university hospital. In the long term, we expect the hospital will have approximately 6,000 employees, 500,000 outpatients and day treatment patients annually, and 700 visiting relatives every day .’
Here are some facts about the new transport system, whether light rail or BRT:
- It will connect the university and new Aalborg University Hospital with Aalborg’s center and Vestbyen via Boulevarden.
- The system will be 12 km long and have 24 stops, with an average distance of 500 meters between stops.
- A trip from beginning to end on the Aalborg Light rail/BRT will take 35 minutes; a trip from Haraldslund to the university, which currently takes 33-37 minutes by bus, will take 24 minutes.
- Service will run 10 times per hour during rush hour, 8 times/hour during the day, and 4 times/hour in the evening.
- A light rail vehicle of 27 meters will accommodate around 190 passengers, while a BRT vehicle of 24 meters has capacity for 165 people. Public buses in Aalborg currently can carry 100 passengers, including 40 seated.
- Tickets for riding the light rail/BRT will be the same as riding other public transportation.
- Bus lines that run parallel to the light rail/BRT will be modified or abolished; other local and regional bus lines will be unaffected.
- It is estimated that by 2025 there will be roughly 94,000 public transport passengers per day in Aalborg (a 70% increase from today), of which 1/5 will use the light rail/BRT (or approximately 5 million passengers per year). This should translate to 600,000 fewer car trips per year.
- The cost of constructing a light rail system is estimated at 1.1 billion kroners. A BRT system would cost roughly half that amount.
- It will be necessary for the state to contribute about half the construction costs as it has to other light rail projects in Denmark.
- Most light rail transit is operated by a 750 V DC power line hanging over the track, although a light rail system can also be powered partly by batteries, super capacitors or a third track in the ground. BRT systems can operate on diesel, gas, batteries, super capacitors or via overhead wires.
There is no plan for the light rail system to extend to Aalborg Airport due to lack of capacity on the railway bridge and the fact that a lane in each direction would be required for the light rail to cross the Limfjords Bridge, for which there is no space. Thus, a third bridge would be needed to accommodate the light rail system over the fjord. However, the state is preparing an EIA for the construction of a spur line to the airport, which would involve an extension of the rail network from Lindholm Station and a transfer from light rail to train at Vestbyen Station.
During this beginning planning stage, an ‘idea phase’ is running from 2 April until 30 April. Project leaders encourage interested city residents to submit questions, ideas and comments about the project during this period, especially those that deal with:
- traffic conditions
- urban environment
- noise, air pollution and climate
to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit By- og Landskabsforvaltningen, Stigsborg Brygge 5, 9400 Nørresundby. I’m taking liberties here but I am quite sure they would accept contributions written in English. For more information about Aalborg Light Rail/BRT, click here.