In a couple of years, towns in Norway’s fast growing south-western region may be linked by a 15 km urban railway.
The two towns, Stavanger and Sandnes, are already merging around the Forus industrial area.
The proposed light railway will link urban communities, encourage more people to use public transport and reduce harmful emissions from cars as well.
With a capacity to service around 200,000 citizens, the urban railway will be part of the so-called south-north axis, where a similar link is planned to be established westwards towards Stavanger Airport in Sola.
But planning the urban railway in Nord-Jæren is about more than simply laying down railway tracks, says Kjetil Nerland, assisting project manager in COWI Norway:
"Because the tracks represent something permanent, they form the basis for urban development in the area. In addition to the project being a major professional challenge, it is great to know that we are leaving our stamp on and creating a lifestyle change in one of the fastest growing regions in Norway."
In the right order
COWI is carrying out an analysis that is to result in a so-called sub-town plan to form the basis for a decision on whether to expand the urban railway.
Among other things, the project involves assisting the client in preparing town plans and impact assessments and preparing a technical master plan for the Stavanger-Sandnes section. The final plan is to be presented in 2012.
"It is important to do the right things in a logical and efficient order. We want to have an open process where everyone is able to promote their points of view. First, we will arrange an idea workshop and then we will work on specific alignment possibilities for the urban railway tracks. For this, we need as much input as possible. This input will be used in a report recommending what alignments are to be examined prior to political processing," says Knut Næss, who is contract manager in COWI Norway.
The project will be carried out from COWI Norway's Oslo office with assistance from specialists in Denmark, who add experience from Danish light railway projects in Aarhus and along the Ring 3 motorway.
"We bring information to the table on the problems that we experienced and how we solved them," says Preben Vilhof, Project Director, COWI Denmark. "This could be anything from the material of the light railway to whether certain short sections should allow mixed traffic including cars."