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COWI designing new high-speed line in Denmark

Photo: COWI
​The towns of Hasselager and Hovedgård to the south of Aarhus in Denmark are to be connected by a completely new high-speed line where trains will be able to reach 250 km/h. COWI is to manage the design of the new railway.

​"Creating a completely new railway for trains capable of reaching between 250 and 300 km/h takes a lot of space," explains Bent Bertil Jacobsen, project manager at COWI. So it is no easy matter to cut six minutes off the journey in a small country like Denmark.

To future-proof the line, the route is also being projected for speeds of up to 300 km/h. The relatively short 23-km section will save passengers six minutes, and is a key part of the overall plan for the railways to bind the regions more closely together.

Gentle curves and stable track base

“First of all, it’s a big job to route the railway away from forests and nature reserves, churches and houses. The trick is to have it cross as few roads as possible, because too many bridges would add to the cost of the project. It is also important not to have too many curves, to minimise the track length. And finally, we have to consider the passengers: if they are to be comfortable sitting in the train, the curves need to be wide,” says Jacobsen.

For the rails to be stable, the ground must be solid. That is why COWI is using old aerial photographs from the 1950s, which show where there used to be lakes and marshes which have since been either drained or filled in. Here the ground will often be too soft, so it will be necessary to add a stable foundation before the track can be laid.

Lines on two levels

In order to divert future rail traffic onto the new line, either it will have to have trains crossing at the same level or major construction work will have to be undertaken to avoid crossing the existing line. “This sort of structure is commonly known as a flying junction, which means that the new line will be carried across the existing tracks at a height of around eight and a half metres,” explains Jacobsen.

An important piece of the puzzle

Bent Bertil Jacobsen does not hide the fact that this is an exciting project for COWI: “It is fantastic to help create a completely new railway through the landscape. After all, it’s not going to disappear tomorrow; it will be there for the next 100 years and will form part of the new infrastructure in Denmark with light rail systems and modern railways that will stimulate development and bring a new cohesion to the country.”

By Sussi Heimburger suhe@cowi.dk

Published on 16.09.2015

​The section

  • 23 km of electrified railway
  • Optimised for 250-300 km/h
  • According to the political agreement, a final decision on the new Hovedgård – Hasselager line will be taken in 2024, so it is not yet clear whether the line will be built. (Source: Rail Net Denmark)


LAST UPDATED: 02.08.2017