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Huge Norwegian railway upgrade is more than an infrastructure project

Photo: COWI AS

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​The modernisation of the Østfold line is part of the InterCity programme and is one of the largest railway improvement projects in Norway; like the other Scandinavian countries, Norway has been investing heavily in high-speed railways in recent years.

The region is growing and it is crucial for the infrastructure to be able to support a future increase in passenger and freight transport.

According to the National Transport Plan 2014–2023, the double-track section from Oslo to Seut near Fredrikstad should be complete by 2024, followed by the section to Sarpsborg by 2026 and on to Halden in 2030.

The project will provide increased capacity for InterCity passenger and freight transport, to ensure adequate punctuality, frequency and journey times. The route currently carries around 2.5 million rail passengers a year, and has severe capacity issues. 

Transport solutions to develop the region

Efficient transport solutions will lay the foundations for enhancing the attractiveness of the region as a place to live and work. 

“Compact towns and villages enable rapid and environmentally friendly regional development in Østfold. The combination of rail improvement and hub development makes this more than just an infrastructure project,” says Terje Bygland Nikolaisen, Managing Director of COWI in Norway. 
 

Speeds of up to 250 km/h

The new InterCity concept that has been adopted provides for stations in all Østfold towns and speeds of up to 250 km/h where possible. The project poses particular challenges in terms of ground conditions, protection of farmland and ancient monuments, and laying new double-track lines through all the Østfold towns.
 
“This is a unique project in which we have to take care of existing urban areas at the same time as opening the way for higher train speeds through these same urban areas. There are also difficult ground conditions throughout the area which make the construction work very demanding,” says Nikolaisen. 
 

The magic hour

The ambition on the Intercity route is to carry passengers from Oslo to Halden in an hour, and from Oslo to Fredrikstad in 45 minutes. To achieve this, speeds have to be increased both between and through the towns.
 
The short journey time will link Østfold even more closely to the Oslo region, preparing the ground for economic development and expanding the employment market for residents in the whole region.  

Denmark is also investing billions in high-speed railways to link the different regions more closely together. COWI is involved in various Danish rail projects, also aimed at bringing journey times between the biggest Danish cities down to the magic hour.
 

Cooperation between competitors

COWI and Multiconsult are cooperating with LPO architects. The main assignment should be completed in 4 years, but if the options are exercised, the work could continue until the whole project is completed in 2030.

LAST UPDATED: 03.02.2017