Aarhus Light Rail, Denmark

Photo: COWI

Crossing over the Egådalen - a 350 m long double track light rail bridge with super bike path on one side. 

Development of various construction projects and an increasing number of inhabitants and working places in the city of Aarhus continuously increase the traffic to and from the city putting pressure on the existing transport infrastructure in the Aarhus area.

Light rail in Aarhus
Development of various construction projects and an increasing number of inhabitants and working places in the city of Aarhus continuously increase the traffic to and from the city putting pressure on the existing transport infrastructure in the Aarhus area.

United Eastern Jutland light rail transit Based on a comparison of different transport modes like metro, tramways and buses, the Danish Midttrafik decided to establish a light rail in Aarhus.

The project has been evolving over the years and now consists of the following stages: Stage 1- Establishment of the light rail in the Aarhus area including establishment of a joint operation between the two local railways. Stage 2 - Extension of the light rail to cover the neighbouring municipalities. 

103 km of light rail in the Aarhus area
The first stage includes establishment of the light rail in the Aarhus area. The light rail will include two existing local railways, one running north of the city to the harbour city Grenaa and the other running south of the city to the city of Odder, as well as the construction of a new light rail line (12 km) running through the most densely populated part of Aarhus city and some of Aarhus' neigbouring municipalities.

At both ends the new line will connect to the local railways creating a total of 103 km light rail. The adjustment of the existing local railway lines includes commissioning of light rail trains, relocation of 91 km of tracks and refurbishment of Aarhus station.

In addition to this, park and ride facilities are being planned close to the big radial roads and the new motorway section.

Alignment in balance with constricted urban space and other transport modes
One of the challenges is to create a balance between light rail, dense urban infrastructure and other transport modes in the city. We have to incorporate light rail alignment in the constricted urban space and narrow streets.

In places where the city will be opened towards the harbour special requirements influence on alignment, pavement and interaction with other transport modes.

Mixed light rail and freight traffic

One of Midttrafik's wishes is to maintain the possibility of using the Grenaa railway line for freight goods, if necessary. The existing line therefore needs to be able to serve both light rail and freight traffic.

This requires integration and a mixture of construction and operational requirements and rules that apply to both light and freight rail in order to enable light rail and freight trains to run on the same line. 

Rules and regulations
The light rail in Aarhus is the first project of its kind in Denmark.  Therefore, there is at present no Danish set of rules for light rail, and at the same time current rules and regulations within the field of railways, roads and safety do not facilitate that light rail trains share areas and signals with road traffic.

Furthermore, the light rail must be constructed and operated according to the German set of rules BOStrab used for similar city railways in Europe different to the current set of rules in Denmark.
Construction and operation of a light rail in Aarhus therefore requires a number of road standard changes and the use of a new set of rules for light rail train operation, as well as changes to the safety regulations.

COWI has made a proposal for which road standards to change and has prepared new supplementary regulations for establishment and operation of light railways.

 

LAST UPDATED: 02.03.2017