Nordic countries pave the way for more trams

The Nordic countries are in agreement that expanded tram networks are the way of the future. Although there is progress, things are not moving as quickly as desired. There were voices of both hope and scepticism at Tuesday’s key seminar on trams in the Nordic region at Nordic Rail.

It goes without saying that Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland are certainly willing to expand their tram networks. But how is this willingness coming along in practice?

At Tuesday’s seminar in Rydbergsalen at Elmia, a Nordic quartet outlined the current situation in each country. Representing Sweden was Per Gunnar Andersson, CEO of Trivector Traffic based in Lund.

“So how do we summarise things in Sweden? Constant delays. Funding is always followed by a question mark,” Andersson explained from experience. Yet he also reported on several ongoing projects that together still paint a reasonably positive picture.

In August the Skeppsbron tram line was opened in Gothenburg, while in Lund the construction of a five-kilometre long tram route can commence next year thanks to the government’s newly promised urban environment agreement. Meanwhile in Stockholm, Solna recently welcomed a new stretch of the tram network.

There are visions of trams in smaller towns too, with Jönköping at the forefront. Last year’s expansion of the public transport lane in the town centre has been designed to accommodate a future tram network.

Topography has been an obstacle in Norway. Project manager at Rejlers Norge AS, Ole Skovdahl stated that the country “isn’t designed for public transport”. Expansion is nevertheless underway, particularly in Oslo and Bergen. The population of the capital is expected to increase by 500,000 over the next 15 years. Oslo’s tram network is currently 131 kilometres in length. Three extensions are planned by 2021.

Denmark currently has four major projects of a different nature on the go. The most regional are the plans in Århus. Helsinki is the only Finnish city to boast tram lines, but the network is of a higher class. Tampere and Turku are also seeking to invest in tram services.

“Tampere is close to realising its plans. A final decision will be made in 2016,” explains Björn Silfverberg, Senior Consultant at WSP Finland.

 Per Gunnar Andersson, CEO of Trivector Traffic based in Lund
Per Gunnar Andersson, CEO of Trivector Traffic based in Lund