Thomas J. Potter - Articles and news items
Issue 3 2013 • 3 July 2013 • Thomas J. Potter, previous Chief Engineer of Bybanen AS, now Senior Transport Engineer at Norconsult AS
Like many other cities in the world, the City of Bergen closed its tram system in the 1960s which originally opened in 1897. In 2000, Bergen decided to build a new light-rail system. After 20 years of heated discussion, a determined search for resources, visits to many other successful light-rail and tram projects, planning and finally construction, the first phase of the project – a 9.8km-long section with 15 stops – opened in June 2010.
Issue 3 2012 • 25 June 2012 • Thomas J. Potter, Senior Transportation Engineer, Norconsult AS
Bergen is Norway’s second largest city with a regional population of 350,000. In March 2000, and after more than 10 years of heated political and public discussion, a decision was made to build the city a new light-rail system. In 2006, the Norwegian Parliament approved the innovative financing package based largely on revenues from the toll ring around the city and the alternative use of highway funds.
The first 10km section of the system was opened in June 2010, and with passenger ridership figures 50% above expectations, it has proved to be a great success. A 4km extension to Lagunen is now under construction and will open in 2013. In order to cope with higher than expected ridership numbers, an additional eight 32m-long Variobahn vehicles from Stadler Pankow GmbH have been ordered. These additional vehicles will allow an intense service to be operated with four minute headways during the busiest periods of the day, for approximately seven hours.
A further 7km extension to Bergen Airport at Flesland, along with a major workshop/depot near the airport, are now in a design phase and both are scheduled to open in 2016 in close coordination with a major expansion of the airport terminal.
Forty-five years after trams disappeared from the streets of Bergen, 20 years after serious planning began, 10 years after financing was secured through the continuation of the city’s toll ring, five years after design started and two and a half years after the start of construction, Bybanen, the new light rail system in Bergen will be opened by Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway on 22 June 2010. A 20km-long line between the city centre and the Bergen airport at Flesland was approved by the Bergen City Council in March 2000 and a project office, ‘Bybanekontoret’, was established in August 2001 to coordinate the planning and design activities for the system. Due to budgetary constraints, the northern half of the line, from the city centre to Nesttun with a length of 10km, was built with construction starting in January 2008. This article will describe the background for the planned system, details about the political process, the financing scheme, the initial section which will open on 22 June 2010, as well as approved future extensions and planning activities.
In March 2000, Norway decided that a light rail system would be the ‘backbone’ of the city of Bergen’s public transport system, and so approved a 20km line from the city centre (Bergen sentrum) to the Bergen airport at Flesland via the suburban town centre of Nesttun and the major shopping area of Lagunen. Bergen did operate a tramway system from 1897 until 1965, but the new system will re-establish rail operations in the same corridor as the last line of the tram system. In addition to the first line, additional extensions to the system are also planned.
The first half of the first line, a 10km section between the city centre and Nesttun, has already been funded and construction officially began on 7 January 2008. The day was marked by an official ceremony with the laying of a foundation rail by the Norwegian Minister of Transportation, Liv Signe Navarsete.