Aarhus Light-rail project

Location: The Central Region, Denmark

Population: 273,077 [source]

Climate: oceanic climate, mild with no dry season, warm summer.

Duration: 2013-2017

Sector: Transport

Funding sources: Public

City networks: N/A

Savings: Estimated saving includes 47GW of annual energy savings and reduce 7,300t of CO2 emissions each year.

Solutions:  Newly constructing 12km of newly double-track electric light rail line in downtown Aarhus and connecting two existing lines with a total length of 100 km, upgrading and electrifying the two existing lines. The first phase of the light rail project involves a 110km light rail line serving 51 stops in the Aarhus area.

Multiple benefits: Urban air quality improvement, reducing congestion, local job creation, energy-saving, and GHG emission reduction.

Objective – To promote green transport.

Solutions – Aarhus Light Rail Project or Aarhus Letbane is Denmark’s first light rail project. Construction on the project was started in June 2013 and completed in December 2017. The first phase of the light rail project involves a 110km light rail line serving 51 stops in the Aarhus area.

The first stage of the light rail transit (LRT) project uses two existing single-track heavy rail lines running into the city’s main rail station (Aarhus H) and 12km of newly constructed double-track light rail line passing through the most densely populated part of Aarhus.

The two existing local lines being converted for LRT operation without changing their alignment include the 70km line stretching north of the city to Grenaa and the 30.5km line running south of the city to Odder. Both the lines will be upgraded and electrified as part of the project. The service extension to Odder was inaugurated in August 2018.

A special-purpose company called Aarhus Light Rail I/S (Aarhus Letbane I/S) was founded in August 2012 to implement the project. It is owned by the City of Aarhus (47.2%), Danish State (47%) and Central Denmark Region (5.8%).

The new line forms a loop in Aarhus city centre while connecting to existing local rail lines at both ends.

Stage one uses 32 existing stops and features 19 new stops along the route. The Aarhus station and park and ride facilities near major stops along the route were refurbished. The length of the new light rail platforms is approximately 140m.

The project also involved the construction of eight bridges on the new line and the bridge over Egaa valley Egådalen. At 347m in length and 17m in width, it is the largest bridge built as part of the project.

Construction of a new 30m-long and 11m-wide bridge over Aarhus River was completed in October 2014.

The first stage of the LRT network is operated using Tango and VarioBahn tram-trains supplied by Stadler. The 39.2m-long Tango tram-trains have a 266 passenger capacity and can run at speeds up to 100km/h. They will be operated on the northern route of the LRT line from Grenaa to Aarhus H.

The 32.4m-long and 224 passenger capacity VarioBahn trams with 80km/h of maximum speed run on the southern route of the line from Odder to Aarhus H, and from Aarhus H to Lystrup via Lisbjerg.

Funding – European Investment Bank provides DKK14.2m (€ 2 million) of funding to the LRT project as part of the European Commission’s European Local Energy Assistance programme (ELENA) to support technical studies to identify the most energy-efficient way to power the tram. The first stage of the Aarhus Light Rail Project was carried out at the cost of kr2.4bn ($408m), which is being funded 47.2% by the City of Aarhus, 47% by the Danish State and 5.8% by the Central Denmark Region.

Innovation – 1) Aarhus becomes the first Danish city to boast a tram system that provides increased mobility and saves emissions. 2) Using an electrified train tram line in downtown to connect existing suburb train lines makes it convenient for urban transition.

Success factors – 1) EU funding for project design and technical study; 2) generous funding support from the national and regional governments; 3) strong local financial capacity.

Significant outcomes

  • Estimated annual energy saving: 47GW
  • Estimated annual emission reduction: 7,300t of CO2.

Synergies with local policies:

  • The city’s climate plan is to make the city CO2 neutral and stop using fossil fuels in 2030.
  • Local policies of creating liveable cities and green transport.

Political alignment:

  • National support for green transport.
  • Support for energy efficiency actions from the EU level.
  • Denmark’s ambitious climate target.

Marketability: Medium. Local metro and tram systems are expensive local transport infrastructure and requires land acquisition and strong local coordination. The investment return is often low. Many cities may lack the funding for the construction of such projects.

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Sector: Transport

Country / Region: Denmark

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: ELENA Mobility