High-speed rail in Norway
Currently, the only high speed train service is the Flytoget, commuting between the Oslo Airport and the metropolitan areas of Oslo at speeds of up to 210 km/h (130 mph). It is going to be extended westwards to include the city of Drammen in 2008, not at high speed (source).
There is also a political climate for building more high speed railway services in Norway. Currently, the VWI Stuttgart (Institute of Transportation Research at the University of Stuttgart, Germany) are doing an analysis on the possibilities for building high speed railway services between the major cities of Norway, and between Norway and Sweden, for the Norwegian Railroad Agency (Jernbaneverket).
Though the initiative to the analysis itself is an evidence of a promising political climate for high speed railways, the analysis has been heavily criticized by experts for not being done by a recognised competence on this area, for being based on inaccurate facts, and for using gross miscalculations of important datas, like potential passenger numbers and potential costs of building new high speed tracks.
The conclusions so far include that the most interesting corridors are Oslo-Gothenburg (in Sweden) and Oslo-Trondheim (through the Østerdalen valley). The analysis is expected to be completed in April 2007.
There are also several independent initiatives for high speed railways in Norway:
- Den sørnorske høyhastighetsringen is a political initiative for building a high speed railway ring that will include the major cities Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Kristiansand, in addition to the densely populated Vestfold region.
- Norsk Bane is a private initiative for a high speed railway network that will cover large parts of Southern Norway. It has several lines that can be considered independently, but at its greatest extent it will include the major cities of Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Ålesund with a hub in Oslo. In addition there will also be a line through the Vestfold region and lines both west and east of the Mjøsa lake. This project will however need political support before it can be started.
Norway is usually considered to be too sparsely populated and too mountaineous for high-speed or even medium-speed rail. The Oslo region is densely populated enough and seems to be the only area for them. For all time-aware passengers on long-distance journeys, air travel is the choice also for the future.
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