Leaked Metro list reveals company’s concerns

Internal memo accidentally sent to newspaper exposes information about corporate spin of potential problems

A memo accidentally sent to a major daily has given the public an insight into some of the potential problems facing the 21.3 billion kroner expansion of the Copenhagen Metro. 

Among the most noteworthy items on Metroselskabet’s list of potential media headaches was that the number of work-related accidents occurring during construction of the 17-station Cityring line is above the national average, the memo accidentally sent to Politiken newspaper revealed. 

The information comes despite Metroselskabet saying as late as last autumn that the number of accidents was below average.

The memo, which is reportedly a standard item for large companies, was created by the company’s communication department and stated that there was a high risk of serious and potentially fatal accidents due to a lack of safety measures and that the problem needed to be addressed.

“The wording concerning the possibility of fatal accidents should only be considered the worst case scenario and not as a professional assessment of the conditions on our construction sites,” Rebecca Auken Nymark, a Metroselskabet spokesperson told Politiken. “The memo is about what could happen if the situation does not improve.”

The memo said that if the accident numbers did not begin to fall “significantly”, the company would be forced to “publicly and proactively recognise and address the problem.”

Nymark said the company has been aware of the increase in accidents “for a while” and that, as a publically owned company, they have “been considering” releasing the information.

The national average for accidents is 25.8 per million hours worked. During the current Metro construction phase, that number is now up to 29.6 accidents per million hours worked. The figures cover everything from tripping accidents and pinched fingers to more serious injuries.

Nymark called the release of the list – which enumerated six potential issues facing the company – “unfortunate” but said the questions raised are issues that the company may face along with a list of possible solutions and replies to media inquiries.

One of the items on the list is how the company should respond if construction on the Cityringen is delayed for any reason.

Nymark stressed that the project is currently on schedule, even though timetables are so tight that the company has applied for permission to work around the clock at its Nørrebroparken site, even though there is a risk of high noise levels.

The memo also addressed the continuing problem of noise complaints during construction and emphasised that more information must be offered to the media when they ask.

A fourth problem mentioned in the memo is the 15 emergency exits that have been cut from the Cityringen route.

The memo says that the fire brigade may “comment critically” about the technical solutions used to replace the emergency exits.

Copenhagen fire and rescue chief, Niels Ole Blirup, said there had been initial concerned about the missing emergency exits, but that local fire stations now had self-contained breathing apparatus and that Metroselskabet planned to put fire hydrants in the tunnel and an improved alarm system along with other safety equipment. Blirup said those measures should be sufficient, provided the equipment is delivered as promised.