Light rails, trains and fewer automobiles

A summary of the much debated ‘Trængselsrapport’

If you haven’t had the time to read through the 200 page report (in Danish) put forward by the government committee charged with coming up with ways to improve mobility in Copenhagen, here are some of the highlights.

If all of the Trængselskommission’s proposals were put into effect, they would cost 42 billion kroner.

SEE RELATED: Transport minister dismisses road pricing

For that, commuters and everyone else who moves about the city would get better infrastructure and faster travel times.

As it stands, 100,000 more people will be living in Greater Copenhagen by 2025. If no changes are made to the region’s traffic infrastructure, the amount of time wasted by commuters will double, to over 18 million hours annually, by 2025. 

Cars out of city centre 
Like in many other big cities, Copenhagen has many people crammed together in a little amount of space. There are limited opportunities to make changes, so the commission recommends focusing on improving what is already there. That means better cycleways, an improved signal system and fewer cars.

By leading car traffic out on the bigger main roads, there will be fewer cars on the narrower streets of the city centre, making more room for bikes and buses.

In addition the commission also recommends building a Metro station at Ny Ellebjerg Station, in south-western Copenhagen. Ny Ellebjerg is in the outskirts of the city but will play a central role as a key transfer point as public transport ridership increases.

Suburban solution
The ring of councils surrounding Copenhagen has the same number of inhabitants as Copenhagen proper, but it is less densely populated.

The commission proposed establishing a light rail line in these communities. In the places with less traffic, they suggest introducing express buses.

Like in the city centre, bicycles play a key role in the outskirts. Without bicycles, congestion problems would be even worse, and the commission sees potential in expanding the so-called bike superhighways to include all of Greater Copenhagen. These are direct routes that can make it more attractive for commuters to bike instead of drive.

Transport corridors need a helping hand
Regional traffic has long been planned according to the ‘five-finger principle’. With Copenhagen serving as the palm, five traffic corridors extended outwards towards the north and west. 

Now, a sixth finger has been added, this one stretching east, towards Malmö. 

By expanding S-train and regional train services and updating the signalling system, the commission expects to reduce motorway traffic. Congestion is worst during rush hour on parts of the Helsingør, Frederikssund and Hillerød motorways, and the commission suggests expanding only the stretches that are most congested.

Less air pollution, but environment is no winner
The investment is projected to reduce car traffic to 37,000 daily trips and would move 70,000 people onto bikes or into buses and trains.

To make the different public transport services more flexible, the commission brought up the idea of merging existing transport companies into a single entity. That would make it easier for passengers to combine different transport forms. In addition, rates should be adjusted based on customer group and time of the day travelled.

While less cars and more bikes and public transport would be expected to reduce noise and air pollution considerably, carbon dioxide emissions would increase by 1 percent. Reducing emissions would require the government to invest in new sustainable technologies. 

Pay-as-you-go is a no-go
The investment is ambitious, but the commission calculates that council, regional and state authorities, together with private firms, should be able to fund the project.

One problem could be the government’s rejection of road pricing. Charging motorists to pay per kilometre they drive would, firstly, encourage people to drive less, and, secondly, generate revenue that could be invested into other forms of transport. That option is now off limits, at least until the technology for doing so is readily available. 

Until that happens, area decision makers will have 200-pages worth of other suggestions they can pick from.

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