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Light Rail Expansion Gets OK in Norway

Bergen, Norway's first light-rail line opened in 2010. (Photo by Aqwis)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Bergen to Get Second Light-Rail Line
Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, will have a second LRT line now that the city council has signed off on construction plans, the International Railway Journal reports.

The 10.8-km (6.7-mile) line will run from Kaigaten in the city center south to Fyllingsdalen. The line will consist of nine stations, one underground, and include two tunnels. The line will have an interchange station with the existing Line 1 at Kronstad.

Work on the 6.2 billion kroner ($730 million U.S.) line is set to begin next year, with construction taking place in three phases. Trains should be running to Fyllingsdalen by 2022.

Midlands Makes Case for Second LRT Line to U.K. Government
The International Railway Journal reports that West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Transport for West Midlands Managing Director Laura Shoaf formally presented the business case for a long-planned expansion of the Midland Metro light-rail line to Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling.

Midland Metro in Wolverhampton (Photo by Roger Kidd)

The proposal for the 200 million British pound ($256.44 million U.S.) line connecting Wednesbury on the existing line with Brierley Hill was presented to Grayling during a session of the House of Commons.

The extension is part of a larger package of expansion projects for the LRT line that connects Birmingham with Wolverhampton. Other projects in the package include extensions to an interchange station in Wolverhampton and a planned high-speed rail station in Birmingham.

Street explained that getting this project started was one of his top priorities for his first year in office. “It will more than halve journey times from some of the stops along the route into central Birmingham,” he told the IRJ.

On-Again, Off-Again Baltimore Bike Lane Saved?
As I reported earlier in June, a new Baltimore bike lane rollout did not go well for the city’s Department of Transportation. Amid concerns about public safety, the city reacted by announcing it would remove the new infrastructure, and the mayor called for a citywide review of bike lanes. Bike advocates sought to block the lane’s removal.

On Tuesday, bike advocacy group Bikemore reported that they’d had success: “We have entered into a settlement agreement and will be sitting down this week with the City to assist in finalizing new plans for Potomac Street. We are confident this modified plan will preserve a high quality all ages protected two-way bike facility on Potomac Street, as well as safeguard public safety and accommodate emergency vehicles.”

Sydney Metro Harbor Tunnel Contract Awarded
Work on the linchpin of the new Sydney Metro rail line, a third Sydney Harbor crossing, should begin by year’s end now that the New South Wales government has awarded a contract for its construction, the International Railway Journal reports.

The contract, awarded to a joint venture of John Holland, CPB Contractors and Ghella, covers the two 15.5-km (9.6-mile) tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham, six new stations, new underground platforms at Central Station, and five tunnel-boring machines, one of them specially designed for tunneling under the harbor.

This central section of the Sydney Metro line will extend the line currently being built from the northwest suburbs, set to open as far as Chatswood in 2019, into the city and an ultimate connection to Bankstown, southwest of the city center. New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said, “When services through the city start in 2024, the tunnels will have the capacity to move more people than the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel combined.”

The full city and southwest leg of the Sydney Metro will include the conversion of the existing Sydney CityRail Bankstown Line for rapid transit service via the Chatswood-Sydenham subway tunnel.

Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.