Stockholm Joins Commuter Rail Tunnel Club

Plus, Seattle gets to work on tying its two streetcar lines together, and more in our weekly New Starts.

(Photo by Holger.Ellgaard)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects around the world.

Stockholm to Join Club of Cities With Commuter Tunnels
Paris has its RER system. London’s getting Crossrail. Philadelphia has its Center City Commuter Connection. And next summer, Swedish capital city Stockholm will have its own suburban rail tunnel through the center of the city.

Railway Gazette International reports that Stockholm’s national infrastructure manager, Trafikverket, announced on Nov. 3 that the 6-km (3.7-mile) Citybanan commuter tunnel will open for revenue service at 5 a.m. July 10, 2017. The tunnel, under construction since 2009, will funnel metro Stockholm’s Pendeltåg commuter rail services into a north-south tunnel from Södra station to Tomteboda, taking the trains off the existing main line through Stockholm Central Station. That, in turn, will free up capacity for long-distance and regional passenger and freight trains on the two-track “Wasp’s Waist” rail line south of Stockholm Central, the country’s busiest stretch of track. Trafikverket estimates that Pendeltåg trains account for 60 percent of the traffic on that line. Project Manager Kjell-Åke Averstad told RGI that the tunnel will also permit more frequent suburban rail service and improve on-time performance.

The new tunnel will have two underground stations, one at Stockholm City and the other at Odenplan. Odenplan will replace the existing Karlsberg station, which will close when the Citybanan tunnel opens; Stockholm City will include an interchange with the Tunnelbana metro network at T-Centralen, a more convenient connection than currently exists at Stockholm Central.

The Citybanan project, which is being built jointly by Trafikverket, the city of Stockholm and the Stockholm County Council, also includes flyover junctions at Alvsjö and Tomteboda to separate long-distance and suburban trains as well as a new 1.4-km (0.9-mile) surface line south of the city center.

Two Seattle Streetcar Lines to Become One
As voters in Seattle head to the polls Nov. 8 to vote on a third round of taxes to fund an ambitious project to extend the Puget Sound region’s light metro network, work is commencing on a project that will connect Seattle’s two disjointed modern streetcar lines.

(Photo by SounderBruce)

A KIRO Radio report on states that preliminary work on a line that will connect the First Hill and South Lake Union streetcar lines via First Avenue will begin Nov. 9. The preliminary work consists of workers checking for the location of underground utility lines along First Avenue and will result in periodic lane closures, parking restrictions and sidewalk closures. The work, which will last for about a month, will take place in the middle of the day to avoid interfering with peak-hour traffic and will be suspended for Seattle Seahawks games.

When complete, the connector line will run in dedicated lanes down the center of First Avenue, resulting in the loss of one lane of auto traffic in each direction and 200 parking spaces on the street. According to the report, the Seattle Department of Transportation says the project is part of an overall reconfiguration of First Avenue to emphasize walking and transit.

When Is a Cancellation Not a Cancellation?
That’s a question some observers are no doubt asking in the wake of Metrolinx’s announcement that it has filed a “notice of intent to terminate” its contract with Bombardier to build up to 182 Flexity Freedom light-rail vehicles for new lines in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton region.

Apparently, filing the notice does not mean that the contract will be canceled, according to reports in both Global Rail News and the International Railway Journal. Instead, it seems to be the legal equivalent of whacking the manufacturer on the head over delays in production.

Under the terms of the contract, signed in 2010, Bombardier was to have delivered the first test cars in 2014, according to GRN. Bombardier maintains that it is not in default on its contractual obligations, as the first production cars are not scheduled to be delivered until 2018 and will not enter service until 2021.

For its part, Metrolinx, the regional transportation planning agency for the Toronto-Hamilton area, says the notice does not mean it will cancel the contract. IRJ quotes a media statement from Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Akins: “Metrolinx has issued a formal notice of intent to terminate our LRV contract with Bombardier. To clarify: we have not cancelled our order nor our contract with Bombardier. We filed a notice of intention to terminate which does not mean it is cancelled or may be cancelled.”

Ontario Provincial Minister of Transport Steven Del Duca wrote in an email to The Toronto Star, “I know that there has been some concerns about Bombardier’s performance as there have been significant quality and manufacturing issues that, to date, have not been resolved. As a result, we have taken the next step available to us through our contract. We will continue to work with Bombardier on this issue and we will deliver on our transit commitments,” IRJ reported.

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

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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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Tags: transportation spendinglight railcommutingstreetcars

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