Aarhus and the tram-train strategy
The light rail transit combined with the railway system is the cornerstone of Aarhus's future. It will relieve traffic congestion from cars and buses in one of Denmark's most rapidly growing cities in recent years and will be able to sustain future growth without having a negative impact on the environment and increase the quality of life of its inhabitants.
Situated in the heart of an agricultural area, Aarhus, with the largest hospital in Europe, its university and its modern port, is likely to expand and develop even further over the next ten years as a centre for production, services, culture and technological innovation.
European funding from the EIB of almost €2 million within the framework of the ELENA programme supported the preliminary technical studies needed to assess how to combine greater, more efficient mobility with lower emissions: this led to the Aarhus Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project, based on the tram-train strategy, one of Denmark's most important investments in its future.
Below: 4 February 2016. Aarhus Norrebrogade: the first track in the city
The urban light rail section
The new urban light rail double track line crosses the entire city from Nørreport, north of Aarhus H Central Station, and connects the city's busiest areas: the Dokk1 library, Aarhus University, the massive hospital complex and the rapidly expanding areas of Skejby and Lisbjerg.
Completed in just 27 months, the track work has been carried out by GCF, partly on concrete and partly on ballast, using logistic strategies, engineering solutions and technical workarounds that were tested and implemented to tackle the problems that the often extremely cold climate, the constant flow of cars and bicycles, the architectural context and the very tight deadlines posed.
To construct a total of 15 kilometres of urban rail line, about 13,000 m3 of concrete and over 300 tons of rails had to be moved, 46 points constructed, 14 large junctions crossed, platforms for 19 new stations built, innovative solutions devised and different floor finishes (asphalt, paving, grass) designed so that the rails blended into the city's various architectural contexts.
"Logistics," the Site Director, Roberto Rocca, said, "was a very important on the site due to the need to adequately organize and manage heavy goods vehicles and supplies of materials and concrete and minimize the impact on traffic in the centre."
Another important aspect of the track work in the city was the need to design anti-vibration and sound-absorbing solutions to reduce noise as much as possible by using floating slab track with anti-vibration mats.
Below: some highpoints of the GCF worksite in Aarhus, the city with the second largest population in Denmark
The innovative Control Maintenance Centre
In the south-west, extending over an area of approximately 5,200 m2 connected with a dedicated track to Aarhus Central Station, the Letbane project has involved GCF in the design and construction of the CMC (Control Maintenance Centre) on a turnkey basis. Work began in April 2015 and was completed in July 2016.
Qui trovano sede gli uffici direzionali e di gestione del traffico metropolitano del Network Control Centre, oltre che le officine di manutenzione, lavaggio e controllo dei veicoli. Inoltre, irradiate da circa 2.000 metri di binario su ballast, le aree di manovra e di stazionamento dei veicoli e il deposito in grado di ospitare al coperto ben 16 dei 26 tram e tram-treni forniti da Stadler.
This is where the Network Control Centre head and traffic control offices are located along with the vehicle maintenance, washing and inspection workshops. Surrounded by over 2,000 metres of track on ballast, it also includes vehicle manoeuvring and standing areas and a covered depot which can accommodate 16 of the 26 trams and tram trains supplied by Stadler.
The entire fleet of 14 VarioBahn trams and 12 Tango tram trains will be powered by the Danish power grid which generates 39% of its power from wind turbines. For this reason, the light rail system will make a significant contribution to Aarhus's goal of going CO2 neutral by 2030.
Below: the innovative Control Maintenance Centre serving the light rail system.
The extra-urban section
One of the LRT project's strengths is the fact that it connects the urban rail section with two existing rail lines, both of which have been completely upgraded and converted to a “light railway” that can be used by trams and tram trains as well as goods trains when necessary.
The resulting backbone extends the urban transport system another 69 kilometres north of Aarhus to the port city of Grenaa and 26.5 kilometres south to Odder, rebuilding the existing heavy rail lines and equipping them with modern electrification and signalling equipment, with 28 substations and underground cableways passing through over 200 junctions.
This work which is currently under way is scheduled for completion by 2018.
When completed, Aarhus will have a unique, highly efficient transport system that extends for over 110 kilometres with 51 stops and one that can transport 39,000 passengers a day at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.
Below: work north of Aarhus on the extra-urban section to Grenaa