There are big changes ahead to Oslo's metro system known as the T-Bane. Here's what to expect in the years to come.
The T-Bane system is an integral part of public transport in Oslo. When I lived in Oslo, I took the light rail system most days as did many thousands of other locals and visitors. But there's a problem.
The system appears modern in many respects, but some of the network's key systems are dated. It also suffers from congestion in the city centre tunnel, through which every line runs.
As Oslo continues to grow, the T-Bane will come under more pressure as the number of trains passing through the central tunnel cannot be safely increased.
Major new T-Bane projects
Over the years and decades to come, several major upgrades are set to be made to the network. The result will eventually be a T-Bane system that reaches more key locations and is fit for purpose for many more people.
Here's what to watch out for, including new stations, new lines and a brand new city centre tunnel.
Digital train control system
Siemens has been awarded a contract to install a Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) system. The €270 million contract includes installation of digital CBTC technology across the entire 94 km of the T-Bane system.
Siemens' CBTC technology is used by metro operators in many major cities, including Paris, Beijing, New York, London, and Copenhagen. The contract includes digital maintenance and support services for 25 years.
“With CBTC technology we are revolutionising the metro network with a modern, innovative system which will provide greater train automation, increased capacity and improved traffic flow,” said Cato Hellesjø, CEO of Sporveien, the public transport operator owned by the city of Oslo.
New line to Fornebu
I worked at Fornebu back in 2011. Even then, people were telling me how long a potential T-Bane extension to the emerging business park had been discussed.
In 2019, financing was finally agreed for a new underground line between Majorstuen and Fornebu. The new 8.2km line will include six new underground stations at Skøyen, Vækerø, Lysaker, Fornebuporten, Flytårnet and Fornebu Senter. Majorstuen station will also be substantially renovated.
The expected journey time between Majorstuen and Fornebu Senter will be 12 minutes. According to the original plans, the total cost of the line is estimated at 16.2 billion Norwegian kroner.
Construction is underway and the line had been scheduled for completion by 2027. However, the project has already been hit by a two-year delay and spiralling costs.
New city centre tunnel
Last but not least, the biggest, most complicated project of them all. The only realistic way to relieve the pressure on the city centre tunnel is to build another one.
The second city centre tunnel will run from Majorstuen to Tøyen, as the first one does. However, it will run via new stations at Bislett and Grünerløkka (by Nybrua), and provide a passenger connection to the original tunnel at Stortinget station.
Once complete, the new tunnel will double the capacity of the T-Bane system. The cost for the new tunnel, two new stations, reconstruction of Stortinget station and expansion of Tøyen station is estimated at NOK 17 billion.
Read more: Fun Facts About Oslo
While the project sounds impressive, it is still at the early planning stages with the start of any construction still a few years away with a tentative opening date of no earlier than 2030.
Extension of Furuset Line to Lørenskog
Line 2 of the Oslo T-Bane runs from Østerås via the city centre tunnel to Furuset and Ellingsrudåsen. Plans have long been underway to extend the line to Lørenskog and then to Akershus University Hospital in the Romerike area.
However, although local authorities were behind the plans, the government did not prioritise the extension in the most recent edition of the National Transport Plan, putting funding for the project into question.
However, former transport minister Knut Arild Hareide said at the time that the urban growth agreement for the Oslo region could lead to other public transport projects being considered for part-financing by the state, including the Romerike project.
So, that's a quick run-through of some of the major projects coming to the Oslo T-Bane in the coming decade. Watch this space!