Is the Metro expansion in Copenhagen wise?

Building new Metro in CPH

writer icon Sundas Shahid     Metroselskabet/Søren Hytting   |   City     🕐 10. Aug. 2018

Copenhagen is not only known as the City of Cyclists. It also boasts a highly connected and efficient transport network. The Metro M1 and M2 lines are based on a driverless system, which runs at a frequency of 3-15 minutes, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

In recent endeavours, the Metro is expanding to include two more lines. The emphasis of the connectivity is on the dense central municipalities and the less dense, but promising, North and South harbour.

M1 & M2
The initial Metro system commenced in 2002 under the Ørestad Development Corporation (ODC), connecting Vanløse in the west to Ørestad and the Lufthavn airport in the south. The Ørestad urban development and the Metro were tied together financially for their progress and development.

The urban development did not sell many plots. The cost of Metro construction exceeded its budget and the ticket sales of the Metro did not reach the anticipated revenue, running the ODC into debt. However, due to the connectivity from the centre of Copenhagen to the airport metro sales and usability increased over time, as documented by Stan Majoor.

Metro expansion
Currently, the Metro is under the new Metroselskabet, independent of any urban development enterprise. The current expansion plan of the metro to the cityringen (M3) and the harbour line (M4) fall under the Metroselskabet.

M3 is the most prominent venture of the Metroselskabet. It is anticipated to open in July 2019. It will connect the most central areas of Copenhagen H, Inner City, Østerbro, Nørrebro, Vesterbro and Frederiksberg.

"The vast majority of Copenhageners, therefore, get less than a 10-minute walk to a station, and this will probably change the traffic pattern in central Copenhagen",
 Metroselskabet claims. 

Transform urban space

M3 will have 17 underground stations, three of which will be connected to regional train lines.

These 17 stations are also intended to transform the urban space around them with special architectural features to reflect the local area. When in function, it is expected to change the bus network as well. In 2017, 32 million people travelled by bus, and they can anticipate a change in their mobility pattern.

The furthest stations of Copenhagen H and Skjolds Plads will be reachable in 12 minutes. The same distances can be biked in approximately 20 minutes. Further calculations estimate that the most distant metro stops are an average of 18 minutes away by bike. The bike infrastructure around the stations of the cityringen are well adapted to biking and are the preferred mode of transportation by the users.

The Harbour line

The M4 or the Harbour line will be extended towards Nordhavn by 2020 and Syndhavn by 2024. Both Nordhavn and Syndhavn are areas that have rapid urban development taking place.

Nordhavn is branded as the new sustainable city district connected to the regional train. It will cater to residential, commercial and office space requirements. It is anticipated to provide housing to 40 000 inhabitants and create 40 000 jobs as well as 3 to 4 million square meters of floor space. 

Urban character
The Metro stations are also intended to change the urban character of Nordhavn. The Orientkaj metro station is designed as the white town, a landmark in the new district. It will be raised on columns to make space for crossings, green space and bike paths underneath, as well as views of the harbour and the new city from the platform.

South Harbour

Sydhavnn, or the South Harbour, used to be a heavy industry site which is transitioning into a mixed-use urban development. 

The area is being reimagined as a canal village, with four islands reserved for open housing blocks within canals. It is estimated to have 9000 homes and 22 500 workplaces.

The Metro expansion will not only change the flow of the Copenhagers within the city, the stations will also shape the urban character of these newly developed areas. It will change the recreational spaces in the north and south harbour. This could be another pull for the Copenhageners to use the Metro to access these newly developed spaces.

The Future
When Ørestad was in its phase of initial development its was estimated to have 3.1 million square metres of space for residential and commercial development. It was because of this great expectation that the Metro lines were planned along its route, to facilitate the flow of people.

However, as Ørestad did not achieve the anticipated result, the Metro also ran into debt. 

The estimated housing and office space of Nordhavn and Sydhavnen is shy in comparison to initial expectations of Ørestad. 174 million passengers are anticipated to use the Metro by 2025. This figure is expected to rise to 191.2 million in the next ten years. The numbers projected by the Metroselskabet seem ambitious based on the previous experience.

Will the city learn from its earlier mistake, or at least have a plan to recover if the ticket sales do not go according to plan? Can the city afford another crisis from its Metro system? At this point, it is difficult to predict if the expansion is a viable and lucrative plan.

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