Aarhus light rail debut suffers new setback

A new delay to the opening of the multi-million light rail network in Aarhus has been announced.

Aarhus light rail debut suffers new setback
'The opening of the Light Rail is delayed'. Photo: Benjamin Nørskov/Polfoto/Ritzau

The Aarhus Letbane rail had been expected to open by the end of November after its initial launch in September was embarrassingly cancelled the day before a large opening event.

“After meeting the Danish Transport Authority on November 13th it has become clear that Aarhus Letbane will not open within the five to eight weeks after the [initial] postponement, as had been the intention of the board,” Aarhus Letbane said in a statement.

An updated security report will be submitted to the authority at the end of November, Aarhus Letbane said in the statement.

The Danish Transport Authority (Trafikstyrelsen) has itself announced a new inspection of operator Keolis, but no date has yet been confirmed according to Aarhus Letbane.

The new delay was met with frustration by municipal and regional authorities in Aarhus, who are the owners of the project.

City mayor Jacob Bundsgaard and regional council leader Bent Hansen have now called for a meeting with the Danish Transport Authority’s director.

“It is difficult for us to understand the nature of the problem,” the two wrote in a letter seen by Ritzau.

The light rail, with a budget of 3.5 billion kroner (470 million euros) financed by the state and regional municipalities, has been several years in the making, with construction visible in Aarhus’ streets since 2013.

Its opening was originally cancelled after the Danish Transport Authority declared safety procedures put in place by operator Keolis to be insufficient.

But that is no longer the issue raising concerns with the authority, according to Aarhus Letbane.

Unresolved issues relating to technical rules are ostensibly the now the cause of the delay in approval by the authority.

Earlier this month, reported that Aarhus Letbane director Claus Rehfeld Moshøj was to leave his position with a 1.4 million kroner (188,000 euros) golden handshake.

READ ALSO: Light rail opening fiasco cost Aarhus half a million kroner: report


Odense: Light rail in Danish city delayed until 2022

The new Light Rail (Letbane) in Denmark’s third-largest city Odense will not open until next year. It was scheduled for completion in 2021.

Odense: Light rail in Danish city delayed until 2022
Construction of the light rail in Odense. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix

The delay was confirmed by transport minister Benny Engelbrecht in a written notification to parliament.

 “The beginning of operations at Odense Letbane will be delayed from September 1st 2021 until around New Year 2021-22,” the statement reads.

“This is because the company [Odense Letbane, ed,] can confirm that the [contractor] cannot live up to agreed schedule for handover of the transport system, apparently as a consequence of Covid-19,” Engelbrecht also wrote.

In a statement, Odense Letbane said that the primary contractor, Comsa, had recently given notice that the development would be delayed.

“We have recently been able to see that it would be more difficult for Comsa to finish in time for the planned opening. We have naturally maintained pressure on Comsa for as long as possible,” Odense Letbane CEO Mogens Hagelskær said in the statement, which was reported by TV2 Fyn.

“But the primary contractor has now presented a new schedule… and we must unfortunately concede that the light rail will not be able to open until around New Year,” Hagelskær added.

Spanish firm Comsa has said that the ongoing situation related to the coronavirus across Europe has resulted in difficulties in supplying labour and materials for the project in Denmark. The company has also had to adapt its working methods, which involve housing labourers in small groups, TV2 Fyn reports.

In 2017, a light rail system in Aarhus opened after also experiencing construction delays.