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Copenhagen-Aarhus rail bridge could reduce journey time to 58 minutes

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Copenhagen-Aarhus rail bridge could reduce journey time to 58 minutes
Aarhus Harbour during last weekend's Volvo Ocean Race. Photo: Mikkel Berg Pedersen/Ritzau Scanpix
14:42 CEST+02:00
Private investment could help kickstart plans to build a rail and road bridge spanning the Kattegat Sea, considerably reducing travel times between Denmark's two largest cities, despite government scepticism.

An interest group is hoping to persuade Denmark's government to consider including a rail line on a mooted bridge to be constructed across the Kattegat Sea.

A bridge over the Kattegat, directly connecting Zealand and Jutland, was estimated earlier this year to have a potential construction cost of 124 billion kroner. That estimate, which provided for both road and rail links, is considered to be too expensive by the government, which would be required to contribute at least 40 million kroner of the total sum, according to newspaper Politiken.

The government and parliamentary ally the Danish People's Party have said that they would prefer a road-only connection, which would be considerably cheaper at 58 billion kroner and could be financed by user payments, the newspaper writes.

A committee, appointed by transport minister Ole Birk Olesen, is expected to present in August new figures as part of a feasibility assessment for a potential road-only bridge, which would be opened by 2030.

But the rail-plus-road option could still be on the table after the Kattegat Committee, an interest group consisting of politicians, businesses and private organisations, said that a major private investor was interested in the bridge, Politiken reported on Tuesday.

A rail connection between the two cities via bridge could reduce travelling times to as little as 58 minutes.

The current time for a train journey from Copenhagen to Aarhus is around three hours, with the route crossing southern Denmark via the Great Belt and Little Belt bridges.

A private investor is prepared to contribute to financing the more expensive of the two bridge options and will make an offer later this year, according the Kattegat Committee's director Jens Kampmann, a Social Democrat MP and former transport minister.

The investment would provide for the building of the bridge, while the state would remain responsible for the necessary on-land road and rail connections, Kampmann told Politiken.

“They have already made calculations and can see good potential in such a project,” Kampmann, who declined to reveal the name of the financial institute in question, said to the newspaper.

No final decision has yet been made as to whether the Kattegat bridge will be built.

Olesen admitted that Copenhagen-Aarhus journey times can be reduced to a significantly greater extent by rail than by road.

But the minister also said the added cost of building on-land rail links to the bridge must be taken into account in consideration of whether to put a railway track across the bridge. That alone would cost the Danish state 24 billion kroner, he told Politiken via email.

“That is why I am awaiting further evaluation of a road-only connection, which appears to be the only realistic option for a Kattegat connection, paid for by users,” he wrote.

Opposition transport spokesperson Rasmus Prehn of the Social Democrats said it would be “unambitious” for the government to rule out a rail crossing.

“When the bridge is there one day, we will want high-speed trains that make the journey between Copenhagen and Aarhus incredibly fast. The intercity buses that are being talked about simply can't compete with that,” Prehn told Politiken.

Prehn also said it would “crazy, environmentally and traffic-wise” for the government not to back a future commuter connection between the two cities by rail, comparing it to the journey currently made by commuters between Copenhagen and Odense, Denmark's third city located on the island of Funen.

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