Construction of the much debated and delayed metro line between Oslo and Fornebu, where Oslo’s main airport used to be located, has finally been cleared to continue despite huge budget overruns. The project is already well underway, but was in danger of being scrapped as its costs kept rising.
City officials in Oslo and in the neighbouring county of Viken have now agreed on new ways of sharing costs, while landowners along the line have agreed to invest more money in the project themselves. “We had to pull the emergency brake,” claimed Raymond Johansen, who leads Oslo’s city government, “but we are now completely certain that Fornebubanen will be built.”
That’s a relief to commuters who live in new housing projects at Fornebu or work in the vast array of office buildings at Fornebu, all built before public transport was improved. The area has continued to be served only by bus, also after the airport was shut down in 1998. It would have been much cheaper and more visionary to build a metro line with the tunnels required before other projects sprung up, but such long-term planning often collides with political sluggishness.
Now private landowners will have to pay much more of the bill for the rail line (around NOK 2.1 billion, according to Johansen), “but they’ll also get an enormous gain. The value of their property will increase greatly.” Fornebubanen will connect with the large Majorstuen metro station in Oslo, with new lines planned from there as well.