European cities are constantly confronted with problems caused by daily traffic, the common challenge of all urban areas consisting in increasing mobility while reducing congestion, the number of accidents and pollution. Congestion triggers costs of over EUR 100 Billion/year or around 1% of EU’s annual GDP.
Cities have to identify the most efficient method to answer to mobi-lity demands and to the challenges generally posed by the urban transport system. In this context, in the elaboration of transport strategies, the authorities include projects which help create a sustainable, efficient and rapid transport system that would answer to every city’s mobility needs. The studies of specialized organizations and of the institutions in charge prove the importance and the necessity of building and developing a public rail transport system capable to meet mobility demands, but also compliant to environmental policies.
The construction and extension of the metro system is the answer to problems such as congestion, environment, economic and social development, attraction of investments and convincing the community to choose public transport.
The public transport system is every day more complex and decision factors have to elaborate specific analyses that would include all the required aspects, from demand to investments and traffic estimates. In choosing the construction of a particular mode of transport, the most obvious characteristics refer to the capacity-investment costs report. Generally, the metro systems can exceed the capacity of surface transport modes. However, necessary investments are massive, but the metro can deliver significant, long-run benefits for all three targeted segments: economic, social and environmental. Urban rail transport is considered the best choice because high investment costs can be returned during its life-cycle as the effective report of carried passengers/driver helps maintain a relatively low level of operating costs. For example, 90 bus drivers are needed to carry 10,000 passengers/hour and direction compared to 6 metro drivers. These costs are structurally recurrent day by day so that local remuneration conditions have to be considered.
Under these circumstances, European cities are developing a series of projects for the development and modernisation of the suburban transport network financed by the authorities and the financial institutions.
One of the cities which prove the efficiency and necessity of the metro system is Vienna (Austria). The metro is the most used urban transport mode with a growth in the number of passengers from 811 million passengers to 875 million passengers from 2009 to 2011. Although it is one of the most efficient and well-developed networks in Europe, the authorities don’t plan to stop expanding the metro network in the next years: the extension of line U2 (Aspernstrasse – Seestadt stations) is due by the end of the year, and the extension of line U1 will be completed in 2017. New projects are in plan on the long-term, such as the construction of a new line U5, Elterleinplatz – Rathaus, connected to U2, as well as a new section on the southern branch of line U2, the existing section being transferred to the future U5.
In Eastern Europe, Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is the most active city in the implementation and allocation of investments in projects for the development of the metro network. The ambition of the authorities is to build an underground network that would cover 70% of the capital’s surface.
There are already plans for the construction of a line to link the Airport to the Business Park district and existing lines will be developed. The general transport scheme underlines the development of the network which should include three lines with a total length of 57 km (54 stations). Once completed, these lines are expected to increase the number of passengers to 550 million/day (over 45% of the public transport share).
Long-term plans include the extensions of each line to the suburbs. Even if we talk about long-term projects, we have to mention that this year the transport company launched tenders for the construction of line extensions to be finalized in 2015.
Budapest (Hungary) is another European city which focuses on developing public transport through the metro projects, the most important of which is the construction of line 4 that will link the north-east to the south-west of the city.
Apart from this project, the authorities plan to build a new metro line (L5), but its development is still in plan. This line will be developed along the Danube River, undercrossing the Margareta Island and then connected to the network of underground lines that go south and north.
Although still confronted with economic problems, Greece is also planning to expand underground transport in Athens to complete its current 3-line network. Plans include the construction of a new line and the extension of the existing lines. This year, Athens put in service the extension to the west of line 2 by two new stations, and other 4 stations are planned to be built on the same line.
Currently, the metro company, Attiko Metro, prepares the studies for the construction of the new line (line 4) which will be 33km long (29 stations). The line will be U-shaped and will serve the most populated areas of the capital. The future line will include the extensions of lines 2 and 3 and a central section made of 8 stations. The project requires investments of EUR 3.3 Billion. The first phase of the project includes the construction of 9 stations and the cost of works amounts to over EUR 1 Billion.
In Poland, Lodz initiated a complex railway project in 2012 to serve the city and the adjacent areas. The project includes the improvement of the transport infrastructure, the organisation of a railway ring and the construction of a metro line to serve the central part of the city, thus fully integrating railway traffic to trams and other transport modes focused in the centre of Lodz.
The development of public rail transport in Warsaw (programme for 2015) relies on 8 programmes which also include the continuation of the metro system development and the acquisition of rolling stock. The development programme also includes the construction of lines 2 and 3. “Construction works to the central section of the second metro line include 7 stations, 6 ventilation rooms, 2 tunnels with a total length of 9 km and a technical connection to the first metro line. The central section of the second line will be inaugurated in the autumn of 2014”, declared in an interview for our magazine Jerzy Lejk, CEO of Warsaw Metro.
The authorities in Prague (Czech Republic) are also planning to expand the metro lines. One of the most recent projects is the extension of line A from Dejvická to Motol station.
This extension would be put in service in 2014. The funds necessary to this project amount to CZK 18.7 Billion (EUR 718 Million). By 2015, the local administration allocated a budget of CZK 10.7 Billion (EUR 411 Billion) and the rest is EU contribution. The project includes the construction of 12.9 km and will be divided in three phases: the first phase will see the construction of 6 km of line, the second of 4.3 km of line and the last phase, the rest.
Apart from this project, the authorities could build another line to connect the city centre to the south by building 7 stations for which works could be initiated in 2015.