New road could cut Bergen-Oslo journey time to four hours

Norway is reported to be planning a new four-lane E134 road which would significantly cut journey times between Bergen and Oslo.

New road could cut Bergen-Oslo journey time to four hours
File photo: AFP

The road, the E134, would have a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour and costs for construction could reach 150 billion kroner, NRK reports.

With the drive between the capital and the west coast city currently taking around seven hours, the new road would make for a considerable reduction to journey times.

Nye Veier AS, the state-owned road construction company formed in 2016, wants to build the new four-lane E134 motorway and presented its proposal earlier this week, according to the broadcaster’s report.

“We envisage being able to reduce journey times to around four hours,” Nye Veier CEO Anette Aanesland told NRK.

However, a spokesperson for high-speed railway builder Norsk Bane said the estimated cost of between 120 and 150 billion kroner would be better spent on a fast rail connection between the cities, which it said would cost around them same.

“The railway would cost 150 to 200 billion kroner (to build), but overall costs would be much less. Operational income would help to pay off investment,” the company’s director Jørh Westermann told NRK.

A high-speed rail connection could bring the journey down to as little as 2.5 hours and also provide faster transportation for goods, he also said.

READ ALSO: Russia opens first Arctic train service to Norway

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany