21 Sep 2014

Västlänken without tunnels


Base from Google maps
The vote against the Göteborg congestion charge was probably motivated as much by opposition to Västlänken as to the congestion charge itself. This is a hugely expensive project to dig a tunnel in a loop around the city centre, in the some of the most difficult geological conditions imaginable - waterlogged clay alternating with granite. It will take about twelve years to build, result in claims for damage to buildings, involve the destruction of large numbers of mature trees in the city centre and cause immense disruption during the construction period, with huge excavations and massive volumes of spoil to be carted away. It is estimated that it will take sixty years to recover the energy that will be expended in the construction.

There is no justification for it on transport grounds. There are five lines converging on the city, from(locally, clockwise) Uddevalla, Älvängen, Alingsås, Borås and Kungsbacka, four of these being the local sections of the main lines to Strömstad, Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen. There is no obvious choice as to which two lines to connect and, indeed, little demand for cross-city traffic at all, so the only benefit might be to reduce reversals at Göteborg Central. Passengers travelling beyond walking distance from the station change to a tram at Drottningtorget on the south side of the station. This is probably close to capacity. However, there is also a tram stop at Nordstan on the west side of the central station and that carries only one tram route (6), thus it has spare capacity.

The main claim for the route is that it will improve communications to the west side of the city centre. The above diagram shows how this could be achieved at a fraction of the cost and within a fraction of the time by the development of an additional tram route. This would commence with a new tram terminus outside the little-used Liseberg station, with trams timed to connect with the trains. The route would then run to Korsvägen, and turn left along Södra Vägen, taking the Chalmers Tunnel to Chalmers university campus and Salgrenska Hospital, from where it would run to Järntorget. It would then continue along the waterfront, past the opera house and turn left to stop outside the Central station at Nordstan. The route would then run to Polhemplatsen, and then follow the route to the south of Trädgårdsföreningen and back to Järntorget, where it would return to Liseberg by the same route. A second route would follow the loop in an anticlockwise direction ie along Parkgatan, passing Heden. Existing tram route 6 might be diverted along this route to avoid Brunnsparken, and the new direct route might also be used by another line, possibly the 11, which would then stop at Polhemplatsen.

This new construction of tram lines would largely alleviate the current poor access between the Haga area and the Central station.

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