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Airport Train Project Steams Ahead

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Airport Train Project Steams Ahead

Keflavik International Airport

From Keflavík International Airport. Photo: Zoë Robert.

Reykjavík City Council yesterday approved a cooperative agreement on the construction of a train line between Reykjavík and Keflavík Airport, reports RÚV. Authorities in the neighboring municipality of Garðabær agreed to such a deal earlier in the week, while municipalities in the southern peninsula of Suðurnes had already agreed to the plan last autumn. The project will next be discussed by town authorities in Hafnarfjörður and Kópavogur in the capital region.

“This is all under review, and the train project continues full steam ahead,” stated Runólfur Ágústsson, managing director of express train special development association Fluglestin. Runólfur said that the agreements with the municipalities are important to the progress of the project. Now, Fluglestin can proceed to the next phase, which involves research and organization. “It’s a very important part. The train will run in a tunnel from Straumsvík to its terminus at the BSÍ Bus Terminal in Reykjavík. An intermediate station at Smáralind shopping mall in Kópavogur is being considered, but it has not been conclusively settled on yet.”

Runólfur stated that the greatest risks were geological in nature because the project involves the construction of a tunnel, and it was therefore important to do thorough research. The tunnel will be at a depth of 50 to 160 meters (164 to 525 feet) below the metropolitan area. The geological survey is expected to cost about ISK 1.5 billion (USD 14.65 million/EUR 12.85 million) and take three years. After that, construction can begin, unless something special comes up, according to Runólfur.

“It’s remarkable how little is known about the geological strata under the capital area. We have mapped it out from what information does exist. A draft has been made of how the tunnel will likely be laid out, based on the knowledge we have. There are gaps, so experimental boring needs to be done.” The train will run above ground between Hafnarfjörður and Keflavík Airport.

The train project has been promoted overseas and Runólfur believes it to be profitable, both in terms of the business plan and impact on society. He said the response overseas had been positive, both from foreign investors and experts. It is estimated that the total cost will be ISK 85 to 87 billion, depending on the exchange rate.

Advocates of the train assume a modest increase in tourist numbers over the next few years. The train ride from Keflavík Airport to Reykjavík is expected to take about 20 minutes and a one-way ticket is expected to cost ISK 5,000 (USD 49/EUR 43). “It will be cheaper, if a round-trip ticket is purchased. There is also a huge number of people who work at the airport in Keflavík but live in Reykjavík and vice versa. Those passengers would enjoy completely different terms,” explained Runólfur.

Around ISK 300-400 million has already gone into the project. “Danish contracting company Per Aarsleff came on board last year. Landsbankinn bank is one of the owners and manages the financing. We are optimistic that it will be a success. The funding is promising and professionals who have reviewed the project consider it sound,” concluded Runólfur.

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