Transportation on the rails after 45 years
Almost 45 years after the tram was closed down in Bergen the successor rail opened on Tuesday.
In contrast to the tram, some walked around the streets of Bergen for nearly 70 years, now has its own rail route. The new route runs from Bergen to Nesttun, 9.8 km to the south.
The construction of the path has taken two and a half years. Houses were demolished, streets closed and shops along the route have had problems during construction. But Tuesday several thousand people gathered in the city center and cheered for the rail when the Queen Sonja was the first passenger got out to make the official opening.
The Queen got on the train to become the first official Nesttun passenger at 12 noon and came to the city after a short stop en route at a few minutes after 12:30. After the official speeches opened the queen path by cutting the cord.
Bergen planned an extensive entertainment program at the festival location both before the queen and official guests came, and after the formalities were done and those invited had moved on to the Hall for dining.
The Queen was welcomed to the opening by the Mayor of Bergen, Gunnar Bakke (FRP), which said rail is the first of its kind in Norway. At the same time, he recalled that the transport on rails has a history of Bergen. The city had several tram lines in the center from 1897 to the last line was closed in 1965.
It’s a proud day for Bergen, declared the city council leader Monica Maeland (H). She stated that it is expensive to build light rail, the 9.8 km long track cost 2.2 billion. But while she looked over both time and budget are met.
Both the mayor and Maeland Bakke stated that they hope the state will help the rail can be extended in several directions. It is already decided that it should proceed from Nesttun to the shopping center Lagunen. The work on this route begins immediately and should be completed in 2013.
From Lagunen it is six to seven kilometers to the Bergen Airport Flesland and city politicians hope the route will be extended there in the years after 2013.
Light Rail was built after years of discussion and much opposition. Many have protested, and some would have referendum. In recent polls, however, a clear majority were positive for the rail.
Mayor Bakke came into controversy in his opening speech, saying that there has been a “classic Bergen debate. Both the route selection, financing and costs have had lively discussions both before and during the construction of the line.
Many are waiting to get light rail to their neighborhood. I think if it comes to several neighborhoods, from Bergen they will join up for it, “said the mayor.
Three cabinet ministers, the Minister for Transport Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa (Sp), Environment Minister Erik Solheim (SV) and Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen (Labour), was present at the opening. Strøm-Erichsen played a central role for the rail on the tracks in his time as mayor and city council leader in Bergen.
The three ministers did not bring promises of new government million for further development of the rail this time.