Like most popular clichés there is a kernel of truth underpinning their resilience. In these current straightened times maximising the value of what already exists and thinking of new ways to use and exploit existing infrastructure is a valid approach to the development of new rail networks. The recent ‘McNulty Report’ into reducing the costs of the current rail industry in the UK highlighted this issue. A further example would be a project LeighFisher has just completed with its partners in the Netherlands, where significant cost savings were achieved by utilising spare capacity in both the existing metro and heavy rail networks.
The WAA, a local authority operating company, commissioned three separate consulting groups to produce a public transport link between the communities of Amsterdam and Almere, across the IJmeer. These were to be compared with a reference solution developed a few years ago and costed at €5.3 billion, which was deemed unaffordable. Whilst LeighFisher provided the ‘glue’, the development of a single focused team, involving Jacobs Engineering UK and Dutch firms APPM and Posad, was critical to the project’s success.
Our team recognised that considerable investment had already been made in the rail transport infrastructure of the region. So we proposed a rapid regional metro which would use the existing metro network from Amsterdam Lelylaan to Diemen Zuid. From the station at Diemen Zuid the regional-metro would travel via a new alignment, incorporating a multi-modal interchange station Nieuw Diemen to IJburg and Almere. In Almere, again, the existing heavy tracks would be used from Almere Muziekwijk via Almere Centrum (Central Almere) to Almere Parkwijk, terminating at the A27. This provides an attractive, fast and cost-effective service of up to 15 metros an hour linking the two communities. A trip from Almere Centrum to Amsterdam Zuid will take less than 25 minutes. It also provides a service which specifically supports the development plans of the key local authorities of Amsterdam and Almere at Diemen, IJburg, and Almere Pampus and Almere East.
The new infrastructure had a number of technical challenges to address including the crossing of the Amsterdam-Rijn kanaal, contaminated land at Diemerzeedijk and, of course, the IJmeer itself. The design proposed is both attractive and functional with each element reinforcing the distinct identity of the new line. The IJmeer will be traversed by four cable stayed bridges that will link three new artificial islands. This reduces the overall cost of construction whilst adding to the ecological development of the region. It also provides for the addition of a new peninsula and a new marina on the western edge of the existing Pampus. The design also recognises that in residential areas special care needs to be taken to ensure the integration of the line into the existing urban fabric, for example at IJburg the track will be built on an embankment and a linear park will be developed above the tracks.
In summary, this Nieuwe Lijn (www.denieuwelijn.co.uk
) offers a flexible solution creating significant additional capacity in a cost-effective way. It is expected to stimulate sustainable urban development and reduce the pressure on urban sprawl within the metropolitan region. It was also achievable at under half the cost of the original reference case and provides the client with a cost-effective solution which can be progressed.
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