The costly metro adventure

Photo: Copenhagen Media Center

The Copenhagen Metro is a fully automatic, over-ground and underground metro system that is still being developed and has so far cost almost DKK 40 billion. The Metro has radically altered the capital’s traffic system and created new neighborhoods and dynamics in the city. Tunnels have been drilled beneath the old city, and for a number of years the construction sites were the biggest archaeological sites in Northern Europe.

So far, the Metro has been paid for by borrowing money to drill the tunnels and lay down the tracks, and then selling publicly-owned land around the new stations to cover the debt. This model has been criticized for placing so much pressure on the sale of urban areas that the City of Copenhagen has had to lift conservation orders in order to have enough land to sell.

The massive sale of land has been a source of concern for many Copenhageners, who feel land is being sold at the expense of natural and green areas like Amager Fælled. The financing model also has consequences for the demographics of Copenhagen, as the new builds around the metro stations are forcing rents up.

The City of Copenhagen is running out of land to sell and yet there are still plans to expand the metro, which is already under pressure and soon at risk of overflowing during rush hour. Is it fair that Copenhageners themselves have to pay for their metro? Politicians in Copenhagen believe that future expansions should be included in the state budget, as the metro is part of the overall Danish infrastructure and it contributes to the green transition of the entire capital region.