En route to Orestad, Denmark by metro

Welcome back dear reader,  to start the new year we are going to visit a new urban development in the suburbs of Copenhagen,  Denmark.

To get to Orestad we’re going to take the Metro  from downtown Copenhagen.

This is the metro station near my hotel. Other than that column with a big M,  it’s hard to see the station. The entry is just an opening ** in the pavement with an escalator down. There is no building above the surface:

The skylights allow some natural light into the concourse level of the station below. You can see the glass elevator tower just beyond the skylights:


The first set of escalators take us down from the sidewalk to the first concourse level. Just above the clock you can see the bottom of the gnomen that extended from the peak of the skylight (in the previous picture) down into the station. On a sunny day in October, I would not describe the lower levels as sunlit.

Looking over the concourse railing you can see that the escalators go down and down two more levels, the platform level is very deep:

Ahh, the platform level appears:

The platform level is a centre platform between the two directions of tracks. Each track has two metro lines running on it,  called M1 and M2:

M1 and M2 run on the same tracks through the downtown area and separate to go to different suburbs as shown on the map below.

People going and as far as Christianhavn can take any train but beyond that need to choose to take either M1 or M2.

If Ottawa had this system on the Confederation Line, C1 trains would go to Lincoln fields and then to Baseline. C2 trains would go to Lincoln Fields and then go to Bayshore.

I have not yet heard a persuasive argument as to why Ottawa will run all trains destination Baseline and require people to transfer to another train at Lincoln Fields if going toward Kanata. Each transfer makes the trip seem more complex and difficult. Ottawa plans the same “need to transfer” layout when the Trillium Line extends beyond Greenboro:

Here is a map of the metro and suburban train system in Copenhagen. Note how M1 (green line)  and M2 (yellow line) share a track in the urban area and split when entering the suburbs:

At the platform level there are moving glass walls/doors to keep people off the tracks. The dimple pattern shows where the train will stop. Notice the customer dutifully standing behind the white line so passengers can get off first:

Here is the view of the doors along the length of the platform with the escalator reflected in the glass. Advertising revenue is important for transit operators. Ottawa will not have advertising on the LRT Lines for the first year or two until people get used to way finding.

The trains have no driver. They run on completely separated rights of way. The front of the train is a window, passengers sit up close to the window. If you unlock and lift the little hatch under the window there are controls to drive the train. There is no valuable on-train space taken up for a driver’s cab. Or (in Ottawa ) four …

This possibly confusing picture is taken from row two in the train. The tunnel section ahead can be seen in the lower left corner. The rest of the photo is a reflection of the people inside the car. Notice there are two rows of seats, with a standing area near the doors.

And the tunnel sections of the metro are in two separate bores, so each direction has its own tunnel. This means one tunnel can receive night time maintenance while the other tunnel continues in operation. So the metro can run 24 / 7 / 365, albeit at lower frequency at night than during the day when both direction tracks are open.

Ottawa has both tracks in the same tunnel so the system has to be shut down for night time maintenance and alternate bus service needs to be provided. The hours of operation will vary by day of the week.

Once in the suburbs the train comes up out of the tunnels and onto an elevated concrete guideway:

We are now arriving in Orestad, designed to be an architectural showplace of new urban development in the Copenhagen suburbs.

Elevated concrete guideways are very thick and heavy. The space between the two elevated guideways should let sunlight down to allow for growth of plants:

Various types of greenery has been planted along the guideways. Most of it was struggling, if not dead. The area under many of the guideways had all the charm of elevated freeways from the previous generation:

Waterscaping in this area helped overcome the poor plant growth options.

The public transit metro line in theory unites the community with accessibility. But like freeways, elevation provides access while also separating the neighbourhoods. The two “sides” of the main corridor through Orestad had numerous crossing points but the distances were great, and it felt like two one-sided streets.

This is another car on the metro line. There is a large glass window at the end. Notice that there are seats only on one side, allowing lots of space for standees. Ottawa anticipates 60% standees on its LRT even at non rush hours.

Once at Orestad Station, we are ready to walk about …



** Roofless openings or holes in the surface that provide access down to the underground level, or concourse level, are sometimes given the charming name vomitorium. I can understand why it is not featured in advertising.

4 thoughts on “En route to Orestad, Denmark by metro

  1. Thank You for an excellent article, as always. One major rebuttal, though. The Confederation Line will indeed interline through most of its service day, with trains alternating in destination to either Baseline-Algonquin or Bayshore-Moodie. It is only in the low traffic hours (per the operational plans we have seen to date) that there will be a shuttle to one or the other from Lincoln Fields. This is to keep service at a minimum level of headway on both forks in low hours. And the shuttle was to destination Bayshore when that was the terminus (which always was debatable). With the extension to Moodie, that may yet be exchanged. We shall see. Next, the Trillium Line is spur shuttle to the Airport from South Keys by two major reasons, that the Airport spur will only support short trains (by the current design) while the main line will support long trains, to support the anticipated load share, and to maintain minimum service headways, as opposed to interlining on a non-double-tracked mainline which cannot support service more frequent than 10 minutes, even after the upgrades of stage 2. So, Trillium line has compromises until full double tracked, and Confederation Line stage 2 is optimized fairly well until stage 3 operations are designed. Just my contribution. Thank You.

  2. In your early images of the maps on the station platform, the inner circle line is quite obvious. My guess (only) is that this may have been the first line built with bus transfer opportunities at each station. My visit to Copenhagen is now many years past, so I do not remember this in detail. We here in Ottawa had an opportunity for a similar circle line “embracing” Ottawa and Gatineau, But, alas, we missed it years ago. All this to say that there are many ways to envisage transit. Your point about the elevated sections is worth remembering. The Skytrain in Vancouver seems to handle it better.

  3. Thanks for this, I am an Ottawan (Hintonburg) who works in Copenhagen (my bi-monthly commute). Even though I take trains/metro in other cities, I have yet to master the train system here in CPH although I’ve been here an embarrassing number of times and the taxi rates are high. I’m in CPH this week. You’re giving me the incentive to spend the time to figure out the system, and overcome my unerring ability to go the wrong way first! Your article shows it’s just not that complicated and worth the effort. Maybe not your intent, but thanks!

  4. Image if you were to let developers have the vacant unused desolate land under the guideways for free to build whatever they wanted? Would the results be any worse than what is there now? There could be galleries, coffee shops, warehouses, student housing.

    Although it is not an exciting example in Ottawa – Carleton U has built a large parking garage over the O-Train line – therefore using no land. Could other parts of the transit way or bridge structures be opened to developers. Example – what could be done at the centre of the Alexandra Bridge – which has spectacular views but nowhere to sit, linger, buy a hot chocolate or a souvenir.

    And don’t even talk about the monstrosity of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. Same design language as the Berlin Wall…

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