The First of its Kind in the Nordics
The Follo Line is not only the biggest infrastructure project taking place in Norway, but also across all of the Nordics – Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Once completed in 2021, the Line will also include the longest railway tunnel in any of the five countries.
At 20km long, it will be Norway’s first long twin-tube rail tunnel, as well as one of the first projects in the country to use Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs). In total, four TBMs - Queen Eufemia, Queen Ellisiv, Anna from Klokka, and Magda Flatestad - are digging out the tunnels for the tracks. Throughout the construction of the Follo Line, about 10 to 11 million tons of rock spoil will be removed across a period of about 3 to 3.5 years.
The main construction work began in 2015, with the project’s completion scheduled for December 2021. In total, 64km of new railway tracks will be laid down.
The Follo Line will connect the Norwegian capital of Oslo with its southern suburb of Ski. The line is being constructed in such a way that the tracks will connect with several existing platforms to optimize interconnections and efficiency. The Follo Line is designed for speeds up to 250km/h, therefore reducing the journey from Oslo to Ski by 50% (from 22 to 11 minutes). It is also expected to last for at least the next hundred years.
The new line will run alongside the Østfold Line, which currently provides service between Oslo and Ski. The project is meant to reduce congestion because the Østfold Line has reached its passenger capacity limit.
The Follo Line Project consists of four tracks that run from Ski to Oslo Central Station, Norway’s largest hub for public transport. Constructing new rail tracks in such a dense metropolitan area is a major logistics challenge. Furthermore, one of the constraints of the project is to cause the least amount of disruption possible, and to that end much of the work will be carried out without interfering with the daily flow of traffic to and from this busy station.
Preserving Norway’s History
In addition, we have worked rigorously to ensure that the restrictions around Oslo’s Medieval Park are respected at all times, as this area holds such a great archaeological and historical significance. The Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway and the Norwegian National Rail Administration have reached a joint solution for conservation measures regarding both the construction of the new Follo Line and the new tracks for the Østfold Line through an area known as ‘Klypen’.
Archaeologists estimate that there are about 100 graves in an area about 30 meters long and two to three meters wide. Excavations show multiple levels of graves. The cemetery was in use for hundreds of years, beginning around the 13th or 14th century.
A New EPC Contract Model
The Follo Line is a pilot project for a new contract model. The use of EPC contracts, the use of conventional drill and blast in combination with drill and split methodology, and the use of TBMs have paved the way for innovation and knowledge upgrading. In addition, this project has allowed for alliance building between Norwegian and foreign engineering and construction companies.
Environment, Health, and Safety with a Multinational Team
Working on such a high-risk construction site requires a solid implementation of Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) guidelines in order to avoid any work-related accidents.
WSP’s Norway office has worked extensively on the EHS management for several parts of the Follo Line project. As a result of the potential risk inherent in the project, we developed the Follobanen + project. This initiative has placed higher demands for safety across the project, and the operation and maintenance of these procedures have therefore been an important focus. Risk analysis in the project planning and execution phase is crucial to ensure safety at the working grounds.
The construction team has workers from at least 50 different nationalities. This presents some challenges related to enforcing EHS and we have therefore worked hard to ensure that cultural differences and language challenges are taken into account.