On the cheap?




Metro Originally uploaded by Payton Chung

Deep, multi-level subway stations like these aren’t cheap, particularly when outfitted with capital-intensive fully automated trains. Yet pretty much the only bargain I found in a week in Copenhagen? The entirely new, 17-station, 15.5km, dual deep bore tunnel ring line will cost just $3 billion to build. That wouldn’t even pay for the 3.5-station first phase of NYC’s Second Avenue Subway, and only somewhat surpasses the 5-station elevated first phase cost of Dulles Metrorail. It’s not as if safety or accessibility standards, or construction labor, or materials, are any cheaper in Denmark. Never mind that the operating cost of the Copenhagen metro looks negligible compared to US systems; there are no retired drivers drawing lifetime medical benefits, since retiree benefits are the state’s problem and, well, there are no drivers.

Maybe I can gather some hints at TRB this week.

(Yes, I mentioned this briefly recently.)

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2 thoughts on “On the cheap?

  1. I agree that costs of US projects can (and should) be brought down, but don’t minimize the cost of labor differences. Project costs in the US include payments for healthcare and pensions for union workers, while those costs are removed from any projects in Denmark. Also, liability insurance is generally higher in the US. A chunk of the price difference can be attributed to differences in what social responsibility the state assumes in each project.

    Also – I’m not a geologist, but NYC has stones like granite, marble, and schist to tunnel through, while Copenhagen has much softer rock and soil. That will account for some cost difference too.

    I’m sure that there are cost savings to be found – but where exactly? Are the budgets for either project online?

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