The official opening of Copenhagen’s new metro is slated for Oct. 19, more than two years after a fatal derailment. Yet the dark clouds threatening the country’s public transit system seem to have had no significant impact on what is probably the most charming of new structures in the center of the Danish capital. The colorful press release announcing the opening clearly signaled that the brightly colored, pretty boxy structures will be available to everyone with a monthly pass, rather than just gondola-hopping tourists, who were apparently crowding the system when it opened in 2007. “The metro is for everyone,” the press release said.
The formerly empty tunnelling shafts beneath the city offer magnificent views of the harbor below, the central city, and the Vesterbro cliffs. Even the ground beneath the passenger platform, which was liberated from the hulls of an old bus, is lit with fairy lights.
The metro continues down a dirt alley, passing through a series of stalls selling Danish foods. It enters a large ring of low vertical fences around the rail track and stops on what looks like a huge roller coaster. The train is divided into pods, and passengers descend, head in one direction, and then jump in the other.
During its troubled years, the metro was nicknamed “the ghost system.” But the engineers, designers, and other proponents of the new underground line insist that there is nothing about the new train that is different. The new line actually follows the same train route as the old one, which means that the hard-won coffins of the old, now-retired trains, which became barriers to sightseers, will no longer need to be hidden.
The state-owned operator, Dansk Transit and Transport (TT&T), claims to have invested more than $1 billion in the project. With an annual population of 700,000, and an area of roughly ten square miles, Copenhagen’s open spaces are spacious. For many visitors, the free entry to the metro, bike rack, and other facilities will be the most appealing aspect of the public transit system. But with a first trip normally costing about $26, it won’t be long before Copenhagen’s new metro finds itself overshadowed by the city’s new sea-rise since its first opening.