Despite the departure of WOW air, final discussions are taking place for a billion-euro track, much of which would be underground.
Despite the uncertainty over Iceland’s continued connectivity after WOW air’s sudden departure, plans to build a rail tunnel and connection between Reykjavík and the country’s main airport are still on track.
The project, dubbed the Lava Express and connecting Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport, is being prepared by a development company called Fluglestin þróunarfélag, the newspaper Morgunblaðið reports.
This company is a partnership between the financial institution Landsbankinn, the engineering and consulting firm EFLA, the Keflavík development company Kadeco, the Danish infrastructure contractor Per Aarsleff and others.
The railway line is expected to be 49 kilometres long, 14 kilometres of which will be underground.
Construction work could start as early as 2022, Fluglestin’s chief executive Runólfur Ágústsson tells Morgunblaðið. WOW air’s recent bankruptcy will not affect the plans in the long term, he adds.
All municipalities affected have approved a cooperation agreement on zoning related to the project – with the exception of Hafnarfjörður, 10 kilometres south of the capital. A meeting with the mayor of Hafnarfjörður has been scheduled.
“The project hinges on such an agreement being reached,” Ágústsson says, adding that once Hafnarfjörður has approved the deal, planning can go ahead.
The biggest cost factor is research for drilling to explore the strata, or rock layers, in Reykjavík’s metropolitan areas, he explains.
A simultaneous two-year environmental assessment must also be made. Tunnels would be dug in Straumsvík and between Hafnarfjörður and the BSÍ bus terminal in Reykjavík. The tracks from Straumsvík to Keflavík would all be above ground.
Construction would take three years and could cost up to a billion euros, with 75-80% of the financing coming from abroad.