OSLO (Reuters) - Norway is asking for cost estimates to build an almost 400 km (250 mile) railway line in its Arctic region that would connect the northern city of Tromsoe to the national train network, the Ministry of Transport and Communications said on Friday.
A rough estimate, made in 2011, suggested the cost of constructing a railway from Fauske to Tromsoe could amount to between 40 billion and 60 billion Norwegian crowns ($4.9 billion-$7.4 billion), it added.
“This could provide a new transport route that is safe and environmentally friendly,” Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen said in a statement.
“At the same time, it’s costly to build railways, and the distance from Fauske to Tromsoe is long, so the cost must be considered against the benefit it would give,” he added.
While a northern railway line has been studied several times, parliament has turned it down as being too costly for the sparsely populated region.
Of Norway’s 5.3 million population, about 75,000 live in Tromsoe. The city is currently connected to the rest of the country via road, ship routes and flights by four airlines, including SAS and Norwegian Air.
($1 = 8.1265 Norwegian crowns)
Reporting by Oslo newsroom; Editing b y Richard Balmforth