CONSTRUCTION OF Malmo's huge Citytunneln rail tunnel scheme has been given the go ahead by the Swedish government.
This means tendering can begin on the project, which will see 17km of railway built to connect Malmo Central Station with the Oresund link between Sweden and Denmark.
At an estimated cost of $968M at 2001 prices, the scheme will comprise a 6km long tunnel under the centre of the city and 11km of above-ground tracks.
The central station will be extended underground and new stations built at Triangeln in the city centre and in Hyllie south of Malmo.
Plans will now go out for public comment and construction is expected to start in 2004.
Sweden's environmental court will now begin its examination of the proposals. This will cover issues of noise, vibrations, groundwater reduction and discharges.
The court will finalise detailed conditions for construction and intends to hold hearings in the autumn.
The first contract likely to be awarded is the biggest, involving tunnelling beneath the city and excavation of the cavern for Triangeln Station.
The contract for Malmo Central Station Lower, the underground extension to the station, is expected to be awarded later this year.
'There is a lot of work to be done before we can start digging, but the project is entering a concrete and exciting phase, ' said Citytunneln project manager Orjan Larsson.
The Citytunneln is scheduled for completion in 2009.