The term megacity tends to evoke teeming masses in Delhi, sprawl in Mexico City, or skyscrapers in New York. The Scandinavian region of Europe is not a place that comes to most people’s minds.
Though there is no New York-sized city in Scandinavia, the 8 Million City project is pretending like there is. That’s the population size of the cross-border corridor between the cities of Oslo (in Norway), Goteborg (in Sweden) and Copenhagen (in Denmark), as Frank Jacobs, of one of the best blogs for map geeks, Strange Maps, reports.
In the past, it would be a real stretch to talk about these cities as one “mega” anything, given that they are separated by 600 kilometers and a 7.5-hour train ride. But by 2025, the project is aiming to build a new high-speed rail will transport people from one end of the corridor to the other in a mere 2.5 hours–which, let’s face it, isn’t much longer than a drive across Los Angeles in rush hour.
And so a partnership of 14 local and regional agencies and organizations, with support from the European Union, is basically trying to rebrand the three cities as one “mega-region.”
Why would they want to do this? At a time when it’s sexy to live in densely populated urban centers, it has to do with attracting workforce talent and staying competitive. “In a world where regions increase in size to attract talent and be more competitive globally, this is a challenge,” a report on the project reads. It continues:
“Despite sky-high ranking scores on dozens of European and global scoreboards compared to other economic centres throughout Europe and the world, Scandinavian cities have a small and somewhat dispersed population, with notable concentrations only around three metropolitan areas of Oslo, Goteborg, and Copenhagen/Malmo.”
Building transit is only the start, and it would require a huge level of cooperation among three countries. Such a region would include about half of all of Scandinavia’s population, its two largest airports and its largest seaport, 29 colleges and universities, and no less than “four fabulous opera houses.” Now, the trick will be to actually get the thing built and then make sure a rail ticket is way more affordable than Amtrak.