Sweden abandons high-speed program – International Railway Journal
THE newly formed Swedish government has announced that it is redirecting resources and funding from the development of a high-speed network, instead concentrating on the maintenance and development of the conventional network with a particular focus on commuter traffic and freight.
The move comes after the parliamentary elections in Sweden in September 2022, where the Moderates’ Ulf Kristersson was appointed prime minister, after negotiating the Tidö Agreement with the Sweden Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals.
In 2021, the infrastructure manager Trafikverket completed a study on the development of high-speed railways in the south of the country and proposes a Y-shaped network connecting Stockholm with Gothenburg and Malmö, with a design speed of 320 km/h. The study estimated the cost of the network at 295 billion SEK (28.27 billion USD), with a margin of error of 50 billion SEK.
The Ministry of Rural Affairs and Infrastructure says in a statement on December 23 that the railway network is vital for the whole of Sweden to function, but maintenance has lagged behind for many years, which has led to the need to focus on investments. In addition to upgrading the existing network, the government is now prioritizing better roads and more charging points for electric vehicles over investments in high-speed rail.
– The government wants the investment in railways to primarily facilitate commuting and freight transport, because it promotes jobs and growth, says Infrastructure and Housing Minister Andreas Carlson, Christian Democrats. “Our goal is for rail investment to be more cost-effective than if the original plan for new high-speed lines had been implemented.”
The government says investment in high-speed rail would mean funding was not available for other needed projects, while spending on the conventional network and providing more tracks will make it easier for trains to travel faster in the future, even without high-speed lines. It says many investment projects on the existing network could also be implemented faster than the development of new high-speed lines.
The new government also criticized the outgoing government, saying it chose to push ahead with the high-speed rail project despite very high costs and a lack of control criticized by the National Audit Office.
The government has now given new directives to the Swedish Transport Administration regarding the three high-speed routes that are already under development.
The work on completing the Östlänken Järna – Linköping will continue according to plan, where the Swedish Transport Administration must identify and implement cost-reducing measures without significantly delaying the project.
The planning work on the Gothenburg – Borås route has been paused, the Swedish Transport Administration has instead been tasked with improving commuter traffic and providing a high-capacity connection to Landvetter in a more cost-effective way, abandoning the goal of driving at over 250 km/h but without delaying the completion of the project.
The new directive includes a review of the current design, including the need for tunnels or whether there are measures on the existing track between Gothenburg and Borås that could be included in a more cost-effective solution.
Ongoing planning work on the Hässleholm – Lund route is stopped as soon as possible, with the Swedish Transport Administration instead tasked with identifying alternatives to achieve capacity improvements in the Scania region in a significantly more cost-effective way, and without a maximum speed over 250 km/h. .
It may primarily concern other measures on the Hässleholm – Lund route and elsewhere, such as work to prepare for increased traffic when the Fehmarn Belt railway tunnel between Denmark and Germany opens around 2029.
No further planning will be carried out for the central parts of the high-speed network, which runs from Linköping via Jönköping to Borås or Hässleholm.
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