• Passenger rail in Sweden

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by NellieBly
Had the occasion to attend a transportation conference at the Stockholm School of Economics last week, focusing on rail restructuring in Europe. Then I got to ride a few Swedish passenger trains, from Stockholm to Norrkoping and back. The contrasts with (and similarities to) the Northeast Corridor are interesting.

Sweden, like all other European Union countries, is separating its railroad into a state-owned infrastructure company (BANVERKET) and various train-operating companies, including SJ AB (Stats Jarnvager, the descendent of the state railway) and various private concessions.

Stockholm's Arlanda airport is served by a privately-operating "A-Train" service that works quite efficiently, taking 20 minutes to Stockholm Central with attractive yellow EMU cars. However, the private company is not turning a profit, even at a fare about double that of the competing "Flyggbussan" that use the highway. The government gave the private consortium some money to complete a second link that makes the airport line a loop off the main north-south line, and various through passenger trains now stop at the airport. More on this in a minute.

Long-haul services to the north of Sweden are now operated under contract by Connex, apparently, although it's the same equipment I rode in 1996. Other long-haul services remain operated by SJ in its new incarnation as a for-profit company.

We took an X2000 from Stockholm to Norrkoping. The X2000 route is partially new construction, and runs west to Katrineholm, thence south to Norrkoping, rather than following the old line along the Baltic Coast. Total journey time is about 1:20, versus nearly two hours on the old line on "regional" trains (is that where Amtrak learned it?). The X2000, now more than 10 years old, is still impressively quiet and smooth-riding. Amtrak missed an opportunity here.

Norrkoping has local tram service (three-unit German cars), and also is a hub for local train services operatied by the Ostergotland Traffik, the local transportation agency. These use attractively painted EMU trains. There is freight as well -- on two consecutive days I saw an Rc4 loco painted for "Green Cargo" with a train of about 50 empy two-axle log cars come through the station. Unlike in the US, freight is strictly scheduled along with everything else.

On the return trip, we rode a regional train directly to Arlanda airport, right through Stockholm Central. It used the old line along the Baltic, which is scenic although slow in parts and mostly single-track. There is a passing siding at each station, and twice we met southbound regional trains. Operation was right on time (the X2000 services seem to suffer from minor lateness, based on my observations).

All in all, a good trip. My only complaint was the $500 tariff for four second-class round-trip tickets on a trip about the length of WAS to PHL.

  by David Benton
Thank you Nellie , for yor trip report . I never made it to Scandanavia ,so its interesting to hear what its like .
i hear everythings expensive there , so the rail fares are proably inline with the alternatives .