Oslo- Stockholm High Speed Railway: An up in the air project

University essay from KTH/Urbana och regionala studier

Author: Foster Dusseau; [2012]

Keywords: ;

Abstract:

The objective of this paper is to shed a light on a High-speed Railway (HSR) study project in the corridor Stockholm-Oslo, and investigate the global context in which it has grown. Priority Project 12 (PP12), commonly named “The Nordic Triangle”, is a project within the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) program, a European program aiming at establishing an efficient transport network, for competitiveness and employment in Europe. The Nordic Triangle aims at linking the Nordic countries, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and their capitals to each other and improving passenger and freight transport, both rail and road, between the central Europe, the Baltic countries and Russia. The cornerstone of this program in Sweden is the development of three main axes: Stockholm–Katrineholm–Laxa–Swedish–Norwegian boarder; Katrineholm/Jarna–Norrköping–Malmö; and Malmö–Gothenburg–Swedish–Norwegian border. Of course, this extension to the Swedish-Norwegian boarder targets to reach Oslo, the Norwegian capital.

What was expected in theory mismatches with the current situation and the future expectations on this project. It proves that Sweden, throughout the PP12, has concentrated its railway upgrades to the two other axes and has made few efforts to improve the Oslo–Stockholm line. Political decisions in terms of railway network development are more focused on the North-South axes, which represent an undeniable opening to Central Europe.

At the same time the Norwegian Ministry of Transport has launched in 2010 an overall High Speed Rail Assessment to study different route alternatives for the creation of a first new HSR system. Among them is the Stockholm-Oslo route. It is curious to see that Norway focuses on a project that is not on the agenda of the European Commission and it is important to try to understand why and to know if such a project is economically viable.

The conclusion is that this current implementation reflects the Swedish willingness to develop its railway network, and especially its high-speed network, to the South, which embodies a front door to Central Europe. Thus, since the beginning of the development of the Nordic Triangle, it seems probable Sweden had in mind not to upgrade all the line to Oslo, but only half the way.

As regards the viability of the HSR line, it could not be economically viable because the revenue generated could not offset these former costs. An insufficient demand would be the main problem. Investing in a HSR on this corridor is certainly not the most reasonable decision, neither for Norway nor for Sweden.

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