Sweden to invest heavily in high-speed railroads

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STOCKHOLM, April 16 (Xinhua) — The Swedish government on Friday presented what it called the country’s “biggest infrastructure investment in modern times” with plans to spend the equivalent of 100 billion U.S. dollars on high-speed railways and other projects.

“It is the largest investment in infrastructure in modern times” in Sweden, Minister for Infrastructure Tomas Eneroth said when announcing the plan at a press conference.

From 2022 to 2033, the government pledged to invest 799 billion Swedish crowns (93.9 billion U.S. dollars) in infrastructure, including high-speed railroads. With incomes from congestion and railroad charges taken into account, the financial framework is forecasted to reach 876 billion crowns (102.9 billion U.S. dollars).

Minister for Environment and Climate Per Bolund said the investment was vital to combat climate change. “By making important investments we can carry out climate adaptation and make a green restart of our society after the pandemic.”

The bulk of the investment, 437 billion crowns (51.4 billion U.S. dollars), have been earmarked for the development of new infrastructure.

“The expansion of new trunk lines for high-speed trains will be carried out within the economic framework,” Bolund said.

Besides these high-speed railways between the capital Stockholm and Gothenburg and Malmo — cities situated in the densely populated southern part of Sweden — investments will also be made in railroad infrastructure in the north of the country where several companies plan to develop large-scale projects such as battery factories and plants for the production of carbon-free steel.

Exactly how the money will be spent is still to be decided. A substantial amount will be spent on operations and maintenance after years of problems caused by insufficient upkeep. In 2019, Swedish Television reported that 16 trains had derailed since 2013 due to poor maintenance.

In 2017, a report from Boston Consulting Group also gave Sweden a “poor rating for quality of service, mainly because of lower punctuality than other tier-one countries.”

Even though punctuality has since improved to what Swedish Transport Administration recently described as a record level, only 86.7 percent of long-distance passenger trains were on time last year. Part of this improvement is due to fewer trains and less congestion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Enditem

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