Why Train & Rail?

The need to gather our strength in the railway industry

A well-functioning railway infrastructure is crucial for the competitiveness of Swedish companies. Therefore, it is positive that Sweden is right now investing at record levels in railway and infrastructure. The funds for the Swedish Transport Administration have been raised by 21 percent and huge railway investments are planned in the whole country up until 2029, such as continued expansion in north Sweden and new main lines for high-speed trains.

Out of a total railway budget of 876 billion SEK, 165 billion are reserved for operation and maintenance. How the money will be spent is decided by the National Plan, but the biggest question for everyone is how long they will last and what will be prioritized. Many, including the Transport Administration, have clearly pointed out the importance of paying off the maintenance debt, but also pointed out the fact that the money isn’t even enough to uphold todays standard. At the same time, costs for planned investments and maintenance are rising quicker than expected.

However, the railway industry is staying positive as there is a strong growth and trust in the future, whilst the political commitments regarding how we are to face the climate changes are strengthening. The time is here to convert our society towards the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly means of transport – the railway.

Apart from all this, all parts of the industry are currently undergoing a full-scale digitalization. Everything from goods carts to fixed infrastructure is connected online and to each other – so that we will be able to build smart and innovative systems for the future.

The way to a climate-smart society is on rails. If the society is going to be able to convert in the pace needed to tackle the climate crisis, sustainable transports of goods and people need to be highly prioritized. Unfortunately, there are several areas of improvement.


The railway industry's challenges

Social benefits and energy efficiency.

The Swedish way of calculating social benefit of time savings in transport does not favor the energy-efficient railway. The Swedish Transport Administration needs to evaluate new models for calculating social benefit, and for their mandate to be vision-led instead of forecast-driven.

Lack of capacity

The tracks are overcrowded. Some capacity shortages can be removed by high-speed rail lines, for current main lines to be used for freight and local traffic. But digitalization and more modern traffic planning would also make a huge difference. We need to use all available means to increase capacity.

The maintenance debt

We need to deal with the maintenance debt. Maintenance is an inexpensive investment and environmentally friendly way to increase capacity. The Swedish Transport Administration has started to prioritize maintenance, but more is needed to create a railway with increased capacity and higher punctuality.

Digitalize more

Sensors must be installed on vehicles and infrastructure, and data collected to enable a condition-based and predictive maintenance system, for fewer fallen contact wires and broken tracks. Security is key, we need to digitalize while facing current and future threats – without stifling innovation.

ERTMS

One of the most important future investments is a smarter signaling system. The EU-widw signaling system ERTMS drives rail digitalization and is a prerequisite for high-speed railways and future automation. Its implementation needs to be accelerated, but also financed in the same way as in other countries.

A new generation of rail personnel

Another major challenge for the rail industry is talent management. Today, many companies are facing a generational shift that will affect large parts of their staff. Valuable skills must be secured so that they do not disappear when engineers, mechanics and other key resources retire.

Public tenders

The Swedish Transport Administration must be better at procuring based on factors other than price. More innovation procurement and rewarding of new technology and new solutions are required, not least to further strengthen the role of the railway in Sweden’s necessary climate transition.

Alternative financing

We need to propose projects that are financed outside the usual budget – borrowing money, creating separate revenue streams or letting private operators build and own infrastructure. But also, think about security – which operators and countries do we want to have access to our infrastructure?


Would you like to participate at Train & Rail?

Please get in touch with us if you would like to purchase tickets, or if you have any questions regarding the convention, the upcoming agenda or alternatives for stand booking. Send an e-mail to Martin Wiberg, martin.wiberg@stockholmsmassan.se or call +46 8 749 44 83.