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Sweden to spend billions on railway improvements

Sweden to spend billions on railway improvements

Published: 31 Aug 2011 07:23 GMT+02:00
Updated: 31 Aug 2011 07:23 GMT+02:00

The Swedish government on Tuesday announced plans to set aside 5 billion kronor ($784 million) in new funding for infrastructure projects, with the bulk of the money devoted to improvements to the country's beleaguered rail system.

“We can't guarantee that there won't be any delays. But this is a major effort,” said Christian Democratic party head Göran Hägglund at a press conference held at a building site in Solna just north of Stockholm for the Citybana, a 6-kilometre-long railway tunnel currently under construction beneath parts of central Stockholm.

According to Liberal Party leader Jan Björkllund, the new spending will likely create 1,000 jobs.

He added that the 5 billion is new spending in addition to a one-time allocation of 800 million kronor authorised by the government last winter to help with railway maintenance projects.

“These are new investments which will improve what we already have,” said prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Of the 5 billion kronor, 3.6 billion will be spent on railways.

“This is right in line with what we wanted,” Gunnar Malm, head of the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), told the TT news agency.

Most of the money will go to pay for maintenance and repairs and will be distributed throughout the country.

Malm named several areas that needed attention, including new tracks, new switches, signals, and contact lines.

“We need to increase the robustness of the system and that will improve punctuality,” he said.

The remaining 1.4 billion kronor will be spend on Sweden's roads to improve maintenance, traffic safety, and traffic flow.

The announcement comes following advice from several economists and policymakers that Sweden should use spending on infrastructure projects to dampen the effects of an anticipated economic downturn.

Reinfeldt emphaised that the spending was a temporary, two-year measure which was motivated in part by economic considerations.

“This is sound economic policy,” he said.

Withh the government's proposal, spending on rail maintenance and repairs will reach 7 billion kronor in 2012 and 2013, while maintenance and repair spending for Sweden's roads will reach 11 billion for each year, according to a joint statement from the four centre-right governing Alliance parties.

The Green Party, however, criticised the government's plans as insufficient.

“It's paltry considering the problems facing the railways and tram systems,” Green Party spokesperson Åsa Romson said.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:17 August 31, 2011 by karex
It's about time.
08:50 August 31, 2011 by skumdum
Madness! Spend the money on roads where it needed. Not on obsolete railroads.
09:00 August 31, 2011 by conboy
Tinkering with the train set again more money is required for trains and roads and such investment pays off long term and contrary to popular belief it will pay off over time and will not contribute to long term state debt unlike the sell off of state owned infrastructure.
09:18 August 31, 2011 by Stickeroo
5 Billion....sounds like a lot until you convert it to dollars.
09:36 August 31, 2011 by Abe L
@skumdum, Indeed build some frikkin roads already. The E4 in Stockholm needs it capacity double first and foremost.

The problem with the Swedish railway system aren't going to be solved by spending money on rails. As long as it's WAY to expense and trains break down every other day during the winter, it's a useless means of transportation.
10:06 August 31, 2011 by Nemesis
How about re-opening a lot of the closed lines in Sweden and get people moving by rail?

Sweden really needs to reopen all the old lines and reduce monthly tavel card costs. Also they need to start issueing travel cards that cover more than one län. A lot of us do not live next door to our work.
10:44 August 31, 2011 by engagebrain
Peak oil is coming and the demand for oil in China and India will go on rising - the price of oil will go thru the roof.

We are going to need a decent rail network once long distance travel by car become prohibitively expensive. This analysis suggests that there no point in expanding the road network.
10:53 August 31, 2011 by zooeden
I say go for it!!!
16:02 August 31, 2011 by Svensksmith
A wise investment. I wish America would invest in it's infrastructure, but no, we're too busy fighting wars that can never be won.
19:17 August 31, 2011 by krattan
Trafikverket recently announced that they needed 38 billion for maintenance to get the railway into state. 5 billion is not even close to that amount.
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