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Agency disbanded for not mending enough fences

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Agency disbanded for not mending enough fences
16:59 CET+01:00
Notice was given today that another of Sweden's many state agencies will be shut down at year's end following more than three decades of important service to the public.

As of January 1st, 2009, Sweden's Railway Safety Fencing Board (Stängselnämnden) will cease to exist.

Shortly after its creation in 1976, the Fencing Board quickly demonstrated its skill at mending fences by settling a heated dispute between Svalöv municipality in southwest Sweden and the State Railway Agency (SJ).

At issue was who should pay for the building of a fence around the switching yard near Kågeröds station.

The municipality felt that SJ ought to cover half the costs, but SJ only wanted to pay 10 percent.

The Fencing Board was brought in to rule on the issue, deciding that, even with the best intentions in the world, the “switching yard” could no longer be called a station yard or switching yard.

As a result, the municipality was ordered to pay for 90 percent of the costs.

The historic case not only marked the Fencing Board's first mediation success.

It also represented the only case the Board has taken up in its entire 32 year history.

Wallowing in a state of atrophy for some time, the government hasn't even bothered to name representatives to the Fencing Board for years.

A special commission, the Termination of the Railway Safety Fencing Board, was established to investigate the agency's future.

Not surprisingly, the commission has recommended that the Fencing Board be shut down.

The current Alliance government, eager to live up to election promises of trimming Sweden's notorious state bureaucracy, is expected to accept the commission's recommendation.

Following a few more administrative and legislative procedures, the Riksdag is expected to deliver a final blow to the Fencing Board before the end of the year.

And for those concerned about the continued attention to matters of railway fencing safety in Sweden, a new solution is on the way.

The soon-to-be created Transport Inspection Agency has been tapped to take over the Fencing Board's responsibilities starting in 2009.

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