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Sweden to end passenger rail monopoly in 2010

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Sweden to end passenger rail monopoly in 2010
12:44 CET+01:00
The Swedish government said on Thursday it plans to end state rail company SJ's monopoly on passenger traffic by October 2010 in a bid to increase competition on the country's railways.

"In the proposition 'Competition on the rails', I recommend gradually opening the passenger rail traffic market," Communications Minister Åsa Torstensson wrote in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

"SJ's monopoly to conduct commercial passenger traffic will end," she said of the bill that still needs to pass in parliament.

As early as July this year the rail sector would be open to competition on weekends, while the monopoly on international passenger traffic would end on October 1st this year and the national network would be opened a year later.

Sweden's freight train traffic was deregulated at the beginning of the decade.

"We will be able to choose between a greater range of offerings and a greater variety of prices, departures, services and comfort levels," Torstensson wrote, comparing the move to when Sweden deregulated air traffic in the early 1990s.

"It has simply become a lot easier and cheaper to fly. I want to ... see a similar development on the railway," she said.

The proposal is in line with a European Union-wide plan to open international passenger rail services across the bloc to competition in 2010.

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