Vintage railways face closure over new law

Vintage railways face closure over new law
Vintage railways across Sweden face closure as a result of a new legislative proposal requiring them to stand for the full cost of their supervision and inspection, according to volunteer groups.

“We would never be able to manage it,” Lars Johansson at the Anten-Gräfsnäs Järnväg association (AGJ) to the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) daily.

Johansson argues that if the proposal from the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) becomes law “100,000s of hours of voluntary work would have wasted”.

The government has instructed the agency that from the beginning of 2011 its operations should be primarily financed by charges levied on rail transport firms and railway operators, a move which Johansson claims would cost his association up to 200,000 kronor ($28,166) per year.

“We sell train tickets for 800,000 per year, the new charges would take almost a quarter of our income,” he told GP.

Other railway enthusiast groups have complained that the new proposal would mean that that the state gives with one hand, in the form of exemptions from track charges, and takes from the other with the new charges.

The legislative proposal will be sent on a review round in the autumn and that the purpose is that the agency costs are reflected in its charges.

Ulrik Bergman at the agency tells the newspaper that the vintage railway operators are welcome to air their views and engage in a dialogue prior to the charges being decided upon in the autumn.

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