Winter train delays cost Sweden ‘billions’: report

Winter train delays cost Sweden 'billions': report
Last winter's cancelled and delayed trains cost Swedish society about 2.4 billion kronor ($372 million) in lost working hours, according to a new report.

According to the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), the heavy snowfall and record cold that swept across Sweden during the winter of 2010-2011 resulted in approximately four million hours in delays, the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported.

The transport administration’s costs for snow removal and similar wintry efforts were budgeted 210 million kronor, but landed on a hefty 310 million kronor.

Economic consequences for companies and others struck by train delays are not included in the figures.

In addition, there were a total of 22 million tonne-hours worth of delays in cargo traffic during the winter, which is an increase by 10 percent compared with the previous year.

The transport agency estimated the cost of cancelled freight trains at 200 million kronor in a report to the Riksdag.

“The direct costs of the transport systems are the only thing included. Companies obviously have other costs as well, but unfortunately those aren’t included in the socioeconomic calculations, according to currently used models,” commented the Swedish Transport Administration’s director Gunnar Malm to news agency TT.

“This is a flaw that we’re looking into right now, so we can assess total costs better.”

According to Malm, the administration budgeted for roughly the same total costs for the upcoming winter as for the two previous ones.

He envisions facing similar traffic problems next winter, if problems with snow and cold return.

Passengers’ have pulled no punches in their criticism of Swedish rail service for its lack of up-to-date information about delays and cancellations.

“That has to improve. We have a number of groups working intensely with operators and buildings. It’s an extensive project, that I hope will pay off this very year,” said Malm.

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