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TRANSPORT

Train punctuality a matter of definition

The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) has claimed improved punctuality rates for Swedish trains - but it has also tripled the time for what counts as a delay, from five to 15 minutes.

Train punctuality a matter of definition

In 2012, 97 out of 100 regional and commuter train departures were on schedule, compared to 87 out of 100 in 2011, according to the Swedish Transport Administration.

But the main reason behind the improvement seems to be that the Transport Administration changed the definition of delayed journeys.

Previously, trains that arrived five or more minutes late were recorded as delayed. Now, a train can be up to 15 minutes late without being counted as late.

While the Transport Administration previously claimed that the time limit was stretched in order to bring the Swedish definition in line with European measurements, it now admits that it was the result of a deal it struck with the train industry.

The Sveriges Radio (SR) programme Kaliber found that 15 minutes is, in fact, not a standard measure for counting train delays in Europe. Reporters confronted the Transport Administration’s acting CEO Caroline Ottosson with their findings.

“About a year ago we and the train industry decided to report the number of trains delayed by 15 minutes,” admitted Ottosson.

“Sweden is a big country,” she explained. “Many trains travel long distances and so we have chosen 15 minutes.”

In January, the Transport Administration reported that “punctuality in train traffic improved somewhat last year. New figures show that 96.9 percent of departures were on schedule, an increase by a few tenths compared to 2011.”

And Sweden’s Minister of Infrastructure Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd told Kaliber that “Statistically speaking we now have a punctuality rate that puts us at the top in Europe.”

But while transport officials claim great success rates, Swedish travellers are not too impressed with train services.

In December 2012, a Swedish Quality Index (Svenskt Kvalitetsindex) survey showed that, out of all Swedish brands, rail operator SJ had the most dissatisfied customers.

Asked if the Transport Administration has tried to find out how travellers themselves would define delays, Ottosson said “that is a question we will address within the framework of our systematic efforts to improve punctuality”.

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OPINION & ANALYSIS

OPINION: ID-checks between Sweden and Denmark should not be brought back

Sweden's government on Tuesday announced plans to bring back ID checks on Sweden's borders. Niels Paarup-Petersen, a Malmö MP, has launched a campaign to stop them.

OPINION: ID-checks between Sweden and Denmark should not be brought back

Bringing in ID-checks is illegal, ineffective, and devastating for the labour market in the Öresund region. That the government, despite all this, is pushing ahead with them anyway is almost impossible to understand. 

Once again, the government’s first response to a crisis is to bring back the ID-checks that tear our region in two.

Once again, they’re doing this without giving either the regional government or those operating the transport services a chance to give their input.

Once again, the idea is that Skåne and the Öresund Region should pay the price for solving Sweden’s challenges.

Once again, commuters will have to wait for half an hour at Kastrup. Once again the transport system in Skåne will be wrecked. 

READ ALSO: Sweden to bring back border controls to control Ukraine arrivals

It’s bloody awful, to be frank.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it is illegal to put the responsibility on transport operators across a Schengen border. The Office of the Chancellor of Justice has come to the same conclusions.

Ukrainians have the right to enter the country, which means that they will not be stopped by the ID controls. If you want to have a better understanding of who is crossing the border, there are still ‘temporary’ border controls in place after six years.

Making the transport operator responsible for ID controls work when applied to ferries and flights, where there is only one place where you can get on or off. When you have continuous traffic, such as with trains or cars, it has a devastating effect on the traffic and on all of the people using them.  

ID checks are completely illegal, unnecessary, and irrational.

Region Skåne, the municipalities in Skåne, and all of my colleagues from Skåne in the national parliament must now all put their feet down. 

ID checks on the Öresund Bridge should not be brought back! 

Niels Paarup-Petersen is an MP representing Malmö for the Centre Party. He was born and grew up in Denmark and has worked for the Öresund Bridge Consortium.

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