Chinese firm in bid to build Swedish railway

A Chinese company has made an offer to build a planned Swedish high-speed railway in record time and at a much lower price than previously estimated, Swedish media has reported.

Chinese firm in bid to build Swedish railway
China Railway Construction's chief engineer Xu Keliang. Photo: News Øresund

Chinese rail company China Railway Construction made the secret offer to build a planned railway between Sweden’s largest cities to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Transport, SVT reported.

The company has offered to build the railway for 145 billion kronor ($17.11 billion), a significantly lower cost than the 170 billion kronor estimated by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket).

The firm also says that the railway, which would connect Stockholm with Gothenburg and Malmö, would take just five years to build.

“They claim that they can build the entire Swedish high-speed network in just five years and it's very interesting for us,” the MP Karin Svensson-Smith Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport told SVT.

“We get to review their claims, but we see that they themselves build their own railways in their own country and in other countries with high-speed.”

The drop in price is down to the fact that the railway would be built on concrete pillars five metres above the ground, a method common in large parts of Asia, especially in China and Japan.

According to railway expert Per Corshammar, there is less financial risk for the state when building railways on bridges whereas railways built on the ground can create long unstable land sections.

Railway construction on bridges also involves less material consumption, virtually no land purchases and less expensive construction techniques.

Next week the Parliamentary Traffic Committee is set to go to China and Japan to study the countries' railways.

“Half the Committee will travel to Japan and half to China to study the high-speed and efficient movement of trains, and there will be a lot of studies on building on bridges, especially in China,” Karin Svensson-Smith said.

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Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.