Figures reported in newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SVD) say that between 2008-15 only 66 percent of trains on the busy Stockholm-Gothenburg and Stockholm-Malmö routes arrived within five minutes of their intended times. Best performer Japan saw 99 percent punctuality on its high-speed routes.
Japan may be world famous for its efficient railway system, but even Spain and France hammered the Swedes, with 98 percent of high-speed trains arriving on time in the Iberian nation, and 92 percent in the latter.
The Eurostar route between France and the United Kingdom meanwhile managed 91 percent punctuality.
“We have the worst punctuality in Europe, but you can’t blame (state-owned rail operator) SJ for it,” Peter Unekling of the Swedish Transport Administration told SVD.
“Problems in the installations – tracks, pipes, etc – account for 60 percent of the delays, and that is because we have lacked maintenance for decades,” he added.
Many of Sweden's rail tracks are old, with some in use for as long as 150 years.
Another contributing factor is said to be that Sweden’s high-speed trains run on the same tracks as local and freight trains, which means that small delays can quickly become bigger if a high-speed train is stuck behind a slow one.
In a further dent to Sweden's reputation for efficiency, figures released earlier this year showed that one in three of the country's trains were delayed in 2015.