SJ took the top honour thanks to initiatives such as providing voice-controlled traffic information via Google Assistant, a robot at Stockholm Central Station that answers people’s questions about traffic and the company’s accessibility to commuters on platforms like Facebook.
In a press release celebrating the honour, SJ's CEO Crister Fritzson said that the company is primarily focused on “digitizing both maintenance and our vehicle fleet in order to create more robust trains and further improve punctuality.”
It’s on the latter point that Swedish commuters would point out that SJ leaves a lot to be desired.
Last year was a particularly “rough” one for rail commuters by the rail operator's own admission.
The company’s punctuality on both long- and medium-distance routes deteriorated to 85 percent during the second quarter of 2018. That was a significant decrease from the previous year, when 89 percent of trains were on time, which is defined as arriving no more than five minutes late.
According to figures from the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), May 2018 was the worst month for punctual train departures since the agency started collecting those stats in 2013. Things took a further turn for the worse once the summer heatwave descended and caused numerous rail closures.
When SJ announced its new 2019 timetables last month, the company acknowledged that it needs to earn back trust.
“Commuters have had a rough year. Now we are establishing additional departures as well as more seats on existing departures,” SJ spokesman Tobbe Lundell said at the time.