Railway operator SJ to double train capacity over five years

After an increasing number of people in Sweden travelled by train in 2019's third quarter, railway operator SJ is now investing to double its capacity.

Railway operator SJ to double train capacity over five years
Railway operator SJ will invest in 30 long-distance trains and 50 regional trains. Photo: Jon Olav Nesvold / NTB scanpix / TT

In the third quarter, SJ's profit before tax was 198 million kronor, up from only 93 million kronor in the same period last year. 

The company said the main reason for the rise in profit and sales was that more people were choosing train travel over other methods of transport, and that investments had been made to make train travel more competitive. 

“We have seen this trend for many years. During the third quarter we have increased our offer and seen a significant increase in journeys,” said CEO Crister Fritzson.

Between January and September, journeys with SJ trains increased by 11 percent. This news comes a day after figures from airport operator Swedavia revealed an eight percent decrease in domestic flights. The focus on the climate crisis is a likely contributing factor, Fritzson said.

Punctuality for long-distance trains, measured by the proportion of trains which were five minutes delayed or less, also improved in the third quarter to 82 percent, up from 75 percent. For medium distance trains, punctuality was 93 percent, an improvement on the previous figure of 88 percent.

And now, a total of 12 billion kronor will be invested in new regional and long-distance trains as well as upgrading existing X 2000-trains to increase their capacity by 15 percent. These upgraded trains will be brought out next year, while SJ will also invest in 30 new long-distance trains able to travel at 250 kmph and around 50 new regional trains.

All in all, this will amount to a 50 percent increase in capacity over the next five years.


profit – (en) vinst

investment – (en) investering

competitive (in a financial sense) – konkurrenskraftig

punctuality – (en) punktlighet

improvement – (en) förbättring

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Train staff threaten wildcat strike in Skåne on Monday

Trains could be disrupted across Skåne in southern Sweden on Monday after the SEKO transport union threatened a wildcat strike over an attempt to remove a troublesome union official.

Train staff threaten wildcat strike in Skåne on Monday
Arriva, which operates the Pågatåg train network, faces a strike. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
The union has set up a strike committee after Arriva, the Deutsche Bahn subsidiary which runs the Pågatågen regional trains, offered Ola Brunnström, the union's health and safety official, two years of salary if he took voluntary redundancy.  
“For us, what was the straw on the camel's back was the attack on the right to self-organisation, that what they are doing is actually breaking the law,” a member of the new committee told the Sydsvenskan newspaper. 
“Ola Brunnström is a chief health and safety official and he should be protected under the Trade Union Representatives Act.” 
Brunnström has denied the offer, but Arriva wants to push ahead nonetheless and is set to meet him, together with Seko representatives on Monday. 
According to Seko, the meeting between Brunnström and Arriva will centre on an  email he wrote to other Seko-affiliated staff on October 9th, when he wrote: “We are not afraid of the bosses, they should be afraid of us.” 
Jonas Pettersson, Seko's head of planning and communication, told Sydsvenskan that Arriva had been trying to silence a high profile union official with a long hisotry of pushing for better safety for the company's employees. 
Arriva would only tell Sydsvenskan that they had had a discussion with one of their employees. 
Brunnström has in recent months been a vocal participant in a struggle with the company over equipment to protect staff from being infected with coronavirus, over loo breaks, and also over Arriva's moves to unilaterally reduce employees hours and salary. 
Pettersson said Seko would do everything in its power to prevent Brunnström losing his job, but said the union could not support a wildcat strike and encouraged its members not to take part in it.