Shortage of train drivers in Sweden could lead to major summer delays

The Local
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Shortage of train drivers in Sweden could lead to major summer delays
An SJ train departs from Stockholm Central. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Sweden's state-owned rail company SJ is facing such a severe shortage of train drivers and stewards that it may have to cancel trains this summer, according to the Arbetet newspaper.


According to the newspaper, the company is now trying to lure back train drivers and stewards from their summer holidays in order to fill gaps in the schedule, with union representatives in the company telling the newspaper that the situation is "extremely tight". 


"Anyone who is off has their mobile pinging the whole time as SJ is looking for people to man trains," one train driver who is on parental leave told Arbetet. "It's lucky you can turn off your work phone." 

He said staff were often missing with just one day to go until trains are due to depart, pushing SJ timetablers to work frantically to fill spots.  

"We are doing everything we can to avoid needing to cancel departures at short notice," Martina Nord, a press spokesperson for SJ, told the newspaper. "It's impossible to say right now whether departures will eventually need to be cancelled."

The company is paying an extra monthly salary to train drivers and stewards who are willing to move their whole summer holiday to another time of year, a provision agreed as part of its collective bargaining agreement. 

In addition, the company is bringing in a special summer bonus for anyone who agrees to work days when they should have been on holiday. 

SJ is facing a similar situation to that of Swedish airport operator Swedavia: it stopped recruiting during the pandemic when the number of people travelling fell dramatically and is now struggling to staff up as travel resumes. 


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somethingbrite 2022/07/23 14:50
"it stopped recruiting during the pandemic" This sounds like nonsense to me. #1 how long does it take to train an X2000 intercity train driver? #2 SJ would surely know how many staff they would lose through normal process like retirement and know that those staff would need replacement and in the case of drivers that will include training. In 10+ years of travelling very frequently for work on the train (especially X2000 on the line between Stockholm and Malmö) I have never seen so many trains sold out. Ever. Almost every train sold out 3 days in advance? I don't think I've ever seen that!

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