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

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.

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

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. 

Member comments

  1. “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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Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

Despite a number of economic challenges, airline SAS has announced an agreement with a Swedish company that will enable it to purchase electric aircraft and add them to its fleet. 

Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

SAS has signed an agreement with Swedish company Heart Aerospace that could see it operating electric planes from 2028, the airline said in a press statement.

The model of plane that SAS would purchase from Heart Aerospace seats 30 passengers and has a range of 200 kilometers, SAS wrote.

“Along with the entire industry, we are responsible for making air travel more sustainable,” CEO of SAS Anko van der Werff said in the statement.

“SAS is dedicated to transforming air travel so future generations can continue to connect the world and enjoy the benefits of travel – but with a more sustainable footprint,” he said.

The aircraft will be installed with a hybrid system enabling them to double their range, SAS wrote.

“This has the potential to be a significant step on SAS’ sustainability journey, enabling zero-emission flights on routes within Scandinavia,” the press release stated. 

SAS has previously been involved in the development of another electric aircraft, the ES-30, which it partnered with Heart Aerospace on in 2019.

“The electric airplane will be a good supplement to our existing fleet, serving shorter routes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in a more sustainable way,” van der Werff said.

READ MORE: SAS cancels 1,700 flights in September and October