Strengthening the railway is essential for sustainable and efficient transport

Posted: 6 September 2016 | | No comments yet

Sweden is one of Europe’s longest countries: from south to north the distance is equal to that of our southern border to Rome, Italy. Sweden is also a country dependent on exports, which the Swedish government currently aims to increase. However, we must also decrease the transport sector’s climate emissions, which means great dependence on reliable, efficient and sustainable transportation. As Swedish Minister of Infrastructure one of my top priorities is to strengthen the Swedish transport system for both passengers and freight and steer it towards efficiency and sustainability. This means that improvement of railway transportation is at the top of my to-do list.

Strengthening the railway is essential for sustainable and efficient transport…

The government has decided that Sweden will be one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare countries; but we have some work to do in order to achieve this. Today the transport sector accounts for one third of total carbon dioxide emissions, which is far too much. We are convinced that a shift in the transport sector is both necessary and possible. We must break the dependence on fossil fuels with technical development and innovation, as well as making existing sustainable modes of transport, for example the railways, more attractive for travellers. Today our railway system faces a number of challenges. Railway maintenance was neglected by several earlier governments, so there is a crucial need for investment in this area. One major challenge is to provide sufficient capacity to meet the demands of high quality transportation. Passenger transportation has increased rapidly in recent years and is expected to continue growing. The Swedish government has therefore increased investments in railway maintenance by 20%.

Commuters and consumers of transport services need to be able to rely on trains running punctually. In addition to increased investments, the government has assigned The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) to review the organisation for maintenance, as well as investigate the possibility to perform both inspections and maintenance in-house to a greater degree than at present. By increasing the focus of their core business, I believe that strengthening and improving maintenance will be achieved.

Sweden is currently in the midst of intensive efforts to shape and develop its future transport system. A new national plan with the financial framework for the forthcoming period 2018-2029 is being prepared. An important part of this work is to create better conditions for efficient freight transport and more sustainable travel. It can only be achieved if we continue to focus on improving the entire transport system. Together with other stakeholders we need to plan and invest in a way that greatly benefits society.

We must build a transport system for future generations to use and develop even further.

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