State negotiators start talks for major rail projects

2:13 min

Today the government rail-project negotiator, Sverigeförhandlingen (the National Negotiation on Housing and Infrastructure), announced major transit projects in Sweden's three largest cities that the government will consider helping finance.

Municipalities in the Stockholm, Gothenburg, and greater-Malmö regions may vie for state funding in exchange for promises to build new homes. The government negotiators say they are prioritizing mass transit projects based on cost and the potential for new-home construction.

Sverigeförhandlingen recently announced what cities it will recommend for station stops along two high-speed rail routes connecting Stockholm to Malmö and Stockholm to Gothenburg. Improving mass transit in the regions around Sweden's three largest cities constitutes the negotiators' second task. Monday they announced 11 projects for consideration, subject to change, which range from extensions of existing subway lines in Stockholm to construction of tramway systems in Skåne to the improvement of bicycle networks.

"This is the biggest thing we have done in 150 years," said one of two government negotiators representing the Sverigeförhandlingen, H.G. Wessberg, speaking with news agency TT.

Wessberg told Radio Sweden that evaluating the potential for home construction was as simple as gathering promises from municipalities. The negotiators mean to solicit binding promises from municipalities to build a specified amount of apartments or houses in exchange for partial funding from the state for their transportation projects. Sverigeförhandlingen hopes the process will result in the construction of at least 100,000 new homes.

"They're needed already today," said Wessberg at the press conference.

Preliminary cost projections from Sverigeförhandlingen put the projects in the Stockholm region at SEK 25 billion, projects in Gothenburg at SEK 6 billion, and projects in Malmö, Lund, and Helsingborg at around SEK 6 billion.

Unlike the high-speed train, this process will assume some financing from municipal and regional governments. But Wessberg said that did not mean wealthier areas would have a better chance to improve their public transportation systems.

Proposed projects in the Stockholm region include an expansion of the subway red line from Ropsten onto the western residential island of Lindingö, an extension of a subway line from Fridhemsplan to Älvsjö, and from Mörby Centrum to Täby centrum or else extending the Roslagsbanan to T-centralen, the central subway hub.

For the Stockholm region, the negotiations also include a consideration of how to finance a so-called "eastern connection" (östlig förbindelse), which refers to a motor vehicle road through a tunnel under the Saltsjön bay, what would likely be a very costly construction project but which would finally connect a four-part ring road around Stockholm. Critics have said that the money would be better spent on more environmentally friendly transport investments. But Wessberg said that an "eastern connection" could increase mobility in Stockholm. And he said the government negotiators were considering environmental impact in their criteria for transportation projects. One proposal for an "eastern connection" also includes a light-rail line which would extend from Sickla northwards.

Any recommendations by Sverigeförhandlingen need to be approved by the government and voted in by parliament. Sverigeförhandlingen's report to the government is due in December of 2017.

A list of Sverigeförhandlingen's transit improvement projects from their website (PDF maps of the proposed rail projects are provided in Swedish): 

  • Malmö tramway, Lindängen - Västra Hamnen
  • Lund tramway, Lund Centrum - Brunnshög/ESS
  • Helsingborg tramway, Helsingborgs Centralstation - Väla
  • Gothenburg tramway, parts of Norra Älvstranden Central
  • Gothenburg tramway for the so-called Operalänken
  • Gothenburg tramway for the so-called Allélänken
  • Mölndal tramway, Mölndal - Åby/Åbro
  • Stockholm subway, Ropsten - Lidingö C
  • Stockholm subway, Fridhemsplan - Älvsjö
  • Stockholm subway, either Mörby C - Täby C or the Roslagsbanan - T-centralen
  • Stockholm so-called "Tramway South," Älvsjö - Flemingsberg
  • Stockholm "eastern connection," a government road project with municipalities as co-underwriters and which may include an extension of the light rail from Sickla to Värthamnen