Train derailments and traffic delays has prompted calls for the state to take responsibility for maintenance. Photo:SR

Rail chaos prompts call for re-nationalisation

Sweden's opposition Green Party want the government to re-nationalise maintenance of the country's railways following recent train derailments and traffic disruption. The Green's representative on the parliamentary transport committee, Stina Bergström, pointed to the UK as an example where deregulation of railtrack maintenance led to serious accidents, but the government's Infrastructure Minister, Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, responded by telling Swedish Radio News that the idea would be hugely expensive.

Stina Bergström told Swedish Radio News: "We can see that it has gone this way in other countries, for example in England, where they have made the journey we have done in Sweden, when you have outsourced maintenance to various contractors. It did not work, there were many serious accidents. Then they took it back into the public sector."

The deregulation of Sweden's railways began 25 years ago when the state went from managing the railway, trains and maintenance to contarcting out services. The market grew rapidly with almost double the amount of trains on the networks than in the 1980s.

Infrastructure Minister Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd told Swedish Radio News that the Green proposal would be too expensive because it would mean that many existing contracts would have to be severed:

"I would rather warn against proposals to re-nationalise maintenance. It would involve substantially higher costs, but would not give one more krona to maintenance. I think this is absolutely the wrong way to go," the minister said.

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