Minister for Infrastructure delayed by slow trains
Commuters have been facing serious problems with the trains recently. First a track south of Stockholm broke and a train went off the rails, then a power line north of Stockholm was ripped down causing more delays!
This week Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter convinced the minister in charge of trains to herself become a commuter. But her train travel got off to a bad start...
Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd is responsible for Sweden's infrastructure, which includes the rail network.
"There was a train in front of us that was broken and we had to wait," Elmsäter-Svärd tells Swedish Radio. The closer you get to Stockholm, the more crowded it gets, she notes.
Elmsäter-Svärd is a member of the Moderate Party, the biggest force in the government's centre-right Alliance. She told Dagens Nyheter that she's been a commuter since 1984, but nowadays she gets around mostly by car, with a police escort from the security service.
Elmsäter-Svärd says to the newspaper it is hard to know what has caused any one train delay, since there are so many things that can go wrong. She says the government aims to raise the performance of the railways through a major maintenance drive. The Alliance government has been in power since 2006, but Elmsäter-Svärd says the Swedish train system is suffering from a long period of neglect.
"My responsibility is to try to do something about this," she told Dagens Nyheter, adding that she cannot take responsibility for the decades when the Social Democrat Party mostly led the government.
Meanwhile, in the here and now, many commuters are getting stuck on trains that are standing still. When the minister arrived on the platform at Stockholm's Central Station, she was 17 minutes late.
"This is too much. When you consider how long the stretch of track is," she said. The journey from Södertälje Central station to Stockholm should take about three quarters of an hour.
Elmsäter Svärd also said that it would have been faster to get to work by car. But for commuters bored of endless delays, the minister has no words of comfort. It will take between 7 and 10 years to get the system working properly, she said.