SJ to pull the plug on night trains to Jämtland

State train operator SJ is to stop running most of its long distance overnight train services to Jämtland. The decision is a blow to the region's all-important tourist industry, according to local politicians.

News agency TT reports that from April 2016, SJ will close down large parts of its night train services to the region of Jämtland, in northern Sweden. Only the most profitable routes, for example to the popular ski resort Åre, at peak holiday periods such as Christmas and New Year, will remain next year.
"Passenger numbers are not enough for us to be able to run profitably during other periods," says Björn Nilsson, head of SJ's night trains traffic to newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
Robert Uitto, social democratic regional councillor for Jämtland-Härjedalen, believes that SJ has not done enough for the night trains to run at a profit.

"There are examples in Sweden where joint efforts have been made, both by regions and industry, together with SJ. There in Skåne (in the south) we have a successful example, where one did not give up but realized that it is possible to reverse a trend," he tells Swedish Radio's P1 morning programme.

Tourism in Jämtland is worth over SEK 4 billion a year and is important for the region's economy.

"I understand that SJ has to make a profit, but there must also be a social interest in developing the destination and the county," says Åre's Social Democrat mayor Peter Bergman, to DN.

He thinks that SJ's announcement is particularly unfortunate as tourism businesses in Åre have in recent years worked hard to increase employment outside of the high tourist season - precisely those periods when the overnight trains are now disappearing. He also believes that the train traffic has been limping along with a faulty booking system and trains switched to day time.

However, the region is not giving up just yet. Jämtland - Härjedalen county council is to meet SJ on September 23 to try to rescue the overnight services. Representatives of the region must also meet the Swedish Transport Administration, which may decide to provide local services subsidies, something which the  overnight services to Jämtland have so far not had.