Wanted: more cross-border collaboration

The Nordic infrastructure of the future was the theme of Tuesday’s key seminar. Representatives from Sweden, Norway and Denmark talked about the challenges their countries are facing to secure a functioning transport system for people and freight – both within and beyond national borders.

In Sweden, infrastructure-related measures have been proposed in a national plan for 2014-2025 which encompasses SEK 522 billion.
“The focus of the plan is partly on creating better freight stretches, but also on improving opportunities for work commuting,” explained Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, Sweden’s Minister for Infrastructure.
“It’s important to think more cross-border: across municipalities, regions, and between modes of transport – but also across national borders.”

The consideration time for the national plan expired a week ago and 400 responses were received, which the ministry will now process.
“One thing that is clear is that there’s not enough money to meet everyone’s wishes,” said Elmsäter-Svärd.

Swedish industry would certainly like to see more cross-border work – in reality.
“Our minister has said some fine words, but now we want to see some action. The interests of Swedish industry don’t stop at the national border. Denmark’s cause is our cause too: if a train derails in Denmark, it can have massive consequences for us and all of Sweden’s GDP,” says Per Bondemark, Vice President of SSAB.

Norway is also working on a national plan for the period 2014-2023. It encompasses NOK 508 billion, 168 billion of which is earmarked for the railways. Various projects will be launched, including a new ‘City Line’. But Erling Sæther, a representative for Norwegian trade and industry, is not satisfied with the latest proposals. 
“At present, only road traffic works across national borders, not railways and not water-borne traffic. We’re looking for a series of measures to improve things for industry, including a more customer-oriented approach from the Norwegian National Rail Administration.”

Denmark is focusing on faster rail connections between cities, although it is also equipping itself for corridors up towards Sweden.
“We believe in collaborating with our neighbours. When it comes to ERTMS we’re all for it – we’re going to make sure we can get it to work,” says Jesper Hansen, CEO of Rail Net Denmark.

Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, Sweden’s Minister for Infrastructure, at yesterday’s key seminar.
Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, Sweden’s Minister for Infrastructure, at yesterday’s key seminar.