The Bothnian Corridor

Background

The Bothnian Corridor is a strategically important link within the transnational transport system of goods in Northern Europe.

It stretches out on both the Swedish and the Finnish side of the Bothnian Gulf. It connects east-westbound and north-southbound transnational links in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia.

Background of the Bothnian Corridor

Since more than 20 years, politicians, regional stakeholders, industry and national authorities have collaborated for improving the transport infrastructure along the so called Bothnian Corridor for enabling the ongoing industrial growth in northern Scandinavia. The Bothnian Corridor has been acknowledged in both Sweden and Finland as the core north-south railway infrastructure at both sides of the Bothnian Gulf. In recent years the emphasis of the collaboration has been more and more on the development of the most environmentally friendly modes of transports such as railway and ports, but also on increasing the availability of alternative fuels for road transports.

For many years the focus of the Bothnian Corridor has been the development of the railway infrastructure, even though the corridor involves all modes of transport. The heavy industries in northern Sweden depend on functional transport systems in the corridor, with all modes of transport: railways, roads, sea transports and air. 

Table 1: Socioeconomic indicators of the Scan-Med CNC and the Bothnian extension of the Corridor

2013 Inhabitants Employment GDP (million €) GRP/Cap
EU 28 506,682,935 215,443,000 13,518,112
Scan-Med Corridor regions (NUTS 3) 76,687,130 36,173,000 2,697,799 35,179 €
15.1% 16.8% 20.0%
Bothnian Extension
(NUTS 3, 6 regions)
% of EU 28
1,652,378 779,500 67,627 40,927 €
0.33% 0.36% 0.50%

The table is an extended version of the one used in the Scand-Med 3rd Corridor plan draft version Dec. 2017.
Figures for Bothnian Extension comprises the NUTS 3 regions of Uppsala, Dalarna, Gävleborg, Västernorrland, Västerbotten and Norrbotten. Sources: Inhabitants from SCB 01/11/2013 , Employment from SCB Q4/2013, GDP from Eurostat 2013.

Proposal for the extension of the TEN-T core network corridors to the north

As shown by the works of the Bothnian Corridor the development is ongoing since many years especially for the need of the large export industries in northern Sweden that generates regional growth and considerable European values. Two of the largest saw-mills in Sweden, are located in Sundsvall and Bollstabruk, directly at the Bothnian Corridor. The SCA paper pulp mill in Östrand, north of Sundsvall is currently making the largest industrial investment in Sweden ever (8 billion SEK) that will double its production from 400,000 to 950,000 tonnes yearly. The largest steel factory in Sweden is located in Luleå, from which steel to the amount of one Eiffel tower is transported each day in the Bothnian corridor, to the sheet mill in Borlänge. To and from Skellefteå, where one of the largest copper mills in Europe is located, more than 700,000 tonnes are transported each year, in the Bothnian Corridor. In Kiruna and Gällivare 90 % of all iron ore in Europe is produced that are shipped from Narvik and Luleå.

In addition, the railways in the Bothnian Corridor extend the quality of life for the people living in the northern Sweden by increasing the possibilities of environmentally friendly commuting by trains, widening the market for jobs and business.

The Bothnian Corridor is a logical extension of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Core Network Corridor.

Economy

The strong growth in the economy of northern Europe has a significant impact on the economy in the European Union

ECONOMY21

A considerable part of EU ́s supply of primary goods originates from the industry in northern Europe. The growth is strong and the net export values are very important for the Swedish as well as the European economy. EU’s supply of strategic resources and goods is a vital issue and is therefore given much attention. The industry in northern Sweden and Finland are very important in many industrial areas, especially the dominating forest-based and mining/metal industries.

Sweden’s industrial production value in the northern parts has, between 2001-2006 increased by 17,3 percent, compared to a national increase by 10,9 percent. The industry accounts for 18 billion Euros worth of value. After industrial refinement, a large portion of this is exported.

The industrial production value in the north of Finland increased during the same period with 28 percent, compared to a national increase of 20 percent. The Finnish production value of 2007 was 33 billion Euros.

The North Bothnia Line

norrbotniabanan.se

The North Bothnia Line is a new railway between Umeå and Luleå. The 270-km stretch begins where the Bothnia Line ends, and completes the coastal railway along the coast of northern Sweden. The North Bothnia Line will be part of the Barents Link, connecting Europe by joining the Swedish and Finnish rail systems.

More than half of North Bothnia Line benefits from efficient freight transport for existing businesses. Northern Sweden has many heavy industries that account for a large share of the country’s net export value, both directly and indirectly through processing in the central and southern parts of Sweden.
Through the North Bothnia Line, the export-intensive industries skirting the Gulf of Bothnia will have considerably improved transport facilities at their disposal.

The North Bothnia Line shortens distances, and increases capacity and speed, reducing transport costs. By shrinking the region through improved infrastructure, a larger market for labour and education is achieved. The system of rapid rail links will allow commuting between the coastal towns – while facilitating communications between the inland and coast.

For passenger transport, the North Bothnia Line lead halved journey times between the coastal towns. This gives better recruitment opportunities for businesses and increased choice for people.

Feasibility study
The North Bothnia Line project has opened with a feasibility study that aims to answer a number of questions. These include:
What needs does The North Bothnia Line fulfil and what is the increase in value to the region?
Will the railway be profitable for the national economy? What is the role of The North Bothnia Line from a national and international perspective?
What possible financing options are there? How do we proceed towards implementation?

Se further possibilities with a railway between Umeå and Luleå and learn more at:

norrbotniabanan.se

New East Coast Line

nyaostkustbanan.se

AN ECONOMIC PACEMAKER FOR NORRLAND, SWEDEN AND EUROPE
The line between Gävle and Sundsvall is the longest and most congested single-track section of the Swedish rail network.

The line from Gävle to Härnösand should be an artery for economic growth, connecting Norrland to the rest of Sweden and the world. But capacity problems are choking off the flow of people, ideas and trade. The existing single-track line needs to be doubled all the way from Gävle to Härnösand, to increase freight capacity and reduce passenger journey times.

A combined effort
The New East Coast Line (nya Ostkustbanan) project brings together public and private-sector stakeholders from the counties of Västernorrland and Gävleborg in a combined effort to make the new double-track line a reality.

The project is pursuing a program of activities designed to show Norrland, Sweden and Europe the benefits of an improved East Coast Line for commuters, the knowledge economy, regional economic development and national economic growth. The goal is to accelerate government approval for double-tracking between Gävle and Härnösand (43,46 miles), and for the New East Coast Line to open in 2027.

Accelerated approval
The European Commission include the line in the European Core Network and is willing to provide 20% of the necessary capital funding for the upgrade. It’s now up to the Swedish government to act, get its priorities right, and give the go-ahead for the New East Coast Line. If you agree that the New East Coast Line is a vital project, like us on Facebook and help speed up the decision-making process.

DOUBLE-TRACKING BETWEEN GÄVLE AND HÄRNÖSAND
Every day, the Gävle-Härnösand section carries people to and from their places of work and study. With them they bring ideas and knowledge that boost the entire region. Every day, too, freight trains travel the route, carrying much sought-after Swedish raw materials and products, worth tens of billions of euros annually, to destinations across Europe.

The capacity problems on the route between Gävle and Härnösand are now so acute that they have become a significant barrier to economic growth throughout Norrland. In turn, this has implications for the entire Swedish economy.

Passing loops are not enough
About 70 trains a day run on this part of the route, and traffic is expected to increase by 50% now that the Bothnia Line to the north is open.

Under current plans, for which funding is already in place, 10 passing loops are to be constructed between Gävle and Sundsvall. These new passing loops will enable the line to carry about 10 more trains a day, but will not improve journey times, which if anything will increase. Travel times have increased constantly since 1996, when the trip from Sundsvall to Stockholm took three hours. Today’s timetable shows the same trip taking nearly four hours. The risk now is that journey times will increase further.

A capacity increase of just 10 trains a day also falls far short of what is needed, given the large volumes of freight currently carried by other modes of transport on parallel routes.

More trains, shorter journeys
A double-track line all the way from Gävle to Härnösand is the only solution that meets market demand for rail transport. Double-tracking will cut travel times in half and enable the route to carry four times as much traffic as a single track.

The New East Coast Line would allow an increase from 70 to well over 200 trains a day. The double-track route would take over 1,500 trucks a day off the parallel E4 highway, making these freight movements much greener. For passengers, journey time between Sundsvall and Stockholm would be just two hours instead of the present four.

NATIONAL FREIGHT STRATEGY
What will it take to achieve a 50% increase in rail freight capacity by 2025? To meet the transport needs of industry and commerce, improvements and capital projects with a total cost of approximately SEK 110 billion are needed across the Swedish rail network. The sooner the investment happens, the greater the benefits for business, society and the environment.
Stakeholders from Sweden’s five northernmost counties have drawn up a strategy for freight traffic throughout Sweden with three main objectives:
1. Expand capacity by 50%
The capacity of Sweden’s principal freight network needs to be increased by 50% between now and 2025 to meet industry’s demand for efficient, high-quality transport. Investment in the national rail freight network is also necessary to create the conditions for a greener freight transport system.
2. Halved construction time
If capital expenditure continues at its current rate, the necessary upgrades won’t be complete until 2040, which is unacceptable. With an aggressive program of investment in the freight network, essential upgrade works can be completed by 2025.
3. Standardize the transport system
The current rail network has numerous sections with restrictions on capacity, wagonload, load per metre, speed, etc. Technical bottlenecks and capacity restrictions need to be eliminated.

Get involved in the process of growing possibilities at:

nyaostkustbanan.se

The collaboration

The Botnian corridor is an collaboration between all regions in the north of Sweden and the region of Örebro län. The corridors strength comes from its support from local and regional stakeholders and its function as a cross border connection linking south to north, west to east.

The work is funded by the county administrative board of Norrbotten, the county administrative board of Västernorrland, Region of Västerbotten, Region of Gävleborg, Region of Jämtland Härjedalen and Region of Örebro. With further support from Intresseföreningen Norrtåg (project coordinator), Norrbotten County Council, Vasternorrland County Council, the municipalities of Lulea, Umea, Skelleftea, Pitea, Soderhamn, Hudiksvall, Sundsvall, Ornskoldsvik and Gavle, and the county administrative board of Vasterbotten.

The collaborations shared objective is all the way 2030 – in accordance to the TEN-T regulation – and better communications and transport solutions trough broader dialogue and participation from all parts of society when developing the corridor and the use of the corridor.

For further information, please use the contact information listed here.

Development of the Bothnian Corridor

Summary of ongoing development

As shown in the previous status overview there are continuous and ongoing work with improvements of the infrastructure in northern Sweden. The Swedish Transport Administration continues to improve the roads and all the highways will have separated lanes in so called 2+1 roads. The ports are with few exceptions owned by the municipalities and there are ongoing large investments in the ports of Luleå, Umeå, Sundsvall and Gävle. What regards the implementation of alternative fuels in the corridor there is a state of shared responsibilities between market actors and local and regional authorities, and the government has merely the important role of setting the right incentives through tax regulations. The most important development of the corridor is the railway infrastructure, which is long term and expensive, but extremely important for the industry, for regional growth and for the environment.

Priority projects

The most important railway projects are already included in the CEF regulation Annex I.3 Other sections on the Core Network. They are included in the named stretches Luleå-Kiruna-NO border, Luleå- Oulu (Finland), Sundsvall-Luleå and Stockholm-Gävle-Sundsvall.

Malmbanan

As mentioned Malmbanan is the railway in Sweden with the heaviest transports due to the transports of iron or from Kiruna and Gällivare to the ports of Narvik and Luleå. In addition, there are regular Norwegian cargo trains. About one third of the meeting stations does not fulfil the TEN-T standard of 740 metres. A number of these will be rebuilt and extended for allowing longer trains and more efficient traffic in the planning period 2018-2029. The cost of extending all of the meeting stations is estimated to 100 M €. In addition, investments will be made in increasing the bearing strength of the railway, and in partial double track at selected sections. Today, half of the line allows for 32.5 tonnes axel load meaning that these trains are the among the heaviest in Europe. In the long run double track is needed for the whole stretch of the line. ERTMS will be implemented at Malmbanan starting in 2018 to an estimated cost of270 M€, An agreement has been made with Norway on implementation of ERTMS at the section between Riksgränsen and the port of Narvik, which should be finalized in 2023. The planning of the investments in Malmbanan is co-funded by the CEF programme (Action 2014‐SE‐TM‐0059‐S).

Haparanda Line and cross-border section Haparanda/Torneå

The Haparanda Line was reopened in 2013 and half of the line is new with very high standard. Works have started with new stations for starting commuter trains in 2019. The utilisation of the line for freight transports is currently very low due to constraints in the cross-border terminal in Haparanda, few ERTMS adapted cargo engines, and the fact that a railway section of 20 km at the Finnish side is not electrified. Investments is needed both at the Finnish and Swedish side of the border and in more efficient reloading facilities in the terminal, and modern equipment for changing axle width or change of train bogies. Several studies have been made for the investments, which is planned to be made with the support of the CEF programme. As this is the only railway connection between Finland and Sweden and the rest of EU, it is of special importance. It has also potential to be an essential link for railway transports from northern Norway and Sweden towards Russia and China.

North Bothnia Line

Start of construction of the first part of the North Bothnia Line, north of Umeå, is planned to late 2018. The railway planning between Umeå and Skellefteå is ongoing with support from the CEF programme (Action 2014‐SE‐TM‐0497‐S). The building of this 120 km section is planned to be completed before 2029, and the remaining section between Skellefteå and Luleå after 2029. The actual need of the whole 270 km North Bothnia Line is in practice more urgent for the industry since heavy cargo transports now is dependent on an old worn down inland railway. The cost of the complete North Bothnia Line is estimated to 3 Billion €.

Read more on the project website: Norrbotniabanan.se

The New East Coast Line

It is well acknowledged that the East Coast Line is the railway in Sweden with most congestion due to frequent traffic with a mix of freight trains, commuter trains and long-distance passenger trains. The short-term solution is to build more and extended meeting stations on the current single track. The cost of the new East Coast Line is estimated to be in the interval of 2.5-4 Billion €, depending on the design and localisation of the new double track. As a short- term solution for some of the congestion problems, investments will be made in extended meeting stations south of Sundsvall and in Gävle. The current investments have been planned with the support of the TEN-T programme (Actions 2011‐SE‐93035‐S, 2011‐SE‐93045‐P and 2013‐SE‐91030‐S).

Read more on the project website: nyaostkustbanan.se

Pre-identified sections in the extended ScanMed CNC

As in the current CEF Regulation, it is foreseen that pre-identified sections would be listed for each core network corridor in annex to the regulation. For the northern extension of the ScanMed CNC, the most important pre-identified sections would be:

Malmbanan

Section: Luleå – Kiruna – Riksgränsen (NO border)
Content: Railway, studies and works
Motives: Cross border, development to double track.

North Bothnia Line

Section: Umeå – Luleå
Content: 
Railway, studies and works
Motives: 
Bottleneck, new railway link in the ScanMed CNC

East Coast Line

Section: Gävle – Sundsvall/Härnösand
Content: 
Railway, studies and works
Motives: 
Bottleneck in the corridor, development to double track

Geography of the Botnian Corridor

The Bothnian Corridor at the Swedish side, covers more than 2/3 of Sweden, from Stockholm and Örebro up to the border to Finland in Haparanda/Torneå and the border to Norway in the west, in practice to the port of Narvik. The estimated length of the railway parts of the Bothnian extension is 1,917 km to be added to the current Scand-Med length in Sweden of 1,462 km and the total Scand-Med CNC length of 9,373 km.

The railway infrastructure in the Bothnian Corridor comprises several main railway stretches with various standards. The newest sections are the Bothnia Line and the Haparanda Line. The North Bothnia Line is planned to be built between 2018-2030. For the East Coast Line and Malmbanan Line there are continuous work for increased capacity, but both need double track, due to capacity constraints.

Core and Comprehensive network, railways (passengers)