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.
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.
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