Malmbanan is an almost 500 km long railway in Sweden, which has the heaviest and largest amount of cargo transports. Iron ore from the mines in Kiruna/Gällivare area is transported both to the out-shipping port of Narvik in Norway and to the port of Luleå. New iron ore deposits have been discovered and the mines’ production will increase considerably. The yearly iron ore volumes are about 15 M tonnes Kiruna- Narvik and about 7 M tonnes between Kiruna-Luleå. In addition, other cargo trains are using the line including daily Norwegian trains between Narvik and Oslo with fish as the main cargo. The cargo transports at Malmbanan represents as much as 40 % of all the railway cargo in Sweden. Improvements are made of the line with new longer meeting tracks and higher bearing strength of the tracks to 32.5 tonnes axle load, In the long term double track is needed for the whole stretch of the line.
The first part, Boden-Kalix, of this 160 km long railway, has been upgraded and modernized and between the cities of Kalix and Haparanda, at the border to Finland, a new high-speed railway was built. The new Haparanda line was built with co-funding from the TEN-T programme (Actions 2007‐SE‐92402‐P and 2010‐SE‐92216‐P). The line was reopened in 2012 and is equipped with ERTMS and the European standard for meeting stations and speed limits. The line would be important for cross-border transports between Finland/Russia and Sweden/Norway but is at the moment underutilized because of limitations in the current terminal in Haparanda. The cargo has to be lifted from one train to another, wagon bogies be shifted, or the axle widths be changed, but the terminal is not fully designed and equipped for this. This is a major bottleneck and planning for reconstruction of the terminal is ongoing. The functionality of this cross-border section is also dependent on the electrification of an 18 km long section at the Finnish side between Kemi and Haparanda.
North Bothnia Line
The North Bothnia Line is a 270 km new railway that has been planned since more than 15 years and the Swedish government has decided to start the construction in the fall of 2018. The line will connect the cities of Luleå-Skellefteå-Umeå and be an important link for passenger traffic as well as heavy cargo transports from northern Sweden and Finland to central Europe. The train traffic between Umeå and Luleå is currently using a very old and worn down inland railway, with limitations in speed, train weight and speed. With the new line train weight can be increased from 1,000 tones to 1,600 tonnes each and train length and speed will follow the European standard for the core network. The old line will continue to be used when the new line is built in order to increase the total capacity. The construction of the full length of the North Bothnia Line is estimated to 10 years at the cost of 3 Billion €.
Read more at the project website: Norrbotniabanan.se
Bothnia Line and Ådalen Line
The Bothnia Line is a new 185 km railway, opened in 2013 between Umeå and Kramfors. Including the connecting Ådalen Line to Härnösand and Sundsvall the total length of this stretch of the corridor is 360 km. The Bothnia Line is built for high speed trains up to 250 km/h and is all other respects following the European standards. The Bothnia Line was one of the first implementation of ERTMS in Europe which was done with co-funding from TEN-T. The line is important for commuting and there are twelve passenger trains per day in each direction.
The connecting Ådalen line is a renovated old, curvy, line with speed limitation most commonly to 70 km/h. This is a limitation for both the commuter trains and cargo trains. A new Ådalen Line between Sundsvall and Härnösand is included in the planning for the new East Coast Line, which together with all other measures in the Bothnian Corridor would make it complete regarding the TEN-T requirements for speed, axle load and train length. When the North Botnia Line is built and when the East Coast Line is double track, the travel time from Luleå to Stockholm will be cut by half, from 11 to 5.5 hours.
East Coast Line
The East Coast Line is a 270 km long railway Gävle-Sundsvall/Härnösand, which is the heaviest congested single-track railway in Sweden. This is because many heavy cargo transports with slower speed compete with faster commuter and long-distance passenger trains. Therefore, a new East Coast Line with double track is planned, and measures have started for reconstruction of some parts of the line to double track. The planning of these parts has been co-funded from TEN-T. The extension of the East-Coast Line between Gävle- Härnösand is estimated to lower the commuting time by as much as 2.5 hours between Stockholm and the north of Sweden, and the benefits for the regional growth and the environmental impacts have been proven in several studies.
Read more at the project website: nyaostkustbanan.se
The Freight line through Bergslagen
Godstråket genom Bergslagen (Freight line through Bergslagen) is the main freight line between Northern Sweden and Southern Sweden as well as Central Europe. It connects the Southern main line in Mjölby with the Northern main line in Storvik and crosses at the biggest Swedish shunting yard in Hallsberg at the Western main line. The line is about 311 km long and has capacity restraints. Increased capacity on railroads both further to the North and further to the South will increase the capacity shortage along the Freight line through Bergslagen.
South of Frövi the line will be a double track by 2029. The largest train number occur around the city of Örebro with about 190 trains per day, about 50% of them being freight trains and about 50% being passenger trains.
North of Frövi the line is a single track with 21 meeting stations. In order to solve bottle necks and to not just move them it is decisive that the capacity upgrade of the Freight line through Bergslagen is time and capacity wise matched with a capacity upgrade of the East coast line.
The first implementation of ERTMS in Sweden was made in the Bothnian Corridor. This means that the at the Ådalen Line, Bothnia Line and Haparanda Line ERTMS are fully implemented. Next in turn for implementation is the Malmbanan Line, which needs a coordination with the implementation in Norway. At Malmbanan Line the benefits would be that it is possible to add more iron ore train and optimize their frequency. Even though double track is envisioned in the for the whole stretch in the long run, it is not clear how this will be technically solved at the mountainous Norwegian side of the border. The implementation of ERTMS has not been technically unproblematic. Even though it is now fully functional there are continuous upgrades in the technical specifications of the track-side equipment. This in turn requires the on-board installations to be upgraded to a high cost, which make freight train operators reluctant to start using ERTMS as long as they can choose the old inland railway instead of the new Bothnia Line.