Go ahead and violate the traffic rules! 1 200 traffic cops have been reduced to 300 in two years

By: Thomas Ström 6/27/17

Increasingly many violate the traffic rules.
A clear example is the statistics of how many are actually driving under the influence of alcohol on our Swedish roads.
According to The Swedish Transport Administration, there are several thousand every day, i.e. more than ever.
The reason for this is that the Swedish traffic police have been diminished since the reorganization almost two years ago.

According to The Swedish Transport Administration, about 70 people die in alcohol or drug-related traffic accidents every year. And that figure is steadily increasing.
The explanation is simple – the risk of getting caught has dramatically declined over the last two years.
Or how do you feel about the following numbers?
In 2009, 2.7 million breathalyzers (alcohol controls) were made on our roads. The same figure last year was 1 million.

The background is the reorganization that began in 2015, which is the largest within the police for the past 50 years. The criticism has been enormous; not least among the police officers themselves.

In connection with this, it was decided that there would not be so many specialized police officers in individual areas.
Instead, every police should be able to know a little about a lot, and thus being able to serve almost anywhere. But few have the time to work on our roads; they have their hands full with making time for handling other crimes and surveillance.

In addition, consider that two years ago there were 1 200 traffic cops in the country. Today there are 300. At the same time, traffic has increased and traffic violations have augmented. This is unacceptable. Something has to be done.

I know that the police have a lot to do, but it's not reasonable to shut down some important parts – especially the traffic monitoring.
It's completely insane. And it will get worse.

The leaders in the National Police defend themselves by telling us that shortly there will be a trend violation in terms of the number of breathalyzers; that they are confident the figure will begin to increase again. What kind of argument is that? The number has decreased by 1.7 million during the last nine years! Of course the number will increase sooner or later.

Furthermore, they are saying that the increased number of speed cameras have contributed to lower the speeds, and that they have managed to fine more speeders. I have my doubts about this, and it will be very interesting to get to take part of those statistics in the future.

However, if that’s the case - that the speed cameras actually are a big source of income – I think that the entire sum of money should to the traffic police. Also, I hope that the National Police will reconsider as soon as possible, and place more police officers working exclusively with traffic monitoring.

I want to see more police officers on our roads.


Photo: Swedish police

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Why is an extension of Arlanda needed?

By: Thomas Ström 6/13/17

Keep Bromma Airport and re-open Säve


Corporate aviation is increasing throughout Europe.
The biggest reason is efficiency and time.
Thanks to their own aircrafts, several companies can do a lot more business – especially companies in countries and cities that cannot offer as many international direct flights.
In addition, if several companies collaborate and fill the plane with passengers from several players with the same needs, it will also be cost-effective.

But this has been overlooked in Sweden. Instead, here Säve airport is shut down, while also discussing a closure of Bromma; the two airports where we have had and have the most corporate flights in the country.
I think this is completely wrong.
Keep Bromma and start a City Airport in Gothenburg. They are needed to enable us to move quickly.
Both Bromma and Säve are also important from a societal perspective, for the police, coast guard, ambulance and rescue helicopters. Säve has also served as an alternate airport for when there is fog at Landvetter, which often is the case. Nowadays, you fly from Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm.

In my world, doing business is about meeting other people and getting things done as quickly as possible. It is not reasonable to start your trip for the day with the shuttle to Arlanda, only to finally arrive seven hours after everyone else. With a private jet right from Bromma it would take half that time.

Swedavia, which owns and operates our Swedish airports, has renounced and dropped Säve airport – in a very strange way to say the least – in order to get all traffic to Landvetter and to get as many coordination benefits as possible.
I have written about it previously and I will continue writing about it.

In Stockholm, the same company wants to concentrate all air traffic to Arlanda. Some time ago, they called for a press conference, where they talked about how they wish to expand the airport in order to take the lead in the Nordics. They want to build more runways and basically become the largest.

I don’t understand. Kastrup in Copenhagen has fewer runways than Arlanda. Nevertheless, they handle significantly more traffic. Everything seems to concern Swedavia’s desire to be the biggest. But as long as the Danes handle their big airport the way they do, no more airlines will move from there to Stockholm. At the best they will complement, but the fact is that they could already do that today. There is capacity available for it.

As part of the development of Arlanda, Swedavia wants to shut down Bromma, just as they did with Säve in Gothenburg. This will happen at the expense of the smaller airplanes, such as business jets.
I strongly oppose to this. Both airports are needed in Stockholm and the same applies in Gothenburg.


"Everything can be sold with enough advertising – buy canned porridge"

By: Thomas Ström 5/11/17


Postnord's last ad campaign is like an old Swedish song


Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about Ulf Peder Olrog's song from the 40's.
The song title would translate to “Canned porridge” and is about some unserious men selling canned porridge made of whey and sawdust.

The song is still topical because it created the Swedish saying "Everything can be sold with enough advertising – buy canned porridge". The saying is used about smooth-talking sellers or frivolous marketers selling rubbish.
Click here to listen to the song at Youtube (Swedish).

The reason I started to think about the song is that during this spring, I noticed that Postnord had launched a charm offensive with "self-produced" editorial material on paid advertisement spaces in different media. The background is, of course, that they want to wash away the bad reputation the company has received after the hard criticism over recent years.

We have seen it before; government companies trying to eliminate negative publicity through large advertising campaigns funded with tax money. The difference now compared to earlier is that Postnord uses movies and articles that are easy to confuse with the true editorial material. I think it's ridiculous.

At the moment, Postnord has a campaign on Dagens Industri's website, di.se, with the vignette: "Content from Postnord". ADVERTISING, says a header that is confusingly similar to the appearance of the main newspaper’s other material.

Until now, they have bought advertising space on di.se for the following materials:

This campaign has cost a lot of money, both in production and in the form of advertising space.
Which other Swedish companies working with logistics and transport could afford this?
Not many. But Postnord has tax money.

The reader who takes the time to get through all of the texts (read: propaganda) and gets to the end of the page, will notice a red button with Postnord written on it. If you click it, you will end up with the articles DI's own journalists have written. There you will find the truth in the form of headlines such as:

These are the articles and content Postnord now wants us to forget about with their campaign.
Among some, it will probably work.

"Everything can be sold with enough advertising."


Here comes the backlash of the lack of maintenance!

By: Thomas Ström 4/28/17


It’s insane that The Swedish Transport Administration threatens to close 16 regional railways


Sweden is amazing.
The government, alongside many others, has propagated to increase rail traffic for travelers as well as freight for several years.
And then suddenly, The Swedish Transport Administration threatens to close 16 regional railways; 15 of which are extremely important for freight traffic.

The Swedish Transport Administration is saying that the aforementioned railways are low-traffic routes. An analysis from The Swedish Public Transport Association shows the opposite. It shows that almost 4 million trips are made on these regional railways annually, which is to be compared with 25 million for the entire SJ.

As I’ve talked about before, there is a lack of maintenance, not least concerning the regional railways. Now it has become so neglected that The Swedish Transport Administration does not consider it affordable to continue. Over the years, it has gone from precautionary rail maintenance to largely concentrating on remedial actions. These actions are more expensive than maintenance, which has caused the costs to go through the roof.

The subordinated maintenance has in turn resulted in problems with the rails, delayed trains, slower speed, etc., which in turn has resulted in more travelers choosing the car – and trucks within the business sector – instead of the trains.
In this case, it's truly palpable how one has enabled the other to get into a profound negative spiral.

In the supporting documents for the infrastructure planning, The Swedish Transport Administration notes that it may be necessary to close low-traffic railways. The countryside will take the hardest hit, but the Västra Götaland County is also at risk if The Swedish Transport Administration gets their way. Indeed, more than 30 percent of the railway network is threatened – by which nearly a third of the inhabitants of the region are living.

However, instead of closure they should be investing immensely. There’s still a chance for that. An analysis from The Swedish Public Transport Association shows that there is potential to more than doubling the travels on many of the routes. "In many of the railways, demand for traffic is greater than the capacity. More than 2 million people live near the tracks. The regions have already made decisions about investing in trains and increasing traffic to meet the demand in growth and also widening people's labor market regions. The regions have adopted plans to increase the number of train departures from 90,000 to almost 140,000 per year. "
These initiatives require that the Swedish Transport Administration develops the regional routes instead of putting them down.


Sell ​​Postnord and use the money to build a new railway between Oslo and Gothenburg

By: Thomas Ström 4/4/17

I am surprised that so few are talking about a new rail connection between Gothenburg and Oslo.
The reason is certainly money, money they plan to spend on the high-speed trains.
My solution to the problem is that the Swedish Government sells its stake in Postnord and uses the money to fund this rail connection instead.

In previous posts on this blog, I have been frustrated about the high-speed trains, as well as the lack of railway expansion between the Norwegian capital and Gothenburg; Scandinavia's largest port.
However, Postnord’s business is what upsets me the most. Just sell ​​it and use the money to finance the railway. Then we'll see how long the company can endure when it has to be run as a normal company.

In my opinion, we need to start renovating the existing rail network, which is constantly encountering problems, before we can even begin with the project of high-speed trains. 
For example, I know numerous people who frequently travel between Stockholm and Gothenburg in their work. They have grown tired of taking the train and the risk of being late to every other meeting. 

Another train route, which seems to be a blind spot for all members of the parliament, is the one between Gothenburg and Oslo. How else do you explain that no politicians, regardless of party affiliation, are talking about this? What is going on?
Instead they are talking about high-speed trains and investments for hundreds of billion Swedish crowns by 2030.

They seem to forget that Norway and Sweden are each other's main export markets, and few know that Sweden exports more in real terms to Norway's five million inhabitants than we do to Germany’s 82 million. 

Today we have a nice highway between Gothenburg and Oslo. You can travel to Oslo faster by car than by plane, train or bus. The traffic on the E6 is growing steadily. If we want to manage the flow of goods that passes the Svinesund Bridge – with 2 700 trucks daily plus the private cars and also reach the environmental objectives we signed in the Paris Agreement – then it’s about time for a new railway between Gothenburg and Oslo.

What are you waiting for?


Thankfully – there will not be any kilometer-based fees

By: Thomas Ström 3/21/17

I have on several occasions on this blog been critical of the proposal that Sweden should introduce kilometer-based fees or road wear taxes for heavy vehicles.
I have not been the only one who feels this way.
The proposal is strongly criticized by the business community, The Swedish Trade Union Confederation and representatives of rural areas.

It is therefore very encouraging that the government has now decided to back down on the proposal.
If it would have been approved, it would have been very noticeable in the Swedish transport industry and the countryside.

An investigation has been completed and it contains over 850 pages, but before it could even be submitted, the government decided that it would be put on hold.

– The assessment is that there’s a risk of the proposals deteriorating Swedish haulers’ competitiveness and that is not acceptable, says Minister of Finance Magdalena Andersson in a comment to TT.

The Minister for the Environment, Karolina Skog (MP), says that the governing parties are "absolutely united" in their analysis of this proposal.

– We want a road wear tax, which can lead to both the cargo being shifted from road to rail and sea, and which can also create order in the haulage industry. We will not be satisfied until we have a proposal that solves both of the two tasks, she says to TT.
The government must now immediately begin the work to develop a revised proposal for road wear taxes. That work will take place in the Cabinet office – no new inquiry will be appointed.

In the SVT program Agenda a few weeks ago, the Minister for the Environment said that she could not provide any guarantees for a kilometer-based fee before the election.

Well, we certainly hope so.


The government needs to help Gothenburg to dredge the port for 4 billion SEK

By: Thomas Ström 2/24/17

All of Sweden is dependent on the Gothenburg Port and the city's automotive industry, which is booming thanks to the Chinese capital.
Therefore, the government should urgently make the decision to contribute with funds in order to increase the depth of the port from 14 to 17 meters.
Not until then will Gothenburg be able to compete and handle the deep draught ships that today are forced to choose other ports.

Gothenburg is on the right track to become one of northern Europe's major business cities. This is underlined not least by the West Swedish region around the city, which during recent years has become China's largest global development center for future vehicles. The Chinese are pouring money into research and development within the automotive industry.

China's role in Gothenburg is very interesting. 
I don’t think Volvo Cars has ever been doing as good as they are doing now. The holding company Geely seems to have infinite resources. To stay on the leading edge when speaking of electrification and autonomous vehicles, last year the company started one of their largest ever recruitment campaigns. In total, 400 engineers are going to be recruited!

Another Chinese company, which few people know about, is Cevt – China Euro Vehicle Technology.
The company has about 2,000 employees in Gothenburg. In 2016, there was a staggering development and research budget of 3.2 billion SEK.

Add to that Nevs (National Electric Vehicle Sweden), which is housed in the former Saab factory in Trollhättan. Although they have struggled in terms of earnings and have been forced to put in large sums of money, today there are 900 employees; a number that is constantly growing.
If you also add to the equation that Gothenburg already has the Nordic region's largest port, it is not difficult to understand the potential the whole country benefits from because of this.

In order to remain competitive, the port must be dredged and widened to accommodate larger and deeper draught vessels. Currently, the depth of the port is 14 meters. The new container ships require 17 meters. In the present situation, this means that the big ships have to unload in Hamburg before continuing to Gothenburg. In the long run, this is unsustainable.

The cost of dredging the port amounts up to about 4 billion SEK. This is something that the municipality of Gothenburg cannot cope with on its own.
As I pointed out, the Gothenburg port is of national interest.
Therefore, I believe that the government must get involved in the matter as quickly as possible.


Enough is enough! Shut down Postnord right now!

By: Thomas Ström 2/14/17

What is going on? 
Every time state-owned Postnord presents a financial report I get upset. 
Today, the company reported its earnings for 2016. It showed a loss of 1,4 MSEK. That is completely insane! 
If you add to that numerous reports of inadequate deliveries in the past year, you realize that this experiment is a total disaster.

Admit that Postnord – where the Swedish state owns 60 percent and the Danish state 40 percent – is a fiasco. Shut down the company now!

The report indicates that the main reason for the huge loss is the Danish operations. It is explained with the fact that Denmark has been focusing on becoming one of the most digitized countries in the world, which has meant that regular letters have declined by 90 percent since 2000.
In other words, one could say that there is no longer a market. A private company would have been forced to admit defeat and go out of business. However, the government owns the company and just throws even more tax money at it.

This week, Dagens Nyheter revealed that the Swedish government has a contingency plan for Postnord. They are afraid that Postnord will become a new Vattenfall. DN also reveals that when the company was formed in 2008, they received remarkable warnings from the then Swedish Business Development, Nutek. They were clear with the fact that this "would be a bad deal from a Swedish point of view"

Nutek also noted that the then Swedish Post’s net turnover would be more than 70 percent of the new company's turnover. Nonetheless, the Swedish state would only get 60 percent of the ownership and half of the voting rights.
In view of this, Nutek wrote: "The result could result in the Swedish government no longer controlling the Swedish Post’s business with owner directives, but only by legislation. This makes the state ownership in the company in general very questionable."

Despite this, the politicians went through with the deal.
And now the time has come for them to make things right.
I see no other alternative but to close down the company.

The Swedish letter distribution will have to be resolved in a different manner, which I will reconnect about later.


The shutdown of Säve Airport disrupts the region's development

By: Thomas Ström 2/8/17

Did Swedavia deceive the other owners?


I still cannot believe that it was decided to shut down Säve Airport.
In fact, it is absurd and a huge waste of money. 

Imagine if they had instead invested in renovating and expanding it.
Imagine how profitable it would have been for Gothenburg and the whole region – not to mention if the terminal and the parking would have been moved to the main road. 
Then we would have had a city airport, which would have been a great complement to Landvetter, especially when it is not possible to land there because of fog, for example.

It would also have been a very good resource for the business community in one of the most interesting regions, considering private jets and businessmen who prioritize speed and availability.
Keeping Säve would have been much cheaper than building a second runway at Landvetter, which I'm fairly sure is not going to happen in many, many years. Actually, I don’t believe it will happen at all.
Especially considering the fact that right now, people at the highest level, are discussing a second runway at Sturup. This seems completely absurd given the proximity to Kastrup.

All of these decisions are a big waste of money.

Lately, I have been learning more about the process surrounding the decision to close Säve.
Swedavia said that the cost to repair the existing runway would have been 250 MSEK. According to reliable sources, it would have cost 25 MSEK.

I am convinced that the closure of Säve is about Swedavia not wanting an airport in the region that can compete with Landvetter.
I believe that I can even go out on a limb and say that Swedavia officials have left their two former partners – the City of Gothenburg and Volvo – hoodwinked.

The background of the whole affair is that Säve made a loss and then Swedavia was forced to allocate more money into the project. This is when they rewrote the earlier shareholders’ agreement.
An addition to the new agreement would have the following effect:
If and when Swedavia wanted to sell, the municipality and Volvo had to sell their shares to Swedavia.

With this agreement, it was not difficult for Swedavia to get Säve disused, while investing as much as possible in Landvetter instead.
I think it's disturbing!


Expand the railway between Gothenburg and Oslo now!

By: Thomas Ström 1/12/17

I will continue where I left off in one of my previous blog posts;
Expand the railway between Oslo and Gothenburg NOW!

Since the latest post, I have acquired even more background info.
For example, what do you think about the fact that the train journey between these cities takes about four hours, and that the average speed is 80 km / h?
Or that the worst-maintained stretch between Halden and Öxnered is a single-track railway from the 1800s?

An extension of the route to high speed standards would, according to reliable sources, cost about 20 billion SEK.
If the Norwegians would expand between Oslo and Halden while Sweden upgrades the stretch on the Swedish side, the trains will be able to run at 250 km / h. That would mean that the travel time is reduced to just over one and a half hours and a very high social benefit would be implemented.

This cost and time savings should be compared with other high-speed expansions now being discussed widely in Sweden, which are expected to cost somewhere between190-320 billion SEK. According to some experts, it is going to cost even more.

Against this background, it is certainly legitimate to question how the politicians think.

If you also consider that the expansion of the railway between Gothenburg and Oslo – something  I’ve have been very well-informed about from very reliable sources – would pay off just as well as the Öresund Bridge has done, it is completely incomprehensible that no politician operates this issue.
Please, Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson.
Start this project now!


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