I don't believe in thousands of taxi drones

By: Thomas Ström 2/9/18

In order to make the city's urban transport faster and smoother in the future, a plan to build large fleets with taxi drones is in the making. 
I'm skeptical.
My pilot experience tells me that a storm is coming up. 
Hold on to your hats, good people.

Uber plans for a taxi vehicle with seating for four people. The first tests will start in 2020 in Dallas and Los Angeles. But Uber is not alone in having these high-flying plans. Both Chinese and German stakeholders are having the same thoughts.
In China, a start-up company named E-Hang has developed a self-driving drone, which they plan to start testing in Dubai this year.

The drone has space for one person and is equipped with an automatic navigation system for flights along various preprogrammed routes that the passenger can choose from. This drone vehicle has been tested in the outskirts of Canton in southern China.
- We will start mass production of our passenger drones early next year. The plan is to have an automated production line in place during 2018 in order to scale up the production, says E-hang CEO Hu Huazhi to Bloomberg.

But as I was saying; I am highly doubtful that this can actually work out. I do not have any scientific evidence, but based on what I learned during my education and my years as a traffic pilot, it tells me that this will not work if several thousands of vehicles are to share the airspace in and around a large city center.

Mainly, I'm thinking about how much air pressure it takes to lift one airplane. Having multiple vehicles in the air at the same time, the city will surely suffer from stiff breezes or even storms during rush hour. 

That being said, I repeat; hold on to your hats, good people!


Hundreds of thousands of drivers lacking in Europe

By: Thomas Ström 12/8/17

Great efforts are now required for the recruitment of young people


Truck drivers are a major shortage in large parts of Europe.
There’s talk about a shortage between 7 000 – 10 000 drivers in Sweden.
In Poland the corresponding figure is 100 000, and in England and Germany there’s a total of 65 000.
The lack of drivers has now led to the fact that several haulers are forced to renounce missions due to lack of personnel.
In the long run, this could mean that the retail racks will be empty and Internet purchasers may have to wait longer for their deliveries.

The lack of drivers is historic. According to the TYA - the Vocational Training and Working Environment Council, it is expected that 50 000 new truck drivers will be needed in Sweden in the next ten years.

There are several reasons for this problem. Some examples are an ongoing economic boom, a thriving e-commerce and that older drivers have retired ever since a new vocational qualification was introduced a year ago. Many older people then resigned from the "update", which resulted in them not being allowed to continue to drive.

But the biggest reason is that there are too few new drivers educated. And the reason for this is that the high school's transport programs has had difficulties when recruiting new students in recent years. Obviously, something radical has to be done to attract young people to the driver's occupation.

Another reason is that the Employment Service has not been able to train unemployed to become truck drivers in the last year. I will return to that in upcoming blogposts. It concerns the fact that "there has been a problem with the government's procurement of the professional driver training".

Overall, a great effort is required from the whole industry to get more young people interested in the transport industry and the work as a driver.


Distressing consequences due to the port conflict

By: Thomas Ström 11/13/17

It causes 124 tons more carbon dioxide emissions every day


A few weeks ago I wrote about the damage the conflict in the port of Gothenburg has had on the Swedish business community.
This weekend I took part of an article in Svenska Dagbladet, where it’s clearly shown that it has also a major negative climate impact.
According to Svenska Dagbladet, the conflict causes 124 tons more carbon dioxide emissions every day!

The reason is that the entrepreneurs no longer trust the port. They are worried that there will be new disturbances and problems with their goods. Therefore, they have stopped shipping all the way to Sweden and Gothenburg. Instead, they choose to reload the goods on trucks in other European ports, such as Hamburg and Rotterdam.
A trip between 65 and 100 miles, just because the industry can no longer trust the port in Gothenburg.

This year, the container volume in the port of Gothenburg has been the lowest for a very long time. The third quarter shows a decrease of 28 percent compared to the same period in 2016.
In a press release, the President of the Gothenburg port, Magnus Kårestedt, says:
– Despite the fact that the container terminal was able to handle the goods that passed, basically without any disruptions during the third quarter, we see a huge decline in volume. It is clear that the industry has not regained confidence in the port's container terminal.

Personally, I think it is very regrettable that the conflict has had such extensive consequences.

The danger we’re facing is that the industry will not dare to invest in Sweden in the future. This is because there are very few companies currently working on large stocks. The transports simply must work and in this context, the port of Gothenburg is very important for the whole country.

An investigation has been appointed to review if the legislation needs to change. However, it will not be ready until May. The question is if that will be too late?


It turned out as I predicted in 2015:

By: Thomas Ström 11/6/17

Not a single ship has been held accountable for the past three years!
Researchers show that ten percent of shipping companies violate the rules


On January 1st, 2015, the rules for sulfur levels in marine fuels for vessels in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea were sharpened from 1 percent to almost 0.
Relating to this, I wrote that the intention was a good but that it would have no effect, since no one had been appointed to check that the requirement is complied and that no one cheats.
Now the first follow-up shows that not a single ship has held accountable in three years!

In a survey by Chalmers researchers, it appears that every tenth ship violates the rules. In the report, the researchers also show a pattern. Several shipping companies seem to be systematically abusing the system. Ships that rarely travel in the affected areas have more frequent emissions. The same applies to ships that are heading out of the zone where the lower emission levels apply.

"We are in a highly competitive market and these are shipping companies we compete with – of course I'm disappointed to learn that it’s so planned out. This was news to me and very surprising,” vice president of Svensk Sjöfart, Pia Berglund, said to Sweden's Radio.

Despite the foul, not a single vessel has been held accountable for its emissions in Sweden during the three years since the change in regulation. One of the reasons is that today's rules are considered too intricate, and that the people assigned to make sure these rules are obeyed already have numerous other tasks on their plates.

In 2014 the Transport Agency presented a proposal for a type of administrative fee like penalties to more easily punish ships with excess emissions, but still nothing has happened.

This automatically becomes a clear signal to the market; you can violate the regulations without any consequences. Therefore, there is nothing indicating that those ten percent of shipping companies will stop cheating.


Devastating port conflicts paralyze the business community

By: Thomas Ström 10/27/17

In recent weeks, I have taken part of a couple of analyses regarding the consequences of the conflict in the port of Gothenburg.
It is no cheerful reading.
The effects are much bigger than many may think. Large areas of business across the country have been affected.
Personally, I think it's unfortunate that it has gone this far.

First, I read an article with John Wedel, Head of Infrastructure and Logistics at Business Region Gothenburg. A few days later, I heard a radio interview with Johan Woxenius, Professor of Shipping Transport Economics and Logistics at the School of Economics at the University of Gothenburg.
Both have come up with essentially the same thing; APM loses huge sums, within Hamnfyran members are losing their jobs, Gothenburg loses establishments in the long run, business is hit by cost increases and loss of income, the environment is adversely affected, and several traders are forced to shut down or go bankrupt. Simply put, it’s shit.

In a survey conducted by The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, 25 percent of the 478 participating companies said that they were affected by the conflict. More than half of the companies have also been forced to take action in order to reduce the negative effects.
As many as 13 percent say they completely avoid Gothenburg's port.

In addition to trucks and trailers, the train lines to the container terminal at the port have also been adversely affected. One clear example is that SCT Transport announced that it is shutting down its rail terminal in Jönköping as a result of the conflict.

In Wedel's analysis, it is hard to name an exact figure of the amount of additional costs, but it could be several billions within a year. According to John Wedel, it is mainly industrial and trading companies who have suffered the most from the conflict.
Wedel says in an interview in Sjöfartstidningen:
"The industry believes there are a lot of companies that will not be able to push through this, but will be forced to shut down their businesses. And this is during a current boom. No one has made a total compilation of all costs and that’s a shame, because if you could have been able to point out exactly how big the bill is, that would put a lot more pressure on the politics to take care of this.”

Recently, the government appointed an investigation to review the rules of combat actions. The result of this investigation will be presented in late May 2018.
"The business community feels like that i very far away. In the company world, a quick investigation would be done within a month," said John Wedel in Sjöfartstidningen.

According to Wedel, the harbor conflict also has major negative effects on the environment.
"Now you can really see the increase at the E6, just how many trucks that operate the road; there are large volumes, which were previously run through the port. And more often than not, the trucks are not very environmentally friendly,” says John Wedel, who believes that the long-term effects are even more dangerous.

"New companies will not want to establish their businesses here, and some of the big companies with many manufacturing facilities in the world may choose to move their production from Sweden in the long run. For example, Akzo Nobel has said that if the port of Gothenburg does not work, they may have to move their operations. Of course, this also means that the service industries, such as technical consultants and subcontractors, will be affected.”


John Wedel says that the conflict costs more than we think while at the same time paralyzing the businesses in the Gothenburg region.
"If we do not resolve the situation in the port, Gothenburg's attractiveness in terms of development, expansion and establishment, will be reduced – much like Gothenburg's current function as a logistics hub. If you are to establish yourself somewhere, there are many things to consider – there must be land, a good academy, research, development centers and so on. However, the port is an incredibly important component of that equation. If we remove it, nothing will separate us from any other city. Overall, the conflict is a conflict with nothing but losers. APM is losing huge amounts of money, within Hamnfyran many members are losing their jobs, Gothenburg might be losing establishments in the long run, the business community is suffering from cost increases and loss of income, the environment suffers, and many small businesses are forced to shut down or go bankrupt. The whole thing is deeply tragic.


900 000 breath alcohol tests have become 500 000 in two years

By: Thomas Ström 10/4/17

Difficult to reach Vision Zero with only 300 traffic police officers


Before the summer vacations, I wrote about fewer traffic polices on our roads; that the number had dropped from 1 200 to 300 in two years.
That time, my post concerned the speed controls, which had decreased considerably.

Now I've taken part of yet another report. It shows that the police now only conduct half as many breath alcohol tests compared to two years ago.
From January to July 2015, the police issued 892 053 breath alcohol tests on our Swedish roads. The corresponding figure for the same period this year is 499 610.

Notably, the number of drunk drivers is largely the same. About 1 percent of those who take the alcohol breath test have unacceptable amounts of alcohol in their blood. This means that several drunk drivers are not caught.
The scary part is that this has devastating consequences. Of the 270 casualties last year, 25 percent died in an accident related to alcohol.

Furthermore, it has been found that ten of the 37 motorcyclists that died in traffic, had alcohol in the blood. The same applies for three out of seven mopeds.
The worst figure, however, is found among the deaths of four-wheel drivers. Out of the four fatalities, 100 percent had alcohol in the blood.

This, in combination with increasing numbers of people violating the speed limits, is strongly contributing to the fact that the casualties in traffic is not reduced.

The question is whether Vision Zero, which the government implemented in 1997, will ever be a reality?
Back then it was decided that Vision Zero should serve as the foundation for the work with road safety. Thereby we we went from focusing on preventing accidents to focusing on no one to dying or seriously getting injured in traffic.

That's a very nice objective. But how can it be successful if those who commit the criminal offenses are not caught?

Recent figures show that August was a very dark month in terms of road safety. A total of 34 people died, which is nine people more than the same month last year. That many have not died in the month of August since 2009.

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I want to see more traffic police officers on our roads!


Why don’t the politicians care???

By: Thomas Ström 9/19/17

Until now, I have not written anything about the West Link here on the blog.
It has been a conscious strategy as I have been following the debate, collecting facts about the project.
But now, I just cannot help it.
What is happening is crazy.

Last week, several thousands of Gothenburg residents demonstrated on Gustaf Adolf's square against the West Link. Some talk about 10 000 protesters and others about 14 000. But according to Gothenburg's politicians it was 2 000 protesters, tops.
How else can you explain the silence that has followed since this large protest?

Why do they not care?
Over the past year I have talked to many people in the construction industry. Everyone – whether an architect, geologist, builder or construction engineer – has been against the West Link. Everyone agrees that it will damage the city.

The most eye-catching part of the project is the station in Haga. The profit is so small while the cost is gigantic.
Some time ago, I spoke with a quality manager in the construction industry, who had worked with the relocation of the city of Kiruna. He and all his colleagues agree that there will be huge subsidence damage in Gothenburg in connection with the construction of a tunnel to Haga.

In addition, almost all of Gothenburg's business in central Gothenburg will be affected. I really feel for the shops, restaurants, cafés and other businesses, which will see their streets and parking spaces excavated. Customers will not find their way there anymore.

A simple comparison is the conversion of Övre Husargatan, which was made a few years ago. It was an extremely small project compared to the West Link, and shops and other businesses along the street could barely make it.
What will happen this time?
How many businesses will go into bankruptcy, and how many will make it?
How many jobs will disappear?
Yes, the list of questions could go on and on. We will have the answers in about 10 to 15 years.

As it seems, the decision of the project’s execution is evidently irreversible.
And the big question remains: why do the politicians not listen to the residents?


Crazy proposal from the Swedish Transport Administration

By: Thomas Ström 9/15/17

- No major infrastructure investments in West Sweden


Last week, the government received the Swedish Transport Administration’s proposal on a national plan for the transport system for the period 2018-2029.
The plan contains proposals for actions in the public infrastructure on roads, railways, sea and aviation.
In total, more than SEK 700 billion is to be invested.

The plan includes a lot of good things, but it is remarkable that West Sweden has been disregarded, more or less.

  • No upgrading of the railroad between Gothenburg and Oslo.
  • No upgrading of the railroad between Göteborg and Borås, and thus no railroad to Landvetter Airport within 20 years.
  • No deepening of the fairway in Gothenburg harbor, which would result in higher capacity and the ability to receive the largest container vessels.


This is insane. This will hamper business development, which in the long run also causes fewer job opportunities.

I have mentioned in several previous blog posts how important it is to fix the railroad between Gothenburg and Oslo; some parts are so old, they can hardly be used. This means that almost all goods to our largest exporting country are transported by truck. Currently, there are 2 700 long-haulers passing here per day. I do not dare to think about what this figure will look like in ten years if a railway renovation will not occur.

I have also highlighted the importance of a proper railroad between West Sweden's two largest cities; Gothenburg and Borås. Road 40 is already quite busy. An example of this is the Swedish Chamber of Commerce's figures, which show that 1 400 buses are already passing by Kallebäcksbacken every day. A lack of railway development will mean a disaster for Gothenburg.

The largest container port in the Nordic region is located in Gothenburg. It is five times as big as the one in Helsingborg, which is Sweden's second largest. A significant part of all goods imported into the whole country comes here. Hence, the port of Gothenburg is a national issue.
It has long been said that the fairway in Gothenburg's port needs to be deepened by dredging in order to cope with the largest container vessels. As it is now, these ships are unloading the Swedish goods in other European ports, such as Rotterdam. The goods are then loaded on smaller ships that can handle the depths in Gothenburg. It costs both time and money.

We cannot wait for a deepening of the fairway until the next plan is going to be published – this would mean that it would be implemented in 2029, at earliest.

Fortunately, this is just a proposal from Swedish Transport Administration’s to the government. Shortly, the proposal will go on a referral round, and then it should be finalized in the spring of 2018.

Consequently, there is still hope that the proposal may change.
This is why it is important for West Sweden politicians and business representatives to really explain the grave importance of these actions being included in the plan.
I for sure will do it. 


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.


About Ströms blogg


Welcome to my blog. Here I will write about transport and logistics and much more ...

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