Finally! A growing number of politicians realize the madness with the plans for high-speed trains

By: Thomas Ström 10/11/16

In previous blog posts this year, I have made my opinion on the high-speed train plans very clear. It’s a terribly bad idea. 
Instead, this money should be invested in maintenance and expansion of our existing rail, preferably starting right now.
Therefore, I received yesterday's debate article in Dagens Industri with joy.

Without any political valuation, I am happy that some parties are now beginning to say no to this madness. I hope that all will follow soon.

Previously, the Liberals have said no, and now the Moderates join them through the debate article’s authors Ulf Kristersson and Jessica Rosencrantz, economic policy and transport policy spokesperson respectively for their party. 

I have always maintained that if the funds meant for the expansion of high-speed train, should be spent on the rails we already have. Not a week goes by without receiving reports of major train delays to or from the capitol – all due to the lack of maintenance. The Transport Agency believes that 200 billion SEK in maintenance is needed until the year of 2030; all while pointing out that the capacity must increase as the need for more trains increases. Something has to be done immediately.

In an objective and correct manner, I believe that the authors share my point of view. Here are some really good arguments in the debate article, as to why we should not invest in high-speed trains:

  • It is too expensive, socioeconomically unprofitable and too late.
  • The budgeted amount does not include the cost of the new stations. Furthermore, the calculations are uncertain for two thirds of the distance, and everything suggests that the final cost will be very high.
  • The project risks becoming a cuckoo in the nest that will crowd out all other important investments.
  • Skyrocketing costs means that the project cannot be financed within the framework of a responsible economic policy.
  • The Transport Agency’s calculations show that the project will lead to a social loss of 250 billion SEK. This depends largely on the fact that the Swedish population is small, and that the travel time gains are not large enough compared to the current rail and air links. 

And here are some arguments in the article as to why we should invest in the existing railway:

  • The railway is the backbone of the transport system and when it fails, it affects both people and businesses.
  • It irritates individual travelers, who are freezing on the platform and waiting for another delayed train; while also impairing on the ability to commute to work.
  • It hurts the industry when freight delays and the costs increase. It impairs on the Swedish competitiveness and thus the conditions for jobs and growth across the country.
  • The high-speed railway could be completed in about 20 years; but Sweden is facing major societal challenges linked to jobs, integration, and climate and housing that need to be resolved now, not in 20 years. 

If you want to read the whole debate article, you can click the following link:
Debatt: Vi moderater säger nej till höghastighetståg i Sverige (in Swedish)