The government wants to destroy the drone prohibition

By: Thomas Ström 12/22/16

Finally the politicians make the right decision!

Earlier this fall I was horrified over those who make the decisions at the Administrative court.
It was concerning their insane decision to ban photographing with camera drones.
The fact that they made it possible for foreign companies to continue operations, while the Swedish companies had a total ban, did not only upset me.
Many have been contributing to the debate, not least considering that the camera ban was accompanied by sharp stock market drops in the Swedish listed drone companies. The worst example is Fastout (AktieTorget), which fell 22 per cent on 24 October.

In connection with the ban, I wrote the following blog post:
“No wonder you sometimes question who is making the decisions in this country… Maybe it’s relics from an ancient time, who have not kept up with the development of society at all? 
Regardless, this decision needs to be changed. Immediately!”

And now it seems there will be a change. But do not think for a second that it’s the Administrative Court who has changed its mind. 

No, for the first time in a long time, I actually think that our government has made a really good decision.

Earlier this week, the government sent out a press release in which Justice Minister Morgan Johansson (S) made the following statement:
"Today, we have sent a proposal for reviewing in which drones are exempted from the permit requirements under the surveillance law".
The new legislation can enter into force no earlier than the summer of 2017, according to Morgan Johansson.
Furthermore, the Government states in their press release that individuals’ personal integrity instead should be protected by the provisions of the Personal Data Act.
"This means that anyone who uses camera-equipped drones has to take measures to avoid privacy violations, for example by ensuring that the use is for legitimate purposes and in a transparent manner".

I did not foresee this a few months ago.
But now it is a fact. The government has helped to change the crazy decision.
They thought it through and made the right decision! 

I'm finally starting to believe in a new railway between Gothenburg and Oslo

By: Thomas Ström 12/19/16

For years, I have talked about the weight of developing the railway between Oslo and Gothenburg and later on also to Copenhagen.
I cannot understand that no Swedish member of parliament has pursued the matter.
The fact is that lately all Swedish infrastructure ministers, regardless of political affiliation, have dodged the question when it has been discussed.
In these days it is quite remarkable, especially considering that our present Infrastructure Minister, Anna Johansson (s), is from Gothenburg.

But now it seems that the railway might still happen. Recently I received information about a group of business representatives from both Sweden and Norway that have started to push the issue.

I really hope that this group will succeed in their pursuit. An expansion would bring enormous benefits for the environment and the general human perspective in the form of fewer traffic accidents. Moreover, the economic development between Sweden and Norway would be strengthened.

Consider that 2 700 trucks pass across the border on E6 every day. This means a doubling in 20 years. Meanwhile, freight transport on the railway between the two cities is relatively small. The fact is that volumes are more or less the same as in the 80's!

From the information I read I also gathered that the Norwegian Jernbaneverket received 150 million NOK in order to, together with the Swedish Transport Administration, investigate how the capacity for freight and passenger traffic may increase in the short and long term between Oslo and Gothenburg. It is clear that Norway is willing to invest in the expansion and at the same time the Swedish Transport Administration is familiar with the issue.

Therefore I would urge the Swedish Transport Administration to use their skills to convince the government and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson (S) that this stretch needs to be expanded urgently.

To be continued.

The national audit office of Norway criticizes Bring / Norway Post

By: Thomas Ström 12/8/16

In previous posts this year I have been strongly critical of the fact that several transport companies are subsidized with tax money, for example PostNord, which is owned by the Swedish state with 60 percent and 40 percent is owned by the Danish state.
I know that many agree with me on this issue, and now I also have some support from the national audit office of Norway; Riksrevisjonen.

Recently, Riksrevisjonen presented an investigation they had conducted of Bring / Norway Post. It appears that the company does not meet return targets, as a result of not fulfilling the owners' expectations for improved profitability in the logistics and freight transport activities.

This is also something the editor in chief Anders Karlsson noted in an article on Transportnet in November.

For Bring / Norway Post the review was about profitability and synergies for the period 2010 to 2015. It was during those years Bring / Norway Post made several major acquisitions of haulages and freight forwarding companies in Norway, Sweden and the other Nordic countries.

Riksrevisjonen stresses that both the 2008 financial crisis and the downturn in the oil industry in recent years has contributed to the poor profitability of the company. Other factors that have affected the result are a series of one-off effects, including write-downs and restructuring costs.

In Anders Karlsson's article, Tone Wille – newly appointed CEO of Bring / Norway Post – emphasizes that the acquisitions of trucking companies and freight forwarding companies in Sweden have been major contributors to the poor performance. One highlighted example is the purchase of Ekdahls Åkeri, which Bring / Norway Post failed to push forward in an optimal way and now major cutbacks are implemented. 

In the report, Riksrevisjonen urges Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications, who are the owners of Bring / Norway Post, to follow up on Bring / Norway Post in a denser way than before. Specifically in regard to the Group's earnings trend and when it comes to setting clearer requirements for future development.

In the article on Transportnet Tone Wille also says the following: "Both we as a company alongside our owners have been very focused on profitability. However, the entire industry has had challenges after the financial crisis that includes over-capacity in the market, which in turn has weakened the profitability. "

Well, we are in total agreement on this statement. It is against this background that I continue to ask – why should state-owned companies continue to compete with low prices and poor performance on an already highly competitive market?

To be continued. 

We have extensive plans to open a sea and air facility at Arlanda

By: Thomas Ström 11/29/16

The sea and air division at NTEX is growing, and the goal is to grow even more.
Therefore, we are currently examining the possibility of opening an office for this particular division at Arlanda Airport.

We have identified a need amongst our customers, which is why we are taking this step – we want to meet our customers’ needs and establish ourselves there.
Also, if you look at the facts, Arlanda is the largest airport in Sweden and by far the busiest one. Every year there are approximately 230 000 takeoffs and landings; to be compared to the second largest airport in Sweden, Gothenburg-Landvetter, which has a total of 65 000 takeoffs and landings. In other words, this is simple mathematics – if we wish to take the next step in the development of our sea and air division, we need to establish ourselves at Arlanda.

We have started to look at some possible solutions, but at the moment nothing is decided. Our hope is that we will be up and running during the first quarter of 2017.
Initially it will bring 3-5 new employees and ultimately, I am convinced that it will be even more.

First Brexit and now Trump – 2016 will be remembered

By: Thomas Ström 11/11/16

As I get older, the years tend to flow together, and it has become almost impossible for me to say exactly when a particular event occurred.
But we will remember 2016.
2016 was when we got to experience Brexit and the United States elected Trump for president. 

At a time when the IS strikes fear in the world, and a never-ending war in Syria has resulted in the worst refugee crisis in Europe ever – the overall feeling is bad.
What is going on? Are they not aware of what they are doing? The list of questions could go on and on.

On a personal level I feel both uncomfortable and unsettling. What will happen now? In the case of Trump it is currently impossible to say, except that the world's financial markets and business representatives are very concerned. Among other things, this will probably be shown by a series of exchanges and exchange rates going up and down like a roller coaster. One possible outcome from this most certainly is going to be that certain agreements will be postponed and then – in some cases – not happen at all. 

In terms of work here at NTEX, Brexit is what will have the greatest impact, seeing that UK is our absolutely biggest market.

Without resorting to exaggeration, I will say that the British are wrong. They simply do not understand the meaning of what they have decided.
Brexit will hamper trade between England and the rest of Europe and, ultimately, the decision will entail more expensive trades for the British.

But if they are looking to create new jobs, they are on the right path.
I see about a million new jobs, primarily in the form of customs officials in the countries that are going to trade with Britain. The English will be required to educate and place people by the boarders and at different hubs, such as ports, where goods from other countries are bound. And not just anybody can perform this work – it will require a lot of training. It will get complicated.

In addition, companies are going to have to employ experts in customs clearance, if they wish to continue trades with the UK. NTEX will also need to recruit people who are specialized in customs operations with Britain.

When the whole thing is in full swing, everything imported is going to be more expensive for consumers in the UK. Just look at Norway and Switzerland. 
The question is: do the British even know what they have decided?
Or did they simply not think at all? 

Irrational ban of camera drones exclusively affecting Swedish companies

By: Thomas Ström 11/1/16

It has happened again.
Sweden has over-interpreted laws and regulations, leaving solely Swedish companies affected. This time it's about the ban of camera drones in Sweden.
This week, DI Digital revealed a loophole in the new law, which the Swedish Data Protection Authority has confirmed; the ban applies only to companies based in Sweden. For drone companies in other EU countries, however, it is still OK to use a camera drone in Sweden.

In my opinion, the drones equal enormous benefits for society. Just think of the savings made in areas such as inspecting our overhead wires.
This was previously executed by helicopters, with the cost of 6 000-8 000 SEK per hour, whilst a drone costs a few hundred SEK an hour. The same applies to a large number of other areas, for example when checking the forest areas in connection with forest fires.

However, the Swedish Data Protection Authority wants drone observations to stop. Last Friday, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden decided that the so-called surveillance law should govern Swedish drone companies. In short, it means that the companies need the same permits as when installing surveillance cameras to take photos in public places – all this in order not to risk any integrity violations.
According to the trade organization UAS Sweden, the decision affects an industry with a turnover of billions of SEK and employing thousands of people.

I believe this is a completely insane decision.

But it doesn’t stop there! 
It has been disclosed that the decision does not apply to all companies using camera drones in Sweden. 
"If there are cameras used here in Sweden, for example by drones, and if the company conducting the monitoring is established in Sweden, the surveillance law is applicable. But if anyone established in another EU country conducts the monitoring, the rules of that country should be applied", says the unit manager at Swedish Data Protection Authority, Nicklas Hjertonsson, to DI Digital. 

This loophole is a consequence of the surveillance law based on a EU directive, which all member states are required to adhere to a certain level. But after that, it is up to each country to decide on how far they want to take their own laws.

Once again, Sweden wants to be the top of the class, which clearly affects the Swedish business sector negatively.
No wonder you sometimes question who is making the decisions in this country… Maybe it’s relics from an ancient time, who have not kept up with the development of society at all? 
Regardless, this decision needs to be changed. Immediately!


New method: Sunlight can convert carbon dioxide into fuel

By: Thomas Ström 10/12/16

I recently took part of an interesting article about a new method, where you use the sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into fuel.
Scientists at the University of Illinois in Chicago have developed a technique for producing fuel reminiscent of the plants’ own photosynthesis.

A new type of solar cell has been designed, which – instead of making light into electricity – converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into a hydrocarbon-based fuel with the sunlight as its only source of energy. 

But unlike plants that produce sugar from the sunlight energy, the new solar cell produces a synthetic fuel consisting of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be burned directly or converted into other types of fuel, such as diesel.

The process uses a Nano compound as the active catalyst. This catalyst in turn, decomposes the carbon dioxide’s chemical bonds. In experiments, the scientists have demonstrated that their method is 1 000 times faster than a conventional catalyst to only a twentieth of the cost. 

According to the scientists, this means that the price of this fuel production is comparable to the production of conventional gasoline.

Another interesting effect is that the method can also remove large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Since the atmosphere of planet Mars is largely composed of carbon dioxide, the new solar cells could also become a source of energy for future expeditions there. 

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)


Swedish company about to become first in the world to supply alternative fuel to the aviation industry worldwide

By: Thomas Ström 10/3/16

In recent years, my personal interest in aviation, combined with the nature of NTEX business, has drawn my attention to articles about alternative fuels, primarily for the airline industry.

I have been able to follow the Swedish-Russian chemistry professor and entrepreneur Angelica Hull from a distance. Together with her father Igor Golubkovs, who is an internationally known researcher in the Russian rocket fuel development, she has created the company Swedish Biofuels. Together they have developed the technology to produce the world's first green jet fuel, something all of the world's airlines wish to use in order for them to manage their major environmental challenges.

According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the air traffic stands for roughly two percent of global carbon emissions today, but along with the emission of water vapor and nitrogen oxides, the industry accounts for approximately 3.5 percent of the human impact on climate. Moreover, the aviation sector is increasing the most – in just fifteen years, air travel has almost doubled.

Many are trying to develop an alternative fuel, but I wonder if Angelica & Co. just might have come the furthest. At least she has several exciting stakeholders who have invested big money in the project: the United States Armed Forces, the EU and the Swedish Armed Forces, FMV to name a few. 

Just imagine the triumph for Sweden! A tiny Swedish family business could be first in the world to deliver alternative fuel to the aviation industry worldwide. Imagine the job opportunities and adjacent businesses this could entail. 

But, as so many times before, Sweden is about to lose this prospect. And this is despite the fact that Angelica and the Swedish Biofuels really want to locate the production in Sweden. The authorities, however, show very little interest in this. 

On two occasions, they have tried to apply for contributions from the Swedish Energy Agency, in order to build a commercial plant in Sweden, but both applications were turned down. 

From the looks of it, a lot is pointing to the first factory being built in the Danish town of Kalundborg instead, where the Swedish Biofuels has been welcomed with open arms. 

One can only hope that one of the politicians and/or government will make a quick awakening and try to change this. 


More and more people choose the ferry to and from Denmark

By: Thomas Ström 9/26/16

It is with great pleasure I’m reached by a newly published report, which shows that the ferry services between Helsingör and Helsingborg has increased when it comes to the number of transported trucks.
And this is despite some tough competition from the Öresund Bridge.
During the last 12 months, the number of trucks on the ferries has augmented by 7,4 percent.

In parallel, our partner, HH Ferries Group, has also succeeded well with their packaging for individuals by car. In this segment, there has been an increase by 18 percent during the first seven months of the year, when comparing with the same period last year.

A truly remarkable figure in the report is the number of passengers traveling in July. The occupancy was 99.95% on the nearly 4,400 planned departures.

HH Ferries Group declares that the biggest reason for the success is that the company has invested in better service for the passengers.
One can only congratulate that type of success.
A high level of service and flexibility is something that a growing number of customers value and appreciate, which is also confirmed on a regular basis for us at NTEX. 


"Three-dimensional tracking" with GPS transmitter in 550 trailers

By: Thomas Ström 9/16/16

NTEX has now invested in GPS transmitters, which will soon be placed in all of the company’s trailers. 
The plan is to have everything up and running before the end of the year. 

The background for the investment is that we want to be able to see where our trailers are at all times. In short, you could say that we have implemented a three-dimensional tracking; we know where they are, where they are going and what’s on board. 

By extension, this means that we will become even faster and more flexible when helping our customers. Our routers, who are planning the transports, will see the trailers’ exact whereabouts in real time and thereby easily reroute the one that is closest to pick up a newly-received order. 

Another positive effect the transmitters bring is that we can track trailers that have possibly been stolen. 
We have been spared over the years, but at times it has occurred. 
I specifically remember an incident a couple of years ago when the thieves were well-prepared. 

They shocked the alarm at the courtyard of our premises. Then they connected the trailers to truck tractors and left via The Öresund Bridge, whose consortium unfortunately is not very cooperative when it comes to these kinds of situations. At least then they weren’t, when we and the police wanted to obtain pictures. 
It should also be said that the Swedish police had little resources to deal with these types of crimes quickly, even then. 

However, the German and Lithuanian police did have these resources. Jointly they had done extensive research, which lead to them storming a giant facility in Lithuania. In this huge building, which was as big as a department store, they found loads of stolen luxury goods. There were mostly boats, cars and trucks, and our two trailers.
If something like this were to happen to us again, hopefully we can assist the police thanks to our GPS devices.

Unbelievable parcel sham at Postnord

By: Thomas Ström 9/9/16

The company confesses after Svenska Dagbladet’s review


Last week I wrote about PostNord and the revelations Svenska Dagbladet presented about the company in an investigative article series during July and August.
Upon closer examination of these articles I was left speechless.

What has been revealed is preposterous. Here are a few things:
- The drivers were not allowed to call individuals who were waiting for their packages. Subsequently, these routines have now been changed, after Svenska Dagbladet’s exposure.
- National Post and Telecom Agency, PTS, has reported major quality defects.
- After great dissatisfaction, it has been discovered that PostNord has received over 40,000 complaints in 2015.

If we at NTEX would have conducted ourselves in this manner, this blog entry would have been written by another company – and our company would not have been around right now. Moreover, this applies to all private companies in this industry, which already have low margins.

In connection with the review, SvD received many tips from their readership, where it has been revealed how PostNord has driven past customers without delivering packages, and later saying that they had tried to deliver.

Here are some additional testimonies from Svenska Dagbladet's readers:
"At least four times in recent years I have had packages with home delivery that have failed," a reader from Hässleholm states.

"I have received a notice – or like today, 2016-08- 08 – an email, stating that they have tried to reach me, but that I have not been on site. I have been on site. I have had three clients ringing the doorbell, being admitted and dispensed between the hours of 10 am and 11 am today, and in the email it is stated that I was not on site at 10.18 am. Thus, the doorbell works fine for the customers ... but not for Postnord’s driver? "

"I have had huge problems with parcels sent to me, even with additional service for delivery," a reader from Norrköping comments.

"What’s happening is that the deliveries are documented as failed because no one has been at home; even though I have been at home and waiting for the packages, having a full view of the street outside where there was no mail truck at the times of the alleged delivery attempts."

"Sometimes, the drivers stop at our place but do not step out of the car because they believe that no one is on site. The next day, a notification from Postnord can be found in the mail box, saying that they have “attempted delivery, but no one was there”. Ultimately, we ourselves have picked up the goods from their terminal, because they have demanded additional payments to deliver the goods again. Postnord has been given clear instructions that the delivery must be notified approximately an hour to 30 minutes before. However, this is never done. The comment from the driver is that they do not have phones in the car."

Something has to be done about Postnord

By: Thomas Ström 9/2/16

Exciting inspection in Svenska Dagbladet


During 2008, the Swedish and Danish states were supposed to create “the North’s best” logistics company. They did it by merging the postal offices in Sweden and Denmark.
Funnily enough, this was published on the 1st of April.
After eight years it’s a complete disaster.
The quality has reached bottom levels, the same goes concerning the staff satisfaction, and the profits have plummeted.
At the same time, Postnord cannot account for the 7.5 billion SEK the fusion was supposed to provide.

I know, I have been writing about this before, but more people need to know about this mess.

Postnord is a company that “takes over” the customers the rest of us carriers cannot afford to keep. The company provides the customers with prices so low that we, the smaller companies, need to subsidize our transports. This has even been communicated. The reason is that they want to “obtain more market shares”. If any of the private companies that compete on the market would have conducted such an operation, it would have probably led to a quick bankruptcy.

The background to this fiasco is very well illustrated in a series of nine articles through July and August in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

I conclude this post by publishing large parts of one of the articles written by Joel Dahlberg and Torbjörn Isacson, published on the 18th of July in SvD.

The merged and powerful group was considered crucial for the postal service to maintain a high level in Sweden. An important argument for the merger was that the arrangement, according to the government bill, "demonstrates an opportunity through synergies enhancing the merged company's value by at least 7.5 billion SEK."

The first joint annual report, for 2009, was adorned with the title "The construction of the best Nordic communications and logistics company has begun." The CEO at the time, Lars G Nordström, described how the company "has continuously been delivering with high quality, and has obtained more satisfied customers and coworkers."
In 2010 the title of the annual report was "A successful Nordic merger". Nordstrom now explained that "The right size provides the right conditions. In a developing context, the size of the business is of vital importance."

But in time for the next annual report, it was time for a new CEO to take the floor. Lars Idermark, lastly known from the skein at Swedbank, where he now again become chairman, wrote that "Postnord will be a more flexible and innovative company that will continue to deliver service and world-class quality."

The annual report for 2013 was entitled "Improved earnings and clearer directions forward." Now it was yet another CEO who took the floor; Håkan Ericsson was the fourth in the few years since the merger was announced.
"We constantly identify new opportunities to coordinate, develop and streamline the operations," Håkan Ericsson stated.

Subsequently, the supporting slogan was "We deliver!"
Actually, PostNord was delivering less, deteriorating and with a virtually non-existent profitability. According to the PTS’ fresh audits, last year the quality – measured by the proportion of A-letters distributed on the following day – dropped to a uniquely low level, probably the lowest in decades.

Last year, mail volumes decreased by a further eight percent in Sweden and 16 percent in Denmark. Since the millennium, more than half of the A-letter volumes in Sweden have disappeared. In Denmark, more than four out of five first class letters have moved on to digital mail. The first July this year, they disappeared completely.
From the Swedish Posten having a high international quality with over 95 per cent of A-letters arriving the next day, the quality has undoubtedly dropped. Both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction has declined.

In 2008, the last year before the Swedish and Danish postal companies merged, the group reported pro-forma sales of 45.8 billion SEK, an operating income of close to 3 billion SEK and an operating margin of 6.3 percent. Together, the Swedish and Danish postal services were one of the largest companies in the North, with over 51,000 employees.

Since then, the numbers have significantly deteriorated. The turnover for Postnord last year was slightly over 39 billion SEK, with an operating profit of 500 million SEK. The operating margin last year finished on a meager 1.4 percent, meaning that Posten earned 1.40 SEK per hundred SEK in revenue. The year before, Posten did not even manage to earn 1 SEK per hundred SEK.
The goal is a return on net assets of 10.5 percent. Last year, the group was barely halfway there. The year before, the group could not even reach one third of the objective.

Although the number of employees has been cut to about 35,000, the reduced costs are still insufficient to fend off the rapid loss of revenue.

At the same time, the question concerning what has become of the great synergy profits of 7.5 billion that was promised from the start remains unanswered. They were supposed to come from both savings and better utilization of both companies' services in the different markets.

From Postnord's PR department, the answer is "We have not divided the synergies that the merger entailed, but it is mainly in purchasing, administration and IT the synergies has been formed. We also realized soon after the merger that further significant cost savings were imperative, in order to meet the letter volume loss an increased digitization rate means. The operation would have required government funding if we had not done very substantial changes, provided synergies and removed very high costs."

Another result of the company's decline is the conditions for an IPO. Maud Olofsson, the Minister for Enterprise at the time, said in April 2008 that an IPO "is a good way to go" but today, the plans have been scrapped. 

This autumn we will be part of a major EU project in collaboration with Chalmers

By: Thomas Ström 8/31/16

From the 1st of September, we will be part of a large EU project.
The objective of the project is to create a digital ecosystem, where transport operators can share information with each other in a much easier way than how it is done today.
The total budget for the project is 16 million euros, and NTEX part consists of 250 000 euros.

Along with Chalmers we will handle one of eleven "living labs", where there’ll be research and development in parallel with the regular ongoing activities.
- Together we will be a part of a process that creates an infrastructure where it is possible to pursue both development and research in a structured way, says Per Olof Arnäs, lecturer at Chalmers.
- In practice this means that we have our staff with us and develop the systems on site, in order to collect and analyze data.
- During three years, we will build, test and further develop the digital ecosystem.

In total, the project includes 34 different partners. Chalmers is one of four research institutions in the project and the only one from Scandinavia, while NTEX is one of two Swedish companies.
- One of these living labs will be hosted by NTEX, but the location has not been decided yet, says Per Olof Arnäs.
For NTEX, this means that we can develop a system solution for digitizing the process and the exchange of information between the driver and the terminal. It will also facilitate the sharing of information to Customs in order to streamline the border crossing to Norway.

Stockholm pulls ahead in the arena issue...

By: Thomas Ström 7/12/16

Why does everything take so long in Gothenburg?


During the last years, several top modern arenas have been built in the Capitol, attracting all of the large events.
Now a renovation of Globen is in the plans, and also a teardown of the classic Johanneshov. Gothenburg is slipping further and further down the list for hosting interesting events, due to amazingly slow politicians. 

In Stockholm, there is an outcry when talking about destroying Johanneshov. In Gothenburg, no one even raises an eyebrow when there's talk about tearing down Nya Ullevi or Scandinavium. Nevertheless, Gothenburg is nowhere near a new arena. 

Why does everything take so long in Gothenburg? Nobody dares to make a decision, and the parties are not doing anything in particular in order for the city to develop and being able to compete with other big cities in the North. Despite Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden and Håkan Hellström playing at Nya Ullevi, it feels like Gothenburg's days as the "event Capitol" are nothing but a memory. 

The issue about a new arena in the country's second city has been up for discussion for over a decade. In the middle of May this year, the Social Democrats, the Left party, and the Alliance declared that they have an agreement regarding the fact that "the city needs an arena in close proximity to Scandinavium's current location". 
Once again, an investigation has been appointed. The issue is to be "quickly investigated" until 2017. The investigation is going to focus on the appearance of the new arena and how it should be financed. 
Why does everything take so long in Gothenburg?

The objective is for the arena to be "an arena with the capacity of 16 000 to 22 000 sitting spectators and appealing enough to attract the greatest artists". The politicians agree on this point, but when it comes to the time schedule - there's a different tune. Some dream of the arena being ready in time for the jubilee year 2021, while others say that the construction work will take five to six years after the investigation is finished. 

In Stockholm, the plan now is to tear down Johanneshov and at the same time renovate and "spruce up" Globen. Hopefully it will all be done in 2019. In comparison with this, one can't help but wonder: 
Why does everything take so long in Gothenburg?

It’s one thing to use your cellphone with a hands-free while driving

By: Thomas Ström 5/30/16


But ban surfing the web behind the wheel and introduce severe punishments


I think it’s OK to talk on the phone using your hands-free while driving; but to send texts and e-mails or surf the web at the same time is completely unacceptable.
Against this background, I can’t help but wonder – how explicit is the traffic ordinance from December 2013?
Now, it’s time for its effect to be studied.
My position is crystal clear: introduce a clear prevention against surfing the web behind the wheel with severe punishments as a consequence.

This is the updated text since 2013: “You must not use the cell phone or any other communications devices in a way that will make you inattentive and therefore a traffic hazard while driving.” But who can determine and prove this?

During March and April this year, 31 people were killed and several hundred were seriously injured in road traffic. That’s four more deaths than during the same period last year. I’m convinced that one of the reasons is the so-called "surf the web behind the wheel".
I plea this conduct to be banned as quickly as possible and for those who violate the restriction to receive severe punishments.

An important conclusion, which I received from the Transport Agency, is that anyone who looks down at their phone for two seconds when driving at 40 km / h does not have a clue of what’s happening during 22 meters. They are completely lost – which could easily be equated with drug impaired drivers.

It would be interesting to partake of the statistics on the number of people that have been fined and lost their driver’s license since the current regulation was introduced. I believe the number is very low.

The rules are fuzzy for both the police and those driving. This ambiguity is also the reason that there are still many who do not have knowledge that the driver may not use his/her cell phone to send text messages, watch movies or surf the web while driving.
How else could you possibly explain that I see people on a daily basis – even professional drivers – using their phones while driving?

The refining in the traffic ordinance aimed to achieve a more secure use of communication while driving. Now the Transport Agency has been tasked by the government to evaluate if perhaps the change was inadequate.

The evaluation will be completed no later than the April 24, 2017.
I hope it will be completed faster than that. And as I said; just ban the shit already.

Photo: Pixabay


From an environmental perspective, it is no longer justifiable to choose the Öresund Bridge

By: Thomas Ström 5/20/16

Earlier this week I was reached by wonderful news from one of our suppliers.
HH Ferries announced that they are going to invest 300 million SEK to improve the environment in Öresund. Among various things, they are going to reduce emissions.
Before the end of 2017, the company will install batteries to operate two of their ferries.

This means that the road user driving a fossil-powered vehicle, the environmental impact will be significantly less negative if they choose the ferry between Helsingborg and Helsingör instead of the Öresund Bridge in the future.
Adding to the fact that it is a 50 km longer route via the bridge in Malmö when making your way down to the continent; it is going to be difficult from an environmental point of view not to take the ferry.

The shipping company is among the first ones in the world to transition to pure battery power on these types of large ferries used on high-intensity routes like Helsingborg – Helsingör.

After the realignment, the ferries’ harbor stops and crossing times will be unchanged compared with today. The vessels will be charged at each harbor stop by electricity from newly built charging stations.

The renovation is the largest single investment project in HH Ferries’ history and is expected to amount up to nearly 300 million SEK. INEA, the EU's administrative body for innovation and networking, has chosen to support the project with approximately 120 million SEK. The contribution from the EU has been a key element in the decision to invest in this new technology.

Subsequently, HH Ferries will evaluate the experiences of the first two battery powered ferries and then decide whether the company's other vessels can be adapted to the route's green profile.

The whole conversion process to battery power of the two ships can be monitored at HH Ferries’ website and also in the company’s distributed quarterly reports. The first modifications of the vessels will be made during autumn of 2016 and the actual installation of the batteries will take place in 2017.

Picture: Tycho Brahe // HH Ferries Group


So unnecessary!

By: Thomas Ström 5/6/16

In the past, firefighters died in fires
– now they die due to lack of respect in traffic


It has now been a week since a firefighter died during a rescue operation on the E6 highway near Munkedal.
I was not far away when it happened. I had been farther north and was on my way to Gothenburg. I sat in the subsequent queues.
Afterwards I have been thinking quite a lot of the dead man's family, including a seven year old daughter. So damn unnecessary!

All because people are too busy, and the fact that in recent years an increasing amount of motorists do not display sufficient respect at accident sites – especially on roads with high speeds.
I have heard testimonials from rescuers and road workers about how they have had pyramidal signs overrun, and on slippery roads they have had cars sliding broadside against them. Clearly too many show lack of consideration in traffic.

This has led to firefighters no longer dying in fires, but on the roads when they are saving lives.
It has to stop now. In the long run, there is no gain for anyone, not even those who arrive ten minutes earlier due to lack of consideration at the scene of an accident or roadworks.

We can expect that the accident in Munkedal will have consequences. This was the third accident in a short time, in which a firefighter was killed in traffic. Now one after one, the fire and rescues services around the country are announcing that they will change the procedures in connection with traffic accidents. From now on, they will block the accident site both from behind and in front of the accident. I think it is absolutely right. After all – you are doing it to protect the victims and the emergency response personnel.

Let this be a wake-up call!
Take it easy in traffic and respect the people working alongside the roads!

There are alternatives to the high-speed trains!

By: Thomas Ström 4/14/16

Improve the domestic flights and invest in green fossil-free fuel


There are a lot of people talking about high-speed trains these days.
I wonder why there are so few highlighting the importance of developing our domestic flights?
A well-functioning air transport is crucial for jobs and growth throughout the country.
If the development could also be done with green and largely fossil-free fuels, with less negative impact on the environment – that would be fantastic.

There is no doubt that Stockholm is the economic engine of Sweden. But the capital city cannot manage without the rest of Sweden. In order to take advantage of the expertise and talent available across the country, the capital needs quick and easy connections with the whole kingdom. It is not enough to have functioning communications with Malmö and Gothenburg.

But if the aviation is to be developed, it needs to reduce its emissions. I recently took part of a document where UN’s international climate panel estimated that aviation accounts for approximately two percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. With biofuels and more modern aircrafts, the emissions of fossil carbon dioxide could be half of that in 10 years. In extension, this could mean that we have a completely fossil-free domestic flight in 15-20 years.

Over the years, Sweden has been recognized as a pioneer within several areas. If we also develop a fossil-free fuel for flights, our position will be further strengthened.
What if the state, in accordance with a pulp and paper producer, would build a manufacturing plant for biofuels at home? If the production chain is maintained in Sweden, the development and production will create many new green jobs and export opportunities.

If we want to kick-start the development towards a Swedish fossil-free domestic flight, our politicians need to take the lead.
One idea would be if they set goals that promote investment and development of a greener aviation in Sweden. If a green conversion is possible, there must be access to bio fuels to a competitive price. For example – there are residues from the forestry and pulp industry in Scandinavia which would make excellent raw material. It is both sustainable and locally produced.

Nevertheless, building a large-scale production surely is a major investment. These investments will not happen unless there is a large enough demand and politically clear rules of play.

Another thought would be if the politicians could apply emissions ceilings to the government’s own travels by domestic flights. Today, Sweden’s largest buyers of domestic flights are the municipal, the state and the counties. If an emissions ceiling would be put on these flights, the development of a greener aviation would be encouraged. Also, the demand on biofuel would increase.

Another point would be if the state covered the difference in price between fossil fuel and biofuel. This could ultimately be the start signal needed for the companies who are reluctant when it comes to investing in a large-scale Swedish production of biofuel.

Considering this background, it is not difficult to realize that domestic flights are a great alternative to high-speed trains.


You are ruining the Swedish market!

By: Thomas Ström 4/4/16

Why should unprofitable transports be financed with tax money?


The price development of transports from Sweden to the continent are largely the same today as it was in the late 90s.
For example – it is cheaper to send a trailer from central Sweden to Munich than it is to buy a transport from Hamburg to Bavaria.

There are numerous factors for this, but one of the main reasons is that state-owned companies like Bring, PostNord, DHL, Schenker and others are undercutting prices in an already highly competitive market.

Is it really reasonable to finance unprofitable transports by tax revenues?
Is it really reasonable that state companies should take market shares with the help of a pricing they know from the start will mean losses for the business?
Obviously, entering new markets at whatever costs is no big deal.

In my world, this is completely insane. What happens the day the Swedish government and parliament decides that tax money should not be used to cover the losses of transport? Will there even be any Swedish private companies left then?
My firm opinion is to immediately stop this madness.
State companies should engage in social functions and social structure – not compete with the private industry.

Picture: Pixabay


The Infrastructure Minister defends unprofitable projects

By: Thomas Ström 2/26/16

Perhaps I don’t have the whole picture before me, but more often than not I have great difficulties understanding several politicians and the decisions they make.
In my latest blog post I wrote about a group of traffic researchers who suggest that a large part of the big investments being made to build rails and roads in Sweden are downright unprofitable.
Now, I also wish to convey what Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson (S) has to say about this matter.
According to various media, she argues that "politicians actually have to push these investments to steer the society in new ways."

Anna Johansson (S) is not actually contradicting the researchers. But she’s saying that the calculations are not taking into account the major changes occurring in our society, e.g. that the population is set to grow significantly faster than what was believed a few years ago.

In particular, she claims that the politicians who are making the decisions in practice must take into account many more things than what can fit into the economic analyses.
She says: "As politicians we cannot just follow the forecasts; what we want is to influence the development of society. If, for example, the objective is to be able to live and work in all of Sweden, you have to accept that we may carry out some unprofitable projects".

The next big project, which the researchers believe to be highly unprofitable, is the prospect of a high-speed rail in Sweden. Here, the forecasts proved that the venture will become economically unprofitable. Nevertheless, despite the strong criticism towards the project, the work of the rails is in full swing.

When it comes to the high-speed rails, Anna Johansson is quoted in the media in the following manner: "The high-speed railways are extremely important in order to achieve better relations and enhance the railway’s capacity. As it is now, the trails will be built, but there is a great uncertainty about the costs, the benefits attained and also how the funding should be solved. The project cannot crowd out other initiatives."

What does she mean, really? It is clear that all of the billions of Swedish crowns which will be needed for the high-speed rails will be taken from other infrastructure projects. What will happen, for example, with the necessary double rail between Gothenburg and Oslo? Will it ever happen if the high-speed rails become a reality? I don’t think so.
But as I said; I have difficulties understanding how a large part of our elected politicians think.

Picture: railroad tracks from Shinkansen, a highspeed railway network in Japan. Photo: By Tennen-Gas via Wikimedia Commons


A researcher quartet: ”We’re wasting billions on new railways”

By: Thomas Ström 2/10/16

I recently took part in an interesting communiqué that I just have to retell. Four established traffic researchers have conducted it; they had gone through the Swedish investments in roads and railways, and concluded that a number of the investments are straight up unprofitable.

In the report it is clear that the state will add about 44 billion on maintenance and investments in roads and railways. Until 2021 this makes about 157 billion SEK, which taxpayers are forced to pay. However, will the traffic be better?
The four researchers, who inspected the Swedish transport policy, respond “no” to this question.

They have looked through the last ten years and found that one third, 61 billion SEK, of all infrastructure investments have been unprofitable from a socioeconomic perspective. Some examples they are highlighting are the railway investments in the City Tunnel in Malmö, the West Link in Gothenburg and, above all, the planned tracks for high-speed trains.

The calculations are based on weighing the cost of building a road or rail versus what the actual benefits are in terms of shorter travel times, new commuting possibilities, improved labor market, less pollution, and more.

According to the report, a series of projects have been implemented – even though they do not provide enough benefit.
– It is a huge waste of money. We spend 44 billion on infrastructure.
– We could save 10-20 billion of that money, says Maria Börjesson, one of the authors and an associate professor of transportation analysis at KTH.

According to Maria Börjesson, the general impression that Sweden is investing too little in infrastructure is downright inaccurate.
– If only we had invested in profitable projects, the money we are investing in infrastructure projects in Sweden would have sufficed plentifully.

According to the researchers, the most current example is the investment in high-speed railroads in Sweden. There have been predictions that the investment would be economically unprofitable, and the criticism of the project is severe. But the work of tracks is in full swing. The same prognosis applies to the West link, according to the researchers. 

Give the police more resources!

By: Thomas Ström 1/29/16

There are only 18 traffic police officers left in Greater Gothenburg


The police and its resources is a pretty hot topic right now.
And it’s only getting worse.
This week, for example, the traffic police force in Gothenburg has become even smaller.
As I see it, the only solution is that the government has to assign more resources.

The development within the police has not followed our country’s expansion. In recent years we have become more and more residents, while the traffic on our roads has increased. But the number of police officers has not augmented. Now, there is talk of the need for a further 1500-2000 police officers. I really hope that our politicians will devote some resources to solve this.

I am not saying that we should become a police state, but I want us to be safe on our streets and ride safely on our roads.

From NTEX and the transport industry’s perspective, I am thinking about the traffic police officers above all. This seems to be crazy.
It is difficult to understand that as of this week, 18 traffic police officers are working the ground in Gothenburg. Ten years ago they were 56. These 18 must also be of assistance in Borås and Uddevalla.

To me this seems to be pure madness.
I believe no one has been able to avoid that the traffic on our roads has increased significantly in recent years?
During the last years the Swedish heavy truck traffic has increased by 20 percent. Add to that all foreign traffic – which is becoming heavier every year – and it's not hard to figure out that this is an impossible task to uphold for so few police officers.
Traffic police officers should check loads, the driving and resting times, the trucks themselves, and ensure that foreign truckers do not to perform illegal transportation in the country and so on.

The equation does not add up. There should be many more traffic police officers on our roads; otherwise we could be facing big problems in traffic. Moreover, there is a great risk that the competition in the transport industry will become completely distorted, as fewer controls invites people to stretch the statutory rules, for example.
Give the police more resources now!

Photo: Traffic control/The Swedish Police


About Ströms blogg


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

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