The Swedish National Audit Office is also critical of the high-speed rail

By: Thomas Ström 12/20/19

A few weeks ago, the Swedish National Audit Office (Swedish NAO) presented an interesting report. In the report, the authority directs harsh criticism towards the planned high-speed railway and highlights what I have been saying since discussions about this project started. What the Swedish NAO mainly emphasizes in its criticism is the following:

  • The costs have increased significantly,
  • Cheaper alternatives have not been investigated.
  • Other important projects risk not being prioritized.

In fact, they believe that the faults are so serious that the government is being called to review the entire project. I really hope they do.

When the discussions began, regarding high-speed trains between Sweden's three major cities, the support from the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) was strong. All four conservative parties as well as the Social Democrats, the Swedish Green Party and the Left Party said yes.

However, over time, the political support has waned and now the Moderate Party, the Sweden Democrats and the Christian Democrats say no. In addition, Nyamko Sabuni and the Liberals said that they only support the expansion if the Moderates support it, which they do not.

Now, the next big miscalculation for the project has been presented. After reviewing the plans, the Swedish NAO has now recommended the government to step on the brakes.

The main reason for this is that the costs have increased significantly. According to the Swedish Transport Administration's latest calculation, the bill now amounts to 250 billion SEK, to be compared with the 50 billion SEK budgeted at the beginning. This is 200 billion SEK more. But it doesn’t stop there. In its report, the Swedish NAO writes that there are "significant risks" for costs increasing even more and refers to experiences from similar projects in other countries.

The report concludes that the project is unprofitable. They also see great risks in other more profitable being pushed aside. According to the Swedish NAO, every invested hundred crowns in the high-speed railway gives 40 SEK in return. The average for other projects in the national transport plan gives 150 SEK in return.

The Swedish NAO also points out a number of shortcomings in the planning of the project. There are investigations that have been rushed, basic analyses missing, and also other, cheaper alternatives, which have never been investigated. In addition, no trials have been conducted in which different solutions and costs are evaluated against each other.

The authority also states, which is most startling, that the planning of the new high-speed railway has not taken into account whether the investment is socioeconomically efficient. The request to the government is to not make any new decisions regarding the high-speed trains until the planning has been redone in the proper manner. I really hope that will happen.


What is going to take so long before we get more and safer rest areas along our Swedish roads?

By: Thomas Ström 11/28/19

In my latest blog post I wrote that the Swedish Transport Administration has been given a government assignment to develop measures for safer parking areas along our Swedish roads. The Swedish Transport Administration's assignment is expected to be completed by 2029. Does it really have to take an entire decade? What is going to happen before then?

I respect that it will take time to gather information, perform analyses and create strategies and plans. But I’m hoping for actions long before then.

The entire industry, as well as transport buyers, the police, the Swedish Transport Administration and politicians agree that something has be done about the problem.

Why not start by implementing some of my and the industry's proposals for actions in parallel with investigations and the preparation of additional proposals and plans?

A number of good and simple suggestions that I, and many in the industry along with me, think that you can start with next year already are: 

  • Introduce camera surveillance on all existing rest areas with modern technology.
  • Quickly build a number of new rest areas adjacent to Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.
  • Convert provisional parking locations, which the drivers themselves have been forced to find in connection with the big cities, into permanent rest areas.
  • Provide these parking locations with toilets, sanitary facilities, lighting and camera surveillance.

 How hard can it be?!

If these things were to be carried out, I am convinced that we would see a reduction in the crimes at our rest areas and parking locations. We would get safer rest areas where our drivers would feel greater security while the society would save several costs.

Thomas Ström

We need more and safer rest areas along our roads

By: Thomas Ström 11/21/19

Almost half of Sweden's professional drivers state that at some point, they have been subjected to crimes at a rest areas or parking location in Sweden. Meanwhile, as many as 70 percent of the drivers see crimes against occupational traffic as a problem. 
The reason for this is that today there are far too few and safe rest areas along our Swedish roads.

In Sweden, there are between 12 000 and 15 000 drivers at the moment, who are obliged to take breaks a number of times per day if they themselves and their haulers do not want to risk being fined. But in connection with the big cities, primarily, several of them have nowhere to park their vehicle to take their statutory rest. Therefore, they are forced to find other parking locations, where both themselves and the vehicles are significantly more exposed.
During the past year, the police have received 1 300 reported crimes linked to this.
According to the police, these are no random crimes, but well-planned efforts by both nationally and internationally organized leagues.

The traffic and the crimes increase, but the rest areas do not. Something has to be done and on a positive note, the Swedish Transport Administration has been given a government assignment where they will present proposals on how the lack of safe parking locations along our Swedish roads should be remedied.

The tragic side of it is that the assignment is expected to be completed by 2029. That’s a whole decade!

According to the Swedish Transport Administration, some things are going happen in the meantime. Let’s really hope so.

Thomas Ström

The Swedish Transport Administration's money for the railroad for this year has run out! - I am glad that more people are hesitant about high-speed trains

By: Thomas Ström 10/18/19

In 2016 already, I started writing on this blog about how insane I think it is to invest hundreds of billions of Swedish crowns in high-speed trains, prior to fixing our existing rail network. At the end of last month, the Swedish Transport Administration announced that they were cutting back on the maintenance of our railways this year, simply because there is no more money. Several thousands of people has been laid off, despite the politicians' promises of investments in the railway. Against this background, I find it difficult to understand how someone can continue propagating the high-speed trains.

The high-speed rail could be ready in about 20 years, but Sweden faces major social challenges linked to jobs, integration, business cycles, climate and housing, which must be solved now –not in 20 years. It becomes especially clear now that the Swedish Transport Administration has had to stop maintenance for this year.

Therefore, I gladly embraced KD's decision, which was published on October 2, to follow the Moderates and Liberals in their decision to behesitant towards the high-speed railways. The background to this is that the government has not made any proposals for financing a project that has been estimated to cost at least 230 billion SEK.

I firmly believe that this money should be invested in maintenance and expansion of our existing railroad. Without any party political valuation, I am glad that some parties are now beginning to say no to this madness. Soon, I hope everyone will follow. I have always argued that the money, which the expansion of the high-speed trains would entail, should instead be invested in the railway we already have.

The Swedish Transport Administration believes that 200 billion SEK in maintenance is needed by 2030, while at the same time pointing out that capacity must increase as the need for more trains is growing. Something must be done immediately.

As I have written earlier, there is a lack of maintenance, not least when it comesthe regional railways. Right now, the railways are neglected to the extent that the Swedish Transport Administration does not consider itself able to continue. Over the years, they have gone from preventive rail maintenance to concentrating largely on fault-remediation measures. Measures that are more expensive than maintenance, which has caused costs to skyrocket. This is also the reason why they now have to stop the maintenance work, three months before the end of the year.

The neglected maintenance has in turn resulted in problems with rails, delayed trains, lower speed, etc. Thisin turn has resulted in more travelers choosing the car,and the industry choosing trucks instead of trains. It is safe to say that this has become a profoundly negative spiral. Here you can read more about the Swedish Transport Administration canceling maintenance for the rest of the year.

Thomas Ström

Focus on reducing the coal power in the world in half and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions

By: Thomas Ström 10/3/19

We at NTEX, as well as several other companies, operate with HVO diesel, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to fossil diesel fuel. If all transport companies in the world would do this, the transport sector’s impacton the climate would decrease dramatically.
However, it will take time before we are there.

Sweden today accounts for about 0,1% of the world's CO2 emissions from combustionof coal, gas and oil. Compared to the two countries that emit the most, China and the United States, it is almost nothing. China emits almost 28 percent, while the United States accounts for just over 15 percent.

One of the biggest offenders when it comes to CO2 emissions is coal power. It accounts for about 30 percent of all the world's CO2 emissions. Against this background, it is quite strange that one of the major debates now is about aviation and its impact on the environment. In fact, aviation accounts for about 2 percent of all the world's CO2 emissions while coal power, as mentioned, accounts for 30 percent.

Still, there is talk about flight shame and that we should cut the aircraft's CO2 emissions in half. I am not hearing anything about doing the same withcoal power. Sure, I agree that we should work on reducing the environmental impact of aviation. But what if we could also get everyone in the world using coal power to reduce it or stop it altogether? Imagine what a huge reduction in CO2 emissions it would be if we focused on cutting the use of coal power in half.

Against this background, I think we should expand our nuclear power. It is much safer now than when we started with it. One facility that should beback into operation is Barsebäck, which is one of the world's safest nuclear power plants. With Barsebäck operating again, the Danes could buy good energy from us and we would not have to feel the smell of burning kerosene and coke from the Danes whenever the western wind is blowing.

Thomas Ström

Reintroduce border controls between European countries

By: Thomas Ström 9/27/19

Shootings and executions in the street in the middle of the day, as well as a bombing in Denmark and a police shooting in Finland.

There you have some of the recent atrocities that the criminal networks in Sweden have committed.

Like many others, I am beginning to get tired of our politicians' lenience when it comes to criminal gangs and networks, who look at Sweden as a sanctuary without punishments.

Given what is happening all over Europe and not least in Sweden right now, I really think it is time for firmer times. Thisis why I think that border controls ought tobe reintroduced when it comes to people and goods. I do not mean that you should have to declare things, just introduce border controls.

Through police and customs, I do have good knowledge that large quantities of weapons and other illegal goods are being shipped to Sweden. Border controls would stop the possibility for the criminal networks to expand.

I am aware of the fact that this concerns a small group who are ruining it for the large mass, as many times before. The criminals from other countries are creating an incitement and suspicion towards everyone with foreign background –it is enough to visit our District courts and our Appeal Courts to confirm that. It has to stop!

The majority of our immigrants stay within the law. A lot of them are struggling with their education and work, and in many cases they are creating fantastic careers for themselves.

Let those who have legitimate asylum reasons and want to becomepart of the Swedish model stay, and focus on deportingall newly arrived immigrants who commit crimes. And as previously stated –reintroduce border controls between all European countries.

Thomas Ström

There are no easy jobs!

By: Thomas Ström 9/13/19

No demand for uneducated people –invest in education.

Let those with competencies from their home countries work in Sweden. Some of our politicians are saying that the persons who are far from the labor market today should take "easier jobs" with relatively low wages. This proposal does not make any sense to me.

What is an easier job, really? As I see it, there are no “easier” jobs in Sweden today. Some say that cleaning jobs are examples of easier jobs, for example, but it is by no means a simple job. In addition, we already have enough cleaners and if we were to classify this profession as a simpler job, it would automatically mean that the people already working within the industry would have to lower their existing wages for others to enter the labor market. How can that be fair?

No, we do not need any simple jobs in Sweden today. We have a high-tech industry together with all the surrounding businesses, who are screaming for qualified workers to withstand the continued positive development. Moreover, there are enormous recruitment needs in other industries, such as health care and the school. Consequently, we are lacking qualified workforces. This is despitethe fact that some of those who have moved to Sweden in recent years have the skills and are educated in their home countries, but are not allowed to work. This is incomprehensible to me. 

I also find it difficult to understand when companies have recruited specialists and experts for Swedish companies and then they get deported. I think the Swedish Migration Board has this all wrong.Why not take advantage of all immigrants who have proven to have high competence from their home countries. Then, for example, experienced surgeons would not have to sit in the squares in our small and medium-sized municipalities (eg Filipstad) and not know how to make the time go.

Well, what can you say? We are really bad at integration.

Thomas Ström

We have to have a stricter attitude towards diesel thefts

By: Thomas Ström 6/14/19

In the hauler industry in Sweden, there is a lot of talk about cabotage regulations, penalties, etc. However, one thing is rarely noticed – the diesel thefts. Given that the fuel price is now at record-high levels, it feels important to describe the problem.

After conversations with some of the Swedish haulers driving for us at NTEX, it is apparent that this is a very common and widespread issue. Of the cars driving for NTEX, there is almost one car being emptied for diesel every week.

We are talking about organized diesel thieves driving around with a small truck and a large tank on the truck bed. Once they have identified a vehicle that no one is supervising, they break the tank cap and then use high-capacity pumps that can empty a tank of 600-700 liters under a few minutes. In cases where the haulers have invested in covering the tank with some security or special locks, the thieves just break it by making holes in the tank.

Yet, it does not stop there. On the occasion when something goes wrong and large amounts of diesel leak out on the site, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for the cleanup. Well, more correctly – a rather high insurance fee. The insurance company pays for the remaining costs.

The police are aware of what is happening but cannot do anything. Sometimes it happens that the diesel thieves are caught red-handed, but after a few hours, they are out again. The reason? The crime is dismissed due to lack of evidence! With this in mind, I can understand that some haulers ignore reporting to the police. It takes too much time and effort and gives back way too little.

So what do the thieves do with the stolen diesel? In several cases, they re-sell it to sub-prices – sometimes half the price – to less scrupulous haulers. Alternatively, they sell the diesel abroad. This is the reason why today it is possible to buy cheap transports for 50-60 SEK per mile, which is supposed to cover costs for expensive cars, fuels and drivers.

Another distinct market is the one where foreign haulers send their drivers cash that should suffice for refueling for the trip to and from Sweden. A full tank of 700 liters for 8 SEK per liter instead of 16 SEK per liter means 5 600 SEK right down the driver's own pocket, which can correspond to almost a whole month's salary in their native country.

Do I need to tell you that people in the industry are laughing at us in the rest of Europe? We have to get tougher and set examples. This cannot go on.

Thomas Ström

Differences in conditions are creating unfair competition between Swedish and European haulers

By: Thomas Ström 5/22/19

I have previously written about how competition between Swedish and European haulers is put out of play, since controls and extra sanction fees in Sweden only apply to Swedish haulers.

In this post, I will highlight some other factors that emphasize that these actors are playing by completely different conditions, which leads to the competition being distorted. This is something I hope that the EU will be able to contribute to change as soon as possible.

Most Swedish haulers invest heavily in new fuel-efficient vehicles with the least possible emissions to protect our environment. The latest Euro 6-rated engines emit next to nothing compared to their predecessors. According to BilSweden, a truck from the 70's releases as much nitrogen oxides and particles as 100 new trucks do today. A Euro 6-rated truck releases 95 percent less nitrogen oxides and 97 percent fewer particles than a Euro 1-rated diesel truck. It's no wonder that one of our hauler says: "These new trucks emit fresh mountain air."

But it’s pricey to invest in Euro 6-rated trucks. A new tractor unit with this type of standard costs about 1.4 million SEK in Sweden today. It’s a huge investment when all or large parts of the "fleet" are to be replaced. Meanwhile, we should be aware that in some European countries, the same trucks can be purchased for a roughly 300 000 SEK lower price. The competition is already put out of play right there.

But it gets worse. The Swedish haulers must comply with the Swedish Transport Administration's rules regarding driving and rest times word for word. In previous posts I have written about how strict the charges are if the driver breaks the rules in the slightest. For some companies, the total amount of fines could sum up to several hundred thousand Swedish crowns in one year. Because it is the human factor (i.e. the drivers) that determines how large the fees will be, the hauler is often unaware of the violations until the day the Swedish Transport Administration states its requirements. This has resulted in the Swedish haulers today budgeting with several hundred thousand Swedish crowns in additional fees during one year.

However, foreign haulers are not subject for review in Sweden. Their drivers can violate all the rules that their counterparts in the Swedish haulers must follow.

On the question why this is so, the Swedish Transport Administration responds: “But they are examined in their home countries in the same way as the Swedish haulers are here. The Swedish haulers will not be examined abroad. ”Several of the Swedish entrepreneurs I talked to are convinced that in many European countries there are not as many checks as in Sweden. Here too, the competition is unfair.

Along with a number of other factors, which I have written about and will write more about here on the blog in the future, the competition has been and will be unfair. Several foreign haulers therefore do not have to budget for extra sanction fees. And besides, they don't have to expect to pay as much for their trucks. It is no wonder that the Swedish haulers find it difficult to compete with the prices when it comes to transport to and from Sweden.

If the Swedish haulers are to win the contracts, they must be better at other things, such as service, quality, credibility and accessibility. We at NTEX work that way and try to help our partners to do the same. This is the reason why we are where we are today. Or as we usually say, "NTEX always does it a little bit better".


Thomas Ström

The increased penalties of the Swedish Transport Agency are putting the competition out of play

By: Thomas Ström 4/24/19

The Swedish Transport Agency's new sanction fees towards the haulage industry.
On March 1st last year, the Swedish Transport Agency’s sanction fees for Swedish haulers were raised from a maximum of 200 000 SEK or 10 percent of a company's turnover to 800 000 SEK or 1 percent of the turnover, during the two-month period being controlled in conjunction with a company control.
Meanwhile, nobody is controlling the foreign haulers' vehicles.
The competition is being put out of play.

This is what the Swedish Transport Agency states on its website. 
“The rules on driving and resting periods aim to ensure healthy competition between the players in the road transport sector, to give drivers a pleasant social situation and to contribute to fine road safety. The Swedish Transport Agency therefore carries out company inspections to see if Swedish companies comply with the rules and live up to the responsibility they have as a transport company.”

This could very well be the case. However, over xx per cent of all transports to and from Sweden are currently performed by foreign haulers, who are not affected by these controls.
None of them risk any sanction fees if their drivers make the same mistakes as the drivers who drive for Swedish haulers.

The Swedish haulage industry is already hard-hired. The lack of drivers, increased costs for fuel and low margins mean that several entrepreneurs choose to throw in the towel. They believe that they do not have the same terms when working as their foreign competitors.

The Swedish Transport Agency claims that it’s the same for Swedish haulers in the other EU countries. “The Swedish haulers are not controlled there. The haulage is only controlled on its home market.”
But that’s not really true. The difference is that many countries do not control their haulers in the same way as they do in Sweden. They only control the drivers.

The background is that Sweden has a requirement of controlling three per cent of all working days performed by drivers covered by the driving and resting rules.
The EU has determined which rules apply in all EU countries, but each member state decides for itself how large the fees should be and whether the driver or the hauler should pay. And that varies greatly. In Poland, for example, it’s the driver who has made the mistake and must pay the cost while in Spain it is the opposite – the driver does not pay anything.

In Sweden, the driver is inspected 28 days back in time and can get a maximum of 10 000 SEK in fees for the errors he / she has made.
On the other hand, when it comes to the offending driver’s Swedish haulage company, the Swedish Transport Agency can go 12 months back in time and check errors in the tachograph. The slightest deviation is registered and entails a fee.

Sweden is a big country and it takes a long time to drive from Malmö to Luleå. By law, the driver must stop and rest for 45 minutes after 4,5 hours of driving.
After nine hours in continuous driving time, he must then take a day off.
All of this can be followed in the tachograph 12 months back.
This means that a correct round-trip drive between Malmö-Luleå takes just over 70 hours, while a vehicle from a foreign haulage company that does not risk any controls, can stretch drive for about 20 hours. This is solved either by the driver having an extra driver card or by the fact that there are two drivers in the car for the price of one. After the stretch drive, the driver rests for a few hours and then it is time for new stretch driving again.
This means a time gain of just over 20 hours. It would not surprise me if the foreign haulers – who drive to and from northern Sweden – use this as an argument in their procurement with customers on the continent.
This is what I call a distorted competition.
Who wants to run a business under such conditions?

Professional drivers take advantage of Swedish haulers

By: Thomas Ström 4/4/19

There is a great shortage of professional drivers in Sweden and throughout Europe today.
This means that as a haulage owner, you try to make use of every possible opportunity that is available in order to acquire new or extra staff. This has resulted in a situation that has become very costly.
It appears that some drivers have put in system to take advantage of the Swedish haulers.

The reason is that Swedish haulers pay very well, usually between two to four times the monthly salaries compared to other countries. Some drivers therefore take the chance to work as much as possible for a limited amount of time.
This system is inviting people to cheat. Because who wants to rest for 45 hours during the weekend in a country you’re only going to work in for a few months?
This is why scrupulous drivers borrow licenses from peers that are currently not in service on the Swedish market. Or even worse: they use counterfeit licenses.

This way, a driver can work on his own driver's license for a haulage during the weeks and thanks to a borrowed or forged licenses for another haulage on the weekends.

Here's an example of a scenario:
A previously unknown person to the hauler gets in touch and says that he is a driver and wants to drive extra on the weekends to earn some extra cash. The person concerned has a valid driver’s license and driver card. The haulage company has no opportunity to check whether the driving license and driver card are correct, because no authority responds to these types of inquiries for intergrity reasons.
The driver gets the assignment to work for a few weekends.

The problem for haulers arises when the Swedish Transport Agency does a corporate control, which I have written about in my latest blog posts.
In some cases, the Swedish Transport Agency finds that the driver's licenses and/or driver cards are fake or stolen, and require fines from the hauler for every time it has been used by the driver. It doesn’t take a lot of times before the sanction fees are up to 100 000 SEK. 

When the hauler notifies the concerned driver, he or she can get upset and angry. "That’s not true, my papers are completely legal". The driver can prove his innocence.
When the haulage owner then raises this point in front of the Swedish Transport Agency, the sanction fees are written off in some cases. But in order to succeed with this, the haulage company must have a solid foundation of evidence. Therefore, it is no wonder that the law firms' fees to Swedish haulers have increased over the past year.

But since some haulers can deal with dozens of additional drivers within one year, it is difficult to confront all concerned drivers because they only worked a few weekends several months ago. It is impossible to find them to gain access to their evidence.
The haulage company can easily pay up to 100 000 SEK times nine drivers, i.e. 900 000 SEK.

The Swedish Transport Agency is careful to point out that they listen to arguments concerning each individual case. Therefore it is not surprising that haulers who contact lawyers to appeal often gets a reduction of their penalty fees to a certain extent. But as I already mentioned – the submission of evidence is always with the hauler.
Who can cope with running a business under such conditions?

Swedish haulers pay high fees for drivers' mistakes

By: Thomas Ström 3/13/19

Last week I wrote about the Swedish Transport Agency's raising of the sanction fees against Swedish haulers.
Last year on March 1st, they raised the maximum penalty from 200 000 SEK or 10 percent of the company's turnover to 800 000 SEK or 1 percent of turnover during the two-month period that the Swedish Transport Agency controls in connection with corporate control.
Here I give a few examples of what the Swedish Transport Agency is cracking down on during such a control and how much money it means for the haulers in fees.

The background is that the EU has established which rules apply in all member states, but each country decides how much the charges are and who has to pay – the driver or the hauler. And that varies greatly. In Poland, for example, it’s the driver who has made the mistake and takes the large cost while in Spain, it’s the opposite. There, the driver does not pay anything.

In Sweden, the driver is scrutinized 28 days back in time and receives a maximum of
10 000 SEK for the errors he / she has made.
However, when it comes to the faulty driver’s Swedish hauler, the Swedish Transport Agency can check and review faults in the travel computer 12 months back in time. The slightest deviation is registered and results in a fee.

What the Swedish Transport Agency focuses on in the travel computer during a company control is for example:

  • The driver has driven 1-30 minutes too long before taking a valid break or rest after 4 ½ hours of driving, which gives a penalty of 1 000 SEK per occasion.
  • The driver has driven without inserting his driver card in the tachograph: 8 000 SEK per occasion.
  • The driver holds or uses one or more driver cards: 4 000 SEK per occasion.
  • The driver has not specified start or end country in the tachograph: 500 SEK per occasion.

Here are some examples of how the Swedish Transport Agency fines the haulers afterwards.

  1. A driver has planned to stay in a specific rest area after 4 hours and 20 minutes. Once there, it turns out that the rest area is full and the driver is forced to move to the next rest area. Obviously, he can't stay on the highway. If the time to the next rest area takes longer than 10 minutes, he will be fined. 1-30 minutes means 1 000 SEK and over 31-1,5 hours means 2 000 SEK and anything beyond that means
    4 000 SEK.
  2. A driver who has to rest for 11 hours (how many adults can sleep for that long?) leaves six minutes early. Thus, the break in the tachograph shows 10,54 hours. This results in a fee of 1 000 SEK. A break of less than 8,5 hours means 4 000 SEK.
  3. During the weekend, the vehicles often need to be washed and maintained. At this point, the driver must drive about 50 meters in his own hauler’s parking lot, where there is often a separate wash station. This little drive then "ruins" the 45 hours long weekend break and, just like that, the hauler receives a 4 000 SEK fee. If a vehicle is driven without a driver card, the hauler might have to pay 4 000 SEK.

In other words, we are talking about minor offenses, which in some cases are also hard to avoid. So far, Swedish haulers have calculated a certain amount of sanction fees, sometimes up to 200 000 SEK over a two-month period.
But now, they should allow for 800 000 SEK or one percent of turnover instead.
This is in a low-margin industry, where several haulages are struggling to even reach breakeven.
Who has the energy to run a business under such conditions?

Fines imposed by the Swedish Transport Agency could devastate the Swedish haulage industry

By: Thomas Ström 3/1/19

On 1 March last year, the Swedish Transport Agency introduced new fines in the haulage industry.
As a result, many Swedish hauliers could face such high fines that they risk bankruptcy.
Of course regulations are necessary, but within reason.

In Sweden, there is a requirement to carry out checks on three percent of the days worked by drivers who are covered by the rules on driving and resting times. The Swedish Transport Agency and the Swedish Police Authority share the responsibility for carrying out these checks. This means that company checks are performed on half of the days and road checks are performed on the other half.

The EU has established the regulations that apply in all EU countries, but each member state decides the size of the fines and whether the driver or the haulier is liable to pay. The rules vary considerably between countries. For instance, in Poland the driver is charged a heavy fine for infringements. In Spain, on the other hand, the haulier is liable while the driver pays nothing.

In Sweden the driver is only checked for 28 days back in time and is subject to a maximum fine of SEK 10,000.
However, the Swedish Transport Agency can check the Swedish haulier that employs the offending driver for up to 12 months back in time and inspect the on-board computer for irregularities. Even minor infractions are registered and subject to fines.

So far, the maximum fine in Sweden has been SEK 200,000 or 10 percent of the haulier’s sales during the two-month period examined by the Swedish Transport Agency.
But as of March, the two-month ceiling will be raised to SEK 800,000 or 1 percent of sales.
This will wreak havoc in the Swedish haulage industry, which is already up against a severe shortage of drivers and low margins. 

Today all trucks and tractor units are equipped with digital tachographs, from which all manner of information can be retrieved. This, combined with the fact that each driver is required to insert a private driver card into the tachograph, allows the Swedish Transport Agency to retroactively monitor all the driver’s actions and vehicle use. 

Of course haulage companies should monitor their drivers’ actions and ensure they follow the rules, but because of the shortage of professional drivers in Europe, it is hard to protect hauliers from foul play. Many professional drivers work for less than a year with the same haulier, making it impossible to punish the driver retroactively. Instead, the haulier must bear the whole cost. The Swedish Transport Agency firmly maintains that hauliers are responsible for ensuring that their drivers know the rules and use the tachograph correctly.

Obviously I agree with this, but there needs to be some rhyme and reason.

Do not be mistaken - we live in a democratorship

By: Thomas Ström 1/30/19

The general picture in Sweden is that we live in a democracy.
But after the crazy display in recent months to form a government, in combination with the media's unilateral reporting, I am very hesitant.
I believe that we live in a democratorship.

In previous blog posts during this fall, I have been writing about how wrong I think it is that our politicians do more or less anything to remain in power or to get a chance for increased power. The latest government formation is an excellent proof of this.

To emphasize my thesis that we Swedes live in democratorship, here is an explanation of the word translated from Swedish Wikipedia:

“Democratorship is a concept in which modern democracies are criticized for hypocritical democracy and lack of power distribution, where more protection is requested against tyranny of the majority.

The origin of the word is unclear. The term is often attributed to the French sociologist Gerard Mermet, but has been used previously by other people.

For example, author Vilhelm Moberg used the word in a debate article in Dagens Nyheter on December 14, 1965, where he criticised a government proposal for press support."

This is how Vilhelm Moberg's definition of democratorship reads:

"In a democratorship, there are general and free elections and there is formally a freedom of opinion, but politics and the mass media are dominated by an establishment that believes only certain expressions of opinion should be publicised. The consequence is that citizens live in a notion that they convey an objective and comprehensive picture of reality. The oppression of thought is well hidden, the free debate is silenced. However, it should be added that in the definition of democratorship, the fact of the matter is that the majority of people in this social state do not perceive themselves as living in a democratorship.”

This is exactly how it is in Sweden at the moment. We live in a democratorship while the majority of us believe that it is a democracy.

I told you so…

By: Thomas Ström 1/16/19

New year, same traffic situation.
Gothenburg is growing fast, but there is a risk that when everything is done we are going to have an empty city center.

Last fall I wrote a debate article about how the current traffic situation is driving entrepreneurs towards bankruptcy. It was published in Swedish magazine GöteborgsPosten (GP), where we, just before Christmas, could also read about Albert Andersson’s Chark. They were forced to shut down their business in Saluhallen, where they had existed for 120 years.

120 years!

But now that 2019 is here, they have been forced to shut down their business. One of the owners, Magnus Knudsen, to GP:
– There are fewer customers now that everything is closed off. Soon the customers won’t be allowed here with their cars, and we cannot see any improvement for the next ten years, with Västlänken and all.

Well, I told you so.

I told you that I would not be surprised if there will be an increase in numbers of empty store premises within a few months, due to business owners who have been forced to close or go bankrupt because of the ongoing traffic situation in Gothenburg.

I am well aware that e-commerce claims large shares of customers from the stores. However, as far as I know, they are not buying their charcuteries online. As for other industries, there is no wonder why people choose to shop online before going to town. On the internet, the traffic flow is much better than in the city center. Regardless of your connection...

The traffic flow is also better in Partille (Allum), in Mölndal (Mölndal Galleria) and in Kungälv, where Kongahälla Shopping will be ready during 2019.
I understand the concerns of small business owners within the moat.

I did not want to be right in this scenario, but it really wasn’t very hard to predict. The question is – how could the politicians and decision makers not predict the same thing?

About Ströms blogg


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

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