How Can the Swedish Transport Administration Launch a New Traffic Management System Right Before Christmas?

By: Thomas Ström 12/19/22

Bear with me, but I must express my amazement at the Transport Administration’s poor planning. Two weeks before Christmas, this government agency deems it necessary to switch to a completely new traffic management system. Again, two weeks before Sweden’s by far most complicated travel holiday.
How is this even possible?

Everyone knows that switching IT systems in almost any area can be a very complicated matter and cause disruptions for quite some time after the transition. Most people also understand that the more actors and individuals involved, the greater the risk of bugs and other errors.

But these are clearly factors that the Swedish Transport Administration has not included in its transition to the new traffic management system, which affects all train companies that operate on our railways, and which have their own internal systems that must be integrated with the agency’s new system.

It all took place on the night of Sunday 11 December. The business and employer membership organisation Tågföretagen was very worried, and still is. The background to this is that the new system has performance issues and that it is working more slowly than it was said and intended to. Moreover, there have been some bugs that have led to a situation where various train companies, such as SJ, have not been able to test the new system against their own until very late in the transition process.

My understanding is that there is still a risk that problems will arise between the Transport Administration's new management system and the various train companies’ own internal systems. This is at least my interpretation of Tågföretagen’s Industry Expert Lina Lagerroth’s comment to Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet: “We have seen some timetables that look absolutely mad, so we are fairly certain that there will be some disruptions.”

The new train traffic management system has been implemented because the previous system was very old and required manual planning by the Transport Administration. Tågföretagen have not been opposed to moving to a more modern system, but they had hoped for a transition in about two years, 2024.

And I’m guessing they would have wanted the transition take place a different time of year. A time when there is not already a high risk of delays due to snow and low temperatures.

And not just before the busiest travel weekend of the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!