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.