Travel Planner Pits Trains Against PlanesA new internet travel planner has been launched for domestic travel in Sweden, including Oslo and København. It lets users compare trips by train, express bus, air, sea, or any combination. Total travel time is listed, but not price. The travel planner says the fastest airline connection from Stockholm Central to Göteborg Central (454 km) takes 2:45, beating the fastest X 2000 connection by six minutes. (September 22nd)
Two Deaths in Sweden
Truck Driver Charged With ManslaughterThe driver of the truck/lorry which caused the train crash on a level crossing outside Kristianstad has been charged with manslaughter, as well as carelessness in traffic and causing injury. The driver is 61 years old and admits the circumstances but not the crime. So far no faults have been found on the crossing, which has lights, bells and barriers. The truck driver says the sun was shining on the lamp so he couldn't see if it was on or not. See also stories mentioning this TV report at DN and SvD, and definitions of manslaughter and of vållande till annans död. (September 22nd)
Two Train Drivers Dead in SwedenTwo train drivers died on the morning of Friday the 10th after their three-car diesel train collided with a truck/lorry at a level crossing near Kristianstad in southern Sweden. The front coach hooked into the truck, spun round 180°, and landed on its side. The other two derailed. Newspapers report that the trains run at 140-160 km/h at the site. See also aerial photos, other photos, interview with the truck driver, press releases from rail administration Banverket and Jarnvag.net pages on the railway and train. (September 12th)
Union Sues EmployerThe Seko union is taking Linx to the Swedish Labour Court for laying off workers. Seko says SJ is taking over Linx' business and that the employees must therefore be offered new jobs at SJ. The legal issue is whether SJ is technically taking over or not, since they are only continuing with the København-Göteborg and Stockholm-Karlstad trains, not the Göteborg-Oslo or (Stockholm-)Karlstad-Oslo trains. Seko also questions whether NSB has the right to take over the Oslo-Göteborg trains. Linx is being liquidated in January. (September 22nd)
'Government Wanted Railtrack to Fail'Gerald Corbett, former boss of British Railtrack, was on September 2nd cleared of allegations in connection with the Ladbroke Grove crash. He said that the government was too keen to blame derailments on Railtrack. The furore the government helped create caused Railtrack to impose extra speed restrictions after the next crash, from which Railtrack never recovered. Mr Corbett says his company was more efficient than Network Rail, its successor. (September 22nd)
15% of British Trains DelayedOn-time performance in Britain continues to improve after the upheaval of accidents and political reforms. In the first seven months of this year, 84,6% of trains in Britain arrived on time, which is better than the 77,3% achieved by British domestic airlines. (September 22nd)
Surfin' GNERBritish GNER says passengers' internet usage on its trains is increasing 77% per week, and many second class passengers are upgrading to first class where the wifi broadband wireless internet is free. Wifi is also available on Linx trains in Scandinavia, where usage has also gone up steeply recently. "It seems the use of wireless connections is really taking off now," says Icomera boss Michael Johansson to the Ny Teknik newspaper. Icomera has fitted the Linx and GNER trains with the wifi technology. See also Ny Teknik story. Getting connected on one of these trains is really easy, but GNER has set up a special Wifi site just to make sure. (September 22nd)
Two Dead in ItalyTwo people died after a commuter train derailed in northern Italy this morning. See also Channel News Asia story. (September 13th)
Modest Improvements at SJ
New Tracks Help SJ Limp AlongSwedish SJ's revenue per passenger has fallen 8% so far this year, mostly due to competition from new airlines. But boss Jan Forsberg says the company will break even this year, and new track completed in the next eight years mean faster trains, higher revenue and lower costs. August 16th saw the first new X 2000 line in years, Göteborg-Örebro (2 hours) - Västerås (3 hours) - Stockholm, a result of the improvements made on the Örebro-Västerås-Stockholm line during the 1990s. Ordinary direct trains have already spelled the end of a Göteborg-Västerås airline connection.
Here are some other track projects and their impact:
- New tunnel and bridge south of Stockholm by 2011 and more track northwest of Göteborg later mean less jostling with commuter trains, reducing Stockholm-Göteborg trip time from 3.02 to 2.40.
- West Coast Upgrade complete 2012 reduces Göteborg-Malmö trip time from 2.45 to 2.10.
- Malmö Citytunnel, ready 2010, reduces trip time København-Göteborg by 20 minutes, so with the West Coast upgrade that sums up to 2.30, down from 3.24 now.
- Botniabanan Umeå-Örnsköldsvik-Nyland(-Sundsvall), ready 2010, reduces trip time Sundsvall-Umeå to 2.31, from 3.50 now by bus.