Feasibility study outlines path forward for the Oslo-Gothenburg railway
– but misses game-changing international benefits
“It is time to lift the matter of the long underprioritised Oslo-Göteborg railway stretch up where it belongs as a pivotal international matter of importance and a unique opportunity in terms of carbon emission reduction and green growth, says Managing Director of STRING, Thomas Becker.”
The long awaited feasability study carried out by Swedish Rail Administration Trafikverket and Norwegian Railway Authority Jernbanedirektoratet on the benefits of an infrastructural development of the cross-border railway line between Norway’s capital Oslo and Swedish city Gothenburg, home of Scandinavia’s largest port and entry point for the majority of Norwegian imports, was published on Monday 2 October.
The study outlines four gradual development concepts of the Oslo-Gothenburg rail infrastructure and concludes on the obvious advantages of a strategic investment in the line in terms of passenger and goods capacity, as well as improvements to travel and transport times. What it crucially leaves out when analysing the societal benefits of a development, however, are the pivotal and game-changing benefits for both countries and their regions in four major areas:
1) Trade and industry; boosting growth as the central import and export route for Norway to the continent – not least innovation-driven green growth,
2) Climate; enabling the modal shift from road to competitive rail, reducing carbon emissions by more than 289,000 ton per year*,
3) Foreign affairs; co-delivering on EU climate goals, reacting on the new NATO reality, cementing trade ties with Germany and beyond,
4) Defense; building the critical infrastructure needed as NATO allies for transport of heavy artillery.
“We must of course applaud that we now have an estimated plan. There is direction. An estimated cost. But in an international perspective it is concerning that the study is purely technical and cost focused. We must now lift the matter of the long underprioritised Oslo-Göteborg railway stretch up where it belongs as a pivotal international matter of importance and a unique opportunity in terms of carbon emission reduction, exports, and green growth – not to mention our megaregion’s security,” says Managing Director of STRING, Thomas Becker.
Bottleneck or beacon of green growth and mobility
The OECD has hailed STRING, the megaregion stretching from Hamburg in the south to Oslo on the north as a potentially leading European green hub, based on the region’s prevalent green expertise, implemented green tech, and high levels of innovation – all based on multi-national cohesion, which is set to be strengthened further with opening of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link in 2029.
With more than 60% of Norway’s trade volumes and 42% of Sweden’s traveling on the Oslo-Gothenburg route, both set to increase substantially according to a study carried out by Rambøll for STRING in May 2023, the choice now is not between levels of development on an underprioritised, underdeveloped railway line, continues Thomas Becker:
“There is now a game-changing choice to make: Do we accept bottlenecks on par with Øresund and Hamburg Node, blocking our way to the opportunities of a new, open route to mainland Europe, or do we want to enable a beacon of green growth and mobility in the north? It is not a difficult question to answer,” he says.
As announced earlier this year, STRING is working to establish a consortium of private actors to exercise pressure on the Swedish and Norwegian governments, including the exploration of blended financing possibilities of a two-track high-speed Oslo-Gothenburg railway line.
“We have major industry actors approaching us, utterly puzzled by the lack of political action to prioritise competitive rail offers and asking for our help. So we are now gathering a group of Norwegian and Swedish players to speed up political action. We are not resting our case until it is built,” says Thomas Becker.