Rail transport in Sweden

Rail transport in Sweden uses a network of 13,000 km of track, the 22nd largest in the world. Construction of the first railway line in Sweden began in 1855; the major operator of passenger trains is the state-owned SJ AB. In 1988, prompted by SJ's large deficits, the Swedish parliament privatized the network by ordering that the ownership of rail infrastructure be separated from the ownership of train operations, opened up the system to private sector train operators by introducing competitive tendering for local rail service contracts. Unlike the roads, railways in Sweden use left handed traffic for the trains, because Sweden drove on the left until 1967, but railways did not switch traffic due to high cost. Only railways in Malmö and further south use RHT due to connection with Denmark. Sweden is a member of the International Union of Railways; the UIC Country Code for Sweden is 74. Major national passenger train operators SJ AB, the cargo transport operator, Green Cargo, are both owned by the state.

A private company Tågkompaniet operates in central Sweden, there are a number of regional companies. Tram systems are used in Norrköping and Stockholm. There is a metro system in the Stockholm Metro. While most current railway lines of Sweden were determined and built by the state, receive their technical upkeep from the public as well, SJ no longer holds a monopoly on operating and owning passenger trains where such can be run profitably on a commercial basis. Large parts of the rail network serve parts of the country which don't generate enough passenger or cargo traffic to make a profit, on some of these stretches SJ has held a de facto monopoly until recently Average speed is an important factor regarding profitability. For regional trains the counties will buy traffic; the operator is SJ, but sometimes another operator, either Swedish or from one of the other EU countries, provides the service. For these regional trains the county transport authority sells tickets. For long-distance trains that are not profitable, a national authority "Rikstrafiken" signs a contract with an operator to move traffic on each line.

In this case each operator sell tickets. The operator for unprofitable services rents trains from the county transport authority or a special state organisation; this is because trains are expensive, take from two to three years to buy, are hard to sell if the operator loses the contract. However, for the SJ monopoly traffic, SJ own the trains. A decision was made in March 2009 to cancel the monopoly for SJ. In the autumn 2009 free competition will be allowed on Saturdays and Sundays when there is more room on the tracks, to a full extent all days in the autumn 2010. Rail traffic is supervised by a government agency; the first Swedish railroad for public transport using horse-drawn carriages, the Frykstads railroad in Värmland was opened in 1849. In 1853 the Riksdag of the Estates decided that the State would build main line railways, but that other lines would be built by private enterprises, in 1856 the first stretch, between Örebro and Nora, was opened for traffic; the main line railways were of major importance for the development of the Swedish industry.

The first two main line railways were the Southern, stretching from Stockholm to Malmö in the south, the Western, to Gothenburg in the west. These line railways were finished between 1860-1864; the Northern railway runs parallel to the Baltic coast up to Boden in northern Sweden, was finished in 1894. The Inland Railway runs from Gällivare in the north to Kristinehamn in the center of the country, through the central parts of northern Sweden, was built between 1908-1937, it was a part of the 1853 decision that the railways should avoid coasts, not make detours to pass medium size cities along the route. The reason for avoiding coasts was to protect it from military attacks, because steam boats were established along the coasts as a much faster transport method than before. Railways built by private companies, e.g. Västkustbanan, were however sometimes built close to the coast; the construction of the early main lines provided a fast and safe connection from the mines in the north to the rest of Sweden.

It facilitated business travel, which had earlier required horse-drawn carriages. Roslagsbanan is the oldest electrified railway line for personnel transportation in northern Europe. Malmbanan, the railway line between Luleå, Narvik, Norway was inaugurated on July 14, 1903; the stretch between Kiruna and Riksgränsen was the first major railway line in Sweden to be electrified in 1915. Total: 12,821 km standard gauge: 12,821 km of 1,435 mm gauge Norra stambanan, 484 km, Stockholm-

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