Scandinavian high speed rail

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Pucksoppet
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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Pucksoppet » Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:43 pm

If you need lessons in how to avoid building railway infrastructure, the Norwegians are past and current masters at it. They have spent several decades dithering about upgrading the Østfold Line that runs very roughly along the coast from Oslo to the border with Sweden*; and similarly several decades dithering about the Ringerike Line going North-West from Oslo cutting out a 'U' shaped route that makes part of the current connection between Oslo and Bergen and so cutting a significant chunk out of the travel time by train between Oslo and Bergen.
In the meantime, billions have been spent upgrading roads, building motorways, and bridges to replace ferries.

*The Oslo - Copenhagen air-route is extraordinarily busy and a prime target for replacement by High-Speed rail. The Swedes have built most of the High-Speed infrastructure needed in Sweden, and a bridge was built between the island Copenhagen is on and Sweden. The road/motorway for the entire route has been upgraded. But rail...

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Martin Y
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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Martin Y » Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:06 pm

Pucksoppet wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:43 pm
… The Oslo - Copenhagen air-route is extraordinarily busy and a prime target for replacement by High-Speed rail. The Swedes have built most of the High-Speed infrastructure needed in Sweden, and a bridge was built between the island Copenhagen is on and Sweden. The road/motorway for the entire route has been upgraded. But rail...
I drove that route and the bit that sticks in my memory (other than The Bridge) is that, halfway along, the road passes Gothenburg but that section of motorway is within the city's congestion charge zone. Overhead signs warned me I had to pay. Nowhere told me how. Very stressful.

Later Googling confirmed that yes, I was liable to pay, but since they had not worked out any way to let foreign drivers pay, the fee was waived. Not a shining example of Swedish design, certainly not compared to Norway's toll road system where you register online once and it just charges your account.

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Woodchopper
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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:24 pm

Pucksoppet wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:43 pm
If you need lessons in how to avoid building railway infrastructure, the Norwegians are past and current masters at it. They have spent several decades dithering about upgrading the Østfold Line that runs very roughly along the coast from Oslo to the border with Sweden*;
Upgrading of part of the line started in 2014, and is due to be finished in 2020: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Follo_Line
Pucksoppet wrote:*The Oslo - Copenhagen air-route is extraordinarily busy and a prime target for replacement by High-Speed rail. The Swedes have built most of the High-Speed infrastructure needed in Sweden, and a bridge was built between the island Copenhagen is on and Sweden. The road/motorway for the entire route has been upgraded. But rail...
Yes. The train route is about 600km. So to be competitive in terms of time the trains would need to travel at about 200kmh. Maybe a bit less if people can put up with a slightly longer journey.

The roads from Oslo to the Swedish border were upgraded to deal with the crowds of Norwegians who drive to vast shopping malls located just over the border so they can buy cheap food.

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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Pucksoppet » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:24 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:24 pm
Pucksoppet wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:43 pm
If you need lessons in how to avoid building railway infrastructure, the Norwegians are past and current masters at it. They have spent several decades dithering about upgrading the Østfold Line that runs very roughly along the coast from Oslo to the border with Sweden*;
Upgrading of part of the line started in 2014, and is due to be finished in 2020: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Follo_Line
Pucksoppet wrote:*The Oslo - Copenhagen air-route is extraordinarily busy and a prime target for replacement by High-Speed rail. The Swedes have built most of the High-Speed infrastructure needed in Sweden, and a bridge was built between the island Copenhagen is on and Sweden. The road/motorway for the entire route has been upgraded. But rail...
Yes. The train route is about 600km. So to be competitive in terms of time the trains would need to travel at about 200kmh. Maybe a bit less if people can put up with a slightly longer journey.

The roads from Oslo to the Swedish border were upgraded to deal with the crowds of Norwegians who drive to vast shopping malls located just over the border so they can buy cheap food.
The Follo line is 22km beginning at Oslo. The whole Østfold line from Oslo to the border is 171 km, significant parts of which are old single track, including the last 35 km to the border.

Across the border in Sweden (which obviously is not the Norwegians' responsibility), the first 100 km of line from the border towards Gothenburg is old single-track also. The old single track infrastructure prevents a frequent bi-directional service, and the standards to which it is built do not support high-speed running.

It's an area I have taken an odd interest in ever since a friend of mine complained about the night train service between Oslo and Copenhagen ceasing.

It just seems odd to me that two Scandinavian countries which are perceived leaders on environmental issues seem to be unable to build an international railway connection that would reduce flights and encourage freight from road to rail - there must be some odd politics going on, or the economics are not as cut-and-dried as I would expect (or both). Maybe it is the same as HS2: the economics look terrible if your amortisation period is too short. Maybe it is a candidate for Elons Musk's Hyperloop?

Re: cross border shopping: I'm told the supermarket with the highest turnover from Norwegian customers is one of the border supermarkets in Sweden, which seems unbelievable.

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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:57 pm

After a quick read of the debate from the Norwegian side the explanation appears to be a combination of:

a) the Swedes were unwilling to build a high speed line fast enough to be able to compete with flight times. By plane it’s a three hour journey from central Oslo to central Copenhagen. To make a train go that fast the Swedes would have to spend a ton of money in order to benefit Norwegians.

b) there were regular train services between Oslo and Copenhagen until the 90s. But they were wiped out by plunging flight costs. A high speed train service that cost a ton of money to build but was still slower and more expensive than a flight wouldn’t be viable.

c) the area between Oslo and Gothenburg is sparsely populated, so there wouldn’t be much local demand for high speed rail services. Also Swedes and Danes don’t travel to Oslo very much as it’s so expensive when they get there.

d) Copenhagen is a Scandinavian Air Service hub. So a lot of the air traffic from Oslo to Copenhagen is people traveling on to other destinations.

e) domestic politics in Norway mean that if the government is to spend a ton of money on high speed rail it would better prioritize linking Norwegian towns and cities. I assume the same applies in Sweden.

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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:05 pm

On cross border shopping, I can believe it.

Apparently in 2018 there were 8.4 million trips and the shoppers spent about 15.7 billion kroner. https://www.nettavisen.no/okonomi/ssb-f ... 03170.html

As the border areas are sparsely populated most of that trade was to a few shopping malls specially constructed just over the border.

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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Pucksoppet » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:55 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:57 pm
After a quick read of the debate from the Norwegian side the explanation appears to be a combination of:

a) the Swedes were unwilling to build a high speed line fast enough to be able to compete with flight times. By plane it’s a three hour journey from central Oslo to central Copenhagen. To make a train go that fast the Swedes would have to spend a ton of money in order to benefit Norwegians.

b) there were regular train services between Oslo and Copenhagen until the 90s. But they were wiped out by plunging flight costs. A high speed train service that cost a ton of money to build but was still slower and more expensive than a flight wouldn’t be viable.

c) the area between Oslo and Gothenburg is sparsely populated, so there wouldn’t be much local demand for high speed rail services. Also Swedes and Danes don’t travel to Oslo very much as it’s so expensive when they get there.

d) Copenhagen is a Scandinavian Air Service hub. So a lot of the air traffic from Oslo to Copenhagen is people traveling on to other destinations.

e) domestic politics in Norway mean that if the government is to spend a ton of money on high speed rail it would better prioritize linking Norwegian towns and cities. I assume the same applies in Sweden.
Thank you for taking the time to look it up and make that summary. It looks like entirely reasonable argument to get to an apparently perverse result. Maybe, if the Swedes don't feel like funding it, it might be eligible for some European money? Of course, it would help if Norway were an EU member, and as far as I know, that is not likely to happen in the near future.

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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Pucksoppet » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:05 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:05 pm
On cross border shopping, I can believe it.

Apparently in 2018 there were 8.4 million trips and the shoppers spent about 15.7 billion kroner. https://www.nettavisen.no/okonomi/ssb-f ... 03170.html

As the border areas are sparsely populated most of that trade was to a few shopping malls specially constructed just over the border.
Boggle. 8.4 million trips, and there's only (checks quickly) 5.4 million Norwegians. And each trip is spending roughly 2000 kroner, which is about 200 pounds. Norwegian retailers must be unhappy at that.

Thank you for finding that info.

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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:45 am

Pucksoppet wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:05 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:05 pm
On cross border shopping, I can believe it.

Apparently in 2018 there were 8.4 million trips and the shoppers spent about 15.7 billion kroner. https://www.nettavisen.no/okonomi/ssb-f ... 03170.html

As the border areas are sparsely populated most of that trade was to a few shopping malls specially constructed just over the border.
Boggle. 8.4 million trips, and there's only (checks quickly) 5.4 million Norwegians. And each trip is spending roughly 2000 kroner, which is about 200 pounds. Norwegian retailers must be unhappy at that.

Thank you for finding that info.
As far as I remember the border shopping malls are mostly owned by Norwegian companies. Most of the staff are Norwegian as well (due to the location of the nearest towns rather than discrimination). The shops stock Norwegian brands (though they’re not the cheap meat, cheese, booze etc that people drive over the border for).

The big economic issue is tax revenue. But at the moment Norway has other sources of that.

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Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:56 am

Pucksoppet wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:55 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:57 pm
After a quick read of the debate from the Norwegian side the explanation appears to be a combination of:

a) the Swedes were unwilling to build a high speed line fast enough to be able to compete with flight times. By plane it’s a three hour journey from central Oslo to central Copenhagen. To make a train go that fast the Swedes would have to spend a ton of money in order to benefit Norwegians.

b) there were regular train services between Oslo and Copenhagen until the 90s. But they were wiped out by plunging flight costs. A high speed train service that cost a ton of money to build but was still slower and more expensive than a flight wouldn’t be viable.

c) the area between Oslo and Gothenburg is sparsely populated, so there wouldn’t be much local demand for high speed rail services. Also Swedes and Danes don’t travel to Oslo very much as it’s so expensive when they get there.

d) Copenhagen is a Scandinavian Air Service hub. So a lot of the air traffic from Oslo to Copenhagen is people traveling on to other destinations.

e) domestic politics in Norway mean that if the government is to spend a ton of money on high speed rail it would better prioritize linking Norwegian towns and cities. I assume the same applies in Sweden.
Thank you for taking the time to look it up and make that summary. It looks like entirely reasonable argument to get to an apparently perverse result. Maybe, if the Swedes don't feel like funding it, it might be eligible for some European money? Of course, it would help if Norway were an EU member, and as far as I know, that is not likely to happen in the near future.
Cheers, yes, the basic problem is that Sweden would have to build most of the new infrastructure. But it would mainly benefit Norwegians and to a lesser extent Danes. It might be possible if Norway and Denmark were to pay for it. But given the enormous cost it would be difficult to persuade the electorate that it’s a priority to build a high speed railway in another country.

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Re: Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by bmforre » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:04 pm

Terrain conditions make railway building along the east coast of Oslofiord difficult and expensive. There's lots of thick deep clay with weak stability. As these conditions have been investigated price estimates have grown mightily.

A related fact is the location of Gardermoen airport. From political horsetrading considerations this was built north of Oslo with fast new rail and good road connections. In order to fly southward you must first go northward adding an extra loop and emissions to your travels. Good areas south of Oslo were available but reasons were found against those.

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Re: Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by bmforre » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:14 pm

At times there have been strong political forces against better rail connections to the Continent, presenting improved transport as a form of tighter integration with Europe therefore Fee fi fo ...

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Re: Scandinavian high speed rail

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:40 pm

bmforre wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:04 pm
Terrain conditions make railway building along the east coast of Oslofiord difficult and expensive. There's lots of thick deep clay with weak stability. As these conditions have been investigated price estimates have grown mightily.
Indeed, construction costs are very high. The 22km Follo Line is due to cost about NOK 30.7 billion or about EUR 3 billion, and the cost keeps rising.
bmforre wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:04 pm
A related fact is the location of Gardermoen airport. From political horsetrading considerations this was built north of Oslo with fast new rail and good road connections. In order to fly southward you must first go northward adding an extra loop and emissions to your travels. Good areas south of Oslo were available but reasons were found against those.
Indeed, and placing it there means that the high speed rail heads north.

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