Swedish association asks new government to fund all costs on-board ETCS
Swedish public transport association Svenskkollektivtrafik has drawn up a wish list for the new government with an eye on structural reforms to increase travel via public transport travel. Notable wishes for rail include the funding by the government of all costs for on-board equipment of the European Train Control System (ETCS), and prioritising the maintenance of railway lines that are important for regional trains.
A new government of the Sweden Democrats, the Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals was formed earlier this week. According to rail traffic statistics of Trafikanalys, nine out of ten train journeys are made today with the regional public transport authorities’ train services in Sweden. This is why the association wants to prioritise railway maintenance on the lines that are most important for regional and commuter trains. Svenskkollektivtrafik also calls for an increase of investments in lines that can increase capacity for commuter and regional train traffic and other train traffic, as well as to remove the preferential tax on monthly cards and annual cards for public transport.
In recent decades, the increase in train travel decades is entirely due to the uptick in travel via the regional public transport authorities’ train services, says Svenskkollektivtrafik. Until the pandemic, the number of journeys by regional and commuter trains had increased by 130 percent, while journeys by commercial train traffic had only risen by 0.1 percent.
Taxes on more sustainable fuels
Before the end of the year, the EU Commission must decide whether the tax exemption of pure and highly involved HVO (Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil) and RME (Rapeseed Oil Methyl Esters) should be extended. If the current tax exemption is removed, the regional public transport authorities’ costs will rise by another nearly 73 million euros (800 million Swedish crowns) per year, the Swedish transport association says. This is mainly used for buses and there, increased costs and risk leading to canceled tours, increased ticket prices and a return to fossil diesel, Svenskkollektivtrafik warns.
As for alternative fuels in rail, the Swedish state-owned rail freight operator Green Cargo conducted tests on alternative fossil-free fuels for use in diesel locomotives, both for fossil-free train hauling and for fossil-free shunting work in 2020. Work has been ongoing in 2021 to develop a fossil-free customer offering, the company said in their latest annual and sustainability report. 96 percent of the operators kilometres are conducted with electric locomotives, but the remaining diesel operations could be decarbonised with more sustainable fuels.