After many years of lobbying, and through three Interreg project periods, each of three years of COINCO, COINCO North I and II (2005 – 2013), it was in Desember 2013 finally possible to make the Norwegian and Swedish goverments to agree on looking into the upgrading and investments of a new main rail transportation corridor between Norway and Sweden and thus further to the Eurasian continent. Since January 2014 there has been a Swedish – Norwegian committee with representatives from both Jernbaneverket and Trafikverket assessing the needs for upgrading of the so called Missing Link in the corridor between Oslo and Gothenburg (see article below).

The work has been delayed. On the Norwegian side the attention of the authorities have been into getting the planning of the 16 bill Euro Inter City project around the Oslofjord up and going. In the same period there has been a change in the Swedish government with slightly other priorities. Trafikverket has started up its large HSR project that is expected to cost 33 bill Euros. The planning and design has started and one day this new system will connect Stockholm with Gothenburg and Malmø with trains with speeds up to 320 km per hour. It will reduce the travel time significantly and increase capacity for freight trains also.

These two major Norwegian and Swedish projects have taken a lot of attention and resources, and we are sorry to say that they have also led to the fact that the Norwegian–Swedish border crossing project between Oslo and Gothenburg has had less attention and priority than two years ago. In March this year (2016) the committee is publishing its report and it seems to be only marginal improvements suggested. Some of the report has been leaked and it is signalled that only marginal improvements, and small sums will be invested up to 2050.

COINCO e.V. has thus last fall gotten together with some of the same stakeholders that were part of the COINCO North I and II projects and also new actors from the private sector. Among the new stakeholders are Norway’s biggest bank, Den Norske Bank, industrial companies like Norske Skog and Borregård, KPMG, Deutsche Bahn International and associations like the Swedish–Norwegian business association, MarLife (fish exporter association), Spacegroup and COINCO e.V.

The group has done economic investigations and looked into more radical improvement. The concept is double track line for mixed traffic (passenger trains for 250 km pr hour and freight for 110 km pr hour) all the way between Oslo and Gothenburg. The calculations show that if one improves the infrastructure with double tracks this will reduce the travel time between Oslo and Gothenburg to two hours (instead of four hours today).

If one introduces economic incentives that make it slightly more economically interesting to transport by train rather than by truck, then up to 50% of today’s transportation by trucks will be shifted to trains. The most likely alternative implies investments of about 2,5 bill Euro. It consists of a combination of 25 km new tracks in the border area (including a 500 m bridge), and then an upgrading of the existing single track line (Bohusbanan). It then goes down the Western Coast of Sweden from Strømstad and south to Uddevalla.

The project is so profitable that it would be possible to get international financing through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model – if the Norwegian and Swedish governments are open to this. However given the political situation in Norway and Sweden, a Public-Public model –  like the one that Sweden has with Denmark in the Øresundbridge consortium – is most likely. COINCO e.V. will be active in the partnership that has been created. It is now growing with more political support, industrial partners, transportation companies, labor associations, environmental associations etc.

The COINCO North issues will be the main focus in 2016 and 2017 since these are also the years with opportnunities to get the “Missing Link” project into the National Transportation Plans in Norway and Sweden. More information about the initiative can be found here (only in Swedish and Norwegian).