Sweden’s red-green coalition government will spend 50m kronor (€4.7m) this year pushing forward plans for new night trains to continental Europe, a first step towards meeting a Green Party campaign pledge.
“More and more people want to be able to travel in a climate-friendly way, both when they go on holiday and for work,” Per Bolund, Sweden’s Green Party deputy finance minister said in a press release.
“Now it’s up to use politicians to invest in making the train a real alternative way of getting to Europe.”
Christer Fritzson, chief executive of state-owned rail firm SJ, told Expressen in February that the company did not plan to begin operating night trains to the continent for another decade.
It would wait, he said, for the completion of the planned bridge–tunnel linking the Danish island of Lolland with the German island of Fehmarn, which would make the journey much faster.
But the green party has pledged to sidestep SJ and instead tender directly for the service.
“The government will use public procurement in order to make sure that there are daily night-trains to the continent,” Jakob Lundgren, press secretary for Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin, told The Local last month. “SJ is one possible company that can operate those trains, but not the only one.”
Tomas Eneroth, the Social Democrat infrastructure minister, said that the government would now instruct the Swedish Transport Administration to determine which European cities should benefit from direct rail links and how best to procure them. “The goal is to have night trains to several European cities,” he said.
The government said in its statement that the money would be used to pay for a tendering process, for legal, economic and other advice, and for administrative expenses.
The money forms part of the government’s spring budget, which will be announced on April 10.