Norrbotniabanan connects northern Sweden with the world
The Government has taken a final decision on the National Transport Plan for the next ten years. This means that the first phase of the Norrbotnia line between Umeå and Skellefteå will be built in one fell swoop.
- We are extremely pleased that construction is finally starting. The government should be congratulated for its work. It feels good that they understand the importance of building the line for the whole of Sweden," says Lorents Burman, chairman of the Norrbotniabanegroup.
The government's proposal is that the section between Umeå and Dåva should begin in 2018. Thereafter, construction will continue from Dåva northwards towards Skellefteå as soon as possible. Gusten Granström, CEO of Norrbotniabanan AB, says that the news of a one-stage extension up to Skellefteå is welcome.
- Extremely gratifying. In the proposal from the Swedish Transport Administration, there was a risk that the project would be halted for four years and then restarted for the fourth time in the project's history. I don't think any party is interested in that as it would be a huge waste of resources and money. We are now continuing to work on solutions that will facilitate the continued planning work," says Gusten Granström.
The main line through Upper Norrland is currently the only electrified single track between Umeå and Luleå. Both freight and passenger traffic coexist here, and there is a major capacity shortage. By 2012, traffic had already reached the levels predicted for 2020 and, to some extent, the forecast for 2030.
- For Sweden to seize the opportunities, the Norrbotnia line is needed to relieve the overbooked and undersized main line. Ore, steel, forests and hydropower are important, not only for the two northern counties, but also for Sweden and the EU," says Lorents Burman.
The decision to build the first phase of the Norrbotnia Line will mark the start of the biggest structural change in northern Sweden in over 100 years. The railway will give both the Swedish basic industry and the Swedish business community in northern Sweden even better opportunities to maintain and develop their competitiveness. Based on Upper Norrland's locational resources such as minerals, forests, nature, tourism, energy, and space, it will facilitate the development of new sustainable industrial solutions that can be taken to a global market.
- The business community has been enormously clear in its message: we need a capacity increase in the form of a modern coastal railway. This is hugely important in both the short and medium term. In the slightly longer term, we also need a northern east-west rail link. This is so that the development of large-scale, environmentally friendly basic industry in northern Norway, northern Sweden and northern Finland can continue unimpeded," says Gusten Granström.
- Understanding of the importance of the Norrbotnia railway is growing. One proof of this is the government's request for the EU to work towards extending one of the nine core network corridors, Scanmed. It ends today in Stockholm, but the government has asked for it to be extended up to Haparanda-Torneå and Narvik. This will have a positive impact on the construction of the Norrbotniabanan," says Lorents Burman.
- We are now continuing our information work to ensure that the entire line to Luleå is built. Our biggest challenge is the lack of knowledge about northern Sweden. It's easier to understand the long distances in the north when you know that Norrbotten County is ten times bigger than Skåne County and that Västerbotten is as big as Denmark. So it's obvious to link the coastal strip between Umeå and Luleå, Sweden's third most densely populated region outside the big cities," says Elisabeth Sinclair, project manager for the Norrbotnia railway group.