Trafikverket was commissioned in 2019 by the Swedish government to investigate the conditions for government procurement of night train services to European cities. Trafikverket published its preliminary findings on January 15 ahead of completing the full report on April 30.

“As a first step, we propose to proceed with a connection between Malmö and Germany, preferably Cologne,” says Ms Anna Fällbom, head of unit, traffic agreement and transport network, with Trafikverket. “Travel time on the route is reasonable and there is good opportunity for continued connections from Cologne.”

Trafikverket says it also sees good opportunities for night trains to be introduced between Stockholm and Hamburg. But first it says it needs to deepen the investigation including issues around competition. “In the longer term, Frankfurt, Brussels, Berlin and Basle are also possible destinations,” Trafikverket says. “However, there are several complicating factors in the operation of cross-border services and all connections need to be further investigated.”

Trafikverket says that while a Malmö - Cologne route could start in 2022-23, agreements need to be in place with the countries concerned, interested operators must be available that can provide the vehicles and the legal process does not take too long.

Trafikverket sees two possibilities to procure night train services: direct allocation, which would be the fastest method, or competitive tendering.

Rolling stock shortage

One challenge to overcome is the poor availability of suitable vehicles. “Due to differences in technical conditions, Swedish vehicles cannot be used on the European continent,” says Trafikverket.

“Of course, you can order new trains, but such a solution takes time,” Fällbom says. “In the short term, therefore, we recommend a procurement that is based on the operator providing the vehicles itself.”

Fällbom says there are several issues that need further investigation: “The capacity of the possible destinations and the locations that are passed need further investigation. We will also make a proposal on how procured traffic can be replaced by commercial traffic as soon as possible.”