THE Norwegian Railway Directorate has announced that it will not be accepting a proposal from Flytoget to operate a service from Asker to Lillestrøm from 2026, citing the need to make the best use of limited capacity in the cross-city tunnel beneath Oslo.

Flytoget had announced its withdrawal from the rail market after failing to win a contract to operate regional passenger services in Eastern Norway, where the Railway Directorate selected national operator Vy Group for the 10-year direct award starting in December 2023.

However, on March 21 Flytoget sent the Ministry of Transport and Communications its alternative proposal for the shuttle service to Oslo Airport.

The proposal would have seen Flytoget's current licence agreement terminated, but the operator retaining preferential rights to train paths until 2033.

From 2026 it planned to operate with its own rolling stock a service from Akser, southwest of Oslo, to Lillestrøm, to the east of the Norwegian capital, which would be open for all passengers to use.

The Railway Directorate says that infrastructure in the Oslo area is at full capacity, and especially the tunnel beneath Oslo that is used by many services to destinations throughout Eastern Norway.

Future service development must make better use of existing infrastructure, and the main disadvantage of Flytoget's proposal is that it would limit the Railway Directorate’s room for manoeuvre when developing a new route model for Eastern Norway that is better adapted to the needs of the market.

Specifically, Flytoget retaining preferential access rights until 2033 would postpone the implementation of the new route model by five years from 2028.

In reports published in 2019 and 2020, the Railway Directorate recommended full integration of Flytoget services following the expiry of the company’s licence agreement.

Despite its future Asker - Lillestrøm service being open to all passengers, the Railway Directorate says Flytoget’s proposal would be an obstacle to developing “a future-oriented route model”, including more Follo Line and Eastfold Line services using the Oslo tunnel.

In its proposal, Flytoget said that the new service would require significantly less state support than that to be operated by Vy Group.

These savings would be largely achieved by Flytoget charging higher ticket prices for journeys to the airport. The Railway Directorate says it is uncertain how current Flytoget passengers would respond to such a pricing model when the trains are opened up to other passengers paying the normal fare.