Two new players – MTR Nordic and Citytrain, Sweden – have applied for paths on the lucrative Stockholm – Gothenburg corridor to compete with SJ, which is the main operator, and Scandinavian Railway which runs one round trip four days per week. MTR won a contract in 2009 to operate the Stockholm metro until 2018.

"It is now an extensive effort to analyse the applications and as far as possible to piece together all the requests for paths on different sections," says Mr Jonas Westlund, head of Trafikverket's sales unit.

Rail traffic in Sweden is deregulated and all operators which meet safety and economic viability requirements can apply for access to the network. However, if the number of applications exceeds the capacity available then Trafikverket will give priority to operators which show the greatest economic benefit.