The first railway was opened in Sweden as far back as 1856. It was the track between Örebro and Nora, which was subsequently put into operation.
During the following 50-75 years a rather fine-meshed network of railways was built up in Sweden. Large, if not to say very large, investments were staked as there was a belief in their importance for the future. The projects could not be counted on with any security. However, there was a vision of the future which was sufficient for decisions to be made about the enormous investments.
What would Sweden look like today without these courageous and far-sighted decision makers? Much of the industrial development in Sweden has been made possible thanks to the expansion of the railways.
However, not much has happened in Sweden during the last 75 years when it comes to railway expansion. Naturally a certain amount of modernisation has taken place. But for the most part it has involved closing down unprofitable railways.
In recent years the lack of capacity on the railways has led to an enormous increase in traffic on our roads. This applies to both passenger traffic and perhaps above all to lorry traffic. This not a specifically Swedish problem but is present throughout Europé and also in many other parts of the world.
The first high-speed train, the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), was put into operation in Japan as early as 1964 and since then it has been the model for other railway projects both with regards to punctuality and safety. In the early 80s the TGV high-speed train started in France where a network of high-speed lines covering the country have subsequently been built. This concept is now being emulated throughout Europé in order to get closer to each other and to make Europé smaller in terms of time.
In Sweden the Götaland Line project was set up in 1986 (by the municipalities from Göteborg via Jönköping to Stockholm). It involves a new railway with the capacity for high-speed trains which can maintain 300 – 350 km/h between Stockholm and Göteborg. Some parts of the project are now included in the Swedish National Rail Administration’s Future Plan.
In 1993 the European Corridor project was set up by the Jönköping, Värnamo, Ljungby and Helsingborg municipalities. This includes the so-called European Line from Stockholm via Jönköping and Helsingborg to Copenhagen and onward down to Hamburg. This railway is also going to be constructed with a high-speed capacity and will complement the rest of the railway network.
The European Corridor acquired more and more members who worked together for implementation of the project. In 2001 the European Corridor and the Götaland Line were amalgamated and today there are some 40 municipalities, county councils, regional councils, chambers of commerce and companies that are members of the European Corridor. There are also a couple of members in Denmark, Helsingør Kommune and Frederiksborg amt. In Germany, Hansestadt Lübeck and Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg are members.
It is our hope that in present day Sweden and Europé there are decision makers who are as far-sighted as they were in the19th century. Decision makers who can make the decisions that are necessary for the future with regard to expansion of the European high-speed network northwards towards Scandinavia.