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A six-bed couchette on one of SJ's existing night trains within Sweden and Norway (photo: SJ)

Sweden to launch night trains to Europe

As Sweden continues to move against air travel, the Green Party in the new government is committing to a tender for regular night trains.

New night trains from Sweden to continental Europe could become a reality now that the coalition government of greens and social democrats has backed spending SEK 50 million (€4.8 million) this year on the project.

The move comes as attitudes in Sweden change against air travel in favour of leisure and business travel by rail, which is seen as less harmful to the environment.

The issue of launching new night trains was a Green Party campaign pledge before the current government took office in January.

“More and more people want to be able to travel in a climate-friendly way, both when they go on holiday and for work,” explains Per Bolund, deputy finance minister of the Green Party.

“Now it’s up to politicians to invest in making the train a real alternative way of getting to Europe.”

However, the state-owned national rail operator SJ insists that night trains to the continent can wait – for another ten years.

The eventual completion of a bridge and tunnel linking the islands of Lolland in Denmark and Fehmarn in Germany will facilitate the journey, Christer Fritzson, SJ’s chief executive, told Expressen in February.

Spring budget
The government aims to ignore this advice and launch a tender for the service, which SJ can compete in if it chooses. The SEK 50 million spending is part of the spring budget to be announced on April 10.

“The government will use public procurement in order to make sure that there are daily night trains to the continent,” Jakob Lundgren, press secretary for Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s deputy prime minister, told The Local.

“SJ is one possible company that can operate those trains, but not the only one.”

The Swedish Transport Administration has now been tasked with finding out which cities in Europe should get the direct rail links with Sweden.

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