Sweden’s SJ Taker Over Railyway Operations in North Norway

Sweden’s government-owned passenger train operator SJ has been selected for the Lot 2 Nord operating contract, national railway agency Jernbanedirektoratet announced last month.

The contract covers long-distance passenger services on the Dovrebanen and Nordlandsbanen routes from Oslo to Trondheim and Bodø, as well as the Rørosbanen, Raumabanen, Trønderbanen, Meråkerbanen and Saltenpendelen regional services. It is expected to be signed at the end of June, subject to no objection being received in the 10-day standstill period, and would run for 10 years from June 7 2020.

SJ Norge beat a rival bid from state incumbent Vy Tog. Jernbanedirektoratet director Kirsti Slotsvik said the agency was pleased that the competition had attracted two strong bids, albeit fewer bids than the Lot 1 Sør contract awarded to Go-Ahead in 2018 after a three-way competition.

The agency said the Lot 2 competition was ‘tight and even’, with both bids being lower than the fees currently paid by the state. Vy’s proposal had been ranked slightly higher for quality, but SJ’s bid was ‘clearly’ the best in terms of price and provided the best price to quality ratio.

The contract is designed to ensure that services are ‘at least as good as today’, the agency said. Changes will include low-cost and dynamically-priced tickets, upgraded catering, better mobile phone signals, improved accessibility, defibrillators on all trains, reopening a workshop in Bodø, and a premium offer with at-seat breakfasts and access to lounges in Oslo and Trondheim.

The contract will include performance-based bonuses for the operator, and options which the agency would be able to exercise for enhancements including an increase in train frequencies.

Services will be operated using vehicles leased from state-owned rolling stock company Norske Tog, and the contract will offer bonuses for the use of zero-emission traction on routes which are currently operated using diesels.

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