The new high-speed express train line running between the Norwegian and Swedish capitals had a sluggish start to its first few weeks of service. Newspaper Dagsavisen reported last week that only 30 percent of its scheduled departures arrived on time.
The journey, launched amidst much high-level festivity in August, is supposed to take as little as four-and-a-half hours and thereby compete head-on with the airlines, given all the time and expense needed in simply getting to and from departure gates at airports. Few of the trains, however, have actually accomplished their stated levels of speed or reliability.
During the first three weeks of service, initiated by Sveriges Jernbane (SJ), only 45-, 64- and 22 percent of the trains arrived on time. In one particularly frustrating incident in early September, one of the trains didn’t leave Oslo until after it should have arrived in Stockholm.
“We’re working as hard as we can to get back on track,” Kjell Bakken, communications director at Norway’s railroad Jernbaneverket, told Dagsavisen, blaming most of the delays on infrastructure and signal failure in Sweden. The tracks between the Swedish border and Oslo, however, are also known to be troublesome, and Bakken said SJ, Jernbaneverket and Sweden’s Trafikverket were trying to solve the problems. The most recent figures showed punctuality of closer to 80 percent, with the railroads aiming for 90 percent of better.