SWEDEN: Head-to-head competition came to the 455 km Stockholm – Göteborg corridor on March 21 when open access operator MTR Express launched commercial services.

Initially operating around 50 trains per week, rising to 90 from August, MTR Express is offering an end-to-end journey time of 3 h 19 min with three intermediate station calls. Journey times are around 15 min longer than those offered by incumbent SJ.

MTR Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-based MTR Corp, is taking delivery of a fleet of six five-car Flirt Intercity trainsets for 200 km/h operation, which are being built at Stadler’s Bussnang works in Switzerland under a SFr85m contract placed in November 2013. Derived from the winterised Flirts which Stadler has supplied to Norway’s NSB, MTR’s trains offer a single class of accommodation tailored towards business travellers. Modifications to the standard Flirt design include fewer bodyside doors to ensure the interior retains a premium ambience. Customer service innovations include the option to ‘leave the next seat free’ when making a reservation, and different fare levels reflect varying onboard service options, such as at-seat catering.

‘Delivering an enhanced customer experience has been at the heart of our strategy in introducing the MTR Express train service on this important route in Sweden. We are looking to not only attract regular rail passengers but also those who may previously have travelled by car or plane’, explained Lincoln Leong, Chief Executive of MTR Corp.

An in-depth interview with MTR Express CEO Johan Söör appeared in the January 2015 issue of Railway Gazette International, while the Stadler Flirt design for MTR was described in the November 2014 issue. Both are available to subscribers via our digital archive.