PROPOSALS to give Swedish State Railway more commercial freedom have been approved by the transport ministry, which confirmed in March that new legislation will give SJ the status of a limited company from January 1 2001. This will enable SJ to compete in the deregulated market under the same conditions as other operators. During the first stage of liberalisation, it was regulated to protect new entrants. But following the transfer of three major concessions in January, SJ now has only 40% of passenger journeys and 70% of passenger-km.

SJ published its three-year plan for 2000-03 in March, projecting an increase in turnover from SKr12·5bn this year to SKr14·4bn in 2003. Productivity improvements of 11% per year are planned, including a reduction of 5500 staff. Highlights include the new Nordic Triangle services linking Stockholm, Oslo and København via the Øresund link, purchase of new EMUs for the Målaren routes in 2002-03, and continued rationalisation at SJ Cargo.