SJ Nord Rørosbanen

NORWAY: National rail authority Jernbanedirektoratet has completed the renegotiation of its tendered train operating contracts to reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three tendered contracts with Go-Ahead Norge, SJ Norge and Vy Tog all came into force before the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020, which led to a collapse in ridership over two years and significant uncertainty about future travel patterns.

Jernbanedirektoratet initially renegotiated the Lot 1 Sør contract with Go-Ahead Norge covering the Sørlandsbanen, Jærbanen and Arendalsbanen, which was awarded in 2019 and has a further 5½ years to run. It has now revised the Lot 2 Nord contract with SJ Norge and the Lot 3 Vest contract with Vy Tog which run for another 6½ and 7½ years respectively.

Until June 30, the three operators had been granted emergency compensation for loss of income and increased costs in line with PSO supported services. The renegotiated contracts which came into force from July 1 cover the remainder of the original contract terms and optional two-year extensions in each case.

The revised agreements specify a train service ‘that is at least as good as today’, while accepting that improvements committed in the original contracts can only be introduced once ridership has recovered. The financial terms have been ‘adapted’ to reflect the lower travel volumes and increased uncertainty.

According to the authority’s Director of Passenger Traffic Agreements Hans Henrik Kristensen, there are three main elements:

  • a change in delivery obligations to reduce the operators’ costs and provide more flexibility for them to grow revenue;
  • compensation if revenues are lower than assumed in the original bid ;
  • a bonus if the operators can recover revenues to pre-pandemic levels, plus smaller bonuses for the introduction of efficiency improvements.

Additional compensation is envisaged to cover the increase in energy prices as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.