Bergslagen Stadler EMU impression

SWEDEN: The Finnish national operator’s local subsidiary VR Sverige has won a contract to operate passenger services on nine routes radiating from Borlänge and Västeräs, replacing SJ which is exiting the current contract early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The contract to operate services was tendered by local rail agency Tåg i Bergslagen, which is owned by the Örebro, Västmanland, Gävleborg and Dalarna regions.

SJ’s contract had been due to run for 10 years from December 2016. However, 90% of its revenue was based on ridership, and it was badly hit by the pandemic when revenues dropped by up to 50% while costs remained largely unchanged. In mid-2021 SJ invoked a clause allowing the contract to be renegotiated if circumstances changed, and it reached an agreement with TiB to terminate the contract three years early.

The SKr3·9bn replacement contract with VR Sverige runs for 10 years from December 10 2023, with an option for a further year. Announcing the selection of VR Sverige in December, TiB said it submitted the most economically advantageous tender when both price and quality factors were taken into account.

It is the first contract win since VR Sverige was formed when VR acquired Arriva’s Swedish activities in July 2022, becoming the third largest train operator in Sweden and the fourth largest bus operator.

‘In Sweden, VR actively participates in regional tendering where the client owns the rolling stock in the same way as [Helsinki] commuter traffic’, said Topi Simola, Acting Managing Director of VR Sweden. ‘Winning such a large and significant contract is a sign that local public transport operators value our services.’