Scandria®Alliance talked to Magnus Lagergren, Vice Chairman of the Public Transport Committee and regional public transport authority in Region Örebro County, about opportunities and challenges that come along with the revised European transport policy.
Magnus Lagergren is a Swedish Politician from the Swedish Christ Democrats and Vice Chairman of the Public Transport Committee and regional public transport authority in Region Örebro County. He holds the chair of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission Transport Group and represents Region Örebro County in the Scandria®Alliance. As a central Swedish transport hub, being home of Scandinavias’ largest railway shunting yard in Hallsberg, Region Örebro County is interdependent on transport policy on a broader scale. Recent discussion on the proposal of a revised TEN-T regulation will put a stronger focus to the region’s role as Scandinavian hub between Oslo, Göteborg and Stockholm. Scandria®Alliance talked to Magnus about opportunities and challenges that come along with the revised European transport policy.
Scandria®Alliance: What does the inclusion of the Oslo-Stockholm railway link into the ScanMed Corridor mean for Region Örebro County?
After many years of hard work and cooperation, we are really pleased to see that the Oslo-Stockholm section will finally be upgraded to the highest status in the TEN-T network.
A faster railway connection between Oslo and Stockholm has the potential of moving over 1 million passengers from air to train every year, while at the same time play an important role in connecting cities and regions in the most populated area in Scandinavia where more than 3 million people live.
With Sweden’s potential membership to NATO, it would also play an important role for military mobility and dual use of infrastructure.
To be on the TEN-T map gives us great opportunities for EU funding, which could speed up the project’s completion. This gives us strength in the dialogue with the governments in Sweden and Norway.
The Oslo-Stockholm railway link has great potential of becoming the next flagship project along the ScanMed corridor.
Scandria®Alliance: The inclusion of Oslo-Stockholm in the ScanMed core network corridor will mean more attention to that link from European, Norwegian and Swedish perspective. However, what do you regard as major challenges for implementing the Oslo-Stockholm rail link?
The major challenge is to plan the project in a way, that it will make full use of opportunities that arise from strengthened rail transport between Oslo and Stockholm.
From Region Örebro’s perspective this means especially, that travel time should be reduced as much as it will be possible, by shortening the length of the rail connection. Only by doing so, a competitive offer can get created to replace air transportation.
That’s why we developed a vision for a highspeed rail connection linking Oslo and Gothenburg in 2 hours 55 minutes and founded Oslo-Sthlm 2.55 AB owned by cities and regions between Oslo and Stockholm.
According to investigations carried out on behalf of the company, reaching the aim would require to built new tracks cross-border and from Örebro to Kristinehamn. In addition, single-track bottlenecks would need to get upgraded to double track. The delineation proposed by us, would connect cities and municipalities but also production sites in the region, unfolding the full development potential in the region.
Scandria®Alliance: The city of Örebro is designated to become a new urban node in the TEN-T network. Will that be supportive to the region’s vision of future mobility or will it create an additional administrative burden since you have to come-up with a SUMP until 31.12.2025?
No, the opposite!
Örebro municipality already has a SUMP (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan) and work is now on-going to update it.
Our approach is that it is always better to be an included part of the EU instead of not.
Of course, this comes with obligations, but it also creates opportunities for financing and coordination to reach the right level of infrastructure and public transportation in harmony with EU standards.
This is especially important to us, since Örebro is a city with high travel exchange that is located at the intersection where infrastructure at local, regional, national and international level meets.
What we ask for is coordination and help from national level to fulfill our duties in the best possible way.
Scandria®Alliance: What do you consider the main goals to be addressed by an updated sustainable urban mobility for the Örebro urban node?
The main challenge in the Örebro urban node it’s the strong commuter traffic.
Half of the population of Region Örebro County is commuting to Örebro for work, for school or for leisure activities. Still, the private car is the dominating means of transport.
During COVID pandemics we could observe that overall, the use of public transport decreased by 12% in the region. Interestingly, on existing bus rapid transport lines we noticed an increase by 4%. These lines provide a quick connection from the outskirts to the city. Thus, we want to put a focus on bus rapid transport that shall motivate to change from car to public transport.
The sustainable urban mobility plan, that will get extended to the neighbouring municipalities will provide a good basis for planning the new transport system, for instance where to locate interchanges between transport modes and how to route bus rapid transport. It provides also an excellent communication platform between the city of Örebro and the neighbouring municipalities. With the city of Örebro leading the process, we expect good results, both for Örebro citizens as well as commuters.
Scandria®Alliance: How important is it for Region Örebro County to participate in cross-border and transnational collaboration when developing its regional transport system?
For me, this is of utmost importance, be it within the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), the Scandria®Alliance or other cross-border and transnational collaboration platforms in the Nordic countries.
Region Örebro is not an island. As a transport hub between north and south, east and west, we are depending on developments at a larger scale.
For instance, just recently colleagues from Finland informed, that their transport policy has turned 180 degrees since the Russian aggression against the Ukraine. They are stopping all infrastructure projects in direction to Russia and taking projects in focus that connect Finland to the Baltics, Poland, Central Europe as well as to Sweden and Norway. NATO is now developing plans on how to quickly move troops and military equipment to their Eastern border in case this will be needed. Also, infrastructure developments in Denmark or Germany, like the Femernbelt fixed link will have a great influence on region Örebro County.
Thus, it is really important to keep ears and eyes wide open, to acquire knowledge and to translate this knowledge to regional and local strategies and decisions in Region Örebro County. Such platforms as the Scandria®Alliance or the CPMR allow us, to sit on one table and to discuss important developments with other regions and stakeholders.
Thank you, Magnus, for the interview.