Hopes for the Oslo-Gothenburg high-speed train

A Norway-Sweden high-speed train project would reduce travel times between Oslo and Gothenburg. But there is a long process ahead and lots of criticism of the plans.

Several local governments in Sweden have formed a consortium seeking to raise funds to turn plans for a high-speed rail line to Norway into a reality.

Gothenburg, Sweden.

Traveling by train in Norway is generally a slow but pleasant experience. High-speed rail is difficult due to the country’s mountainous terrain. But from Oslo to Sweden, it’s a different story.

The proposed Skagerrakbanan line would improve travel connections and boost regional economies, according to the group. However, some criticisms are aimed at the construction schedule and cost, as well as the feasibility of the project.

A potential travel time of just one hour

Traveling between the two Scandinavian cities of Oslo and Gotheburg today takes time. Driving the 291 km takes at least three hours, more if you are stopped at the border.

By train, the journey time is approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes. Skagerrakbanan project officials say a 256km electrified double-track railway would cut journey times between the two towns to just one hour.

Alongside non-stop services operating at up to 400 km/h, the project would see services that stop at Kungälv, Stenungsund, Uddevalla, Munkedal, Lysekil, Tanum and Strömstad in Sweden.

Oslo central station quiet at night
Oslo Central Station.

Stops on the Norwegian side of the Swedish border would include Halden, Sarpsborg/Fredrikstad, Rakkestad, Askim and Ski.

The journey time, including stops, would be less than two hours, according to the project leaders.

Economic recovery on both sides of the border

Project managers claim the cost of a one-way ticket up to 700 SEK. At the current exchange rate, this is approximately 675 NOK.

They say that with such a plan in place, it would be “perfectly doable” to live in one city and work in another, or anywhere along the way.

“The Østfold/Bohus border region will become an expanding economic growth region with plenty of travel and cultural exchange between the countries,” says the project website.

Halden in Norway.
The team behind Skagerrakbanan says places like Halden will benefit from high-speed rail.

“A community that crosses the border between two countries will unlock untapped potential for education, work, tourism and culture,” he adds.

Project status

Of course, plans are one thing. Turning them into reality is another. While train travel is undoubtedly on the rise across Europe these days, there are many complexities to this project, not least its cross-border nature.

Despite this, project bosses say the project could be a reality as early as 2028. Given that the funding isn’t in place yet, that seems like an optimistic goal to say the least.

High-speed rail is not cheap. The costs are estimated at 200 billion SEK. This is approximately NOK 192 billion at today’s exchange rates. However, the project team stresses that the aim is not to involve taxpayers’ money.

Six municipalities in the Swedish county of Bohus have formed a consortium to seek to raise funds for the high-speed rail link. Skagerrakbanan wants to create a viable commercial enterprise that will develop, finance, build and operate the railway line.

Gothenburg city center.
Gothenburg, Sweden.

Government approval is by no means assured. Environmental impact studies are one of the most important steps. However, by not relying on taxpayers’ money, the team hopes the approval process will be faster.

Critics of the project

“I think it’s a crazy idea,” Lars Gunnar Pettersen told Radio Sweden. He lives in Sweden near the Norwegian border. He is part of a group of people opposed to the line.

“There is not enough population density anywhere in Sweden for high-speed rail. Especially not on the west coast between Gothenburg and Oslo,” he said.

There are also many critics of other high-speed rail projects in Sweden. Issues highlighted include construction on agricultural land, climate impact related to the long construction period, and project costs.

What do you think? Is the high-speed train between Sweden and Norway feasible? Let us know in the comments.

Jose P. Rogers