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History of rail transport in Sweden: Map

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The history of Sweden's railways has included both state-owned and private railways.

Private railways

The early years 1845-1914

In 1845 the Swedish count Adolf Eugene von Rosen received permission to build railways in Sweden. He started building a railway between the town of Köping and Hult (a small port at Lake Vänernmarker). Köping-Hults railway was intended to be the first part of a railway between Gothenburgmarker and Stockholmmarker. Von Rosen's money came from British investors. His money ran out in the 1850s and in 1854 the Swedish Riksdagmarker decided that the Swedish trunk lines (stambanorna) should be built and operated by the state.

The first completed railway in Sweden was a railway beside Lake Fryken in Värmlandmarker that opened in 1849 and used horses to draw the trains - steam locomotives were introduced in 1856. The first railway in Sweden that used steam locomotives from the beginning was Noramarker-Ervalla railway in Närkemarker. Nora-Ervalla opened in 1856. Arbogamarker-Köping (the first part of Köping-Hult) was completed in 1857. The railway to Hult has never been completed.

The railway "Bergslagsbanan" Gothenburg-Kil-Falun, was the longest privately built railway, 478 km, opened 1879.

State owned railways

The building of the main lines 1855-1891

Sweden started building railways later than many other European countries. Sweden hesitated under heavy debate for several years because of the costs and other issues.Following the Riksdagmarker's decision in 1854 a colonel of the Fleet's mechanichal corps, Nils Ericson, was chosen as the leader for the project of building the main lines (stambanorna). His proposal was that the line between Gothenburg and Stockholm (Västra Stambanan) should run south of Lake Mälarenmarker to avoid competition with shipping. He also proposed that the line between Malmömarker and Stockholm (Södra stamabanan) should go to Nässjömarker and then on to Falköpingmarker, where it would meet up with Västra stambanan. There was a decision that, for military reasons, the railways should avoid the coasts as much as possible.

The railway to Falköpingmarker was a temporary solution until Östra stambanan between Nässjö and Katrineholmmarker, which lay further up along Västra stambanan, could be built. Nils Ericson's proposal also included the railway between Stockholm and Ångemarker (Norra stambanan) and Stambanan genom övre Norrland ("the main line through Upper Norrland") which runs between Bräckemarker and Boden. A railway between Oslomarker and Laxåmarker (Nordvästra stambanan) was also planned. Laxå lies on Västra stambanan.

The first parts of Västra and Södra stambanan were opened in 1856. In 1862 the whole of Västra stambanan was opened and in 1864 Södra stambanan was opened in its entirety. Nordvästra stambanan was opened in 1871 and Östra stambanan in 1874.

Norra stambanan opened in 1881 and Stambanan genom övre Norrland opened in 1894. A railway called Norrländska tvärbanan between Trondheimmarker and Ångemarker opened in 1885.

When Ericson resigned in 1862 his authority was divided between two agencies - Byggnadsbyrån (The Building Bureau) and Trafikbyrån (The Traffic Bureau). In 1888 the agencies were combined againas Kungliga Järnvägsstyrelsen (The Royal Railway Committee).

Further expansion 1891-1937

The railway building continued in 1891 when the construction of Malmbanan (the iron ore railway which runs between Luleåmarker and Narvikmarker) began. It was finished in 1902.

In 1896 the state bought all railways on the west coast and began constructing Bohusbanan (the Bohuslänmarker railway) between Gothenburg and Strömstadmarker. It was intended to continue to Oslomarker but the dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian Union stopped the construction of the line and Strömstad became the end of the line.

In 1907 the first part of The Inland Railway ("the Inland Railway") was started. In 1909 the train ferry line between Trelleborgmarker and Sassnitzmarker was opened, making it possible to travel directly between Berlinmarker and Stockholmmarker.

In 1914 the railway between Norrköpingmarker (at Östra stambanan) and Järnamarker (at Västra stambanan) opened, making the trip between Malmömarker and Stockholm shorter.

In 1917 a railway between Boden and Haparandamarker was finished, and two years later a bridge was built over the river Tornemarker to connect Haparanda with the Finnish town of Torniomarker.

In 1937 The Inland Railway was completed.

Electrification of the main lines 1923-1951

Malmbanan's electrification began in 1915, when it was usable between Narvik-Kiruna, and 1922 to Luleå. Västra Stambanan was electrified all the way in 1926, and Södra Stambanan 1933, and Norra Stambanan all the way to Boden in 1942.

Västra Stambanan and Södra Stambanan (to Katrineholm) was also upgraded to double track, finished 1964.

New high speed lines from 1985

Between 1937 and 1985 no new railway was built in Sweden, except for short industry tracks and similar. Instead many lines with little traffic were closed down. Their traffic was decreasing because the car and truck traffic increased.

It was decided to build double track along Västkustbanan, and with high speed standard, and in 1985 a new railway designed for 200 km/h was opened around Halmstad. In the following years several new railways were built, mostly prepared for 250 km/h, mostly around Stockholm and along Västkustbanan. The signalling system and the trains do not allow more than 200 km/h, and a higher speed will not be introduced before 2020. The old railways Västra Stambanan and Södra Stambanan have also been upgraded to allow 200 km/h, where possible without changing the alignment, done mostly during 1985-2005.


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