SJ’s CEO after the train chaos: A national accident

To you who are a customer of SJ
I am writing to you because you are a customer of SJ. The fact that this winter has been the worst in over ten years for the Swedish railway has not escaped anyone. There are many reasons for that and I want to start by saying that all you customers and the entire Swedish people deserve something better, simply a railway that you can trust.
Choosing the train for your journey is a good choice. It is good for the climate and you can use the travel time for whatever you want, whether you want to work, rest, read, eat or hang out. But it is based on the train going when and as it should. Unfortunately, we have not fully succeeded in this. This year’s unusually tough winter with extreme amounts of snow combined with strong, persistent cold throughout the country has at the same time had a major impact on our traffic. On the one hand, there is more and more severe damage to the trains when it is a harsh winter, and on the other hand large layers of ice form under the trains which must be thawed before we can carry out regular safety checks and service maintenance. The time that our trains need to be in the workshop during winter is simply longer than normal, and the number of trains that can run will therefore be fewer. Therefore, we reduced the range of traffic for the winter, but not to a sufficient extent, it turned out. This has meant that we have sometimes also been forced to cancel train departures at short notice, which we naturally want to avoid as far as possible.
Other reasons are, for example, that large amounts of snow mean that many wild animals seek the railway tracks, where it is easier for them to walk. This means that the number of wildlife accidents with major damage to the trains as a result increases when there is a lot of snow.
It’s also no secret that the Swedish railway is in far too bad a condition, and should have been improved a long time ago. It has to go faster and I’m pushing everything I can so that we get an infrastructure that works for your customers.
I don’t want to shift the blame. SJ has a great responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in. We are in full swing compiling and learning lessons from this winter in order to avoid the same situation in future winters as much as possible. Among other things, we are investigating how we can expand the capacity in our workshops. We are also making the biggest investments ever in new and refurbished trains. Some of them are already running in our traffic, our nice refurbished X 2000 trains are really good and very comfortable to travel with. In addition, our brand new high-speed and regional trains will be put into service within a few years.
We also have an important role in the Swedish railway industry, where we drive several development issues. I can’t promise any quick results, but we push on and make it clear to decision-makers as well as our suppliers and partners that the railway must improve and develop. For example, the entire industry needs to attract more employees in a wide range of areas of expertise, track and workshop capacity needs to increase and more wildlife fencing is needed along the railway. At the same time, we take great responsibility for the parts we ourselves can influence.
Until the trains in Sweden run as they should, my focus and that of all my employees will be that you and everyone else should be affected as little as possible. If you need our help during your journey, you are always welcome to contact one of the train attendants on board the train. Before and after the trip, our customer service is ready to help you, you can reach them via chat, e-mail or phone and we have increased staffing to reduce waiting times. During the spring, we will gradually expand our traffic range. We are working intensively so that we can get up to the same level as last year as soon as possible.
Welcome aboard the train!
Monica Lingegård, CEO