PRESS RELEASE North Bothnia Line Group: ”The Proposal shows a great understanding of the needs of the industry for the North Bothnia Line” Today, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) submitted the proposal for the National Transport Plan for the period 2018-2029 to the Swedish Government. The proposal earmarks budget dedicated for the realization of the North Bothnia Line for the construction on the section Umeå-Skellefteå and planning for the section Skellefteå-Luleå.
- This shows, based on the analysis made by the Swedish Transport Administration, that the Administration has understood how important the North Bothnia Line is for the industry. A fast start of the construction works will increase the growth potential of some of Sweden's strongest and most future-oriented industries. For us, there is only one goal: that the section is built in its entire length. Today's proposal is an important milestone, says Lorents Burman, chairman of the North Bothnia Line Group.
- We are confident with the positive signals that we have received from the Swedish Prime Minister and several Ministers. We know that they understand the importance of the North Bothnia Line, not least as representatives of LKAB, SSAB, Sveaskog and Boliden have clearly expressed the need to build the North Bothnia Line in its full length, says Lorents Burman.
The work to link northern Sweden with the European core network for railways has advanced well. From the north, the section Boden-Haparanda has been finalized and from the South, the Bothnia Line links the cities along the northern coast and up to Umeå. One section remains: the 270 km gap between Umeå-Luleå; a bottleneck where most of the industries and the population of Northern Sweden are found, and which needs to be realized in order to connect Northern Sweden with Europe, Norway, Finland and Russia.
There are many good and obvious arguments for building the North Bothnia Line; Its importance for the Swedish raw materials industry is the most solid one. In 2014, the industry in the County of Norrbotten made investments corresponding to SEK 32.950 per capita (approx 3.468 EUR). The average national average was 5.725 SEK (approx. 603 EUR). In addition, a significant part of Sweden's productive forest area is in northern Sweden. In the transition to bioeconomy, this forest will play a major role in Sweden and globally, which will also increase the need for modern railways transport.
- These are figures to be proud of. But the business community in the north needs expansion capacity. The existing railroad is full, which also has negative effects on businesses that do not obtain slots on the track. This is a problem that has consequences not only for the region but, in the long run, for Sweden as it is difficult for us to succeed in international competition, says Lorents Burman.
Skill supply is another important aspect. People in Norrbotten and Västerbotten commute shorter distances for work and study than people in the rest of the country because of the long distances. The two counties have strong industries and businesses, three universities and lower unemployment than the rest of the country. Linking Umeå and Luleå via the North Bothnia Line will solve the problems of skills supply.
- We can take the Northvolt battery factory as an example. Their interest to establish in Skellefteå shows the attractiveness this region. It is obvious that a well-functioning and modern railway would further enhance the attractiveness, says Lorents Burman.
The North Bothnia Line is part of the TEN-T Core Network in Sweden and is eligilbe for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility.