A decision to grant Hong Kong-based MTR a concession to operate Stockholm’s Pendeltåg suburban rail services as of December 2016 has come as a blow to rail operator SJ. The state-owned company has operated the network via its subsidiary Stockholmståg over the past decade, but has now lost the 10-year contract, which could be worth up to SKr 30 billion, if Stockholm County Council exercises an option for a four-year extension. SJ’s annual sales will fall from SKr 9 to SKr 7 billion as a result.
Ulf Adelsohn, former chairman of SJ, is furious over the news: “You could ask why it is that a company from Hong Kong can operate train services in Sweden when we are not allowed to set foot there. If this continues, we in Sweden will soon be without our own train company and become totally dependent on foreign companies,” he tells business daily SvD.
Crister Fritzon, the current CEO of SJ, is somewhat more optimistic, envisaging a new market for SJ in Norway and Denmark, where there are plans to open up competition.