New rail line brings added value

After 50 years of analysis and pondering, and a large dose of passion, the Bothnia Line will soon link together the beautiful towns of Norrland, Sweden

The Bothnia Line will link together a highly productive region, where a series of significant industrial locations are situated along the Swedish coastline. It will provide effective freight transport and reduced travel times, as the coastal distance will be cut in half. The accessibility will allow for improved cooperation between industry, research and education. In addition, the railway will contribute to a lasting environmental development, and provide substantially improved transportation safety in the region.
The civil works are completed and 190 km of tracks have been laid. During the winter the contact line and power supply were installed as well as cables for telecommunications and the signalling system. In April starts a period of different tests before handing over the line to Banverket (Swedish Rail Administration) on 15 August.

The decision to build the Botnia Line was made in 1997, and the job specifics were settled in an agreement between the government, the four involved municipalities, and the county councils of Västernorrland and Västerbotten. The Swedish government owns 91 per cent of the company, and the municipalities of Kramfors, Örnsköldsvik, Nordmaling and Umeå own the remaining nine per cent.

The Botnia Line will be constructed at a cost of SEK 13,2 billion/€1.4 billion (at 2003 price levels). The budget has been reviewed and calibrated with submitted bids to maintain as accurate a cost estimate as possible. Botniabanan AB was commissioned by the Swedish Government to build the Bothnia Line.

The Bothnia Line will form a functional component in the infrastructure of tomorrow’s sustainable society. It was planned and constructed from high environmental ambitions in which economic use of resources is of great importance. With current environmental legislation and other applicable requirements as a base level the environmental works were characterised by:

  • Holistic view – to enable technology, ecology and economy to be weighed together optimally.
  • Attentiveness – to enable prevention and alleviation of damage to the physical and cultural environment.
  • Knowledge – in order to learn more and to achieve continuing improvements at work.
  • Responsibility – to raise environmental awareness throughout the organisation and the whole process.

Staff and contractors were trained in environmental matters. The environmental work was guided with the help of a management system in which guidelines are clarified in procedures and instructions. The observance of environmental objectives were monitored by means of environmental audits.
The railways account for 23 per cent of long-distance goods transport and 10 per cent of long-distance passenger transport in Sweden, yet they generate less than one per cent of emissions of environmentally harmful substances by the transport sector. Swedish trains are often powered by electricity and thus do not emit any exhaust gases.
A single goods train can carry the same load as 30 articulated lorries. One car journey causes as much emission of carbon dioxide as 50 train journeys over the same distance.
Rails can be recycled easily into new steel. It is possible to recycle the energy generated when high-speed trains brake. It is fed back directly to the electricity grid as current. With the Bothnia Line in service, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to reduce by 54,000 tonnes per year, as traffic is transferred from road, air and sea transport.

Inauguration of the Bothnia Line will take place in August 2010 and will signal the official completion of the Bothnia Line and celebrate that goods and passenger traffic have started and that the line is environmentally the best way of carrying cargo and people. The themes running through the inauguration are: goods/trade and industry; regional expansion; the environment/sustainable development; and, the future/past. These highlight the benefits and purposes of the line.
Instead of a main ceremony at a single venue, there is to be a rolling inauguration. It has not yet been decided which train will be used for the ceremony. The train will not be travelling the entire length of the Bothnia Line, just the section that Norrtåg AB will be operating for a maximum of one year from August 2010, i.e. Örnsköldsvik-Umeå.
Thursday 27 August – The pre-inauguration train: Besides all the personnel (Botniabanan AB, the Swedish Rail Administration and engaged consultants) involved during the planning and building phase, this train will also carry a number of VIPs who actively contributed to the line’s realisation.
Saturday 28 August – The inauguration train: This train will carry VIPs who, in various ways and at various periods ever since lobbying started 20 years ago, have been actively involved in the creation of the line. The train leaves Kramfors in the morning, arrives at Örnsköldsvik around lunchtime, reaches Nordmaling in the afternoon and stops in Umeå late afternoon/early evening. King Carl-Gustav XVI is to inaugurate the Bothnia Line. On Saturday, the inauguration train brings speeches and opening ceremonies to all of the municipalities’ four large travel centres. Throughout the morning and evening, various events will be taking place in Kramfors, Örnsköldsvik, Nordmaling and Umeå.
Sunday 29 August – The public train: The public will be able to ride all or parts of the Örnsköldsvik-Husum-Nordmaling-Hörnefors-Umeå section throughout the day.
In spring/summer 2010, it will be possible to book tickets via the train operator’s standard booking system. It has not yet been decided which train company will be operating the section or when the tickets will be issued.
The ceremonies are being arranged by an inauguration group comprising representatives from the four “line municipalities” (Kramfors, Örnsköldsvik, Nordmaling and Umeå), the Swedish Rail Administration, Norrtåg AB and Botniabanan AB.

Facts & figures

  • Cost: SEK 13.2 billion
  • Time of construction: 1999-2010
  • Length, spanning 190 km
  • 143 bridges
  • 25 km of tunnels
  • 370,000 sleepers
  • 3,200 contact-line poles
  • 22 meeting-point stations
  • 7 travel-centres/stations
  • 130 major contracts
  • 7,000,000 m3 of rock excavation
  • 9,000,000 m3 of soil excavation
  • 400,000 m3 of concrete
  • 40,000 tonnes of reinforcement

Tunnel lengths

  • Åskottberget 3,270 m
  • Namntallhöjden 5,985 m
  • Björnböleshöjden 5,160 m
  • Söder E4 (Skrike) 155 m
  • Hällberget 635,m
  • Gålnäs 395 m
  • Varvsberget 2,080 m
  • Åsberget 1,000 m
  • Stranneberget 1,436 m
  • Kalldalsberget 1,118 m
  • Hjältatunneln 1,254 m
  • Öberget 483 m
  • Gamm-Herrgårdsberget 234 m
  • Gammbackstunneln 229 m
  • Håknäskälen 670 m

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