Take the train
SJ believes that trains are the only sustainable mode of transport for which large-scale development and expansion is possible
Since SJ AB’s inception in 2001, it has been transformed from a government agency into a modern, profitable and competitive company. Now the main Swedish rail operator, the company is divided into three divisions and five strategic corporate functions.
The three divisions, one for Railway Traffic, another for Fleet Management, and a third for Sales and Distribution, work mainly with production and have operational responsibility. The Railway Traffic division covers most of the employees, up to 2000, including those working onboard the trains, such as train drivers. In the division for Fleet Management, SJ has placed everything from acquisition and maintenance of vehicles to rail switches. The division for Sales and Distribution covers both its own SJ travel offices (SJ Resebutik), situated at train stations, and its service and telephone sales. The division is also in charge of external sales contacts such as travel agencies. The strategic corporate functions of business development, finance, traffic safety, corporate change and strategic communications are responsible for strategic direction and co-ordination.
When the state authority SJ was incorporated in 2001 it lost its monopoly on railway transport, but still has exclusive rights to certain routes, for example, Stockholm – Gothenburg and Stockholm – Malmo. Today the company has approximately 3200 employees, and transports approximately 70,000 passengers per day. With approximately 350 stations, and a market share of about 55 per cent of the total train transport market in Sweden, SJ’s vision going forward is to convince as many people as possible to travel by train.
This ambition is already seeing some success, as travel with SJ is increasing at over twice the rate seen in the passenger transport sector as a whole. This is partly a result of increased environmental awareness, but is also due to more and more people discovering how comfortable and convenient travelling by train is, and that it offers not only excellent value for money, but also a great opportunity to both work and relax.
The issue of environmental awareness is of primary importance to SJ, and it is working hard to reduce its footprint, using techniques such as choosing eco-labelled electricity and sorting waste at source onboard. Virtually all of the trains in Sweden are electrically powered, plus SJ only buys renewable electricity from hydroelectric and wind-powered sources for its trains, which means that the production of electricity for the trains causes minimal emissions. On a per person basis, for example, carbon dioxide emissions during a journey between Stockholm and Gothenburg correspond to the emissions from three millilitres of petrol. All journeys journey between Stockholm and Gothenburg correspond to the emissions from three millilitres of petrol. All journeys on SJ’s electric trains comply with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation’s Good Environmental Choice criteria – the world’s toughest ecolabelling system. This doesn’t mean that rail traffic has no environmental impact. The rolling stock must be maintained and cleaned, which requires chemicals. A small percentage of the trains’ transport work is carried out by diesel-powered trains, which have higher emissions than the electric trains. This is why SJ is constantly working to reduce its environmental impact.
For passengers keen to monitor their own carbon footprint, SJ’s website (www.sj.se) offers a tool that calculates their journey’s emissions by simply entering their city of departure and destination. The results compare the emissions of a train, bus, car or plane making the same journey, and fromGothenburg – Stockholm for example, the train is by far the least polluting option.
In fact, SJ’s website is a comprehensive resource for passengers, offering ticket information and booking facilities, travel tips and advice on everything from routes to travelling with children, guides to Sweden by train, discount options and even car rental and hotel rooms. By addressing all the needs of its passengers in one easy to navigate site, SJ is able to tempt more people out of their cars and onto the rails. In the words of CEO Jan Forsberg: “The train is the future!”