Impact of regulation on the performances of long-distance transport services: A comparison of the different approaches in Sweden and Norway

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - rail, place - europe, organisation - regulation, organisation - contracting


Bus; Coach, Long distance, Norway, Transit, Rail, Sweden, Infrastructure, Performance, Regulation


Despite the many socio-economic similarities between Sweden and Norway, differences in jurisdiction, organisation, cooperation, and financing of long-distance passenger train and coach services have led to the development of four distinctively different ways of serving the markets. This paper describes how the train and coach markets have developed in the two countries, with emphasis on regulatory and industrial structure and a couple of performance variables. Looking at passenger rail, both countries separated infrastructure from operation over a decade ago. However, while Norwegian rail is characterised by an almost monopoly supplier, rail services in Sweden are partly decentralised to the responsibility of county authorities and are widely subjected to competitive tendering. The rest of the network is about to be opened up for on-the-track competition. Swedish Rail (SJ) has spent the last decades consolidating its core business (passenger rail) and sold out its other businesses. In contrast, the Norwegian state rail (NSB) has expanded its business to become a major bus operator and property owner, with extensions also into the Swedish market. The coach industry was more recently deregulated in both countries. The Swedish coach market is dominated by privately owned companies operating services to and from Stockholm. In Norway, state-owned NSB is a major coach operator on medium distance routes, and is also the largest partner of Nor-Way Bussekspress which totally dominates long-distance coach services. Further, the Norwegian coach market is characterised by cross-ownership and cooperation which has enabled an extensive route network which covers most of Norway. We find distinct differences in achievements in the two modes and in the two countries. Swedish rail services have succeeded in winning market shares and in renewing and developing both infrastructure and service levels to a greater extent than the Norwegian model. On the other hand, the Norwegian coach market seems to be more developed and efficient compared to its Swedish counterpart. The paper concludes with a discussion on the possible links between the different approaches and the performance observed, with the aim to stimulate further and more detailed research on some important issues.


Permission to publish the abstract given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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