In Sweden (where i was born and currently is living) the railway has a big role in the logistic system. We have a lot of railway here in this country, around 16 500 km to be more precise. And each year around 22 billion ton km of goods are transported at the railroads. All high traffic railroads are electric.
As I wrote in my presentation I grew up near the railroad and I loved to watch the passenger trains and freight trains passing by. Unfortunately Sweden has a lot of problems with the railroad traffic, it is often problems with the gears, signals, electric lines and similar technical problems which causes delays. There are many reasons to these problems, the unregulated market, poor maintenance and the confusion between the actors at the railway about the distribution of responsibilities.
One thing that often happen in Sweden is that the railway is affected by the weather. It happens a few times each year that due to bad weather the trains can’t go anywhere. An example is how a stormy night caused several trees to fall down on the railway in southern Sweden which made all trains in the south cancel and travellers having to take the bus and changing their plans in the last minute.
We do also have a problem with the railway capacity and to make the railway traffic more effective we need to expand the railway network with more modern tracks that allows higher speeds.
A good thing with the swedish railroad is that we have the same gauge as many european countries which makes it possible for trains to travel all the way from Sweden to France for example. But one thing that can differ between the countries is which electric voltage the train uses, and that can make it impossible for the trains to travel from country to country. Instead you change locomotive and keep the train wagons so you don’t have to reload the goods.
Green Cargo is the biggest railway freight company in Sweden and it is owned by the swedish government. According to their webpage they have 400 locomotives and 5000 train wagons! And each day everyone of these locomotive is used in transports.
I think the railways are great. It´s more environmental friendly to transport goods by train than with ships, airfreight or trucks. At least if you use electrical locomotives and if the electricity comes from nuclear power stations or renewable energy sources like hydropower.
In Sweden we use different energy sources, among them is nuclear power and hydropower.
However railways have it´s disadvantages also. Except the problems I mentioned earlier the railroad is also dangerous. It´s hard to completely keep humans and trains apart. There will be dangerous railway crossings and similar that can be potential hazards.
But now to something completely different. I recently read in the newspaper about a rififi cup at a train in India. The robbers came across 7,2 million swedish kronor by making a hole in the roof of a train vagon filled with banknotes.