Foreword: Time for change in Norwegian rail transport
4 June 2014 • Author(s): Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Minister of Transport and Communications for Norway
As Minister of Transport and Communications for Norway, Ketil Solvik-Olsen is concerned with improving people’s daily travel habits. For European Railway Review, Ketil explains that since the Norwegian Conservative Party (Høyre) and the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) came to power in October 2013, a process has been in place to make the country’s rail transport a better option both for passengers and freight, and that they have significantly increased the government funding of railways and started a process to modernise the organisation of the railway sector. Ketil writes that the Norwegian railway has a greater potential than what is utilised today, and something needs to be done about it.
As Minister of Transport for Norway, I am particularly concerned with improving people’s daily travel – the journeys that people make 200+ times a year. We wish to improve commuting facilities around the major cities of Norway, especially in Eastern Norway, where a largescale development of a new double-track is under way. The InterCity development project includes railway lines between the cities of Skien, Lillehammer and Halden through Oslo, as well as the new Ringerike Line between Sandvika and Hønefoss. These are major investments and projects that will take many years to carry out, but step one should be completed no later than 2024. The InterCity development will reduce travelling time and enable more departures. People will experience commuting in a completely different way and it will facilitate the expansion of suburban areas and commuter towns – more people will be within the one hour limit of how far people are willing to travel to get to work.