Magnetic trains can be the solution to the fast ground transport according to BTH researchers


BTH researcher Henrik Ny urges Sweden’s transport politicians to initiate an independent rapid investigation that compares different future scenarios for high-speed ground transport. According to him, magnetic trains could provide the best customer benefit, be best for the national economy and give the least environmental impact. In addition, this could provide an export opportunity for Sweden.

During 2020 and 2021, the Swedish debate on high-speed ground transport intensified. Conflicting facts and opinions have been presented in a way that is incompatible with a global strategic sustainability perspective. This is regrettable since solving the complex sustainability challenge would require a holistic approach and a cooperation between all sectors of society.

Sustainability researcher Henrik Ny recently released an independent report on how future high-speed land transport could contribute to a sustainable society.

“The report is aimed at Swedish transport politicians and other high-level decision-makers in the transport sector. It points out that Swedish transport politicians should as soon as possible initiate a serious independent rapid investigation that compares at least the three future scenarios for high-speed ground transport covered in our report”, says Henrik Ny.

The report highlights three main alternatives, scenarios, for future high-speed ground transport:

Scenario 1:
Upgrade existing train system. This can bring some marginal benefits but risks not meeting the transport needs of either private individuals or industry, increasing societal costs and requiring powerful instruments and mandatory rules to make it possible to protect the environment.

Scenario 2:
Build a new high-speed train system. This could probably be better for the transport needs of private individuals and industry and for the national economy, but it would also have tangible environmental impacts.

Scenario 3:
Build a new magnetic train system. This could have the best potential to meet the transport needs of private individuals and industry and at the same time be the best for the national economy and have the least environmental impacts.

Some more detailed benefits of magnetic trains include that they have no friction due to their levitation above the guideway and this, in turn, means that they will require much less investments in maintenance once the tracks are in place.

“It is important that we look broadly enough so that we get the effects for the entire transport sector and society at large. Looking at all the inherent benefits our study found magnetic trains to be the most promising solution. This is what I think should be followed up seriously”, says Henrik Ny. He continues:

“If our report’s conclusions could be confirmed by a rapid investigation, and if politicians and other senior decision-makers could act accordingly, then Sweden could be the first country in Europe to build the new breakthrough technology magnetic trains. This could also give Sweden future export opportunities by becoming a strong alternative for magnetic train know-how”.

Henrik Ny is a researcher in strategic sustainable development at BTH. He leads the SustainTrans team where the focus is on research on rapid transitions to sustainable transport and energy systems.

4 April 2022

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