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Incentives for increased rail punctuality - State-of-the-art and means of development

Sweden Flag
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Network corridors
STRIA Roadmaps
Infrastructure (INF)
Transport mode
Rail icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

In the long-term, punctuality in the railway sector has improved. In the short-term a slight tendency towards poorer punctuality has been identified and during the last five years work on punctuality has therefore intensified. The reason for these changes to the worse is probably increased capacity on the lines with increased sensibility for disturbances as a consequence. Lack of maintenance on the infrastructure as well as of the rolling stock is believed to be yet another reason.

In 2002 TFK made a preliminary study with the aim to map out today's knowledge in the area. The study dealt with theoretical framework, statistics concerning delays and their causes on Swedish railway but also the use of incentive models within rail and bus traffic in Sweden and internationally.

The knowledge from the preliminary study works as a source of knowledge for this project.


The aim of this project has been to show how rail punctuality in Sweden should progress in the future and how this work may be done through an incentives perspective.

  • A theoretical survey of the punctuality work that has been carried out by the Swedish Rail Authority since 2002;
  • A theoretical survey on the use of bonuses and penalties;
  • Interviews (and workshop) with authorities and companies (SJ AB, Green Cargo AB, Tågkompaniet AB, BK Tåg AB, Citypendeln, A-train, SL AB, Skånetrafiken, Branschföreningen Tågopertörerna, Banverket) concerning the punctuality work that has been done so far but also what they consider to be problems and requests concerning this work.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
The Swedish National Rail Administration
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


- There is a great interest among the interviewed organisations for incentive models as a tool to achieve increased punctuality.
- Not all of the operators are satisfied with the results from the tried out models and the main problem seems to be the difficulty in finding out and agreeing on what seems to be the major cause for the delay. Therefore, it is also difficult to find out who is responsible.
- A strong enough relation between the incentive model in use and increased punctuality has not yet been proved.
- A major part of those interviewed think that the attempts to work with incentive models that have been made so far has put focus to the problem and has had a positive impact on rail punctuality on the whole.
- The penalty for delays is too high and ought to be based on business economic calculations.

Policy implications

Although the study pointed out some shortages in the existing incentive models it was also made clear that the operators' experiences were not at all negative and that it would be possible to deal with of several of the discovered gaps. Therefore, there is a good reason to continue the development since the models' can function as a tool for the operators to reach better punctuality.

Three main lines to continue this work has been identified:
1. Improvement needs to be done in the incentive models with two parts, especially through a higher grade of precision in handling the cause of disturbances.
2. Involve actors in the field who are affected by the disturbances on a secondary basis.
3. Develop incentives for specific critical punctuality moments.

Furthermore it should be analysed in what way the new Rail law in Sweden can lead to increased incentives for the different actors in order for them to work for better rail punctuality.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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