On Wednesday night, SJ will release tickets for the spring season. But those who want to travel during Easter and Ascension Day will have to wait.

"This is due to the fact that the Swedish Transport Administration has not finished planning the railway work," says Tobbe Lundell, press officer at SJ.

At midnight the night towards Wednesday some of the spring tickets are released from SJ. But Easter's trips are delayed. Archive image.
At midnight on Wednesday night, some of the spring tickets will be released by SJ. But Easter travel is delayed. File photo.

The chaos that occurred when SJ started selling tickets for Christmas departures will not occur again at midnight between 24 and 25 January, the press officer promises. When the Christmas trips were released in November, the pressure was so high that many customers did not arrive on either the web or the app.

"Now we have a queuing system that only allows a certain number of customers to be released to the site. You get a queue number that you keep until the purchase is made. Then we know that the load is always highest during the Christmas holidays and it will be lower now," says Tobbe Lundell.

No crazy prices

The new solution, which according to the press officer has not yet been put into practice, should also prevent prices from going up as they did before Christmas. Because SJ has a dynamic pricing system where popular departures are more expensive, some departures skyrocketed when many customers chose them, despite not being able to make the purchase.

According to Tobbe Lundell, the fact that tickets for the major travel holidays Easter and Ascension Day are not included in Wednesday's release is due to the fact that Trafikverket has not planned its track work. In particular, the trains between Stockholm and Gothenburg and Stockholm and Jämtland are not spiked. When those trips will be available, he cannot say.

"They are hopelessly late in general and especially with track work. We are 1.5 months behind the normal schedule," he says.

Berlin Tickets Delay

The tickets that are now being released are for travel during the period March 13 to May 28. When the summer train trips can be purchased is not decided but probably at the end of March-April.

SJ recently announced that it will start driving night trains between Stockholm and Berlin during the summer. The trains depart at 17:30 and arrive in Berlin at 9:00 the next morning. However, those tickets cannot be booked yet because everything is not in place.

"Not all the papers are signed yet, but as soon as it's finished, we will announce it," says Tobbe Lundell.

The train company does it differently

From the Swedish Transport Agency you make plans for which work needs to be done in the coming years. These are revised when new jobs are added and are to be put into the existing planning. Bengt Olsson, press manager at the Swedish Transport Agency, confirms that you are not completely finished planning longer than mid-March.

"If something happens, like now when we had floods in Småland that made the embankments porous, then we have to put in maintenance of them, which affects the whole system. We're talking about several 100,000 variants of traffic layouts," he says.

In December, the Swedish Transport Agency introduced a new planning system and it requires a lot of manual work in case of changes. The goal is for it to become more automatic during the year and for the information to reach the train companies.

Unlike SJ, MTR has already released train journeys until the end of March. In contrast, Snälltågen has chosen to release tickets until October, despite the fact that not all track works have been nailed down.

"They don't have trips to the same extent as SJ and not as many variants so I can understand that," says Bengt Olsson.

Facts: Many companies on the tracks

In 1993, inter-regional services were opened up to competition and the number of train operators operating passenger services only has risen from one in 1988 to twelve.

In addition to the twelve pure passenger operators, 15 freight operators operate on the Swedish railway. Three companies operate both passenger and freight trains.

Regional train journeys increased by 294% from 1990 to 2019, from 82 to 241 million journeys. In 2020, the number of regional journeys fell to 157 million, and in 2021 it will fall further to 152 million.

Source: the Swedish Transport Agency