24 November 1999 saw the inauguration of the new, dedicated high-speed rail link between Stockholm Central railway station and the city’s main airport, at Arlanda. The airport is at a competitive disadvantage over other major city air terminals, as it is 42km (26 miles) from the city centre.
A 1989 study questioned the viability of such a link, so, as a stop-gap, the line from Ulriksdal to Rosersborg was widened from two to four tracks. The Swedish Rail Administration carried out the expansion project.
In 2008, about 3.2 million travellers commuted by Arlanda Express.
In 1993, tenders were called for a new public-private venture line from Rosersborg, over Arlanda, and back to the main line at Odensala. The bidding process was completed in August 1994.
The winning consortium ALC, which includes Swedish construction companies NCC and Siab, power utility Vattenfall, and British companies Mowlem and GEC Alsthom, formed a ‘finance, build and operate’ company A-Train. In 2004, Maquarie Group acquired A-Train.
NCC and Siab carried out the work related to construction, civil engineering and overhead power lines, while Mowlem supplied the track including points.
The original city-airport journey time target was 20min, with trains running every 15mins between 6am and 7:30pm each weekday. On opening, a 20min interval service was instituted, running at 160kmh, although there is capacity to shorten journey times from 20 to 15min.
The Arlanda Link Consortium started work in 1995, and the summer 1999 completion date was delayed to allow stringent reliability and punctuality targets to be met. A-Train then transferred the entire system to the Swedish state for lease back to the operator.
A-Train will receive all proceeds from fares for the remainder of its licence term, until 2040.
The Arlanda link comprises 20km of double-track railway, three stations, all underground, and 7km of tunnels.
The airport has two stations used by the dedicated link service, Sodra, serving terminals 2, 3 and 4, Norra, linked to terminal 5 and Sky City, the commercial complex. A third station is used by inter-city and regional trains and Stockholm commuter services.
Automatic ticket machines have been installed.
The airport stations are built in 22m-deep rock caverns, and the line has about 20 bridges, tunnels and portals. John Mowlem installed 39km of track, including 29 turnouts and crossovers. Airport trains use platform 1 at Stockholm Central.
Services are operated by seven dedicated four-car electric units built by GEC Alstom, capable of 200km/h. Their bodyshells were built in Barcelona, Spain, and bogies in France, with final assembly at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, UK.
Trains are maintained at a purpose-built depot.
Each vehicle is 93m long, with 190 seats, and substantial luggage space. Power comes from Alstom’s Onix dedicated traction system, and there is regenerative, disc and track braking. The testing cycle involved 130,000km of running, and 1,150 round trips, designed to ensure the target availability of 98% or better was achieved.
A project for developing new interiors for train carriages began in 2005. Björn Borg, which was selected as the designer for the project, developed seven trains with different designs, colours and patterns.
Signalling and communications
Each train is fitted with automatic train protection and a driver-operated radio system, supplied by Adtranz under contract to Alstom. Three interlocking computers oversee the main communications system.
Train departure display systems at Stockholm Central and airport stations, supplied by Adtranz, are controlled centrally. German company Alcatel supplied an on-board radio system compatible with other rail operators, and a separate system for use with emergency services. The line also has automatic fare collection and ticketing equipment.