Could trains in east Norway be set for a major shakeup?
Train operator Vy could lose its right to operate and run some routes in east Norway with Flytoget the firm the Norwegian Railway Directorate would rather take over.
Flytoget, the state-owned company best known for the airport train from Oslo to Gardermoen, could soon begin operating on several new lines.
The firm has been selected to start talks with the Norwegian Railway Directorate to operate the six train lines part of the Østlandet 2 (Eastern Norway 2) region.
Østlandet 2 covers the Skien-Eidsvoll, Drammen - Lillehammer, Kongsberg-Eidsvoll, Drammen-Dal, and Asker-Kongsvinger lines as well as the Bratsberg line.
“We at Flytoget are very happy that we now get to sit down with the Norwegian Railway Directorate to develop a better offer for travellers with regional trains in Eastern Norway. This is something we are really looking forward to,” Philipp Engedal, CEO of Flytoget, told public broadcaster NRK.
Vy is currently the operator in charge of the Østlandet 2 region. In May, Vy was chosen as the negotiating partner for the Østlandet 1 (Eastern Norway 1) package.
The lines that Flytoget could pick up the responsibility for service around 30 million passengers per year. Flytoget would call these routes Bytoget to avoid confusion with its airport service if it did get the rights to operate on the Østlandet 2 sector.
Formal negotiations between Flytoget and the Norwegian Railway Directorate will begin on Monday.
“Our clear ambition is for customers to notice a difference from day one. We feel confident that many small measures will be able to make a big difference,” Engedal said.
If the Norwegian Railway Directorate does choose Flytoget, then the firm would have the right to operate on the line from December 2023 for ten years.
The employees of Vy, who operate the regional trains today, will then be moved to Flytoget, according to the company. Ticket prices and route offers will also remain the same.
However, Vy has been critical that Flytoget could take over the Østlandet 2 sector.
“The Norwegian Railway Directorate has chosen Flytoget without seeing what offer Vy can provide. The criteria for choosing Vy as negotiating party for the first traffic package in Eastern Norway were price, quality and risk. It is difficult to understand why they arrive at a different conclusion for Østlandet 2,” Erik Røhne, Vy’s executive director for trains, said in a company press release.
If Flytoget and the Norwegian Railway Directorate fail to reach an agreement, Vy said it would be happy to continue operating Østlandet 2