Oslo airport express train firm Flytoget faces uncertain future

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Oslo airport express train firm Flytoget faces uncertain future
Flytoget faces an uncertain future. Photo by: Flytoget / Press

Flytoget, Oslo's express train to Gardermoen airport, has very shaky prospects after the railway company Vy was awarded all passenger traffic in eastern Norway.


The Oslo express train to Gardermoen – Flytoget – is a travel staple for most air passengers, as it is the fastest way to travel between Oslo Airport and Oslo Central Station.

However, on March 3rd, it was announced that Vy would be awarded all passenger traffic in eastern Norway – making Flytoget's future quite unclear.

The Oslo express airport train company is safe in the short term. Its current contract allows it to run trains to the airport at Gardermoen until 2028.

After that, Vy is supposed to take over that traffic.


A merger on the horizon?

The Norwegian government has even initiated a process to consider a merger between Vy and Flytoget.

Should that happen, then Flytoget will disappear, the management of the company believes.

Now, Flytoget is proposing a compromise, according to the newspaper VG.

"Flytoget has notified the Ministry of Transport that, this week, we are sending an alternative offer which, in short, would mean that Flytoget would get a new traffic agreement until 2033," Acting Managing Director Nicolai Bryde in Flytoget said.

"We want a new agreement for the 2024-2033 period, which would enable people to get off at the stations between, for example, Asker and Lillestrøm. Today, they cannot get off until they get to Gardermoen. In this way, we can make much more use of our capacity and contribute to reducing the transport capacity crisis around Oslo," Bryde added.

Show of support from the Conservative Party

The proposal has attracted some support from the oppositional Conservative Party.

"This is an exciting proposal that we are open to considering," Conservative Party leader and former Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, noting that it is important to have competition between Vy and Flytoget, even though both companies are state-owned.

"We are going to fight for Flytoget to survive, to ensure the absolutely necessary competition on our train routes. We have seen that that leads to a better offer. Why change something that works?" Solberg said.

The former Prime Minister also said her party would fight for Flytoget's survival.


Negotiations background

The Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications instructed the Railway Directorate in March 2022 to award the eastern Norway contract directly, including two distinct agreements for zones Eastern Norway 1 and Eastern Norway 2.

According to the Railway Directorate, Flytoget was asked to negotiate for Eastern Norway 2, whereas Vy was initially requested to negotiate for Eastern Norway 1.

In December 2022, Vy proposed that both agreements be combined to enhance services in eastern Norway, as they believed that dividing it into two zones would lead to higher costs, less efficient operations, and more susceptibility to disruption. Based on that, Vy made a combined bid.


Flytoget said it was not given a chance to present a comparable combined offer.

The authorities say all proposals were evaluated based on the goals of boosting passenger traffic and customer satisfaction, improving network capacity utilisation, offering more services, and enhancing service reliability.

According to the Railway Directorate, both companies received high quality, reliability, and customer satisfaction ratings. Nonetheless, Vy submitted the most cost-effective proposal for both agreements and was deemed to have a lower implementation risk.

The decision to award the entire regional train traffic offer in eastern Norway to Vy has attracted criticism from the right-leaning side of the political spectrum in Norway. At the same time, the left-leaning parties - and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) - welcomed the decision.


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