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In the latest couple of blog posts, the focus has been on the rail infrastructure in respectively Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Today, we’re taking a comparative approach and look at how these three countries compare in relation to railroad infrastructure.

The past posts might have been taking a quite critical approach to the presentation of the rail infrastructure in the country in question. But how do the Scandinavian countries in regards to the railroad infrastructure compare to each other – and to the rest of Europe?

According to BCG, it doesn’t look too bad. This is evaluated taken the 2017 European railway performance index (RPI) report into account. Here, the European railroad is indexed through an accumulation of 3 index parameters: Intensity of use (passenger and goods volume), Quality of Service (punctuality, avg. fare pr. passenger, the percentage of high-speed rail) and Safety (accidents & fatalities). All of these parameters are summed up in one single digit between 0 and 10.

The countries are grouped into three tiers:

  • Tier One (RPI 6-10)
  • Tier Two (4.5-6)
  • Tier Three (RPI below 4.5)

Of these, Denmark and Sweden are placed in the first group, Tier One with RPI of respectively 6,8 and 6,0. With the overall highest rate of 7,2 (Switzerland) these numbers are not bad. Norway, on the other hand, doesn’t place as high with an RPI of 4,9 and a low placing in Tier Two.

Chart showing European Countries’ RPI

While the RPI is an accumulation of several factors about several areas and is more focused on performance than quality, The World Economic Forum takes a simpler road to establish an indication of railroad quality. Based on a single answer from a survey, answered by around 14.000 business leaders in 144 countries, an indicator of railroad quality is established.

The question is formulated as: In your country, how would you assess the following aspects of transport infrastructure: (b) Railroad?

From here, business leaders can estimate the quality in an interval ranging from 1 (poor) to 7 (extensive).

While the RPI takes several objective factors into account, the indicator for Quality of Railroad Infrastructure is based on subjective stances of business leaders. The indicator for the Scandinavian countries is as follows:

  • 4,6 for Denmark and Sweden
  • 4,0 for Norway.

Norway places the lowest in both categories, but in this report, the distance of quality is more narrow than in the report of RPI.

So what can we take away from this quick overview?

It’s evident that some correlation is between the two indexes, as the relationship between the Scandinavian countries is comparable. Denmark and Sweden place quite high in both research reports while Norway is a couple of steps behind with more room for improvement.

The reports take a rather holistic approach by taking factors such as infrastructure as well as train traffic into account. Statistics indicate that infrastructure is the biggest sinner in this overall quality aspect, whereas punctuality, service and volume are affected by faulty railroads.

So while the simplicity of these researches might be a good indication of the overall quality and output, it could be argued that by reducing the entire rail industry to one digit, aspects of quality get blurred out.

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