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Regional authorities in the south of the country have awarded a two-year emergency contract for Transdev to operate Öresundståg services from December 10, having agreed to terminate an eight-year contract with SJ after just two years.
Under a contract awarded in May 2019, SJ Öresund was selected to run services from Göteborg, Kalmar and Karlskrona to Malmö and København for eight years from December 2020, with an option for a further two. The state-owned passenger operator took over from Transdev, which had run the routes since 2014.
However, disagreements reportedly emerged over the maintenance of the fleet of 111 three-car X31 EMUs, for which a new depot had been built at Hässleholm. Regional agency Öresundståg AB accused SJ of failing to deliver in line with the contract terms.
An SJ spokesperson told local media that ‘we believe that there should be a shared responsibility when it comes to maintenance of the fleet, not that all responsibility should be transferred to the contractor’. In SJ’s view, the procurement documentation had not given an accurate picture of the condition of the rolling stock, while a shortage of spare parts and depot facilities was down to the authority.
‘We thought we were clear in our demands’, responded Skåne regional councillor and Öresundståg AB Vice-Chair Carina Zachau, whilst accepting that in practice ‘we have different interpretations’. She suggested that ‘it may not be a coincidence that SJ has been in conflict several times when it comes to different traffic agreements’.
SJ had initially sought to continue under revised terms, but following negotiations the two parties accepted that terminating the agreement was ‘the best solution’ in the circumstances. The operator described the decision as ‘a significant loss’.
Transdev will run the services for two years from the timetable change in December, giving the local authorities time to procure another long-term contract to start from December 2024. SJ said it was ‘not impossible’ that it would tender for the new contract, ‘if the conditions are right’.
SJ had outsourced the vehicle maintenance to Mantena, but Öresundståg is expected to begin procuring a separate contractor within the next few months to maintain the fleet during the interim period.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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