On a recent visit to Sweden, I learned of the Swedish approach to planning a new High Speed rail network linking Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, led by the National Negotiation on Housing and Infrastructure. The approach is to initiate a negotiation on co-financing focused on the benefits and in which municipalities, regions, towns and cities and the business sector can all participate and influence the result. The aim is to get the greatest possible benefit for the funds invested by all parties, both housing and labour market.
The outcome will be agreements that identify who finances the infrastructure in the major cities and who finances the new high-speed railways, where the highspeed railway lines will be mapped out and where homes will be built. Evidently, the more that localities are willing to contribute, the more benefit they can hope to gain from the route of the railway.
The Swedish approach seems a lot more attractive than the UK approach to HS2, which involved top-down route planning for a nationally financed railway, with subsequent adjustments to respond to representations from cities, in particular for city-centre stations rather than the original lower cost out-of-town locations. The Swedish approach also focuses on real economic benefits, rather than notional travel time savings whose relationship to reality is obscure.