Driving sustainable success
Swedish rail link owner and operator A-Train AB continues to fulfil its mission to support the sustainable growth of Sweden’s largest airport, following a SEK 1.28 billion debt refinancing package by a club of banks including ING.
When Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport looked to expand its capacity in 1990s, the Swedish government established strict environmental parameters designed to offset any increases in emissions levels and road traffic from the city centre. As part of these efforts, in 1995 it tendered a 45-year concession to build and operate the Arlanda Express; a 20km rail link between the capital and the airport. The tender was awarded to the Arlanda Link Consortium of four companies that later established A-Train to operate Arlanda Express.
Since operations began in 1999, the Arlanda Express has provided customers with a uniquely efficient, comfortable, and environmentally sustainable transport alternative to and from Arlanda Airport. Its recently upgraded electric trains run entirely on ‘green’ energy derived 100% from renewable sources such as hydropower, wind power and biofuels.
“Stockholm is one of the only airports in the world that has an emissions level requirement as part of its regulation,” explains A-Train CEO Per Thorstenson. “In reducing emissions for passengers, the Arlanda Express is helping the airport to grow its passenger numbers while still operating within its environmental constraints.”
More recently, A-Train’s commitment to the environment has led it to pioneer new technologies and standards for measuring environmental impact. This has included the adoption of a computer-aided train operation (CATO) system to help drivers optimise their energy efficiency. Once implemented, A-Train will be one of the first train operators to use the CATO system, which will result in substantial reductions in energy consumption.
“We’ve seen big changes in our market over the last 10 years but sustainability continues to be a major driver,” says Thorstenson. “Economic conditions were quite tough when we first began but the Swedish economy has since recovered and Stockholm has been doing particularly well. This growth has boosted our volumes and led to a change in passenger profiles, which have gone from being mainly business travellers, to more leisure travellers today.”
More than 50 million passengers have used the Arlanda rail link since its launch. A-Train has managed to increase its fares alongside this growth, while offering discounted tickets during non-peak hours to more price-sensitive customers. It has also diversified its business model by allowing other train operators to run on its track.
Over the years, the service has enjoyed widespread recognition for its environmental design, punctuality and passenger-friendly infrastructure. Since 2002, it has been awarded the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation’s eco-label ‘Good Environmental Choice’. In 2011, it received the red dot ’Product design of the year’ award, and more recently, global lifestyle magazine Monocle selected it as the ‘World’s Best High-Speed Airport Connection’ and voted it the number two travel experience in its annual ‘Travel Top 50’ global rankings.