The Swedish government as owner of transport infrastructure. Policy formation from the 1930s to the 2010s

Björn Hasselgren


Governments have a choice whether to intervene in the transport infrastructure sector to manage, finance and own the assets of the sector, or to rely on markets and private sector actors for the provision of these systems. In this article the development of rail and road infrastructure in Sweden and the choice between government and market provision of these systems are analyzed from a co-evolutionary perspective. Technology, economics, and politics have influenced the government’s policy formation and decisions on organizational models over time, such as the nationalization of roads and railroads in the 1930s-40s. The aim for improved economic efficiency and reduction of cost differences between different parts of the country rather than political ideology explain why roads and railroads were nationalized. Through adjusting its ownership role and policy content the government has, over time, accommodated to the different influences from technology, economics and politics. The government’s ownership of transport infrastructure has not been challenged since the nationalization. This could be seen as a sign of a successful gradual policy adjustment from the government’s side, thereby avoiding private sector solutions.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413