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Historisk tidskrift 126:3 • 2006

Innehåll (Contents) 2006:3

Uppsatser (Articles)

Penningutpressare, järnvägspolitiker och järnvägsbyggare. Den regionala intressegruppen kring Ostkustbanan 1897–1904

Fredrik Andersson

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Extortionist, Railway Politician and Railway Constructor. The Regional Interest Group of the East Coast Line 1897–1904

This article analyses the decision-making processes and the mobilisation of actors surrounding the investments in private railways in Sweden by means of a case study of the East Coast Line between Gävle and Härnösand around the year 1900. An effective regional interest group was formed with the aim to construct a coastal railway in Norrland. It consisted of a small, but well-connected and well positioned, group of industrialists, politicians and railway promoters, who would all benefit from the construction of the railway.

The limited size and homogenous character of the regional political and economic elite made it easier to form a cohesive interest group. It also enabled the use of personal networks to influence the policy process. Furthermore, the impact of the interest group also depended on institutional factors. Before the electoral reforms beginning in 1906, the Swedish political system gave regional elites considerable political influence, which enabled the merging of political and financial power. In municipalities controlled by industrial interests, municipal resources were channelled into a railway investment that catered mainly for industrial interests. The landsting were another source of public funds for railway projects, and different regional elites fought to have access to their funds. The regional elite also had channels into policy-making on the national level, since their firm grip of local and regional politics allowed them to obtain parliamentary seats. This increased the impact of the interest group, and also helped to shift some of the investment burden from companies and financial investors to the taxpayers.

Hence, the process of building a private railway was not only about engineering and economy. It was also about the mobilisation of the regional elite behind the project, in order to be able to perform the political manoeuvres and power brokering necessary for the railway to become a reality.


Sweden, elites, interest groups, institutions, railways, railway policy