Published 2017-10-31

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SEK 49m for new programme on infrastructure maintenance

Late trains and leaking municipal water mains are just two examples of the poor state of Swedish infrastructure. The question is how to tackle these problems. Finding answers is a main task for a new Mistra programme, for which a funding call will be issued shortly.

There are several research programmes in Sweden that focus on infrastructure. They deal with a wide range of questions, such as how to boost rail transport and how to make transport services more energy-efficient.

‘When we studied the programmes that are under way, we discovered that issues relating to maintenance of existing infrastructure are neglected. This is why Mistra’s Board has just decided that we’ll start a programme with this particular focus,’ says Thomas Nilsson, Programmes Director at Mistra.

Before the Board adopted its decision, a prestudy was carried out. This found a need for research on this very subject, infrastructure maintenance — above all in the areas of road and rail transport and water and sewerage (WS) systems, where the shortcomings are so severe as to generate additional costs to the whole community.

‘Our aim is, above all, to emphasise the infrastructure that the municipalities are responsible for, especially WS systems and local road networks. But infrastructure in the form of roads and railways will also be included in the programme.’

New knowledge and skills both needed

One problem in the sector is that that knowledge development is inadequate. This has resulted in a shortage of skills where maintenance is concerned.

‘That’s why we want the programme, besides developing new knowledge, to help enhance expertise in the area as well,’ Nilsson says.

The new programme will be shaped around the following research areas:

  • Assessment of the state of infrastructure
  • Forecasting and decision support
  • Financing and business models
  • Organisation and processes.

Issues relating to sustainability and digitisation must be included in all these areas.

Mistra will invest SEK 49 million over four years but expects companies, sector organisations and government agencies to provide co-funding of an additional 30 per cent. The programme will thereby have a total budget of nearly SEK 70 million.

The call is expected to open in June and continue until early December. Applicants to the programme may be researchers, jointly with both privately and publicly owned companies that manage infrastructure and also central government agencies, municipalities, and sector and interest organisations.

More information will be published on Mistra’s website shortly.