Infrastructure: Nordic Cooperation: Joint Infrastructure Strategy To Support Military Mobility

Anders Carlson, Jon-Ivar Nygård og Lulu Ranne, Narvik havn.
The ministers of transport: Anders Carlson (Christian Democrats) from Sweden, Jon-Ivar Nygård (Labor) from Norway, and Lulu Ranne (Finns Party) from Finland at the railway terminal by the Port of Narvik. Here, military materials will be loaded from ships to trains for further transport on the Ofoten Line to Sweden. (Photo: the Norwegian Ministry of Transport)

During a joint visit to the NATO exercise Immediate Response in Northern Norway, the ministers of transport in Norway, Sweden, and Finland agreed to strengthen cooperation on border-crossing transport corridors to better ensure military needs. 

"The security policy situation after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO makes it necessary to cooperate closer with our Nordic neighbors. We share a border with both Sweden and Finland, and Norway will be important as a reception and transit area for military personnel and materiel. This sets high requirements for the roads, bridges, railways, ports, and airports in question," says the Norwegian Minister of Transport, Jon-Ivar Nygård (Labor), in a press release.

According to a joint statement from the three Nordic ministers of transport, Nygård, Swedish Anders Carlson (Christian Democrats), and Finnish Lulu Ranne (Finns Party), the ministers want the following:

  • Strengthen cooperation to support military mobility between countries.
  • Assess the need for a Nordic strategy for the long-term development of border-crossing connections based on each country's strategic transport plans.
  • For all actors, from strategic to operational level, to cooperate and exercise regularly.

The statement follows the three ministers' visit to the NATO exercise "Immediate Response" on April 29th - April 30th in Narvik, Northern Norway. They also visited the Elvegårdsmoen military camp, the Port of Narvik, and the railway terminal. The ministers met in Narvik precisely to see how transport and military mobility actually function in connection with the exercise.

Joint Nordic strategy

However, the cooperation on infrastructure already started two years ago, as Sweden and Finland began their process toward NATO memberships. The Nordic neighboring countries then started mapping how the infrastructure between Norway, Sweden, and Finland could be strengthened.

We must look at how everything connects
The Norwegian Minister of Transport, Jon-Ivar Nygård (Labor)

They are now planning a joint strategy for infrastructure.

"During the meeting, we discussed important ports and roads and went through the national transport plans," says Jon-Ivar Nygård to High North News.

Specific measures

What will the strategy include?

"We must look at how everything connects, and at a continuous transport chain with a particular focus on east-west connections."

How quickly can a strategy be in place?

"I cannot say. They are still working on a national transport plan in Sweden and Finland. Sweden is getting close, but Finland is a little behind," says the Norwegian Minister of Transport.

Lulu Ranne
Lulu Ranne (Sannfinnene), samferdselsminister i Finland. (Foto: Fanni Uusitalo/Statsministerens kontor)
Lulu Ranne (Finns Party) is the Minister of Transport in Finland. (Photo: Fanni Uusitalo/Prime Minister's Office)

"The strategy is not ready yet, but we can still start working. We are already working on specific measures."

The Swedish government plans to present an infrastructure proposition for the Swedish parliament, which will apply from 2026-2037.

Norway's transport plan was presented on March 22nd by the Støre cabinet. It will apply from 2025 to 2036.

New role

How does Norway readjust from being "NATO in the North" to a transit country?

"The focus has been on north-south. We will not be a transit country, which means that the capacity into the Nordic region must be strengthened. That applies to both road and railway, and the Ofoten Line will be upgraded with three passing sidings and the axle load will be increased to 32 tonnes," says Nygård.

Finland is behind on both the new transport plan and a sufficient capacity on the railway. The Ofoten Line, which is part of the Iron Ore Line between Narvik and Luleå with an extension into Finland, is of Europen standard, while the Finnish railway has a narrower, Russian track gauge.

"The Finnish government has asked for a restructuring to the European standard. It will be costly and time-consuming, but as the Finnish minister of transport said, they have to start somewhere."


Finnish Lulu Ranne says to the newspaper Fremover, that the Finnish government has started the assessment on how the railway will be expanded and adapted to the European standard.

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Firstly, Ranne wants a new railway built between Torneå and Oulu.

"It is important that we do this now. Even if it is expensive," says Ranne.

The Port of Narvik is crucial

The Finnish minister of transport says Narvik could be Finland's 'very backbone' in the event of a conflict in the Baltic Sea.

Will the Port of Narvik and the Ofoten Line be prepared for this? And is it enough with three passing sidings on the Ofoten Line?

"Yes, everything indicates that this will be sufficient," says the Norwegian minister.

How important will the Port of Narvik be in the future?

"Very important. Narvik and Trondheim are year-round ice-free ports."

What type of infrastructure between the Nordic countries will be prioritized?

"Railway and roads. The E14, among others."

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