In April 2004, Norwegian Ministry of Transport opened to competition a 123 km rail service linking Oslo, the capital city to Gjovik.
This profitable route carries 1.4 million passengers per year. The objectives of the government are to increase quality of service, to develop a more cost effective rail services and to increase the use of public transport.
Over the four last years, public money spent in public transport increased by 30% without equivalent increase in quality of service.
The National Transport Plan proposes stable grants to public transport for the next 10 years. Introduction of competition should lead to a better service within this financial framework.
Competition is planned to be introduced by packages. The second package will include the Bergen line and the Sørland line which are longer routes. The short list of bidders includes First (UK), Arriva (UK), Keolis (France), Connex (France), DSB (Danish railways) and NSB (Norwegian railways). The operator is expected to be designed in January 2005.