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This report is the second report in the research project titled NORDINFRA – “Nordic transport infrastructure planning – institutional barriers and opportunities for coordination” (Nordic transport infrastructure planning. Institutional barriers and opportunities for coordination) (2021-2023). The aim of NORDINFRA is to increase knowledge about cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic countries by identifying barriers, highlighting opportunities and proposing measures to facilitate the planning of cross-border transport infrastructure. The project has been financed by the Swedish Transport Administration. It is led by Nordregio and carried out by researchers from Nordregio and Umeå University.
The first report, Cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region – An introduction (2023), provided background information and in-depth insight into how cross-border transport infrastructure planning is shaped by the different planning systems in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and by the Nordic and EU context. This report is based on empirical data from three case studies of infrastructure projects in early phases, namely the fixed HH link between Helsingborg and Helsingør, the Stockholm-Oslo rail link, and the link from Mo i Rana, via Hemavan and Umeå, across the Kvarken Strait to Vaasa. In interviews with stakeholders from these regions, we asked how they view formal and informal barriers to the development of cross-border transport infrastructure and how these barriers could be reduced. The two reports are complementary.
As the desk studies in the first report showed, the interviews confirm that cross-border transport infrastructure planning involves many players at different levels of government, from national ministries and transport authorities through to regions, municipalities, cross-border organisations, private companies and lobby groups. However, the interviews in the case study areas also show that governments at the national level have a central role and that their actions are pivotal as they largely shape the framework and influence the actions of the other players. Although our findings show that cross-border transport infrastructure planning poses major challenges, we also found examples of successful planning efforts and proposals for measures to enhance transport planning across national borders. The challenges have been summarised and grouped into seven key areas: 
  • Recognising the complexity of cross-border transport infrastructure planning
  • Understanding that transport infrastructure planning at the national government level plays a key role
  • Addressing the lack of clear assignments/mandates to perform cross-border transport infrastructure planning
  • Sharing information and knowledge on transport infrastructure planning in a systematic way
  • Acknowledging that cross-border transport infrastructure is ultimately a matter of priority
  • Involving regional and other stakeholders in cross-border transport infrastructure planning 
  • Learning the “craftsmanship” of cooperation in cross-border transport infrastructure planning
The main potential for improving cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic countries lies in the interest of the national governments in prioritising Nordic political cooperation in the field of transport infrastructure. The importance of clear assignments and mandates from the political leaders to the national transport authorities to work on and enhance cooperation should not be underestimated. Although regions, municipalities, cross-border organisations and other players are important actors, they cannot replace the national authorities.
By creating a common Nordic knowledge base on the Nordic transport system's flows, its functioning and how investments in transport infrastructure in one country affect flows in the other Nordic countries, the overall level of knowledge would be raised. A joint Nordic knowledge base could also serve as a common Nordic platform for the exchange of knowledge and experiences and for developing structures for in-depth cooperation on matters such as common analytical tools. All in all, such a knowledge base can be expected to contribute to facilitating Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure planning and the development of a transport system that benefits all countries and the Nordic Region as a whole.