The cost of operating a high-speed train between Oslo and Gothenburg is around SEK 100/km, i.e. SEK 30,000 plus personnel costs of SEK 1,000. A load capacity of 600 tonnes split between 20 20-foot containers has a tare weight (the empty weight of the containers) of 47.4 tonnes and thus the available load is 550 tonnes. Given a 70% container filling ratio, the total is 385 tonnes per train.
The transport cost by high-speed train is SEK 0.26 per tonne-km. There is an additional cost of SEK 1,000 per container for loading and unloading, which corresponds to SEK 60 per tonne.
Note that the transfer is almost as costly as the Oslo–Gothenburg transport itself. Thus smart automation and low costs in terminals are crucial success factors for HSRF on the Skagerrak Line. The total Oslo-Gothenburg shipping cost is around SEK 138 per tonne.
The EU has studied transport costs for freight on high-speed trains, and the price is roughly SEK 2 per tonne-km including terminal handling and rail charges.
Shipping the same 300 km distance by air costs between SEK 40 and 80 per kg or between SEK 40,000 and 80,000 per tonne or between SEK 133 and 266 per tonne-km. A 20-tonne, 300 km Oslo-Gothenburg truck shipment costs SEK 16 per kilometre, which is SEK 4,800 or SEK 240 per tonne or SEK 0.80 per tonne-km. The reason for the low cost of truck haulage is the lack of road charges and the fact that trucks do not pay for infrastructure wear, while trains must. Shipping a 20-tonne container by sea within the EU costs SEK 13,040 or SEK 795 per tonne, and a 40-foot container costs SEK 21,500, or SEK 1,152 per tonne.
Because the price point for low value goods is SEK 0.30 per tonne-km, it is not profitable to load such goods on high-speed trains, which would involve revenue but no profit for the shipment. Thus low value goods will continue to be hauled on conventional railways.
Were HSRF to cost the same as truck haulage at SEK 240 per tonne but take only 1.5 hours instead of 3, a high-speed train laden with 385 tonnes would earn SEK 92,400 in freight revenues. By comparison, the revenue from 500 passengers is around SEK 325,000. Transporting people is three times more profitable than goods on a high-speed line, but if there is spare capacity, it is profitable nonetheless to transport HSRF as it increases the line’s revenues.