Getingmidjan, Stockholm

Right in the heart of Sweden’s capital, Implenia is renovating one of the country’s most important transport axes. “Getingmidjan” is the two-kilometre section of railway that links the north of the country with the south. It passes across the famous island of Riddarholmen, directly opposite Stockholm’s city hall and main train station. The route was first opened to trains in 1871, and the current infrastructure, which dates back to the 1950s, is approaching the end of its useful life. It no longer meets today’s transportation needs.

Trafikverket, the Swedish Transport Administration, has commissioned Implenia to modernise the stretch at a cost of around SEK  885 million. The project also includes replacing and repairing important bridges and tunnels, building retaining walls, upgrades to the noise protection, earthworks, cabling and certain design features. To minimise disruption to rail, road and metro users, as well as pedestrians, much of the logistical infrastructure for the work will be brought in by water with the help of pontoons – just one of many challenges that have to be overcome in this complex project.

iStock by Getty Images/petekarici

Facts & Figures

Project name:

Stockholm, Sweden

Trafikverket (Swedish Transport Administration)

Modernising one of the most important sections of railway in Sweden

Size of contract:
SEK 885 million (approximately CHF 106 million)

Summer 2017 to 2021

Heavily used railway in the heart of Stockholm’s old town. Construction site is attracting great attention; work taking place under close public scrutiny. The main work will be carried out in just eight weeks of each summer, during which the section will be closed to trains.

Improving Sweden’s main traffic artery

Trains clatter over the “Getingmidjan” every few minutes. This two-kilometre section of track in the middle of Stockholm is an obvious bottleneck on the north-south axis of Sweden’s rail system. Essentially a piece of 1950s infrastructure, it can no longer cope with today’s volume of traffic. Complete renovation and refurbishment is required.

Various transport links run across the island of Riddarholmen in central Stockholm: two train tracks, a six-lane road and a stretch of the city’s metro system, plus zoned routes for pedestrians and cyclists. Despite the extremely tight space available and the need to avoid changing the face of the city, the railway now has to be upgraded to meet modern requirements. It is a complex task for Implenia’s infrastructure construction experts.

The expert

The magic of major projects
Philip Thompson, a 31-year-old Swede, joined Implenia along with Bilfinger Construction in March 2015. He was originally attracted by the “Citybanan” project that was later continued by Implenia.

Why did “Citybanan” appeal to you?
Philip Thompson: Philip Thompson: It was Sweden’s biggest infrastructure project, and my first real job. I was very proud.

What was your job back then?
I started as a site engineer. In this role I looked after contract administration, including cost and quantity controlling, as well as handling claims.

Philip Thompson, Production Manager, Implenia

Wasn’t that quite a lot of responsibility for a newbie?
It was, and as the project went on I was given more and more responsibility, which is essential to any kind of career progression. I’m glad to say that this progress continued after the company was integrated into Implenia Group. I sometimes had the feeling that I was being given more responsibility than I was ready for, but I grew into my duties, and in retrospect I can say that Implenia was right: I was always ready for the next step, but just didn’t yet realise it myself. It helps enormously if you have a line manager that you can always talk things through with.

So the open-door policy isn’t just a rumour?
No. If I happen to see the CEO of Implenia Sverige Fredrik Björckebaum around, I say hello and he knows exactly who I am. The hierarchies are flat here, we work together on the basis of finding constructive solutions, and every now and then we go and have a drink together after work.

How has your role developed from site engineer to what you do now?
As the “Citybanan” project moved into the implementation phase, I became Construction Manager for concrete and steel work. I adapted my professional skills to suit the new role and then two years ago I took charge of a subsection of the next megaproject: “Getingmidjan”. My team and I are working on a technical solution for part of the structure that we will be building later on. It seems to me that I have plenty of scope to keep taking my career forward – at the project level and the Implenia level.

The beginner

Trainee programme opens doors
Sven Laufer, like Philip Thompson, is part of the “Getingmidjan” team, which he joined in September 2017 as a trainee. Implenia’s traineeship offered him a quick way of getting into working life, taking the 28-year-old German first to Switzerland, then to Sweden and finally to a permanent position.

Why did you decide to do a traineeship at Implenia in Switzerland?
Sven Laufer: There were various reasons. I knew about Implenia, with its striking daisy logo. I had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the Technical University of Munich, and I wanted to put them into practice as quickly as possible, preferably at a company head office in another city. Implenia’s trainee programme in Switzerland only lasts a year, and every three months it let me find out what a different department did, in Switzerland and in Sweden.

Sven Laufer, Trainee “Getingmidjan”, Implenia

Your third trainee posting was in Stockholm. How did that come about?
As a student intern working at Hochtief I was already involved in infrastructure projects like the BAB A6 expansion and the second mainline in Munich. Doing the various trainee stints at Implenia taught me that my passion really did lie in infrastructure construction. So I used my new contacts to go and support the “Getingmidjan” team in Stockholm for four months. If you show initiative at Implenia, you can go a long way.

“The trainee programme helped me develop a lot – professionally and personally – and gave me a foot in the door at Implenia.”

Sven Laufer, Trainee “Getingmidjan”, Implenia

What jobs did you do at “Getingmidjan”?
I helped the project team set up a controlling system and I carried out a monthly cost reconciliation. I helped with the actual construction by planning traffic diversions, and also did a lot of work talking to the public authorities and the customer. Not so easy when you don’t have Swedish as your mother tongue. Fortunately, Swedes are very relaxed, and I could always rely on support from my colleagues, like Philip Thompson.

And will your journey continue at Implenia?
Yes, the trainee programme helped me develop a lot professionally, and gave me a foot in the door at Implenia. From March, I will be a cost controller for “Getingmidjan”, and I will keep working to take on more and more responsibility in future.

Congratulations! Has the trainee programme also changed you as a person?
Such an intense experience is bound to have an effect. My stay in Sweden allowed me to learn Swedish, as well as increasing my self-confidence and improving my communication and intercultural skills.