About this document
This is a collection of proposals unconstrained by facts and research and should be taken for that. It may still prove valuable, in which case reality and research can follow.
It is a living, continuously updated, document. Like a city it is never “finished”.
Version 0.3, December 2016, moved to Medium November 2019
About the author
Jonny Axelsson immigrated to Södertälje in 2015, having left the metropoles of Oslo, Beijing, Grums and Prague behind him. His background is in IT, not urban planning, so his combined ignorance of both this field and the city of Södertälje has made him highly qualified to write this treatise.
Some urbanising proposals: A preamble
Södertälje is another word for connections. Södertälje has no less than three major transport systems that connect and divide the city: the canal, the railroad, and the motorway crossroad.
Södertälje is transnational. It shares no national border, but its people, its companies, its customers and contacts are unusually diverse and far-ranging, even in our global world.
Södertälje is industrial. This is a good thing. The word industry shares the same roots as the word infrastructure, and means harnessing energy for skilled, systematic work. Many cities remember their industrial past, Södertälje needs to develop its industrial present.
Projects, people, and processes make up the city. A city is never separate from its people. It cannot stay still without decaying, but neither will it be going places.
This document will not have the dedicated resources to develop serious scenarios for the Södertälje of the future, or when that future will be. However the below scenarios for population growth can be convenient shorthands. They will not say anything about who the future inhabitants will be, where the jobs are, if they are well-paid and sufficient, what the inhabitants do and where they go, if they will be happy and healthy.
They are convenient as different population sizes have different needs and different impacts. How they are living and when would be for a deeper study.
The 75k scenario
Stasis. the Södertälje today will be the Södertälje tomorrow. The citizens that will be born or moving in are roughly equal to the ones leaving or dying. There will be a slow shift to more desirable locations from the less desirable ones, but no drastic departure from today. Some old structures will disappear, some new appear.
The 100k scenario
The expected size of Södertälje tomorrow. Tomorrow will likely happen 10–15 years from now. Given that plans commonly take a decade or more to come into fruition, this would be the baseline scenario for new plans.
The 120k scenario
This is Södertälje tomorrow with unexpected high growth, or the Södertälje the day after tomorrow. If there is a serious crisis in the intervening years, 120k may be postponed to “later”.
The 150k scenario
Double today’s population, a longer-term scenario. Will this happen? If so, when? Europe’s population is largely stable. Immigration is likely to increase, and in larger numbers than emigration. The population shift from inland towards the coast, and from east to the west in Europe, is likely to continue. The shift from south to north of working-age population, and north to south for retired people probably will as well, as long as the north is able to provide more, and better-paying, jobs.
Places that have attracted immigrants in the past tend to be the ones that do so in the future. My guess is that even if Sweden as a whole ends up with a population equilibrium, Södertälje will still attract.
The force of centralisation is one unknown variable. If it gets stronger, people who would otherwise go to Södertälje will go to Stockholm instead. If it gets weaker, places like Nyköping or Eskilstuna might be chosen.
Based on current trends Södertälje should reach 150k some years after 2040, but trends don’t stay unbroken in extended periods of time. It took Södertälje city about 50 years to double to the current size. A similar future rate would mean Södertälje would 150k around 2065, while with accelerated growth it could be as early as the 2030s. A reasonable range would be 150k somewhere between 2035 and 2075, with a strong option on “not happening in this century”.
This would mean that constructions built today will be used in a city of 150,000+ people for more than half their lifetime, assuming an average lifetime of 100 years. It wouldn’t make sense to build for a 150k city already now, but neither would it be wise to develop for future growing pains.
The 60k scenario
Decay. Maybe it’s Södertälje that has failed, or the whole Stockholm region, or Sweden. Maybe today’s strong urbanising trends will be countered by a flight from the cities. Whatever the reason it has happened with cities before, and it is always painful. Falling budgets have to support oversized structures and overstaffed agencies. If the city didn’t fail before, it might well do so after a collapse. Crime and other social ills may follow, precipitating further decay.
60k is shorthand for crisis, not just total population size. It can happen at any time. 100k could be just as traumatic as the 60k scenario would be for Södertälje today, if it is a fall from 120k. Bad years happen just like good years, but fortunately less often. A city should be prepared to handle a non-catastrophic fall, just as it should be prepared for slow and fast growth.
They can be grouped into: the city core (later), Södertälje Syd, Östertälje, Södertälje Harbour, the Södertälje Gates, and the suburbs (later). The first four have a railway station each, the Södertälje Gates proposal is related to the BRT proposal, and most people in Södertälje live in a suburb.
The city core is, as it should be, the current priority of the city planners. So this document leaves this for later.
My graphical skills are poor. I hope the reader will bear with that.
The maps are built on Google Maps.
Leisure: Maren, the Canal, Kusens backe
The Maren would remain the major central leisure area. It would be denser, nicer, and with the cavities filled, but except for 120k+ scenarios this proposal doesn’t envision any major changes beyond current proposals. This is the waterfront near the canal where people gather and relax.
For 120k public transport may go underground Centrum — Maren — Stortorget for speed, convenience and quality of life.
Civic core: City hall, Södertälje Centrum station and Torekäll
In the 100K+ scenarios will be integrated with leisure and trade areas, particularly with a new central station. With 120K+ it will extend to Saltskog/Scania HQ. With 150K higher urbanisation of Mariakäll may be an option.
Trade: Stortorget and Storgatan
The traditional centre. It would be the counterpoint to Maren, with a higher emphasis on business than leisure, and a transition to the knowledge industry in Snäckviken.
East end: Södertälje sjukhus / Polhemsgatan
Knowledge: North Campus Telge / Astra / Snäckviken
For the proposal in detail, see Sydstaden Strand
Södertälje Syd is the second best connected railway station in Sweden to Stockholm C, and next to E20 and E4 as well. It is in an ideal location for a cluster. If you don’t particularly want to be in Södertälje this should be the place to be.
Södertälje Syd by road and rail
Most southwards journeys from Stockholm would pass Södertälje, and most journeys north from Södertälje would pass Stockholm. Or put another way, most towns and cities in Sweden would have overlapping travel paths from Stockholm and Södertälje, the path to the city furthest away would pass the other.
Västerås is one exception. The best route from Södertälje would pass Strängnäs while the best route from Stockholm would pass Enköping. The travel time incidentally would be about the same.
Thus the travel time from Södertälje is the same as from Stockholm, plus or minus the travel time between the cities. Södertälje Syd is 21 minutes away from Stockholm C with regional rail, 24 minutes from Essingeleden with car (plus congestion).
These cities and airports are closer to Södertälje with 21/24 minutes: Norrköping, Linköping Gothenburg, Landvetter, Malmö, Copenhagen, Oslo (by rail only)
These are closer to Stockholm with the same amount of time: Arlanda, Uppsala, Gävle
Västerås, Flemingsberg, and Oslo (by car) are roughly the same distance from Södertälje and from Stockholm.
Ostlänken is a projected HSR line Södertälje Syd to Linköping. It may provide new opportunities for Södertälje (Syd), improved connections to cities towards Gothenburg and Malmö, and to Skavsta and Landvetter airports, but there is also a risk more trains will bypass Södertälje, particularly as the station has limited capacity.
Pendeltåg and local commute
Pendeltåget has a minor impact on Södertälje Syd. Currently only Gnesta-pendeln (J37) passes by Södertälje Syd, this may be extended with Sveabanan or links towards Trosa.
Syd för Söder Business District
Covered in detail in the proposal Sydstaden strand
Suburban Pershagen benefit from easy access to Centrum and would benefit greatly from a development of Södertälje Syd into a business district. However for the 75k and 100k scenarios little developments would be needed. For 120k Pershagen would be developed along Nyköpingsvägen, with further local developments for 160k.
Apart from having the harbour, this strategic location connects Centrum, Syd, and Östertälje, but is still isolated from all three of them. Breaking this isolation would be a priority. A second would be to develop the exhibition area, likely in consort with developments in Södertälje Syd. In the 120k and 160k scenarios this district would be significantly denser, a high pedestrian bridge to Östertälje a possibility.
Södertälje Exhibition area
The part of Södertälje closest to Stockholm, and major biotech node. However with skip/stop pendeltåg after Citybanan, this stop will have 4 Stockholm-bound stops/hour, while Hamn will have 8.
This is a part of the BRT proposal.
As a rule intercity buses should stop at one Södertälje bus gate (in Swedish port) and one of the four railway stations after and/or before crossing city (tätort) boundaries. Södertälje Syd exists today, but not formally in this function, while Stockholmsporten and Västporten are creations of this document. The role of these gates is to serve as transfer stations for buses and other road transport into or out of the city.
At the Moraberg trafikplats the E4/E20 leads towards Stockholm. 225/226 towards Tumba or Nynäshamn could stop here as well.
Currently this is just an access road to the motorway, but in addition to the BRT stop would also as a minimum have a pedestrian and bicycle path to the rest of Moraberg industrial area and to Fornhöjden. Future developments might have higher ambitions for the Moraberg area.
Västporten, the West gate
BRT stop by Wasa trafikplats/Scaniarinken
Sydporten, the South gate
Smaller projects intending to turn all the loose Södertälje pieces into one city, and improve each piece.
Suburban feel, central location. Prime location and connections are arguments that this area should be developed into a true urban neighbourhood.
See Sydstaden Strand
Fornhöjden (also see Östertälje)
Gärtuna (also see Östertälje)
Document: Södertälje BRT (version 0.8)
Map: Södertälje BRT
Document: Sydstaden strand