BEHIND THE SCENES

THE STORY ABOUT MTR EXPRESS

MTR Express journey has been full of adventures. Here you can follow our former CEO, Johan Söör as he tells the story about MTR Express, everything from visiting the factories to the first maiden journey.



HAMM, GERMANY, FEBRUARY 2013

The story about MTR Express could begin at many different locations. But we start a freezing cold winter day in February 2013 in Hamm, Germany. Hamm is located in the German country side between Frankfurt and Düsseldorf and we were here to find trains for our fleet. On a gigantic marshalling yard there was hundreds of retired Deutsche Bahn-carriages, that was built in east Germany during the 1980s. It was about as bad as it sounds.

The first question that came up was if these vehicles could even run. John Barlass, technical director on MTR in London, crawled around under the carriages and took hundreds of photographs to see if they were up for the task. John ascertained that "it wasn't soo bad". The other question we asked ourselves was, if we would choose these vehicles how much we would need to upgrade the carriages to get anything that represented serious modern train traffic for the 21st century. Our German contact Klaus thought that it was good enough with the rubber carpet that was already in place in the carriages. That did not feel at all like what we were aiming for.

The good news when we left Hamm was that there was actually carriages available for rent. The bad news was that it would not be the modern service concept we wanted MTR Express to become.


SCHWEIZ SPRING 2013

During the spring 2013 we continued to discuss the carriages and started to look at different ways to finance the trains. But one day in April we got a tip about Stadler in Switzerland, that had trains that could be interesting for us.

After that everything happened quickly. A couple of weeks later we went down to Stadler's headquarters and factory in Bussnang, Switzerland. Bussnang is a idyllic little village one hour outside of Zurich located among rolling vineyards slightly north of the Alps. If you were to squeeze all of Bussnangs citizens into one of MTR Express trains it would probably be enough to use only carriage A-C. The sun was shining and it was spring. The contrast between a grey and cold Hamm in February was miles apart.

In the discussions with Stadler we found a possibility to collaborate the train manufacturing with Norwegian NSB, that had recently put a order on a large amount of Stadler Flirt-trains. By collaborating the order and design of the trains with NSB we could shorten the manufacturing time and get certain cost advantages.

After negotiations and our internal decision-making process within MTR, we signed the contract of purchase the 31st of October 2013 with Stadler for our six vehicles. A couple of weeks later we went out with the news publicly. The news had big impact and was featured both in Göteborgs-posten and Dagens Nyheter.


SPRING AND SUMMER 2014

Now when the manufacturing of the trains was ongoing we could start with what really mattered: to recruit and build the organization and our culture. We have trains for almost 700 million SEK, but our most valuable asset will always be our employees in MTR Express. In our line of work every employee is very important. We were also careful to find a good balance of colleagues from both Gothenburg and Stockholm. In the summer 2014 we were about 10 people in the MTR Express team. I remember still to this day our first team meeting on floor 15 in DN-skrapan in Stockholm. We were a stoked and hungry group of people that all felt the march of history. Someone made the comparison with the movie "Ocean's Eleven, the movie is about a gang that meets up and plan a historic score that no one has managed to pull off before (the big question was who in our group was Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Brad Pitt?). It was all about establishing the first challenger to SJ and their 150-year old monopoly.


AUTUMN 2014

Under hösten löpte ett intensivt arbete på med att börja hitta företagskunder, samarbetspartners, få de första IT-systemen klara, och fortsätta rekrytera. Jag gillade verkligen våra rekryteringstillfällen när servicevärds- och lokförarkandidater gjorde gruppövningar tillsammans. Det var viktigt för oss eftersom det visade hur vi vill jobba i MTR Express, som ett team och där alla hjälps åt. Det är inte vem som helst som får jobb i MTR Express. Eftersom varje person är så viktig har vi alltid lagt mycket tid och energi i rekryteringarna för att hitta de mest glimrande guldkornen.


TRAFIKSTART MARS 2015

Det går inte att i en sådan här text göra rättvisa till allt hårt jobb av många involverade som krävdes innan vi startade trafiken i mars 2015. Den 18 mars 2015 samlades alla 45 kollegor som var anställda då till en kick-off på First Hotel Kungsbron. Det var också då vår servicevärd Kuba Jasiecki, med en bakgrund som popartist i Polen, lyfte idén om en helt egen MTR Express-låt. I juli 2015 lanserade vi låten From Coast to Coast på Spotify och YouTube.

Den 9 mars hade vi vår invigning i Stockholm och den 11 mars i Göteborg. Den 21 mars kl 8.05 från Göteborg C avgick den första ordinarie turen med MTR Express någonsin. Vår fordons- och trafiksäkerhetschef Björn Nettervik var den som körde. De första veckorna efter starten brukade jag gå ner till plattformen minst en gång om dagen. Det var en lite overklig och väldigt härlig känsla att se att det faktiskt fanns livs levande kunder som reste med oss. 

Finns det områden där vi tänkte lite fel? Helt säkert. Blev 100 procent av sakerna 100 procent klara i tid? Absolut inte. Men vi har rekordsnabbt byggt upp ett helt nytt tågbolag som dessutom sedan start haft fantastiskt nöjda kunder och hög operationell kvalitet. Fortfarande väcker MTR Express stort intresse både i Sverige och utomlands.

MTR Express kommer aldrig bli ett bolag där ledningsgruppen åker på lyxiga konferenser, där vi slår oss till ro, eller där vi gör som man alltid gjort i tågbranschen. Men vi kommer alltid vilja vara ett bolag där alla kollegor turas om att tömma diskmaskinen på kontoret, där man tar på sig gula västen och hjälper våra kunder vid en trafikstörning, och där allas insats betyder väldigt mycket. Vi är stolta över allt vi åstadkommit hittills, och kommer alltid fortsätta jobba i denna anda av stark teamkänsla, högt i tak och en vilja att ständigt utvecklas. Tack till våra kunder och samarbetspartners för allt hittills! Vi har bara börjat. 

Göteborg-Stockholm i mars 2016 Johan Söör, tidigare VD

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