Classification and cost analysis of switches and crossings for the Swedish railway: a case study

Arne Nissen (Division of Operation and Maintenance Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden)

Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering

ISSN: 1355-2511

Publication date: 29 May 2009



Switches and crossings (S&Cs) are an important component of Banverket's (the Swedish National Rail Administration's) infrastructure and are associated with 13 per cent of the total maintenance cost. Therefore, it is important that a detailed study of different aspects of the costs of S&Cs should be undertaken to analyze individual maintenance costs. This will in the future give the possibility of enhancing the management of infrastructure.


A case study is undertaken to study, identify and classify the costs of S&Cs for Banverket. Data are taken from Banverket's maintenance information systems and accounting system.


A rough estimation of the cost for individual S&Cs can be identified in this way. The cost varies very much and a more detailed study is needed to validate the cost on this level. The average cost of a group of S&Cs varies less and is therefore more likely to reflect the true cost. The cost varies depending on the amount and type of traffic. Moreover, the type of S&C seems to reflect the cost variation, but further investigation is needed to verify this conclusion.

Research limitations/implications

The accounting system does not store data for individual assets, and further research would be more fruitful if individual costs could be recorded by the entrepreneur. Larger repairs should be separated from annual maintenance tasks in a future study. Data from this study could be used to build a life cycle cost model for S&Cs.

Practical implications

Cost identification is a first step in finding a way to organize maintenance in a more cost‐effective way.


The paper shows a way to distribute costs (in the accounting system) down to individual subsystems of the infrastructure. This enables analysts to find cost drivers and plan for modification of or reinvestment in the asset.



Nissen, A. (2009), "Classification and cost analysis of switches and crossings for the Swedish railway: a case study", Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 202-220.

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