We in the West Link: Joakim Jonsson is Head of Design for the project.
What is your background and how did you come to start working for the West Link project?
I studied a programme in Civil Engineering at Chalmers Institute of Technology and did my degree project at Banverket, the Swedish National Rail Administration, where I subsequently continued to work on infrastructure planning. Then I worked as a consultant, above all on rail issues and railways at an early stage of development, before starting at Banverket's Investment Division as Head of the Survey Group in Gothenburg. When Banverket became the Swedish Transport Administration I was appointed Head of the Urban and Regional Planning Department in the Gothenburg area. The main reason why I later applied for a post on the West Link project was that it seemed to be a "one-in-a-million" project opportunity that would never come my way again. My work on the project is also a little more concrete than working in general on planning issues, which also feels good.
What does your role as Head of Design entail?
During the time I have been working on the West Link project, I have coordinated all the design work that has been carried out on railway plans, environmental impact assessments and preliminary design documents. I have overall responsibility for making sure that we produce these documents with the necessary level of consideration. When working on a proposal for how a complex facility such as the West Link project is to be designed, many considerations have to be taken into account. For example, a balance has to be struck between encroachment on the city and the function of the railway, or between the alignments of the tunnel in relation to the cultural environment. My main task is to direct the work of the group that makes these decisions and draw up the documents. I am responsible for making sure that we have a good foundation so that we always can make good decisions.
What is the most challenging aspect of the West Link project from your point of view?
To start with, I thought we would come up against a lot of engineering problems during our design work on the West Link, but as the work gradually progressed the engineers have managed to solve the challenges we have encountered. Since all members of the group have different specialist areas and starting points, we are already weighing up various perspectives at the planning stage, and it is sometimes a challenge to come up with a solution that is as good as possible from every possible angle. When it comes to localisation of the West Link, for example, certain individuals prioritise track geometry whereas others give priority to the cultural environment.
How do you solve the challenges?
The key is to develop a decision-making foundation that incorporates all perspectives, and the fact that we have useful discussions and are able to communicate with each other. If we together can agree on what the real situation is, and everyone can see the various aspects, it is far easier to agree on what needs to be prioritised. When everyone keeps pace with each other and understands the project, the various alternatives can be weighed against each other objectively. In some cases you have to modify the track geometry because the cultural environment is more important, and so on.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
The best thing is when we manage to make things work and come together, when the members of the group work next to each other and are satisfied with their progress, and when we come up with good solutions. Then I like when we can finish our work on time and keep to the budget. It is also a pleasure being able to work with such clever people – both in-house staff as well as consultants.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy sailing and walking. And I also spend a lot of time with my family.
Do you talk a lot about the West Link project during your free time?
Of course people ask me about the project, but not that much. I never take up the subject myself, and prefer not to talk too much about by job in my free time. It is one way of relaxing.