We in the West Link: Per Lerjefors is one of the Swedish Transport Administration’s employees who has worked for the longest period of time on the West Link Project.
He was involved as early as the conceptual study stage in 2001, and he is now working with coordinating of the railway projects in progress in Gothenburg.
What is your background and how did you get involved in the West Link Project?
I started as a bridge designer before continuing as a bridge engineer at The Swedish Transport Administration in 1990. Then I started to work as a railway engineer, where I worked with the railway as a system. I was present at the christening of the West Link, but was involved even before the project had a name. At the time we were discussing both possible and impossible ideas for improving the capacity at Gothenburg Central Station.
I was present when the possible proposals were sifted out, before the best ideas were selected for further investigation. Finally, there was one alternative (corridor) left that fulfilled the established goals for both the project and for the development of the city and the surrounding region. This is the routing of the West Link that we have continued to work with by deciding the exact width and location of the West Link within the corridor.
What is your role in the West Link Project?
First of all, I worked with engineering when we were examining the various alternatives for increasing the capacity at Gothenburg Central Station. After that, I worked on studying different parts of the corridor and making choices for how the West Link should be routed. My role changed as the size of the organisation gradually increased, and my primary task then was to direct the work of 250 consulting engineers in the same direction.
One important part of the work has been to bring the railway plan in line with the detailed development plans that the City of Gothenburg authorities are working with. There must be a geographical conformity between the plans. For example, an air and ventilation shaft that is included in the railway plan must also be included in the detailed development plan.
What has the greatest challenge been from your point of view?
The greatest challenges in a major project are more organizational than purely technical. There are many people involved, all of whom have to interact and work towards achieving the same goals and overall result. In order for this to happen, it is important to have a good dialogue and a good climate of cooperation in which we respect each other's' perspectives and focus on the assignment and solutions.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
The most fun has been all the people I have worked with, and the fact that we often have come up with really good solutions. There are a lot of really gifted engineers around, both among the consultants as well as internally. A large project like this is very demanding, and it is impressive that so many people make the effort and dare to be creative. It feels as though everyone thinks that it has been fun to work on such a big and complex project.
What do you do to relax?
I have family and live in Marstrand, so during the lighter period of the year I am often on the ocean and out in the nature. I also work out at the gym every day, which has become an important need for me. Then I listen a lot to opera, it gives me strength. Jussi Björling is my favourite – his voice really moves me.
Do you talk a lot about the West Link in your spare time?
Not so much – some of the people I commute to work with talk a little jokingly about the West Link. Perhaps there has been more talk about the project as a result of the coverage in media. More often, the focus has been on congestion tax and not the West Link which, despite all, most public transport commuters appear to appreciate.