HISTORICAL VISSEFJÄRDA IN TIMES OF CHANGE

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1 The Linnaeus University School of Social Sciences Peace and Development Work, Master Programme, 60 credits Course: Methods of Field Work Teacher: Gunilla Åkesson Spring 2012 HISTORICAL VISSEFJÄRDA IN TIMES OF CHANGE From its romantic mystique to the high paced reality of the globalized world, it is rail travel that keeps vital social, cultural, economic and political forces moving today. Railroads and new train stops may constitute the engines of change that produce the modern sustainable rural living conditions in the face of the multitude of challenges of contemporary life. Fieldwork on Local Community Development Train Stop in Vissefjärda Aida Baxholm Anders Linde Lydia Elias 1

2 Table of Contents ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 3 SAMMANFATTNING 5 1. INTRODUCTION Research problem Background and main aspects for field study in Vissefjärda Key Research Questions and Aim of Field Study Research Method and Field Study approach Friedmann and the (Dis)Empowerment Theory BACKGROUND Public transportation in the modern world Public transport policy The railway project Emmaboda Karlskrona Vissefjärda train stop Vissefjärda Community 19 3 ANALYSIS Stakeholders Members of Vissefjärda community Political representatives and local government officials Other secondary stakeholders Living in Vissefjärda The implementation of Vissefjärda s train stop Community members perceptions regarding the train stop Critical Aspects and Risks 30 4 CONCLUSIONS 32 2

3 5 RECOMMENDATIONS How can the Municipality assist to maximize the benefits for its inhabitants from the train stop? How should the community respond to the train stop? Ability to take advantage of the train stop Requirements on new train services Additional opportunities to make living in Vissefjärda more attractive 36 REFERENCES 37 Books 37 Reports 38 Internet Sources 38 APPENDICES 39 Appendix 1: QUESTION SHEET POPULATION Primary Stakeholders 39 Appendix 2: QUESTION SHEET POPULATION Elderly People 44 Appendix 3: QUESTION SHEET POPULATION Young People 48 Appendix 4: QUESTION SHEET POPULATION Business Professionals 51 Appendix 5: SURVEY RESPONDENTS Distribution of Respondent Categories 53 Appendix 6: SURVEY RESULTS Question 1 54 Appendix 7: SURVEY RESULTS Question 2 58 Appendix 8: SURVEY RESULTS Question 3 60 Acknowledgements We would like to express our gratitude for being given the opportunity to enjoy a few weeks of learning and receive new experiences from a part of Småland that we have found to be 3

4 beautiful, charming, and serene but at the same time creative, vigorous and optimistic. The pastoral and quant community of Vissefjärda in the country of Nils Dacke in the southeastern part of Småland is a good representative of the new global world where the local perspective is becoming increasingly important. We have been introduced to a proud historical and rich cultural heritage and at the same time witnessed the signs of forward-looking investments in new business endeavors by enthusiastic entrepreneurs. We have meet senior citizens with interesting and magnificent stories from their lives and times past and listened to the young generation s easel full of activity, dreams and passions for their future in a rural setting but with a modern outlook. We see ourselves as fortunate to be able to get a glimpse just how much Vissefjärdas community members cherish their community and we have also come to appreciate the hospitality by which we have been received in kitchens, offices, living rooms, farms, class rooms, work shops, restaurants and auditoriums. We have often been treated with home baked pastries with the coffee. Thank you to all and everyone for your warmth and accommodating welcome to us as well as your eager responses to our many questions. We appreciate the helpful guidance received from Gunilla Åkesson in conducting this field study. We also send a big thanks to Pe-Ge minibuss for providing us with a good car without which this field study would have been impossible to carry out, on this road-trip of ours to Emmaboda. We send a special thank you to Göran Persson, Pähr and Lilian Gustavsson for their helpful introduction to the awesome work of the Emmaboda Archives Society and for an interesting evening together with the society members at Föreningshuset in Vissefjärda. Our gratitude extends to Sixten Siverland for valuable basic information and for being a good host when we participated in the annual meeting of Samhällsföreningen which we found to be a joyful event and a good learning experience for us in understanding more of the rich and diverse past of Vissefjärda, and which not least provided us with a good opportunity to get into contact with many of the interesting and nice people of the community. 4

5 We join last year s field study group in sending our appreciation to Khalid for his hospitality, good salads and pizzas and lending us a place to spread papers and laptops on when we needed it. Aida Baxholm Anders Linde Lydia Elias Växjö, March 22, 2012 Sammanfattning I mars 2012 genomförde vi en studie i Vissefjärda. Vi hade i uppgift att försöka ta reda på vad invånarna hade för åsikter angående det nya tågstoppet som kommer igång i juni Nedan följer de olika aspekter som vi hade för avsikt att söka besvara: - På vilket sätt kan kommunen investera i tågstoppet för att på bästa sätt uppnå fördelar för dess invånare? Till vilken utsträckning kan Vissefjärda besvara de möjligheter som är kopplade till tågstoppet? - På vilket sätt kan denna lilla tätort dra nytta av tåget på ett lönsamt sätt? - Vad kommer Kalmar Länstrafik och Blekingetrafiken göra för att tågservicen mellan Karlskrona och Kalmar bedrivs på bästa sätt? - På vilket sätt kan kommunen dra nytta av denna möjlighet och göra Vissefjärda mer attraktivt? Vi genomförde ett 90tal korta surveyer för att få en allmän bild av vad invånarna hade för åsikter om tågstoppet. Vi gjorde även ett 60tal längre och djupare intervjuer där vi ställde ett antal frågor. Surveyen såväl som frågorna finns bifogade som en appendix. Överlag fann vi att Vissefjärda är ett sammansvetsat samhälle med invånare som bryr sig om 5

6 sin tätort och de beslut som fattas i den. Invånarna har belyst att de ibland inte känner att politikerna lyssnar på de, och de saknar det utbud av affärsservice som Vissefjärda hade att erbjuda tidigare. Människorna trivs i samhället, tycker det är lugnt, vackert och tryggt. Ungdomarna känner att det borde finnas mer att erbjuda för de, och de känner sig glömda ibland. Medlemsföreningarna söker fler unga medlemmar så att de kan överleva. Skolan har poängterats av alla som mycket bra och nyrenoverad, likaså att äldreboende håller en bra standard. Vad gäller tågstoppet, är folket överlag positiva. De uttrycker en glädje att Vissefjärda sätts på kartan och hoppas att det ska få samhället att komma till liv; med möjlighet för inflyttande och eventuellt andra nya småföretag. De hoppas att tågpriserna ska vara rimliga, majoriteten hoppas även att tåget går senare på kvällen så att de får möjlighet att åka någonstans över kvällen och äta en bit mat till exempel. Det lyftes fram av de äldre att de får möjlighet till att åka och göra ärenden med tåget, de yngre är positiva över att ta sig till skolan med tåget; likaså även pendlare som kan ta sig till jobbet med bil. De flesta kommer dock använda tåget i begränsad omfattning för utflykter, shopping etc. I samband med tåget finns det möjlighet att utveckla såväl turismen som andra affärsmöjligheter. Invånarna önskar se en upprustning av tomma hus, samt en möjlighet att göra något åt Verdaområdet; såsom park, sporthall eller dylikt. Vi betonar att det är viktigt att tågservicen håller en god nivå, vad gäller biljettförsäljningen, effektiviteten och att såväl kommunen som tågbolagen lyssnar på invånarna i samhället. Invånarna har nu möjligheten att med detta tågstopp kunna utvärdera sin livssituation, därför är det även av vikt att marknadsföra detta tågstopp så att det utnyttjas av samhället. 6

7 1. Introduction 1.1 Research problem Background and main aspects for field study in Vissefjärda Rural communities in the industrialized countries are commonly facing increasing threats to their viability and resilience to the massive changes now taking place in the world as a direct consequence of the macro-economic dynamics inherent to the overarching globalization processes. As part of Emmaboda Municipality, Vissefjärda is confronted by a multitude of various socio-economic challenges. One of the most evident manifestations of Vissefjärda community member s strife to come to terms with their present and future socio-economic challenges is their recently elaborated local development plan, which presents different strategies in order to stimulate local development. Vissefjärda s beautiful scenic setting and lovely surroundings with a great natural wealth of lakes, rivers and forests, which acts as a magnet for summer tourists and sporting buffs has not been able to halt the steady decline in its former urban vivacity and the subsequent phasing out of public and commercial services that earlier eras provided in bounty for its inhabitants. A key issue among the various suggestions and proposals that has been elaborated over a number of years has been the longstanding desire to revive the previous era s railway communication services. The inhabitants are well aware of the fact that good means of transportation is a pervasive and vital function in all industrialized economies. There are many examples of towns that have developed and thrived as a result of their ability to provide 7

8 good transportation services. The earlier operational train stop in Vissefjärda operating from 1874 was shut down in 1983, and all train passengers as well as all freight traffic by railroad that earlier frequented Vissefjärda was effectively terminated. As a result of the overall refurbishment of the railroad between Emmaboda and Karlskrona and most importantly the establishment of a revised train stop, the community inhabitants in Vissefjärda are being provided with additional means to the means to meet their ever increasing demand for efficient, comfortable and easily accessible transportation. The new train services will commence in June Many inhabitants in Vissefjärda have been arguing for their train stop for several years, and thought of it as an unrealistic dream. Now when they have finally been met with a positive response with the subsequent grace of being endowed with a train stop as a part of the rehabilitation of the railroad between Karlskrona and Emmaboda, the inhabitants of Vissefjärda has been offered the possibility to raise the expectations of their lives and explore new opportunities for themselves as well as for the community as a whole. 1.2 Key Research Questions and Aim of Field Study The study is intended to investigate and assess the possible potential for continued development of Vissefjärda as a result of the decision to implement a new train stop in the community. Based on an analysis of the local information, opinions and proposals, the aim of the field work is to contribute with insights related to the identification of the implications for the Emmaboda Municipality from the new train stop in Vissefjärda. Further, the study aims to identify the different local actors and stakeholders who will be the main beneficiaries of the from the ongoing refurbishments of the railroad between Emmaboda and Karlskrona including the new train stop in the community. The different groups of people who are gaining and leveraging on the improved transportation means are to be indentified in terms of the interests they represent and the resources they have access to as well as how they look upon the possibilities to fulfill their own ambitions in life based on the coming railroad transportation facilities. The following main aspects are of key importance for the study: How can the Municipality act and invest in order to create maximum benefit for its inhabitants 8

9 from the train stop? To what extent will Vissefjärda be able to respond to the possibilities linked to the train stop? How can this small population centre make use of the train stop in a profitable way? What will the companies Kalmar Länstrafik and Blekingetrafiken, responsible for running the commuter train services between Karlskrona and Emmaboda, require? How can the Municipality benefit from this new opportunity, and make use of it to make living in Vissefjärda more attractive? The ultimate question that the study will try to find a probable answer to is how the Municipality can act and invest in order to create maximum benefit for its inhabitants from the new train stop. 1.3 Research Method and Field Study approach The field study was carried out as a classic qualitative research methodology that builds upon a directly interactive approach. As such the method is chosen when the research question requires an understanding of processes, events and relationships in the context of the social and cultural situation. Instead of generating statistical data, the qualitative research aims to produce factual descriptions based on face-to-face knowledge of individuals and social groups in their natural settings. The aim of this study was to try to understand the main issue by seeking to understand the given research problem from the perspectives of the local population it involves, by obtaining culturally specific information about the values, opinions, behaviors and social contexts of particular populations of the geographical area of concern. The applied interview techniques varied in certain dimensions along continua, and were being structured as well as unstructured. Depending on the specific situation, the interviews stretched from the most informal type of interviewing, to unstructured interviewing with a certain degree of desired and applied focus. However, the lion share of the performed interviews can be characterized as applied semi structured interviewing founded upon a structured pattern, typically involving an interview schedule, or what may be depicted as interview protocols, that is, sets of questions, or scripts. The interviews were mainly 9

10 conducted individually but also in a pairs and in a few instances in groups. The data collection involved an objective and accurate reporting of the statements of the interviewed persons in their natural environment, where we as being the investigators have sought to understand the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the interviewed individuals who are living and coping with the their condition in the given contextual setting of their specific life situations. We frequently combined our basic qualitative research approach with letting our respondents respond to a brief and focused survey, in order to seek to test and confirm our generated hypotheses about our sampled groups of individual s consciously experience of their situation. The related questionnaire could be characterized as an instrument with a more rigid style of eliciting and categorizing responses to questions, and a means of structuring our interviews and our subsequent findings. All in all, we managed to collect near 90 responses to our focused survey. The combination of semi-structured interviews and simple questionnaires on the issue of augmented public transportations facilities, granted us the possibility to perform continuous data analysis in the field (Mikkelsen 2010: 89). We chose to use a purposive sampling approach in our selection of respondents as a broad based search for informants that represented all walks of life. The sampling method we used was based on our intent to maximize the information, so that when we found no new information forthcoming from additional sampled individuals, we shifted focus to a new category of potential respondents. We also applied the snowball or chain sampling technique to establish a sort of dynamic pattern of sampled groups of individuals (Mikkelsen 2010: 193). In practice, our qualitative sampling required a very flexible, pragmatic approach since the total population of possible key informants was quite limited and our time frame for conducting our field survey was constrained. Our field work ambition was to be time- and result- efficient and this required necessarily a strategy of convenience sampling, though persistently with an element of a judgment approach, since we made strident efforts to ensure that participants came from a wide range of social, economic, age, interest professional backgrounds. The advantage of this approach was its simplicity but it was difficult to determine at the sampling stage whether the informants fulfilled the desired selection criteria. 10

11 Additionally, we applied a number of complementary techniques and tools from the participatory method school of development research. Even though we could not spend more than a few weeks of data collection, we adhered to the principled ideas of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) in our field work to the largest possible extent. This method is also relevant to the study of social differentiation exclusion/inclusion and access, deprivation/entitlement, financial prowess/economic destitution, gender equality and empowerment, human rights, conflict prevention and resolution being worthwhile in our strife to encompass the full complexity of the rural community of Vissefjärda. The flexibility associated with participatory learning proved very enticing for our assigned field work. Our means of data collection, data analysis and communication techniques subsequently included review of cultural and historical documents, political plans and pamphlets, government and agency reports, maps and various literature sources. We also applied a relaxed, listening and probing approach instead of passing on to the next topic, and we made efforts to be unimposing instead of patronizing. We made efforts to engage with the local community central forums for exchange of ideas and deliberations as we participated as observers at a few civic associations meetings and gatherings. We continuously analyzed and documented our findings and collected data, both of qualitative and quantitative nature. In short we adopted an eclectic situational style (the humble, learning outsider) than a method, and we decided to build our field work on the consistent use of local graphic representations created by the community inhabitants that legitimize the pure local knowledge and simultaneously induce a sense of empowerment, that we found very beneficial to our investigation. In short, we utilized the possibilities that the catalogue of participatory rural appraisal offers the field researcher, and we gradually came to adopt more and more of the PRA tool-box as our field investigation work progressed (Mikkelsen 2010: 63). Our field investigation may best be understood as an interpretative type of study, where we have attempted to gauge the way that individuals and different groups by age, sex and profession characterize the issue of transportation related to their specific position in life, and what peoples perceptions of causes and effects are or could be. Further the means of transportation in a rural setting and what possible traits of adequate/good solutions for the 11

12 movements of people and goods could be, and how do different groups perceive the causes and effects of public transportation on society and their situation and what it will mean for their community as a whole (Mikkelsen 2010: 130). Our way of analyzing our findings and gathered information has then materialized through mainly inductive reasoning, moving from specific observations to more broader generalizations and conclusions. We began with the exploration of the area, interviewing initially identified key individuals, followed by the recording specific observations and specific data. Data analysis enabled us to identify certain patterns and the formulation of tentative hypotheses that we then could explore further as our field work progressed. The inductive approach permitted us to work from the bottom-up perspective- as seen from the point of view of the subjects to be followed by the development of the empirically based conclusions/ theories (Mikkelsen 2010: 168). This provided us with the advantage of a more open-ended and exploratory approach, though we were quite limited with time and with our exploratory capabilities, as our field of study was a geographically dispersed area and at some distance to drive from our home base at the Linnaeus University in Växjö. We also found the inductive method that we adhered to was intellectually satisfying, and in reality as things turned out, proved to be a very effective use of the time at our disposal. There is always a risk of subjectivity, even for experienced researchers. Qualitative validity means that the researcher checks for accuracy of the findings by employing certain procedures, while qualitative reliability indicates that the researcher s approach is consistent across different researches and different projects (Creswell, 2009:190). We have in our field study consistently pursued techniques and interview styles that we are confident have limited the risk of systematic mishaps or chances of bias in our work. Researcher bias can be minimized if the researcher spends enough time in the field and employ multiple data collection strategies to corroborate the findings. The level of reliability can be raised by securing a sufficient amount of respondents that also represent a varied sample of primary stakeholders. High reliability may be defined as an absence of systematic errors and findings characterized by a high degree of stringency. In our field work we applied a strategy of mass involvement from as large a sample of primary stakeholders as feasible during the time frame 12

13 that we had at our disposal. We also made efforts to address people with different backgrounds, experiences and profiles as a way of raising the level of reliability. By engaging multiple methods, such as, observation, interviews and recordings we have acquired a more valid, reliable and diverse construction of the reality we have been set to try and understand. As we are a group consisting of three researchers we have the opportunity to apply triangulation as a step to involve several interpretations of the data we collect and analyze. To summarize the subject matter of credibility pertaining to our field work, we feel that our multi-method approach to our field investigation has been fruitful and worthwhile in our overall strife to enhance the reliability and validity of our research Friedmann and the (Dis)Empowerment Theory We have grounded our field method approach on the often quite complex understanding of the concept of empowerment. There is an aspect of personal control related to empowerment. People have dreams and act on them. In terms of empowerment, then, personal control can be seen as an active process of engagement in the social world. People's belief in their own capabilities and unique personal characteristics will help to foster confidence in their ability to take initiative in changing their lives. Furthermore, interdependence can be seen as an important part of the empowerment process based partly on the interaction of internal motivations of citizens, with valued social resources in communities and systems. Another aspect to empowerment is that social context and community life are critical to understanding the changes that individuals experienced over time. For example, involvement in community organizations, self-help groups, and other aspects of community life promotes community empowerment. This refers to community settings which welcome people and thus contribute to their personal empowerment. The theoretical framework underlying the research is connected to the bases of social power as explained by Friedmann in his (Dis)Empowerment Model (Friedmann 1998:66-71). The model was applied as an underlying tool to our field research, and could be regarded as a useful tool in understanding the relationships among the people, the associations, their strategies and their efforts to become empowered in terms of being able to influence their own situation and their own 13

14 destiny. We have encountered some limitations during the course of our field investigation in Vissefjärda. We tried to encompass as many different stakeholders and groups of society as possible during our brief data collection phase. The time at our disposal and the rural setting with a dispersed population in a great number of locations, often in remote areas, made it difficult to reach some groups. This was especially apparent for the active part of the population, who were often unavailable during daytime. The interviews were all conducted in Swedish, which made it a bit challenging for all participants in the group to take pro-active part in the often very dynamic, fluent and occasionally quite erratic interview situations. We did record some of our encounters, but found it difficult to find time to recap on this material, as we had so many others planned respondents to cover during our intensive field investigation, and with frequent time consuming efforts to book and secure meetings and subsequent travel to the often widely dispersed destinations for fulfilling the agreed upon interviews. In total we met and interviewed more than 60 individuals (29 male and 34 female), some of the meetings and dialogues were held with married couples and families together, and two of the interviews were carried out with focus groups, one with staff at the Vissefjärda school and one with employees at Storegården elderly care center. 2. Background 2.1 Public transportation in the modern world Good transportation services have a definite, identifiable effect upon a persons lifestyle. Essential decisions about where to work, live, and play are heavily influenced by the available means of transportation. Socio-economic and cultural and ethnological differences between geographic regions are mitigated or diffused by the ability of residents to travel outside the confines of their region or area of residence. This mobility also has an effect on the exchange of ideas and the development of new approaches in the interchanges that can occur among people living and working in different settings. If service operators, governments, and professionals are directly responsible for making public transport work, the public has indirect responsibility. We have a double interest as 14

15 transport customers and as citizens who pay taxes for inefficient and ineffective public transport leading to social, environmental, and economic issues. This interest and the power vested in the public by democratic governance bring a responsibility to direct governments to public ends, and this inevitably calls for interaction with those with special expertise. Members of the public (and responsible advocacy groups) can do good by being receptive to carefully researched and well-explained ideas for reform, while equally challenging obscure or poorly supported arguments for the status quo (Bunting 2004:143). To deal with transportation s relations with society, it could be useful to think in terms of a social contract phenomena. Society is one party to the contract. Members of the population and social and economic institutions hear about and/or experience and learn what transportation can do and expectations develop. Governments elaborate public policies and service providers gradually gain a sense of what is expected of them. David Jones put the matter this way: Transportation development is a contractual phenomenon. At its core is a negotiated agreement about what to build and how to pay for it. This agreement has the character of a social contract. Transportation development can proceed when there is agreement on what to build and who shall pay. It falters when such agreement erodes. Transportation development is also a technological phenomenon. Progress is made as improvements in technology are introduced, perfected, and built up into systems. The introduction of successive technological improvements developmental progress hinges on successful adjustment of prevailing agreements on what to build and how to pay for it. In turn, sustained development hinges on renewing that agreement in successive rounds of investment. Each round of investment reopens the question: What to build next and how to pay for the next increment to be added. Without renegotiation, consensus erodes, and development falters (Jones, 1985). In short, we may think of a social contract s working existence in daily practice if what is being done is acceptable to the contractual parties. Consequently, the social contract experience mounting tensions and rising problems when the parties to the contract no longer honor it. (Garrison & Levinson, 2005, 406). 15

16 2.2 Public transport policy Over the last 25 years, Sweden has spent less than the West European average on operating, maintaining, and investing in infrastructure. And, since the 1960s, national infrastructure has not kept up with growth in the economy. Currently, this spending equals one percent of GNP, according to the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Rail Administration, and which totaled SEK 34.4 billion in 2008 (Svenskt Näringsliv, 1, 2012). The national infrastructure investment program announced by the government in their fall 2011 budget emphasizes the rail network. The two-year programme adds SEK 5 billion to infrastructure investment, of which SEK 3.6 billion is earmarked for the rails. Despite this increase, Sweden still ranks low among its European neighbors for overall investment in rail maintenance. Forecasts indicate this under-investment will continue. National infrastructure funding will remain at that low level of GNP until The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has therefore published a topical report entitled, The roll of infrastructure for renewal and growth the need for a sustainable strategy (Svenskt Näringsliv, 2, 2012). 2.3 The railway project Emmaboda Karlskrona The Regional Council in Kalmar County (a politically controlled organization which deals with growth and development issues in Kalmar County) has been deeply involved in the feasibility studies and planning activities and has conducted extensive system analysis of the railway system in southeastern Sweden with a comprehensive review of social effects and costs of the substantially improved rail links. Their findings have been underpinned by the essential facts about Southeast Sweden as a region having significant industrial production capabilities, a substantial level of tourism business and overall good living environment and recreational facilities. The region has, however, since several decades suffered from the disadvantages of its peripheral location and general poor communications. Currently the railway between Emmaboda and Karlskrona, a 57-kilometer stretch of railroad is being upgraded by Trafikverket (the Swedish Transport Administration which is the agency responsible for all modes of traffic: traffic on roads and railways, on the sea and in flight). The entire course of rail will be refurbished; both with double tracks and a new train stop in Vissefjärda. The railway project started in The construction work started in October 16

17 2010. The course was taken out of service in December, 2011, and the train traffic was replaced by bus transportation. Subsequent concluding construction work is planned for completed by autumn 2013 and the total project is to be completed by the end of 2014 (Trafikverket, ) Vissefjärda train stop In 2005 former railway authority Banverket (today merged with Vägverket into Trafikverket), presented a pre-study in which the possibilities and options to renovate the tracks and improve traffic between Emmaboda and Karlskrona was put on focus. The need to improve conditions and further on fasten transportation to and from major cities Karlskrona, Kalmar, Växjö and Emmaboda itself was highlighted. The study showed that the current the railway tracks were in a poor condition and needed refurbishment. With the increase of incoming trains from Växjö and Kalmar to Emmaboda, the need for renovation became necessary (Banverket 2005). In 2007 Banverket conducted a study regarding the increased demand for efficient, punctual traffic on the railroad. The study showed that there is a need to add more stops on the route from Emmaboda to Kalmar, and from Emmaboda to Karlskrona. The goal was to have one train departing every hour in each direction. In order to avoid delays, there should be a meeting track for passing trains in order to arrive at the destination on time. By adding more stops the strain on Emmaboda station should be lessened. Previously passengers changing trains in Emmaboda had a four minute margin which was the cause of worry among passengers and staff members. In order to facilitate the possibility to avoid long delays, the need for a train stop in Vissefjärda became eminent. By adding a stop with extra latency further delays could be diminished (Banverket 2007). By 2009 Emmaboda municipality board had assigned the Building commission to draw up a detailed plan regarding Vissefjärda train stop. By May 2011 the commission had presented a detailed plan for drawing and construction which was up for discussion in Vissefjärda community, among them: - creating a new platform in Vissefjärda 17

18 -restoring the track, drawing additional electric circuit lines - closing the railway for 1,5 years for renovation - restoring a 57 km long railroad track, fully welded and remotely controlled from Malmö - installing a new platform in Holmsjö, new meeting tracks in Spjutsbygd and Holmsjö - increasing speed to 200km/h on some parts of the track - removing 40 crossings, keeping 12 crossings as they are, building 7-8 tunnels and bridges - creating a tunnel for bikes and pedestrians, to create safety for traffic Vissefjärda community showed dismay regarding the closing down of the crossing in Linnefors, which according to many residents would be of inconvenience. The reason was said to be that Linnefors crossing enabled a faster access to Vissefjärda, by which a closing down would distance Linnefors residents from the society. Many feared that people would still try to travel over the previous crossings due to its proximity to Vissefjärda. The proposal to create a bike/pedestrian tunnel was also under scrutiny because of its location. Residents feared that the tunnel lead out onto the main road where heavy traffic was apparent would bring up a new safety hazard for children traveling to and from school. The suggestion was to move the tunnel some kilometers north in order to avoid any danger. Further discussions regarding a reasonable parking lot were brought up by the local citizens in order to be able to park the car. By 2012 the final drawings for the Vissefjärda train stop are to be finalized ((Emmaboda Kommun 20011: Detaljplan). The old train station building is to be demolished in favour of a platform. The inhabitants of Vissefjärda wished for it to be kept and restored due to its old heritage dating back to the late 1800s when it was built. But due to the conditions it was decided that the building was in too poor shape to be kept on the property. By June 2011 it was decided that Emmaboda municipality is to finance the project and 18

19 construction which is led by Trafikverket Region Syd by 6 MSEK. Furthermore Emmaboda municipality is obliged to finance further and future operating costs along the platform in Vissefjärda (Trafikverket 2011: Finansierinsavtal). The platform will be surrounded by two railroad tracks with incoming traffic and according to Blekingetrafiken (which is the company responsible for future train traffic services), there will be a total of 18 stops from each direction with the estimation of one train/hour. The first train will depart around 6am in the morning and the last train will depart around 10pm in the evening. The platform will be set with lighting, a wind shield and a traffic information screen. Train tickets will be purchased beforehand by the use of ticket vending machines which will be located on the platform. A representative at Blekingetrafiken also noted that there would be a high possibility to bring along bicycles on the train. By refurbishing the tracks the company hopes that the time of travel to and from Emmaboda/Karlskrona would be shortened (Blekingetrafiken). 2.4 Vissefjärda Community The Vissefjärda community mirrors the historical southernmost parish of the Emmaboda pastorship which in its turn corresponds geographically with the Emmaboda Municipality. Emmaboda is part of the Swedish region of Småland, comprising the counties of Jönköping, Kronoberg and mainland Kalmar plus the island of Öland, which, though a part of Kalmar County, has its own distinct identity. Vissefjärda is situated in the southernmost part of Kalmar County and borders the counties of Kronoberg and Blekinge. All counties themselves correspond to OECD Territorial Level 3 (TL3) regions (OECD, 2011). Despite the presence of significant urban areas in each county, the region is characterized by low overall density of population and all of the counties are classified as predominantly rural under the OECD taxonomy of regions (OECD, 2011). In Sweden contemporary rural development is shaped by national and EU rural and regional development strategies. The argument for sustaining rural areas is mainly implicitly promoted. Community development is a structured intervention that gives communities greater control over the conditions that affect their lives. This does not solve all the 19

20 problems faced by a local community, but it does build up confidence to tackle such problems as effectively as any local action can. Community development works at the level of local groups and organizations rather than with individuals or families. The range of local groups and organizations representing communities at local level constitutes the community sector. At the local level the involvement of communities is prominent in the implementation and coordination of national policy as well as of EU-policy. In addition, village associations and Local Action Groups (LAGs) play more or less formal roles in shaping local, regional, national and EU rural development policies. It is through participation in their community that people rethink problems and expand contacts and networks; building social capital. They learn new skills, building human capital. They develop new economic options, building physical and financial capital. They also can improve their living environment. Being a rural community in a region of Sweden characterized by the post-industrialized traits of limited job opportunities, miniscule investments in new business endeavors, an overwhelmingly aging population and a slow pace of economic evolution, the inhabitants have collectively addressed their common situation in various ways. One important component in the local perspective for a continued positive development trajectory was the desire to establish a train stop for commuters into and out of Vissefjärda. Notwithstanding its modest size, its eroded business environment and an aging population, Vissefjärda has managed to maintain a strong civic spirit and pride of its rich cultural and historical heritage and its citizens are able, adaptive and proactive in their approach to the rapid changes and mounting ambiguities and uncertainties underpinning the future developments of their community. Life in the community is very much founded on a rather intensive association with voluntary engagements in a multitude of local associations that significantly contributes to community development in various ways, not least in terms of boosting the offered tourist features and luring sporting and recreational practitioners to the area. 20

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