NJS was founded in Copenhagen on August 28, 1874, and is one of the oldest, still active organisations in the Nordics. The background to NJS's foundation is that the railway administrations in Denmark and the Swedish-Norwegian union needed a cooperative forum to discuss and develop technical solutions. Norway became an independent member in 1905 after the dissolution of the union and Finland became a member on the day 50 years after NJS’ foundation, on August 28, 1924, when Finland had become an independent national state after being a Russian grand duchy since 1809.


Until the reform of the railway in the late 1980s, NJS was the official cooperation organisation between the Nordic railway administrations, with the respective director general or managing director as chairman of the national department. The Nordic collaboration within NJS has contributed to technological progress, where NJS has, among other things, been a part in the development of railway telephony in 1877, continuous brakes in 1881 and electric operation in 1899. During the second half of the 20th century, NJS has to some extent been directed towards rationalisation and efficiency of the railway in line with increasingly competition from road traffic.


In connection with the railway reforms that began with the division of the Swedish State Railways into SJ and National Rail Administration (Banverket), a new era began for NJS. In an environment that was rapidly changing as the old railway administrations split into new organisations and share holding companies, NJS was forced to seek new forms for Nordic cooperation. The member base was broadened to also include members of the new organisations, such as railway companies, maintenance companies, consultant firms, traffic purchaser, infrastructure managers, and more. All with the common denominator that they are active in the railway industry within the Nordics. The original mission of NJS, to develop the members' specialist knowledge and contribute to cooperation and networking within the Nordic railway industry, is still just as relevant. Even if it takes place in a different form than in 1874.

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