Christmas transport situation worsens

Thousands of Christmas travellers in Sweden faced misery on Thursday as snow, freezing temperatures and an electricity failure led to major disruption on the road and rail networks.

Christmas transport situation worsens

Train traffic on southbound lines out of Stockholm came to a complete standstill on Thursday afternoon due to a comprehensive electricity failure. And there was more bad news for people hoping to make their Christmas getaway by road, as the agency responsible for highway maintenance said it could not guarantee that minor roads would be passable.

Train operator SJ warned passengers that all southbound routes from Stockholm via Södertälje, Flen and Katrineholm were shut down. It also said there were cancellations and delays in both directions on routes from Stockholm to northern Sweden.

The electricity failure led to an X2000 high-speed train from Gothenburg to Stockholm coming to a halt at lunchtime on Thursday. A diesel-powered train was being sent to evacuate passengers, who were trapped on a stretch of line between Järna and Flen, south of Stockholm.

“It gets cold very quickly,” said Peter Behrman at Trafikverket, the government agency responsible for the country’s transport infrastructure, explaining the urgency of evacuating the passengers.

Neither SJ or Trafikverket knew how many passengers were affected by the power outage, nor was it known on Thursday afternoon what had caused it nor when the problem would be fixed.

Elsewhere in the country, train traffic was also brought to a halt on Thursday morning between Malmö and Hässleholm, due to excessive snow on the tracks. All trains were directed to pull in to the nearest station while the tracks were cleared. Trains were reported to be running again by lunchtime.

The Ystadsbana line between Malmö and Simrishamn was still suspended on Thursday afternoon after one train broke down and another got stuck in the snow. Some 56 passengers had to be evacuated as a result.

Things were little better on the roads in many parts of Sweden. Trafikverket reported extremely poor road conditions, with poor grip and snowdrifts on many roads in Skåne, Blekinge, the Kalmar coast and Öland. The agency said it could not guarantee that small roads in these regions would be passable.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany