• Sweden edition
Snowfalls cause widespread travel chaos

Snowfalls cause widespread travel chaos

Published: 22 Feb 2010 07:53 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Feb 2010 07:53 GMT+01:00

Infrastructure Minister Åsa Torstensson has called the situation a "catastrophe" arguing that the National Rail Administration (Banverket) has not been taking its full maintenance responsibility for a long period of time.

Torstensson was also scathing of the way passengers have been treated over a weekend of delays and cancellations.

"Information is decisive in such a chaotic situation and it has not been adequate. People are not receiving information when they are sitting on the platform," she complained.

The Stockholm area is the hardest hit with the local transport authority, SL, warning people to stay at home on Monday if possible.

Large scale disruption in metro services has been forecast and temperatures as low as -25 Celsius have called a halt to train services from the capital to Gothenburg.

Many commuter rail services which run above ground were replaced with buses on Sunday night - affecting part of the green and red lines south with limited services set to persist into Monday.

Commuter services from Gnesta to Järna will be replaced by buses. Elsewhere trains will run at 25 percent of normal service.

As a result of the train and metro disruption, taxi services are reporting a high demand for their cars and long waits can be expected on Monday morning as rush hour commuters attempt to get to work.

At Slussen - one of the main metro and bus junctions in central Stockholm - arriving passengers were met with loud-speaker messages this morning urging them to walk or hail a taxi in order to continue their journeys.

National rail operator SJ experienced problems on its homepage over the weekend as server capacity proved inadequate. Access to SL's homepage was only sporadic on Monday morning as passengers scrambled to find information.

On the west coast, commuter services will run limited services on the Kungsbacka-Göteborg and Alingsås-Göteborg routes.

In southern regions, transport links are reported to be running as scheduled but the meteorological office, SMHI, has warned of problems later on Monday as winds and snow storms draw in.

Train services across the country are expected to experience problems for the remainder of the week despite attempts by the Rail Administration to reinforce staff numbers and battle to keep tracks clear of ice and snow and trains running.

Related links:

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

08:56 February 22, 2010 by dockmandock
The woman in the middle of the picture looks as if she's in the heights of pleasure.
09:16 February 22, 2010 by dobermann
What is wrong with swedish people?? If you are sleeping in some public place or in any other place with a lot of people, you get so many atention from other people. They start to take pictures of you, pointing with figers at you or wake you up and ask how you feel. Everyone sleeps sometimes so leave them alone, because sleeping is so pleasant, but you can understand it just when you are homeless..
09:23 February 22, 2010 by Swedecakes
If it snows in Sweden on Friday or the weekend, you can be sure that by Monday morning there will be chaos. In Sweden the concept of working overtime or having weekend crews to handle snow control and removal is missing completely. The government at all levels (local, community, state) is supposed to provide services to the community.
09:30 February 22, 2010 by just a question
In the country with the most high taxes of the world, basic services like trains or buses don't work.

Congratulations Sweden!
09:52 February 22, 2010 by seymourir
I had real problem on last friday booking a ticket back from stockholm to Falun. I had to travel two times from my place to central station to buy tickets. I was afraid I would be forced to stay overnight in stockholm for no reason.

I was shocked to see sj site down. Was this Sweden?
09:55 February 22, 2010 by karex
@just a question

kostar pegnar... haven't you heard?

Like in many other countries in the world, in the government's eyes, the purpose of tax money is not to provide public services, but to provide jobs in the government to a bunch of people, and the corresponding salaries of course... if you want public services you need to pay extra.

Now excuse me while I wipe the venom trickling down the side of my mouth. To be fair though, Sweden is not the only country to suffer from this disease.
09:55 February 22, 2010 by heroine
This might the worst nightmare for all the passengers and the National Rail Administration. This should be an important learnt for the following years to come....
10:06 February 22, 2010 by betakappa
You have give it to the Swedish government machinery! They provide ridiculous service at exhorbitant taxes and still have the Swedish people very proud of the high standard of living - especially in publich health and infrastructure. One visit to the Doctor, or a trying to cummute during winter should spark realization in an open minded person. The Swedish government is probably the best in propaganda (rather brainwashing of it's citizens), even beating those of USSR during its glory days and China.
10:20 February 22, 2010 by Jan M
It's puzzling isn't it. Has Norway ground to a halt? I don't think so. The difference here is that the Moderates have a mantra of cost-cutting and efficiency that means that in extreme conditions there's nothing left in the system to deliver a service. By the way the tax system isn't loaded to pay for the transport system, it's for the social/welfare support. They are of course trying to cut spending further for example by forcing Swedes to pay for their own transport if they've survived a disaster somewhere in the world and are trying to get home.
10:28 February 22, 2010 by kmbr
**In the country with the most high taxes of the world, basic services like trains or buses don't work.

Congratulations Sweden!**

Bravo for saying it. I say it all the time.

Nothing ever works either. Parking meters, elevators, escalators...always in states of disrepair. Bus routes suddenly discontinued with no notice. If I were paying upwards of 85 (59.1 percent top bracket plus 25 percent VAT) percent of my income in taxes, I would not like to be treated like such crap.
10:35 February 22, 2010 by Twiceshy
"temperatures as low as -25 Celsius have called a halt to train services from the capital to Gothenburg. "

I don't know if this statement is accurate or not, but if it is, what's the justification for the trains not working below -25C ? It's not like those temperatures are extremely rare in Sweden...
10:43 February 22, 2010 by bluezorg
It might instructive for the people running SL to take a trip to country called Canada, where temperature is very often worse than this, and - amazingly - things still work. But hey, why should they? Swedes always know better... particularly when it comes down to actually doing some work.

Congratulations #2!
10:47 February 22, 2010 by bocale1
I would be nice to see how many people complaining about the Swedish system actually live in Sweden.

At least, they would see with their own eyes that this is a very extraordinary winter, in particular for South of Sweden, with snowstorm any single day since 2 months.

-25 is probably a common temperature in North of Sweden but if it is in Goteborg and Stockholm, there is nothing usual in it.

Extraordinary situations create chaos; would you judge US for the mess they did with the New Orleans Katrina disaster?
10:47 February 22, 2010 by rba
kmbr I think you need to check your maths... You can't go adding percentages like that.

Let's say you make 200,000 kr per month in order to pay that much income tax.

Now let's say they tax 60% of that (which is not accurate, actually it's lower), which means you get to keep 80,000 kr. Then you spend all this money, paying 25% VAT (which means 20% of the money goes to VAT), that means you keep 64,000 kr.

In the end, the tax office got 136,000 kr, which is 68% of your income, it's a lot but not even close to the 85% you claimed.
10:52 February 22, 2010 by Vitas
In Moscow yestarday was halfmeter level of snow. It was record from 1966. Themperature is now the same. You will be surprised but there is not delays for trains. Swedish autorities must be punished for sabotage. All of them must be send to Siberia for next 25 years.
10:55 February 22, 2010 by Twiceshy
bocale1 aren't SJ's trains all similar? Or are you saying they use different trains for the more northerly routes?
11:00 February 22, 2010 by Localer
lives in Sweden and still condemn Swedish government on how things work, these bunch of idiots should go back to their so called the most perfect countries in the world......nobody force you to stay....duuuh.
11:02 February 22, 2010 by Twiceshy
Localer what is wrong with criticizing the way things work?

Without criticism we'd probably still be living in the stone age. There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism.
11:03 February 22, 2010 by Åskar
Twiceshy "what's the justification for the trains not working below -25C ? "

1) Ice building up on the electricity feeder resulting in either no contact or wires being ripped off when the current collector gets stuck to it.

2) Points getting filled with ice and snow to an extent that don't work anymore.

3) Rails getting brittle when very cold.

4) Any other thing that I can't think of at the moment.
11:08 February 22, 2010 by Twiceshy
Åskar that's an explanation, but not really a justification, given that there are tons of trains (in Sweden and in other places) which work just fine at such temperatures or lower.

Would it be that expensive to get the trains in Stockholm up to the standard of trains in other parts of Sweden, so that SJ doesn't grind to a halt whenever the temperature drops below -20? I doubt it.
11:12 February 22, 2010 by Vitas
to Åskar: Why the same works in other countries? Maybe in Sweden different electricity? Or different Laws of physics? Even in summer there was not order for pendeltok. Look in window now. What there is extrim? Sunny day is too extrim for SL?
11:21 February 22, 2010 by just a question
Localer, I'm already moving to another country, the rats always leave the sinking ship on time.

They should decrease the taxes and the price of the public services. At least, you are getting crap for crappy prices. Fair enough.
11:23 February 22, 2010 by bobalong
Before we bought our house here, we used to come just for winter holidays and this is the first time that I have seen things so bad with the bus or train services. We once enquired about train times etc and asked about possible delays when we were trying to book train tickets. We know how things work in the UK if there is snow= everything stops. We were met with " why would the train be delayed because of snow?, It snows EVERY Year!". This was spoken with quite an indignant reply as though we were stupid.

Well, I now have to ask the question "if it snows EVERY year and you are used to it and prepared for it, why the hell has the transport system got in such a mess?"

I am travelling from Karlstad to Oslo on Wednesday by SJ to link up with other trains to take me to the airport. I am seriously wondering if the damned thing will turn up now. There is no info about possible delays and I think that it is this that people are frustrated about. Hanging around for goodness knows how long.
11:40 February 22, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Its no wonder that virtually all men prior to modern man believed in some sort of deity. Mother Nature sure has a way of making me feel very small. But of course man has evolved beyond needing God to stay the course any longer...nah, we are much too smart and clever for that.

Just wait until this stuff starts melting...creating a whole new set of problems.
11:55 February 22, 2010 by summo
moan moan moan, you could be in Gran Caneria then you would have something to moan about. You might be late so what, hardly end of the world stuff!

Just anticiapte that you will run late, if you want to connect to a flight in Oslo, travel a day early and overnight in the hotel, hire a car?

Why do people expect so much of the state or companies, but are so unwilling to fix their own problems.

If the trains ran and one was derailed, then the same people here would be complaining that it was crazy to expect the trains to run if there was a risk!!
12:02 February 22, 2010 by karex

It might surprise you to know then that the famous X2000 fast trains which stop running in extremely cold weather around here are manufactured by Canadians, who as you say, should know better. On the other hand, perhaps it's due to the customer specs when placing the order: cheapest possible model to save money...
12:04 February 22, 2010 by just a question
Gran Canaria? moan?

The Spanish trains work awesome compare to these Swedish pieces of junk called trains. The same goes for buses.
12:17 February 22, 2010 by summo
just a question,

There is a solution if you like the Spanish trains so much!

Yeah, Gran Canaria have had a bit of unusual weather, which is something for them to moan about.

12:21 February 22, 2010 by bluezorg

Precisely! That was exactly my point - somehow, the same (?) trains over there run just fine. But in any case, even this is irrelevant for most commuters, who are used to trains that are - ehm - somewhat more ancient... And yes, perhaps we are all just moaning, but what we are discussing here is not exactly a free service - how can all this mess be justified by a yearly transport fee of 7280 SEK?

Oh well, at least the sun is shining and - SL aside - it's a really beautiful day :-)
12:39 February 22, 2010 by Åskar
Twiceshy, "There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism."

Where is it then? If all those people who apparently know so incredibly much more than those people who's job it is to tackle the situation offered their expertise to whatever instances are concerned instead of just moaning their mouths off perhaps the situation would brighten.
12:44 February 22, 2010 by dobermann
Someone has wroe here, that people used to complain in every country, but in my opinion when northern country can't buy suitable trains for it's climate conditions, that is funny. I do not belave, that in such technological progress there is no solution for such problem. If they can solve problems about lounching space ships it must be possible to solve train/bus freezing problems and snow covering railway problem
12:49 February 22, 2010 by bobalong
Summo. I think you have got the wrong end of the stick.

I personally am not actually moaning about the delays, I am just surprised they are not worse than they are. These things are to be expected. In the Uk things are a damned site worse than this even without the snow. I have been travelling within Sweden and Norway for the past 12 years and this is the first winter that I have known things to be bad. I have noticed that it seems people in general are not only moaning abou the transport system itself but the lack of information about where the delays are and not getting information when they are for example on the train station platforms.

I have plenty of time between connections for my flight and have the option to actually drive to the airport if necessary, it is trying to work out IF it is acutally necessary or not. I am used to the Uk public transport system so I always leave plenty of time even in the summer. This does not help though if you cannot find out if there are delays or not or if the train will turn up at all.

Like the Swedish say, it snows EVERY year, it is just the depth that varies so it is not a great surprise to them. AFter reading various posts I get the feeling people are of the opinion that if it hardly ever snowed and this was a very rare occurrence the delays could be accepted.

I do not think that the transport system is that bad here and I have come across a lot worse, even in Canada who do have severe weather every year and in the USA. I think people would be hard pressed to find a system that is perfect and remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side. When you live in a country you discover the good and bad points.

The railway system in Spain might be better than Sweden, I do not know, but what about every other aspect of the country? Is it a good thing for example to have your property snatched back by greedy developers taking advantage of the loophole law ( land grab) that says that they can just come and take away your property without so much as a by your leave? Somehow I think that there will be a lot of people in Spain right now who spent their life savings on a property who would disagree and be complaining about the state of the country.
13:10 February 22, 2010 by dobermann
I have noticed that it seems people in general are not only moaning abou the transport system itself but the lack of information about where the delays are and not getting information when they are for example on the train station platforms.

Yes it was great to wait for metro train, when information screen was showing: 8 min..4 min...3 min.. 8 min... It wouldn't be so difficult to wait when you have some reliable information, but they were showing that 8-4-3-8 min loop for more than two hours and it was in the morning when all the shops and cafes were still closed:)
13:10 February 22, 2010 by karex

Gee I guess you're lucky then - 7280 yearly transportation cost. I commute to work by train and my cost nears 1500/month. That's just the train leg. I need to drive to the station meaning an additional slightly less cost for fuel. sigh... It would actually cost less to drive the whole way, but aside from the cost to the environment, I'm afraid of falling alseep at the wheel...

It's not just the trains. As another perosn wisely commented earlier, the tracks also need to be maintained at nordic levels, not mediterranean... That's probably why there doesn't seem to be as much chaos up north as down here. I just find it rather odd that the transport minister was bashing Bannverket (or however you spell it). Isn't her department the one who is responsible for slashig their budget in the first place? Catch 22...
13:27 February 22, 2010 by bobalong
Dobermann, that is precisely my point. If you have to wait so be it, but at least have a realistic information board!

From other posts on TL, this seems to be a commom problem. It must have been so frustrating for you. I know what you mean about waiting for hours with no cafe's etc being open to pass the time and buy a brew. I usually have an hour or two between connections and generally this always seems to be at a time when nothing is open. Just one of those things that you have to get used to I guess. I think the limited openeing times of things here was a definate eye opener after coming from the UK.

People here cannot believe that we have shops in the Uk to buy groceries which are open 24 hours a day and that most places open on a Sunday as well.
13:42 February 22, 2010 by calebian22

Come on, comparing the destruction of the snow in Sweden to the destruction of a category 5 hurricane is ridiculous. It is like comparing apples to elephants. The problem here in Sweden is budgeting, nothing more, nothing less.
13:45 February 22, 2010 by dobermann
It wouldn't be so bad if at least there would't be so cold inside the metro station. I understand that it's impossible to make it warmer when thetrain stops on the ground, but at least they could make it warmer in station building where ticket man works..

The other thing are shops.. I am also used to go shopping 24/7 in my country and it was pretty strange expeience when I was living in Helsinki, where only one small 7eleven type kiosk works in the center 24/7. There are more places in Stockholm working 24/7, but either I don't know where or there are no normal size shops in Stockholm working 24/7.. As I understand, a lot of swedes used to it, but also a lot of swedes hate it. I think it wouldn't be so difficult to open normal size shop for 24/7(if it isn't against the law), but in some cases it doesn't make no sense when you can't sell alcohol at night. From my point of view there are too few grocery shops in all Stockholm. There are one million+1 H&M stores in city, but you need to walk a few blocks if you want to buy some food or something like that.
15:41 February 22, 2010 by Bender B Rodriquez
Bah, you are all idiots...
16:23 February 22, 2010 by Twiceshy
"Where is it then? If all those people who apparently know so incredibly much more than those people who's job it is to tackle the situation offered their expertise to whatever instances are concerned instead of just moaning their mouths off perhaps the situation would brighten."

Oh so we all have to be experts on trains to make comments?

Logical arguments based on the fact that trains all over the world work fine in all kinds of temperatures aren't good enough for you?
16:29 February 22, 2010 by Luke35711

I am also fascinated by the ruling class ability for propaganda. It's everywhere: TV, tabloids, slogans, tag-lines, workplaces, shops, Internet, jokes.. What about "Stockholm - the capital of Scandinavia", "Sweden the greatest country in the world", "Sweden is fantastic", etc, etc. It's like Bokanovsky's conditioning in Brave New World. After you get exposed to thousands of repetitions of these slogans, it's extremely unpleasant to think otherwise (cognitive dissonance), no matter what the daily reality is. That's the essence of biological conditioning. Actually, this probably goes back centuries, to so-called Royal propaganda, when the central government (the first effective bureaucracy) learnt to control sparse population over vast territory through propaganda.

ps. Definition of propaganda from Britannica: dissemination of information—facts, arguments, rumours, half-truths, or lies—to influence public opinion. Propaganda is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people's beliefs, attitudes, or actions (...)
18:42 February 22, 2010 by Beavis
Think your missing whats really going on here. After watching the head of SJ make pathetic excuses on TV for why there was delays I can confidently say this is all about the fact that competition will soon be introduced on some routes. THey want to put the blame on the goverment for their own mismanagement, and know that if bag women gets in shell just thrown money at them again.

The reason they have less money to invest in service is due to the fact that their pricing is outrageous. Considering its sometimes 10 times more expensive to go by train that to fly or by car. To take a family of 4 from Falun to Stockholm by train is 20 times more expensive than to drive.

SJ needs new management. I found it insane to see the head of SJ come out and publically blame the governemt for the problems. Imagine accusing your employers on national television that it was their fault for your mismanagement! Wow
18:49 February 22, 2010 by Elisabeth.M
This winter has been extreme. On several occasions have I had to WALK to work because no buses were running. For all those who think Swedes are the only ones having trouble coping with snowy weather, I have a little anecdote:

I went to Rochester in England one X-mas a few years back and it snowed a tiny bit. The country came to a complete standstill! Transport chaos followed as traffic stopped on main roads ,train services were disrupted and flights were delayed. Because of a two centimetre snow layer. The guy over at the taxi station told me that he only had one driver working that day, because no one else dared to take on the dangerous task of driving under those horrid circumstances. Given the same circumstances, I think Sweden manages pretty well after all with keeping the traffic running. One memory from that English X-mas was that it was colder indoors than outdoors for some strange reason. Extreme weather conditions only really exist inside buildings in England. :-)
19:05 February 22, 2010 by zeulf
I'm surprized at the attention this generates. Once in the Detroit area it snows alot, they are very good about removing the Snow. Except for the City of Detroit where they absolutly had NO money. It was Oakland County living next to Detroit then a nice Country of Canada on the other side of the river, reminded me of a third world country in Detroit surrounded by wealth. Quit the complaining, You do not realize how bad other places can be. Sverige ar fantastic and sometimes sh*t happens
23:47 February 22, 2010 by Xcellent
Love it or leave it !! Stop whining !
00:50 February 23, 2010 by Luke35711
In 60 seconds, a simple google search identifies a professional website where all sorts of aspects of winter rail traffic are discussed:


Heated points, snow ploughs, snow blowers, ghost trains, snow fences, and the infamous 'wrong kind of snow' argument are all discussed. Canadian, Japanese, UK, Northern Irish, Norwegian, Austrian, Swiss, and Russian networks are mentioned. This must be really basic stuff!


Actually, we are just naively trying to contribute to the common good, but thanks for the customary hospitality anyway.
21:23 February 24, 2010 by Mack

"It might surprise you to know then that the famous X2000 fast trains which stop running in extremely cold weather around here are manufactured by Canadians, who as you say, should know better. "

I believe those trains are manufactured in Sweden... by Bombardier. Have the problems with the X2000s been the trains or something to do with the tracks? We don't have any trains traveling over 160 kph and most are diesel electric and do not have ice/electrification issues.
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