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Skirts off for train driver men as shorts ban lifted

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11:46 CEST+02:00
A Swedish train operator has bowed to pressure and decided to let male drivers in Stockholm show a little leg after a group of skirt-wearing male train drivers caused a worldwide media storm to protest their employer's ban on shorts.

"We noticed that a lot of our staff members see this as an important issue, so we have decided to give them what they want, so there will be shorts soon the Roslagsbanen line," Tomas Hedenius, head of communications at train operator Arriva, told The Local on Monday.

"I am not sure when exactly this will come into place, but we will have a discussion with the union this week."

News that Arriva will allow its male drivers to wear shorts comes after train driver Martin Åkersten took to Facebook to explain that he and 12 other male drivers had taken to wearing the skirts to cope with the 35C heat in the cabins on the vintage rail cars of the Roslagsbanan commuter rail line which services northeast Stockholm.

IN PICTURES: See Martin Åkersten at work in his skirt

The male drivers skirt protest spawned headlines in Sweden before going viral, getting splashed across newspapers worldwide, which was somewhat overwhelming news for Åkersten, whose story was first reported on in Sweden by the local Mitt i newspaper.

"It feels really strange to think that it just started out as a small thing in my local newspaper and now it's gone out into the global media... it's a crazy feeling," Åkersten told The Local on Monday.

"My intention from the beginning was just to explain to the people why we look like we do."

IN PICTURES: See some other men around the world who have famously chosen to don skirts

Hedenius at Arriva was not impressed that the skirt-wearing train drivers appeared to have been bigger world news than the wedding of Sweden's Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill on Saturday.

"This isn't good for us, but it's understandable - it's very amusing news to read," he told The Local.

"Of course, we would like to be talking about buses and trains instead and all the good things we do in Stockholm."

The last time Arriva made world news was when one of its trains crashed into a house in the outer Stockholm suburbs. The accident, initially thought to be the fault of a cleaning lady who accidentally set the train off during a late-night cleaning shift, is still under investigation.

SEE ALSO: Photo gallery from Arriva train crash into Stockholm house

"There is nothing new there, we're waiting for the prosecutor to make a decision. The investigation is ongoing," Hedenius explained. The house, meanwhile, is still being repaired.

Meanwhile, Åkersten was thrilled to learn that he and his colleagues would soon be able to take off their skirts and instead come to work wearing shorts.

"That's fantastic news! This means the publicity helped," Åkersten told The Local upon hearing the news the ban had been lifted.

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"I'm not going to miss the skirt though, I like shorts - that's the whole reason I started this thing."

When asked how it felt to have the most famous legs in Sweden, Åkersten could only laugh.

"It's crazy," he responded with a chuckle. "Absolutely absurd!"

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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