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Reinfeldt dismayed by transport freeze

AFP/The Local · 22 Feb 2010, 15:46

Published: 22 Feb 2010 15:46 GMT+01:00

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Freezing temperatures and record snowfalls caused transportation chaos for travellers in Sweden again on Monday, while the threat of collapsing buildings forced a number of schools to close.

Around one in three Swedish trains was cancelled, including all traffic on the busy Stockholm-Gothenburg route, while most other trains were delayed, Ulf Wallin, a spokesman for Sweden's state rail company SJ, told AFP.

"Things are obviously not going well," he said. "I would say probably 100,000 people have been affected by this."

Delays and cancellations have plagued the rails ever since abnormally cold temperatures arrived at the start of the year, with the mercury below freezing across Sweden and dropping as low as minus 40 Celsius in the north.

In Stockholm, where temperatures lingered around minus 15 Celsius on Monday, all subway lines above ground were halted, as the local mass transport company SL scrambled to lay on replacement buses.

"I came out here at 6:45 am to try to get on a bus, but they all just sped past since they were already overcrowded when they got here," Helene Ulman Lilja, 29, told AFP in the Stockholm suburb of Bagarmossen.

"We live in Sweden. You would think that a little snow and cold would be an easy thing to handle," she said.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt tended to agree.

"I understand that people are irritated.... Winter is after all one of the four seasons in this country and we have to ask ourselves why we haven't been able to handle the situation better," he told the domestic TT news agency.

Snow blocking the rails and ice and cold freezing the outdoor switches are the main problems affecting both the long-distance trains and the subways.

"There has just been so much snow and the cold has lasted so long that the switches are not working properly," Wallin said.

The trains themselves were also seeing more damage due to the drawn-out cold spell.

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"There are long lines to all of our repair shops," he said.

Many schools and daycare centres, as well as a large shopping centre, were closed on Monday due to the risk that heavy snow and ice could cause the buildings to collapse, according to the TT news agency.

A police helicopter was also surveying possible roof damage to a building adjoined to the Gothenburg central station, TT said.

A number of buildings have collapsed across Sweden in recent days and several people have been killed and injured.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:30 February 22, 2010 by miss79
nevermind fredrik..just keep thinking to get your money and be a capitalist..lol
17:08 February 22, 2010 by this_aint_sparta
"Winter is after all one of the four seasons in this country,"

can someone please tell me what are the other three ?
17:09 February 22, 2010 by StockholmChris
How to lower the moral of a workforce battling against the elements! Well done Fredrik!!! Maybe you should praise the hard work they are doing!
17:11 February 22, 2010 by Thebinary1
This could have been Fredrik's line of thought:

"I don't get it. I cut taxes and cut public spending. This was supposed to cut transport problems since people would have more money to buy cars or use planes and not use the subways or trains."

Hence his surprised reaction :D

What an idiot!
17:14 February 22, 2010 by Vitas
What about me I am after 5 years here fully disapointed in this country. You dont have ability for life on the Earth!
17:27 February 22, 2010 by Mib
You're the idiot Thebinary1! As Reinfeldt stated......why can't Sweden cope with the snowy weather. it's not as if it hasn't happened before. What has actually happened is that the Kommuns have believed the Global Warming hype and transferred the money to other areas. Combine that with reduced income from local taxes and hence what you see today is the result. Stockholm is a rich kommun, but it still could not cope.

The trains have faltered (these were in use b4 Reinfeldt) and this has been the worst winter in over 25 years. It could be worse, we could all be living in England where the army would have been called out by now if they had received the same amount of money.
17:34 February 22, 2010 by Scepticion
Are there people working to fix the problems? Probably they can't get to the work place, because things are not running?
17:37 February 22, 2010 by dobermann
Are there people working to fix the problems? Probably they can't get to the work place, because things are not running?

That was a good one:)))
18:11 February 22, 2010 by ericinlincs

Call the army out? there are none left in the country.
18:45 February 22, 2010 by senthil v
the switches are not working!!!!!!!! this is really bad . They were supposed to design the switches for sweden not for sahara.
18:46 February 22, 2010 by dammen
and of course when banverket is amalgamated with vagverket in April those environmentally sound people will be walkign the 100km to work as cars are pollutants and there won't be any roads or trains worth taking - if the trains run and the roads are maintianed
18:56 February 22, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Winter is afterall one of the four seasons in this country...sort of poetic the way he put it dont you think? I think its because of the way he slipped the word afterall in there...gave a simple sentence a little...rhythm. A safe statement even for a politician.

Of course this much snow is going to create a huge SNAFU...throw a big wrench in everyones plans, unless of course you happen to be skiing. When was the last time snow removal services had to perform at this level?

But the question is WHY? Why so much snow...why so cold and why now? Calling all scientists, conspiracy theorists, global warming minions.

19:51 February 22, 2010 by Osk
And the UK can't cope with snow??
20:10 February 22, 2010 by miss79
thebinary..so funny..it could be right..
20:18 February 22, 2010 by karex
ow about we forget trains, buses, cars, etc... and bring down the heavy equipment: reindeer and sleds!
20:24 February 22, 2010 by Luke35711
UK calls it a national emergency when the temperature gets below zero. But UK is not a fair comparison, climate is normally very mild there. Fair comparison would be to Norway, Finland or Canada.
20:28 February 22, 2010 by Great Scott
How can a prime minister be shocked, when he is the one running the country?

Total incompetents.

"Winter is after all one of the four seasons in this country" however he seems to have got that right.
20:43 February 22, 2010 by mojito
I remember winter 4 years back, I had to take pendeltag to and from work and almost always it was delayed and sometimes even cancelled.And it wasn't that much snow actuallly back then.
22:04 February 22, 2010 by conboy
Privatized public services out on contract tenders lead to poor maintenance, reduced infrastructural investment and down right bad management. Reinfeld won't face up to the cosequences of his own policies and that of Göran Perssons Social Democrat government another implementer of privatization policies. Swedens current political elite are no better than graffiti spraying youngsters - irresponsible vandals one and all. Twenty years ago in weather like this the subway still ran in conditions like this but then it lay in public hands. Hard lessons for slow learners!!!
22:23 February 22, 2010 by Kibiri
Maybe you should get out and have a look at SJ trains running on Banverket railroads. Both state owned and oh so wonderfully managed, meh.
23:16 February 22, 2010 by americanska
basically anywhere in the US can deal with winter weather with much more efficiency (excluding the areas that don't ever get it).

I think a fair comparison would be Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Almost no power outages (and when they happen they get fixed quickly). Low taxes. people actually have snow plows and help their neighbors that don't. that combined with private companies contracted when there is too much for the city or county to handle.

the problem is there is too much waste in government and they haven't trimmed that waste. instead they have lower taxes with the same waste. you need reform in this country.
10:04 February 23, 2010 by zooeden
I do agree that is outrageous not to have a more adequate system of finance to fix the snowy terms, some winters are worse than others of course but there should be a fund for it. No single winter has been there without the news on stuck traffik, delay on trains and so on. Im amazed how poor the snow crisis management is into considerance, our taxes sure cover the fixtures, but to anyone, do you know how much the sob charge to bring down the ice from the roof of a building???? around 30 thousand!!! that I think is not fair, we could also have the help of the army with that task with much less, and so helping with the roads and stuff.

and Vitas, that attitude, if you´re unhappy nobody is aking you to stay!!! you dont need a forum to complain about your sadness you poor puppy you!!!
10:07 February 23, 2010 by Twiceshy
I love it when people compare Sweden to the UK, as if the UK was any similar to Sweden. Just because the UK transport system fails when there's significant snow, doesn't excuse the same happening in a Scandinavian country where lots of snow should be expected, and temperatures below -20 are not a very rare event.

How about comparing to Norway, Finland or Russia instead?
12:00 February 23, 2010 by Audrian
I agee with tibnary1 and conboy that the inability of Sweden to cope up with disaster or severe winter lies in the character of the state. The state that adopts neoconservative policies does not believe in public spending. Hence the contradiction: the need for collection action, e.g., tackling social problems collectively, and an ideology preventing it. The PM does not see or does not want to see this contradiction.
12:10 February 23, 2010 by Rick Methven
basically anywhere in the US can deal with winter weather with much more efficiency (excluding the areas that don't ever get it).

Does that include Washington DC brought to a standsiil ?
17:02 February 23, 2010 by J Jack
Trade 'SAS' for free flights for all Swedes to get away to the Canaries while the politicians go and fix the transport infrastructure.
22:09 February 23, 2010 by americanska
Oh look they DID call in the Army now.

Actually Rick that would be an area I would exclude. You probably don't realise but DC is in the SOUTH.. where that is rare. Compare it to a place in America that gets 4 month of winder like Sweden does. Examples - Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, etc.

But yes even the souther state plow ALL the snow off the road. non of this 10 cm of snow left everywhere.
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