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Thousands of Swedes trapped in flight chaos

Thousands of Swedes heading home by plane are currently stuck at airports across Europe, with London and Heathrow causing the greatest headaches for travellers.

Thousands of Swedes trapped in flight chaos

Separately, Swedish weather agency SMHI’s latest forecast shows that snow will likely cause problems for travellers across the country during the Christmas holidays.

Scandinavian airline SAS’ biggest problems involve flights in London and at Heathrow.

“It is the absolute worst there. From Frankfurt and Paris, things are running smoothly and we are getting passengers out. In London, we currently have about 5,000 to 6,000 SAS customers, but not all of them are going to Sweden. About 2,000 are going to Landvetter or Arlanda, said SAS information director Elisabeth Manzi.

“The remainder are heading to destinations in Denmark and Norway. The problems in London stem from Heathrow being closed for a longer time than the other large airports on the continent,” she added.

The cancelled flights have forced a number of affected travellers to scrap their Christmas plans, while others are racing to salvage the holidays by coming up with alternative ways home, including taking buses to Copenhagen at their own expense.

Travellers have complained that SAS has offered them no help at all, saying that they have been told that they are responsible for their own arrangements.

SMHI changed after lunch on Tuesday its weather forecast for Thursday and Christmas Eve, saying that snowfall over southern Sweden is expected to extend further east out over the Baltic Sea.

“It is now set to really pick up on Saturday and snow over southern and eastern Götaland, as well as eastern Svealand. The largest volume will fall over Gotland and along the Baltic Sea provinces,” said Anna Hagenblad, meteorologist at SMHI.

“The snowfall on land could be less. Most of the snow will fall over the Baltic Sea,” she continued, adding that the forecasts are still very “disconnected.”

Even if there is less snow than expected over southern Sweden on Thursday and Friday, there is still a risk of regular traffic problems.

“There will possibly be a warning on Friday (Christmas Eve) and it depends on the combination of snow and wind,” said Hagenblad.

In connection with the snowfall, temperatures are expected to rise to -5 to -1 degrees Celsius in the southern parts of the country and -10 to -5 degrees Celsius in the northern parts of Götaland and Svealand.

SMHI has issued class 1 warnings on a rising scale of one to three for Blekinge and parts of northeastern Sweden, where up to 10 centimetres of fresh snow are expected to fall on Tuesday.

National rail operator SJ estimates 1 million passengers will travel by train during the Christmas holidays and has already admitted to not having enough resources to cope, especially if the weather causes problems.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

Sweden's state-owned rail company SJ cancelled several train services on Tuesday as a result of the snowy weather, while forecasters warned that roads could still be slippery in many regions.

Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

SJ is cancelling several regional trains on Tuesday between Stockholm and Uppsala, Stockholm and Västerås, and Gävle and Linköping at the request of the Swedish Transport Administration, which wants to free up space on the tracks. 

At the same time, weather forecaster SMHI warned that, while snowfall would decrease over the day, there would still be a risk of slippery roads in many areas.

“It’s still continuing to snow, but the intensive snowfall we are now warning about will come to an end during the day, starting in the south of the country,” state meteorologist Angelica Lundberg told the TT newswire.  “Over the coming days there may be an increased risk of slipping and this is the case most of all close to the coast.” 

Bengt Olsson, press officer for the Swedish Transport Administration, told SVT that the disruptions seen on Sunday and Monday looked likely to ease off on Tuesday. 

“It’s a bit calmer so far. There’s another type of road surface to day. It’s starting to freeze up a but. There’s a lot of crust from the snow and patches of ice out on the road, so its the risk of skidding that we are trying to deal with today.”

The slippery roads have led to some busses being cancelled, with Dalatrafiken, the bus operator in Dalarna, cancelling several regional bus services. 

Buses parked at the Keolis bus depot in Värtahamnen cruise terminal in Stockholm.
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Stockholm’s transport operator SL suspended the Lindingöbanan Light-railway line on Tuesday morning, and has also reduced some commuter train services. In Söderort, Huddinge and Botkyrka all bus services have been cancelled. 

“The measures taken to prevent skidding aren’t working,” SL’s press spokesperson Andreas Strömberg told SVT. “At Juliaborg in Huddinge six of our buses got stuck, so the traffic controllers decided to cancel all further services so we can get in snow ploughs.

Snow was continuing to fall on Tuesday over much of central Sweden, and SMHI has issued the lowest “yellow” weather warning for Sörmland, Västmanland, Örebro, Dalarna, and the north of Värmland. 

In most places, there is now between 5cm-15cm of snow, with 20cm in some places. 

 
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