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CHRISTMAS TRANSPORT CHAOS

SAS

Transport agency at the ready as snow rolls in

Sweden's Transport Administration has allocated extra resources to ensure transport alternatives continue to function as London air traffic is expected to return to normal, easing the passage of stranded Swedes.

Transport agency at the ready as snow rolls in

After a very cold night across the country, down to lows of -36 degrees Celsius in Idre in central Sweden, a new weather front carrying snow is on its way into northern Götaland and Hälsingland.

Swedish meteorological agency, SMHI, has issued a class 1 warning (of three on an ascending scale) for about a decimetre of snow in Hälsingland during the morning and around noon.

Air traffic to and from London is however set to resume to near-normal levels on Wednesday.

“As it stands right now, we have cancelled a London flight from Stockholm in the afternoon and from Gothenburg, we have cancelled a return flight to London. We sincerely hope that we will be able to operate the rest,” said SAS CIO Elisabeth Manzi.

The situation in London remains chaotic however with SAS alone having around 6000 Swedes stranded there.

The airline is planning to switch to larger aircraft in order to get as many home in time for the holidays as possible.

“But it’s hard to sit and promise something, it becomes such a delicate situation when so many are affected. But now we are crossing our fingers because we really need to ease the pressure,” said Elisabeth Manzi.

“Of course, our goal is that everyone will get to celebrate Christmas at home. We are doing everything we can to get everyone home.”

SAS has called in extra staff to answer questions and take care of the re-booking for all those affected, but waiting times have been very long.

“We hope for understanding, but they (the passengers) have needed to equip themselves with a great deal of patience.”

In Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt the airlines have managed to service the stranded passengers, as traffic has largely been maintained, albeit with delays and cancellations.

in Sweden, the Transport Administration has put in extra resources to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s snow-related problems. The ambition is to keep long-distance trains rolling.

“What we now have is the aftermath of yesterday’s major problems with the switches,” said Tommy Andersson at national rail operator SJ’s press office.

“Some trains have ended up in the wrong place in the tumult, one can say.”

Some 20 trains in the Mälardalen region around Stockholm will be replaced by coaches and some passengers have been rescheduled to other departures.

“Otherwise it is all rolling on, generally it looks good,” Andersson said.

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WEATHER

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

Large areas of Sweden saw extreme levels of rain over the weekend, with the city of Linköping receiving more than 100mm of rain in 24 hours, twice as it usually receives in the whole of August. 

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

According to Swedish weather forecaster SMHI, the Linköping-Malmslätt area received 96mm between Saturday night at 8am on Sunday morning. The area normally received between 60mm and 70mm in August as a whole. 

“There was such an absurd amount of rain that the data was at first rejected by our system,” Therese Fougman, a meteorologist at the forecaster, told Sweden’s TT newswire. “It is continuing to rain during the day, and it is lying in a band over Östergötland, Sörmland och further up towards Uppland, predicting there would be a further 40mm to 50mm in the next 12 hours. 

The downpours have led to flooding in several areas, and caused traffic problem with cars at risk of aquaplaning on roads such as the E18, which were covered in a thick layer of water. 

Lennart Ågren, who was the duty leader of rescue services in Östra Götaland, told TT on Sunday afternoon that rescuers had been called out to several floods in Linköping and Mantorp. 

“There were streets under water, and water was running into properties so we had to throw all our resources at it for several hours,” he said. 

In Jönköping, rescue services were called out to flooding at a school and in other places, while in Växjö, lightening hit close to the place where a student party was being held at the local university campus. 

In Linköping, rescue services told TT that they had been called out 30 times. “We’ve been stretched but have managed to handle it,” said Pedher Helmer, who was in charge of rescue services in Östergötland over the weekend. 

The heavy rain is expected to move to Blekinge, Skåne, Öland and Gotland over the coming days, with a risk for flooding. 

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