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Christmas transport situation worsens

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Christmas transport situation worsens
14:14 CET+01:00
Thousands of Christmas travellers in Sweden faced misery on Thursday as snow, freezing temperatures and an electricity failure led to major disruption on the road and rail networks.

Train traffic on southbound lines out of Stockholm came to a complete standstill on Thursday afternoon due to a comprehensive electricity failure. And there was more bad news for people hoping to make their Christmas getaway by road, as the agency responsible for highway maintenance said it could not guarantee that minor roads would be passable.

Train operator SJ warned passengers that all southbound routes from Stockholm via Södertälje, Flen and Katrineholm were shut down. It also said there were cancellations and delays in both directions on routes from Stockholm to northern Sweden.

The electricity failure led to an X2000 high-speed train from Gothenburg to Stockholm coming to a halt at lunchtime on Thursday. A diesel-powered train was being sent to evacuate passengers, who were trapped on a stretch of line between Järna and Flen, south of Stockholm.

“It gets cold very quickly,” said Peter Behrman at Trafikverket, the government agency responsible for the country's transport infrastructure, explaining the urgency of evacuating the passengers.

Neither SJ or Trafikverket knew how many passengers were affected by the power outage, nor was it known on Thursday afternoon what had caused it nor when the problem would be fixed.

Elsewhere in the country, train traffic was also brought to a halt on Thursday morning between Malmö and Hässleholm, due to excessive snow on the tracks. All trains were directed to pull in to the nearest station while the tracks were cleared. Trains were reported to be running again by lunchtime.

The Ystadsbana line between Malmö and Simrishamn was still suspended on Thursday afternoon after one train broke down and another got stuck in the snow. Some 56 passengers had to be evacuated as a result.

Things were little better on the roads in many parts of Sweden. Trafikverket reported extremely poor road conditions, with poor grip and snowdrifts on many roads in Skåne, Blekinge, the Kalmar coast and Öland. The agency said it could not guarantee that small roads in these regions would be passable.

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