Christmas transport situation worsens

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.

Christmas transport situation worsens

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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The Local readers’ guide to making it through Sweden’s winter darkness

We have a long, dark winter ahead of us, but there's light in the darkness. The Local readers share their advice on coping with a Nordic winter, even in times of corona and travel restrictions.

The Local readers' guide to making it through Sweden's winter darkness
Lights and walks outside were two popular and free tips. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT


Many suggested light, whether sunlight or candlelight, as important to cope with Sweden's darkness.

“Trying to go outside during daylight hours everyday. It's shocking how instantly uplifting it is.” – Maitri Dore, from India, living in Gothenburg

“I'm a foreigner and this is my second winter in Sweden. The darkness really affects my energy in winter so I bought smart light bulbs to adjust the light I need over the day. When the weather is bad, I set my room to a very white and bright colour. This way, I don't feel like going to sleep at 5pm!” –Thomas, from France, living in Stockholm

“I put up more Christmas lights this year than last year and I've noticed that many of my neighbours have done the same! It makes me smile every time I drive into my neighbourhood and see our trees, front porches and windows filled with twinkling lights and advent stars.” – Emilie Blum, from the USA, living in Karlstad

“I try to keep myself warm all of the time. I keep brightening up my room with candles and electrical bulbs.” – Dyna, from Cambodia, living in Lund

Keep busy

Many of our readers said they turned to hobbies or little luxuries to fill the long evenings, including ceramics or photography courses online, indoor exercise visitors, cooking, planning their next trip for when travel is possible safely, crafts, reading, writing, gaming, and virtual activities with friends overseas.

Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Move your body

Maybe this is a good time to dust off that treadmill you have in the basement? Or try out online yoga and meditation sessions free of cost?

Readers suggested:

“Walks or gardening during weekday daytime, at least twice a day, even if for just 5-10 minutes. Weekend walks in the forest.” – Lejla Somun Krupalija, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, living in Stockholm

“Gym first thing in the morning to wake up fully, then a lunchtime walk to catch the daylight.” – Mike, from the USA, living in Stockholm

“Making sure to go outside at least once a day for a walk. This is really good to help you feel you have achieved something and the fresh air is energising.” –Rachel Stewart, from the UK, living in Stockholm

“It's a first for me, but because I don't go to the gym anymore, I tried a sports app. I have never been especially fit or a big sports fan, just trying to move a bit, as I spend my day sitting in front of a computer. It's only about 30 minutes per day, but I feel really more energised than last year! And I also try to keep going outside every sunny day, to enjoy the little light we have here in the North!” – Jade Bruxaux, from France, living in Umeå

File photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Finding ways to adapt

“Listening to music and listen to positive motivation videos, attitude of gratitude.” – Shwetha, from India, living in Gothenburg

“Try to stay positive and just enjoy the little things, winter is a great time to appreciate what you take for granted on a daily basis.” – Linus Schenell, Swedish, living in Stockholm

“This is the time when I usually go back home to India. To add to that, we don't really celebrate Christmas. But this year, I am embracing the situation and doing everything I can to feel the spirit, stay busy and beat the blues. I've started to decorate at home, put up lights, made glögg and even hung a mistletoe (which my partner is not really amused with!)” – Parul Ghosh, from India, living in Helsingborg

“Vitamin D tablets every morning; contact with friends and family by phone, Skype, Zoom, e-mail etc; reading; cooking; eating,” – John Nixon, British-Swedish, living in Gothenburg

“Walking to the beach to watch the sunrise and then again to see the sunset is my way of dealing with darkness. Along the Baltic shore, the sun rises and stays just above the horizon during the daylight hours. It moves from east to west horizontally as the daylight hours progress then dips back into the sea. Each day, even if it's cloudy, you can usually see the sun below the cloud layer. There are only a few visitors at the beach, so I'm isolated. It keeps me in good spirits. I follow the routine with some regularity. It brings me closer to nature and reminds me of all those folks in mainland Europe, just south of me who are undergoing difficulties this year.” – William Seitz, from the USA, living in Hanö Bay