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CHRISTMAS TRANSPORT CHAOS

WEATHER

Sweden deploys vintage trains to battle the snow

The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) has turned to antique rolling stock to boost resources battling the snow and to clear a stretch of track in southern Sweden, according to a report by Sveriges Television (SVT).

Sweden deploys vintage trains to battle the snow

The trains, old DA locomotives normally resident in the Swedish Railway Museum in Gävle in northern Sweden, have been dusted off and put back into service to clear the tracks of snow between Mjölby and Alvesta in southern Sweden.

Furthermore a 100-year-old snowplough is in place alongside the tracks in nearby Nässjö, ready to be called into action if needed.

“These are made of stern stuff which can take the winter and we are very happy to be able to help to keep the railways running,” said Henrik Reuterdahl at the museum.

The two locomotives were constructed in the middle of the 1950s and are currently equipped with a heavy duty snowplough in order to perform their task.

The harsh winter will mean that costs for the maintenance of roads and railways will soar.

According to the Transport Administration’s preliminary estimates, costs for snow removal from roads will increase by approximately 100 million kronor ($14.63 million) compared to previous winters. The figure covers the whole of 2010 and thus part of last winter.

The administration also notes that the budget overrun has been the most extreme in southern areas of the country.

“It has been a busy Christmas period,” said Thomas Anderson at the administration.

The record winter has created a slew of problems for the maintenance of roads and railways with low temperatures combined with heavy snowfalls.

“We have not been able to battle the snow with salt as it has been colder than minus eight degrees Celsius in most parts of the country,” said Pär Gustafsson at the administration.

The administration’s budget extends over the entire 2010 and thus means that a large proportion of the costs of both this and last winter are in the same budget.

The situation could lead to some savings in maintenance in the summer months with cut backs on clearing verges and holding off on relaying roads as a result.

“But we will not pinch on the winter – it will cost what it costs,” Pär Gustafsson said.

Dag Rosander at national rail operator SJ was unwilling to speculate as to how much extra cost the winter has incurred.

“We may be able to see a little further on, on the other side of the new year, how it looks.”

He pointed out that SJ had strengthened its travel time warranty which may mean that winter will be somewhat more expensive for the company, although he was hopeful that it may attract more passengers to the railways.

SJ has also improved its rolling stock and set up a special department to take care of passengers hit by delays and cancellations.

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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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