Veolia takes over Öresund train services

Veolia Transport is to take over rail operations on the Swedish side of the Öresund after an agreement reached in light of financial difficulties at Danish-British operator DSB First, according to a statement from regional transport firm Skånetrafiken.

Veolia takes over Öresund train services

Veolia will operate services until the end of 2013, by which time a new tender procurement process will have been completed.

“It is a comprehensive transport system which can not be easily taken over from one day to another. We are therefore happy with this solution, which means that DSB First will progressively hand over responsibility over six months,” said Gunnar Wulff, CEO of Öresundtåg AB, the firm which represents Swedish stakeholders.

Wulff welcome the deal which ends months of speculation and uncertainty over the future of the services after it emerged that DSB First had run into financial difficulties.

DSB First’s precarious situation was cited as the reason for terminating the agreement and it was assured that the deal would ensure that trans-Öresund trains would continue to operate as normal in the interim period.

“We will immediately commence a new tender procurement process. This will take at least two years to complete, and Veolia’s contract thus runs to the end of 2013/ beginning of 2014.”

DSB First will furthermore be paid 45 million kronor ($7 million) in compensation for additional expenses incurred as a result of the rebuilding of Malmö central station.

Öresundståg AB will also cover losses incurred by DSB First on rail services in Sweden until full control is handed over to Veolia by December.

Since DSB First reported problems with its finances back in March several firms have expressed an interest in taking over the Öresund services, with Veolia considered to be the best option in the circumstances.

The agreement has also been heralded as a step in the right direction for DSB First’s battle to avoid bankruptcy.

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Swedish politician condemns Denmark’s ‘shit sandwich’ sewage plan

Copenhagen's water utility has been asked to postpone a plan to dump 290,000 cubic meters of untreated raw sewage into the Øresund Strait in the face of outrage from citizens and politicians in both Sweden and Denmark.

Swedish politician condemns Denmark's 'shit sandwich' sewage plan
Swimmers taking part in the Øresund Challenge back in 2011. Photo: Dennis Lehmann/Ritzau Scanpix
After a meeting on Monday afternoon, Ninna Hedeager Olsen, Copenhagen's environmental mayor, said she had asked civil servants to ask Hofor postpone the release until the autumn. 
“There has been an opportunity for Hofor to postpone the test work they will be doing until October,” she told state broadcaster DR. “That is why I have asked the administration to demand it.” 
Politicians in both Denmark and Sweden were up in arms on Sunday when details of the plan became known, forcing the utility to first postpone the release by 24 hours, and now postpone it further. 
Niels Paarup-Petersen, a member of parliament for Sweden's Centre Party, told The Local that the plan was just the latest in a long list of insults Denmark had thrown at its Scandinavian neighbour. 
“We’ve been served shit sandwich after shit sandwich over the last couple of years, but we've never been served so much shit in one go as this,” he said.  
Jacob Næsager, a city politician with Denmark's Conservative party, said that it was astonishing that the plan had been approved. 
“Many people want to swim in the Øresund, and I think it is extremely disgusting that people literally have to swim in other people's shit,” he said. 
Finn Rudaizky, a city politician for the Danish People's Party on the city's environment committee, called the plan “completely crazy”.
After Olsen announced the decision to postpone the plan, Morten Østergaard leader of Denmark's Social Liberal party congratulated those who had spotted it and launched a protest. 
“Good God, that was hanging by a thread, but hats off for the action,” he said. “'Shit good', as Niels Paarup from our sister party wrote.” 

Paarup-Petersen told The Local that he recognised that the utility had to empty the sewer to allow construction to go ahead at Svanemølleholmen in Nordhavn.
But he said there was no need to dump so much sewage in one go right at the start of the summer swimming season.  
“They can spread it out over a longer period, they can do it in a better season when people won't be swimming and there might be better currents,” he said. “It would also be possible to plan it a bit better so it will be released over more days.” 
He said he planned to work together with the Danish Social Liberal party to put in place greater environmental protections around the Øresund. 
“In the long term we have to find solutions, because there are solutions that can mean that the Øresund no longer needs to be a sewer,” he said. 
In a memo to the mayor issued on Monday, city civil servants said that they could not withdraw the permit issued to Hofor, as it had been drawn up in accordance with the correct procedures. 
Hedeager Olsen said she would now launch ask a team of  external experts in law and the environment to investigate why the city's civil servants believed it was right to authorise the discharge. 
“When the administration today concludes in a note that they believe the case management has been correct, and at the same time you hear environmental professors and others say that it is not, it is important to get the case investigated at a fundamental level,” she told DR.