Shut-down escalators get back in action in capital

Shut-down escalators get back in action in capital
Travellers have been forced to walk up and down the escalator steps at Östermalmstorg. Photo: Yvonne Åsell/SvD/TT
Commuters in Stockholm have welcomed the return to action of three escalators in the capital's underground system, bringing to a partial end a three-week escalator shutdown prompted by a serious accident.

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Three escalators at the underground station Östermalmstorg were set to return to action on Sunday night.

“Our manufacturers have installed beams with special sensors under all the steps. So if one step comes off, like when the accident happened, it cannot fall down. It stops after a couple of millimetres and pushes the ledge so that the escalator stops immediately,” Suss Forssman Thullberg, communications director of SL, the company which runs the Swedish capital's transport network, told Swedish Radio.

However, some disappointed commuters reported that one escalator at Östermalmstorg was still standing still on Monday morning.

One Twitter user tweeted: "SL was in a joking mood today. Saw quite a lot of disappointed faces when the escalator was still stationary at Östermalmstorg."

SL press officer Johan Nordgren confirmed the problem to local city newspaper Mitti.

"We opened the three escalators yesterday and don't know yet what happened this morning. It could be temporary," he said.

39 escalators remained stationary for three weeks after an elderly woman seriously injured her leg on Valentine's Day at Östermalmstorg.

She is understood to have fallen through a faulty step caused by a manufacturing defect.

SL has called in extra staff each day to monitor commuters and tourists as they walk up the frozen escalators, with the affected stations offering water to passengers once they make it to the top.

The network has been carrying out an internal investigation into the problem alongside MTR, the company that manufactured the escalators.

PR-savvy sports brand Reebok attempted to raise its profile by hiring athletes to carry weary travellers up the stairs at the subway stop.

The stations still affected by the temporary shutdown are: Hötorget, Rådmansgatan, Odenplan, St Eriksplan, T-Centralen, Slussen, Mariatorget, Zinkensdamm, Hornstull and Skanstull, but Forssman Thullberg said they too would be opening one by one as safety work progresses.

All of the affected stations offer wheelchair ramps and fully functioning lifts.

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