Swedish rail system crippled by Storm Helga

Public transport in the south of Sweden was brought to a standstill on Saturday morning after an overnight pummeling from Storm Helga, the latest punishing weather system to hit the Nordic nation.

Swedish rail system crippled by Storm Helga
Southbound trains from Stockholm Central Station were badly affected by Storm Helga. Photo: Tomas Oneborg / SvD / TT

Swedish train operator SJ has cancelled services between Stockholm and Gothenburg as well as Oslo and Stockholm until at least 2pm Saturday, according to the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet.

Travel between Stockholm and Nyköping was expected to resume at noon and trains between Gothenburg and Karlstad will beging running at 6 pm.

“We had to take the decision to cancel the trains because it was too big of a risk to run the trains or buses instead of the trains because of the bad weather,” Dan Olofsson, SJ’s press spokesman told Swedish Radio, the national broadcaster.

He said the company would offer refunds to affected travellers.

55,000 households lost power in southern Sweden at the height of the storm, but by Saturday morning power company Vattenfall reported that the number had reduced to 7,400. Utility companies Eon and Ellevio reported a combined outage of roughly 8,000 households.

However storm caused few injuries. One person was hurt by scaffolding blown down by strong winds in Gothenburg and news agency TT reported that a firefighter was hit by a falling tree in Södertälje Municipality, just south of Stockholm.

The storm hit as a massive clear-up operation was still under way after Storm Gorm swept through southern and western Sweden last Sunday night, leaving a trail of destruction.

Recording wind speeds of up to 32 metres per second, it left tens of thousands of customers without power and toppled around 2.5 million cubic metres of forest, while residents reported everything from broken window panes to entire roofs blowing off.

Major insurance company Länsförsäkringar told The Local on Wednesday that it expected payouts of around 40-50 million kronor ($5.74 million) in the wake of the autumn storm.