As a result of the recent migrant influx, and in a bid to better control who is crossing into Sweden, authorities are imposing mandatory ID checks on train passengers travelling from Denmark to Sweden in the first week of January. Train operators who fail to carry out the controls risk fines of up to 50,000 kronor (€5,430) for each unchecked passenger.
According to Swedish daily Sydsvenskan, the risk of having to face such steep fines has prompted Swedish and Danish train operators to consider scanning, and registering, passports and other valid IDs of all Sweden-bound passengers. In the case that a passenger would then lose his or her travel documents, train staff would still be able to show that the person has indeed been checked and approved to board the train.
As Europe faces the biggest migrant crisis since World War II, Sweden – a country of just under 10 million – has taken in more than 160,000 asylum seekers and it is weighing heavily on the country’s infrastructure. Many of the asylum seekers arrive without appropriate documents, however, making it difficult for authorities to distinguish whether they are really in need of asylum or not.
“There’s currently a discussion about how DSB (Danish State Railways) will be able to prove to Swedish authorities that they’ve really carried out the ID controls,” Gunnar Wulff, CEO of train operator Öresundståg AB, was quoted as saying.
He added, however, that no decision has yet been taken on the subject, but can be expected prior to the new law kicking in.
In November, Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reported that some 14,000 foreign nationals, some of them wanted by police and ordered deported, had “disappeared” and gone underground. This problem has prompted authorities to step up its efforts, through for example more ID checks, to ensure people without legal right to stay in Sweden to exit the country.