Swedish Öresund commuters could suffer as Danish rail strike looms

Swedish Öresund commuters could suffer as Danish rail strike looms
The Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Potential industrial action in April could affect train journeys across the Öresund Bridge commuter link between Denmark and Sweden, forcing Skåne's regional transport authority to put contingency plans in place.

A strike or lockout, resulting from the failure of trade unions and public sector employers to reach a new agreement over terms and salary, could have serious enough consequences for Danish rail operator Banedanmark that train services in the country come to a halt, News Øresund reported earlier this month.

With a deal on new terms for public sector workers in Denmark still yet to be reached, industrial action in the form of a strike or retaliatory 'lockout' looks likely to hit public services in the country. Trade unions have advised members that a strike will come into effect on April 4th, with a retaliatory lockout expected on April 10th.

The main point of concern from Sweden's perspective is that train traffic in Denmark including across the Öresund could be affected. Southern Sweden's regional transport authority Skånetrafiken is worried enough that it has been looking at contingency plans, speaking with bus firms regarding replacement bus services for commuters and those wishing to travel to Copenhagen airport from Sweden.

Around 15,000 people travel across the Öresund Bridge daily, and 50 extra buses would be needed to run the route between Malmö's Hyllie station and Kastrup airport in Copenhagen, according to news agency TT. It would be possible to use local public transport from there onward as neither Danish buses nor the Copenhagen metro are part of the potential industrial action.

READ ALSO: Öresund crossing sets new traffic record

“We're preparing well in advance and have the provisions to succeed, but it's not something we can guarantee,” Skånetrafiken's Öresund head Maikel Espling told TT.

On Tuesday, the chair of Denmark's state conciliatory institution (Forligsinstitution) met negotiators from both sides of the divide and there is still hope that the conflict may be delayed, Danish TV2 reports.

The official body has the power to delay strike action to give the parties more time to resolve the conflict. Should agreement to delay not be reached, 88,000 Danish public sector employees will go on strike on Wednesday next week, with 440,000 subsequently locked out seven days later.

READ ALSO: What it's like living life on both sides of the Öresund Bridge