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STOCKHOLM

What you need to know about public transport disruption in Stockholm this summer

Major renovations and track works will cause disruption to public transport across the country this summer, which this year brings the added risk of crowding as travellers will need to seek out alternative routes.

What you need to know about public transport disruption in Stockholm this summer
The Gullmarsplan transport hub in southern Stockholm is one of the affected stations. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Most transport renovations take place during Sweden's long summer holidays, partly because there are typically fewer commuters at this time and partly because the work is easier during longer, clearer days.

But with more people likely to stay in their hometown this summer due to global travel restrictions and the risk of infection of the coronavirus, this year the disruption could have particularly negative consequences. 

From June 13th, people without any cold- or flu-like symptoms are able to travel freely within Sweden, but the advice from the Public Health Agency remains to limit use of public transport as much as possible. That's especially relevant in more densely populated cities. Stockholm public transport operator SL continues to ask all residents to travel “only if you must”, and to avoid travelling during rush hour if at all possible.

“The corona pandemic makes this summer special,” said SL traffic director Fredrik Cavalli-Björkman. “Travel by public transport always goes down after Midsummer, but nevertheless it can be difficult for SL passengers to keep the recommended distances from each other, especially at Gullmarsplan. Our request remains not to use public transport, and to avoid rush hour if you have to travel with SL.”

If you find yourself needing to travel, these are the changes you'll have to be aware of.

Tunnelbana

Stockholm's subway line is set to get significantly extended, and work on that project means the busy stretch between Globen and Gullmarsplan on the green line will be closed for eight weeks between June 22nd and August 16th.

Gullmarsplan is a transport hub and one of the city's busiest tunnelbana stations, so a few different measures will be taken to avoid congestion. People will be able to switch to the tvärbanan (tram) which also runs between these two stations and will be strengthened by more frequent departures, and there will also be extra departures on the other two green line routes, towards Farsta and Skarpnäck, during rush hour.

Things like vending machines will be removed at Gullmarsplan to create more space, and the following bus lines will get extra departures: line 143 (Älvsjö-Hökarängen), line 173 (Skarpnäck-Skärholmen), line 195 (Gullmarsplan-Hagsätra weekend night bus), line 163 (Älvsjö-Dalen), line 195 (Högdalen-City during day time).

Tvärbanan

The closure of the tunnelbana between Globen and Gullmarsplan might make the tvärbanan route busier, and in the north of the city, the tvärbanan will be closed between Johannesfred and Solna from July 5th to July 31st. Passengers along that route will need to take a replacement bus between Alvik and Solna instead.


Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Regional trains

If you're leaving Stockholm by train to travel elsewhere in Sweden, check your ticket and timetables carefully.

The regional train track (which is separate from the pendeltåg track) between Stockholms Central and Stockholms Södra is closed over summer due to planned renovations. This will take place between June 22nd and August 17th.

Customers therefore need to travel from either Stockholm Södra or Flemingsberg on many regional routes going south from Stockholm, rather than the usual central train station. However, the Stockholm Central station remains open and some trains will continue to arrive and depart from there, including many northbound trains. Make sure you've checked your ticket and/or the SL website carefully.

Commuter trains

Travellers on the pendeltåg lines should be aware of the disruptions outlined above, since this will mean more passengers at Stockholms Södra and Flemingsberg stations, and busier trains on this stretch. SL has increased trains on this stretch by 33 percent to help avoid crowding, although fewer long-distance train travellers are expected this summer.

Apart from that, there is just one change to be aware of. The route between Sundbyberg and Jakobsberg will not be running between July 4th and 26th. 

During this time, passengers will need to take replacement buses connecting to the tunnelbana and then use the blue tunnelbana line, which will have extra departures.

And it's important to know that, although the pendeltåg doors open automatically through the rest of the year, during summer you need to press the button to open them (this is in order to help maintain a comfortable temperature onboard). The exceptions to this are Stockholm Södra, Stockholm City, Stockholm Odenplan, and Arlanda. Don't miss your stop!  

Buses

In Stockholm, SL continues to request that passengers board using the rear doors only, and wait for the next bus rather than board a crowded one.

Archipelago ferries

One of the main companies which operates ferries to the archipelago islands, Waxholmsbolaget, is operated by SL and therefore the recommendation to make only essential journeys applies for these boats too.

Capacity on the boats is limited in order to ensure social distancing can be maintained onboard. During the coronavirus outbreak, priority for boarding will go to crew members and island residents, and the crew may deny boarding to other passengers if the boats get too full, or if you are showing symptoms of illness. It's also temporarily not possible to make bookings for large groups.

Member comments

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DRIVING

What’s it like driving from Scandinavia to the UK with a young family?

With the cost of airline tickets increasingly discouraging, is driving from Scandinavia to the UK becoming a more attractive option? The Local Denmark editor Michael Barrett gave it a try.

What’s it like driving from Scandinavia to the UK with a young family?

This summer has seen the return of large-scale international travel after a couple of Covid-hit years that have not been a picnic for anyone.

While the end of restrictions came as a relief, severe delays and disruptions at airports have added a new uncertainty around travel in 2022.

Scandinavia has not been an exception to this, with strikes at Scandinavian airline SAS and delays at Copenhagen and other airports among the problems faced by the sector.

Additionally, the increasing price of airline tickets in a time when inflation is hitting living costs across the board has become another factor discouraging air travel.

Finally, there’s the impact of air travel on climate to be considered. So is there an alternative?

The plan

Unlike colleagues who have made long distance journeys from France and Sweden respectively by rail, our plan was to make the trip from our home in Denmark to the UK by car.

There are a few reasons we picked this less climate-friendly option. I’ll readily admit they were driven (no pun intended) by our own needs, and not those of the planet. I hope we can offset this by using the train more than the car for longer journeys within Denmark, where costs are competitive.

Once we decided not to take our usual Ryanair flight, we only really considered driving. This is primarily because we have a toddler (age two), and felt that on such a long journey, the ability to control the timing and length of our stops would be crucial.

Secondly, the route would have taken longer and been more difficult logistically by rail, and would also have cost more. For example, we arrived at Harwich International Port late on a weekday evening, from where onward travel was to rural Suffolk. The thought of doing this on multiple local rail (possibly bus) services with a tired two-year-old makes me shudder a bit.

The route

From our home in central Denmark, we set out on a Monday morning and drove south on the E45 motorway, crossing the German border and continuing past Hamburg. We then got on to the A1 Autobahn and made for Bremen, where we stopped overnight.

Travelling non-stop, this journey takes just under four hours. It took us around five and a half. We stopped twice and were caught in traffic at Hamburg, where there is lot of construction going on around the city’s ring road.

Leaving early (just after 6am) the following day, we drove southwest and crossed the border into the Netherlands after a brief stop, but then managed to complete the journey to the port town Hook of Holland without a further break.

Our ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich was due to leave at 2:15pm and check-in time was an hour before that. This was the only deadline we had on our journey that would have been problematic to miss, so we gave ourselves plenty of time for the drive from Bremen. We arrived in Hook of Holland at around 11:30am.

Next was a six-hour ferry crossing to the East Anglian coast. We booked a cabin – they are inexpensive on daytime crossings – which gave us a chance to relax after the drive and our daughter a comfortable spot for her afternoon nap.

After a queue at customs in Harwich which took around 45 minutes, we were driving through the Essex countryside just before 9pm local time. The final drive to our destination took an hour and a half.

What went right

It’s not the most relevant information for anyone considering a similar trip, but I have to mention our car. A 2003 VW Polo we bought two years ago that has never had any mechanical issues, I was nevertheless braced for possible problems given its age (and ensured I had roadside assistance for outside of Denmark, more detail on this below).

However, there was not so much as a hint of an issue of any kind at any point during the 900 kilometres it covered on the journey, nor on the way home. Respect.

Our plan to split the trip into two days paid off. I think you could do it in one day (there are also overnight ferries) if you shared the driving and needed less flexibility. I should also recognise here that we live relatively close to Germany and our destination was close to the east coast of the UK. If you were travelling, for example, from Copenhagen to Cardiff, you’d have significantly more driving to do.

For us, knowing we could take long breaks if we needed them took a lot of stress out of the journey and allowed us to adapt to our toddler’s needs – changing nappies, finding a service station playground or stopping for an ice cream.

Stopping overnight also gave us the chance to see some new places (we switched things up on the way back and stayed in Groningen in the north of the Netherlands, instead of Bremen) and gave us a feeling of being on our own little bonus holiday.

What went wrong

In all, things went as well as we possibly could have hoped for and our conclusion after we got back home was that we’d like to travel this way again.

We were stopped by traffic police in Groningen city centre because I failed to understand signs showing we were entering a public transport-only zone. The officers who stopped us then offered to escort us to our accommodation a few streets away.

The ferry, operated by Stena Lines, had far less to do on board than we’d imagined there would be on a six-hour voyage. Two tiny off-duty shops, a cinema showing a superhero film and a minuscule play area (which our daughter nevertheless enjoyed) were about the extent of it. We hadn’t downloaded any films ourselves or brought much entertainment with us from the car, so we got a bit bored during the crossing. This is hardly a serious gripe and an easy one to rectify on the return trip.

The practical stuff 

Roadside assistance is obviously crucial for a journey like this, and it’s also important to double check your insurance is valid once you leave the country in which your car is registered and insured – Denmark, in our case.

Foreign authorities can check your insurance is valid. You can document this with the International Motor Insurance or “Green” card, which serves as proof you have motor insurance when you drive outside of the EU (you don’t need it within the EU).

This means that (in theory) you can be asked to present it in the UK. We weren’t asked for it.

The Green Card can be printed via your insurance company’s website. You’ll need your MitID or NemID secure login to access the platform and print off your document. Here is an example of the relevant page on the website of insurance company Tryg. If you can’t find the right section on your insurance company’s website, contact them by phone.

A number of Danish companies specialise in roadside assistance, including Falck and SOS Dansk Autohjælp. You can also include roadside assistance as part of your motor insurance package. We have the latter option, but in either case, I’d recommend calling your provider to make sure you are covered for breakdown in the EU and non-EU countries like the UK (if that’s where you’re going). Obviously, you should add such cover to your existing deal if you don’t have it, or change to a different deal.

The company which operates the ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich is Stena Line. Both directions have daytime and overnight departures.

There is a range of prices, and I couldn’t cover all the options here if I tried. However, I’d recommend a cabin on the daytime departures, because it’s inexpensive and gives you a bit of personal space and privacy, which is useful with children.

After calculating what our approximate fuel costs would be, the price of the hotel stays and ferry tickets, we found that the trip cost around 1,500 kroner more than we would have paid to fly from Billund Airport to London Stansted with checked-in baggage with Ryanair on the same dates. In return, we could take as much luggage as we want with us (and back), we got to see Bremen and Groningen and had our own car with us in the UK. This was more than worth the additional expense.

I also spent 50 kroner on a “DK” sticker for the tailgate of the car (because the car is so old it predates the EU number plates that include the country code) and 70 kroner for some headlight stickers which prevent full beam headlamps from dazzling oncoming drivers when you are driving on the left in the UK.

As I busily fixed them onto my car as we waited to disembark the ferry, however, a lorry driver parked next to us said these were, in fact, entirely unnecessary.

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