ID-checks expected to cause long delays for Öresund commuters
The government wants public transport companies to carry out ID-checks on everybody entering the country by train, bus or ferry. But that would mean long delays for commuters across the Öresund bridge, according to the train operator Skånetrafiken.
On Wednesday, the government decided to present a revised proposal on ID-checks for people entering Sweden, despite the sharp criticism earlier this week from the country's legal watchdog, the Council on Legislation.
The controversial idea to give the government the power to close the Öresund bridge in case of an emergency is no longer part of the proposal, but the government deems that there is enough support in parliament for its proposal on ID-checks.
Parliament will vote on the bill next week, and the Minister for Justice and Migration, Morgan Johansson, tells Swedish Radio News that he hopes the checks can start after New Year, on the 4th of January.
"The main reason for this is that we need to cut the number of asylum seekers coming to Sweden, and to make sure that they instead apply for asylum in other countries," he said.
At the moment, police are carrying out ID-checks, as part of the temporary measures that were put in place about a month ago. But the government wants to force bus, rail and ferry companies to carry out the ID-checks. Companies that do not demand photo ID from its passengers will be fined, according to the proposal.
The train companies operating across the Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark are not happy. On Thursday, the traffic director of Skånetrafiken, Linus Eriksson, is meeting with the parliamentary traffic committee to describe the law's consequences for commuters. He tells Swedish Radio News that every day 18,000 people travel by train between Denmark and Sweden for work.
"I will compare it to the (number of people commuting) between Uppsala and Stockholm, because that is exactly the same thing," he told Swedish Radio News.
According to Swedish Radio News, what is currently discussed is that passengers will have to get off the trains at Copenhagen Airport Kastrup, which is the last stop in Denmark before the Swedish borders. They would then have to take the escalators up to the airport itself, to have their IDs checked, before returning to the platform to enter another train to Sweden. This train will have to be shorter, so that both trains fit on the platform at the same time.
Today there is a train between Denmark and Sweden every ten minutes in rush hour. With the ID-checks that will change to every twenty minutes, according to Linus Eriksson from Skånetrafiken. Travelling from Copenhagen in Denmark to Malmö in Sweden currently takes 34 minutes, but that would no longer be the case with these changes, said Eriksson.
"During peak hours, the trains will be very full, and on top of that there will be at least a 20 minute delay from Kastrup," he said.
If the Swedish police continue their checks in Sweden, the delay may be an hour each way, said Eriksson.
Across the Öresund sound, Denmark is also discussing ID-checks, and the parliament there is due to vote on a proposal later this week. On Tuesday the Danish train operator DSB threatened to cancel all trains to Sweden and Germany if such a law came into force. The company's main criticism is that their staff cannot, and should not, carry out the job of the authorities as the staff do not have the competency to decide if an ID is false or not.
But talk of cancelling the trains across the Öresund bridge is not realistic said Linus Eriksson from Skånetrafiken.
"That is just not possible. We continue the dialogue, and have been in touch with DSB yesterday as well as today and continue talking about how we can solve this," he said.
Meanwhile, Sweden's Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, said he is aware that the proposal will cause problems for the people travelling in the region.
"It will become more troublesome. But that will have to be weighed against the alternative: what happens if we do not act," said Johansson.