Upwards of one hundred trains have been cancelled in mostly southern and central Sweden, and Stockholm’s vital metro system is still trafficking only truncated routes. The weekend’s snowstorm and recent temperatures of 15 to 20 degrees below Celsius have been blamed for the trouble, although many point to deficiencies in the transport network itself as the culprit.
Just yesterday, reserves in Sweden’s Armed Forces were getting prepared to help shovel snow off paralyzed tracks.
The minister for infrastructure Åsa Torstensson of the Center Party was quoted as saying that the Swedish Rail Administration has not done its job properly when it comes to maintenance.
She angrily told the news agency TT that she has been granting the Rail Administration higher budgets every year in order to keep the traffic going and to fix flaws in the constantly ailing technical system. Faulty signals, old trains and a railway net that has not been extended since the 19th century have led to delays and cancellations even in the warmer parts of the year, especially in the Greater Stockholm area. Now, the strong winter is making things even worse.
But Swedish Railways, SJ, has blamed the government for the chaos. “Sweden is also the second worst in Europe in investing in continuous upkeep of the rails,” CEO Jan Forsberg said at a press conference earlier in the week. “We have not expanded in the same tact as traffic has increased.”
What’s more, the Swedish Meteorological Institute (SMHI) warned on Wednesday that the winter’s unusually large amount of snow could lead to floods in the spring, especially in Sweden’s south.
“The risk is rather large.” hydrologist Anna Johnell told Swedish Radio News. “Experience tells us that there will surely be floods somewhere.”
SMHI is now warning municipalities to get ready for the fall-out.