How can Sweden enhance rail freight capacity along the Öresund axis? 11/03/24

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Author: Marco Raimondi


How can Sweden enhance rail freight capacity along the Öresund axis?


The Öresund Bridge, connecting Sweden and Denmark, is one of the key rail nodes of the TEN-T Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor. However, many in the rail freight sector have been stressing about the lack of redundancy and viable alternatives in case of disruption. The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) is currently debating three options to create additional capacity on this axis.


Currently, the only rail alternative in case of traffic interruption along the Öresund Bridge is the rail-ferry service that from Trelleborg, in Sweden, connects to Rostock, in Germany. However, this type of service is currently declining, as Trafikverket pointed out in a report on the issue. Moreover, they highlighted that this connection cannot be considered redundant.

This is because, in case of disruption along the bridge, rail-ferry service would only be able to take up about 15 per cent of the traffic. The need for an alternative route to the Öresund Bridge is also deemed necessary in view of the opening of the Fehmarn Belt Tunnel. Expected to be commissioned by 2029, it will significantly improve rail freight connectivity between Germany and Denmark and, more broadly, the whole Scan-Med Corridor.


What did Trafikverket propose?

Trafikverket is currently investigating three possible projects to enhance rail capacity with Denmark, thus improving connectivity with the rest of Europe. The three options are:

  • a road-rail tunnel between Helsingborg (SE) and Helsingør (DK) strictly for passenger traffic (HH Tunnel),
  • a road-rail tunnel between Landskrona (SE) and Copenhagen (DK) (Europaspåret),
  • or an underground railway from Malmö (SE) connected to the Copenhagen Metro System (Öresund Metro).

The HH Tunnel and Öresund Metro projects both entail creating new railway infrastructure for passengers so that the current Öresund Bridge would largely accommodate freight traffic. The Europaspåret, on the other hand, would include the construction of a rail tunnel suitable for both passenger and freight traffic. More information concerning Trafikverket’s investigation should be expected in the second quarter of 2024.


Cross-border bottlenecks in Sweden

The Öresund Strait is not the only headscratcher when it comes to the lack of redundancy along this TEN-T corridor in Sweden. Its northernmost border crossing between Sweden and Norway, known as the Iron Ore Line, was recently closed for almost three months due to two derailments, blocking rail access to the port of Narvik. Moreover, Norway and Sweden are cooperating on trying to find a solution to increase capacity along the Oslo-Gothenburg line, another bottleneck along the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor.