Sweden's plan for mandatory ID checks at borders, designed to reduce the flow of refugees seeking asylum, is about to have an unintended consequence: reducing service and snarling travel across the Oresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark.
As a response to the controls, to take effect on January 4, SJ, Sweden's national rail operator, is cancelling all cross-border service to Denmark in order not to take on responsibility for the ID checks, and Skanetrafiken, which operates the commuter service over the bridge, will cut its service in half, and eliminate all boarding points in Denmark except at Copenhagen airport.
The rail operators are concerned because the new law imposes fines on them for any unauthorized person using trains or buses to cross the border. SJ will now simply accept only passengers already in Sweden, and Skanetrafiken will take on cross-border passengers only at a special platform at the airport. Previously those trains started at Copenhagen's main station, and passengers could board at several stops before the airport.
Long-distance passengers on SJ trains will now have to leave the train at Malmo, last stop in Sweden, and change to the commuter line to Stockholm airport, and then change again to another train for final destination. Hardest-hit, though, will be the thousands of commuters who live in either Malmo or Stockholm and commute to work in the other.
Photo: Swedish border guards at the commuter station.