Europe

Migrant crisis: Sweden operator cancels trains on bridge link

Oresund Bridge Image copyright Oresundsbron
Image caption Denmark and Sweden are joined by the longest road-rail bridge in Europe

Sweden's state-owned train operator SJ is to stop services to and from Denmark because it cannot carry out identity checks demanded by the government to stem the influx of refugees.

Under a new Swedish law, transport companies will be fined if travellers to Sweden do not have valid photo ID.

SJ said it would not have time to check people travelling between Copenhagen and Malmo over the Oresund bridge.

Sweden has received about 150,000 asylum applications already this year.

The government has secured a temporary exemption from the European Union's open-border Schengen agreement, in order to impose border controls.

About 18,000 people commute to work daily across the bridge, Radio Sweden reports.

SJ said all services between Denmark and Sweden would be suspended from 4 January when the new law comes into force.

"Our planning of the introduction of ID border checks in Copenhagen before the departure of SJ trains bound for Sweden has shown that we are currently unable to carry out ID checks in accordance with the requirements of the new law in the amount of time allowed," the operator said on its website.

It added it had chosen to "cancel its departures until there is a working solution in place".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Checks have been taking place on passengers arriving by bus in Sweden

Oresundstag, another train operator which runs a Sweden-Denmark commuter service, said it would remain in operation after 4 January but scale back rush-hour traffic to allow time for the checks, according to reports.

One million migrants have arrived in Europe by land or sea in 2015, the International Organisation for Migration says.

Along with Germany, Sweden is one of the main destinations of choice - with some 150,000 applying for asylum in 2015.

In contrast, Denmark expects to receive about 20,000 asylum seekers this year.

Last week a Danish government proposal to seize asylum seekers' valuables to make them pay for their stay drew sharp criticism in international media.