A ferry leaving port in Helsingborg in Sweden on its way to Helsingør. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Swedish politicians have been pushing for the tunnel between Helsingborg, Sweden, and Helsingør, Denmark, ever since the Øresund Bridge was built, but have been shot down by the reluctant Danes.
But a new traffic plan for the Greater Copenhagen region around the Øresund strait, which is set to be approved by the board next week, states that the proposed connection should be given top priority.
“There is agreement in Greater Copenhagen that a fixed link between Helsingør and Helsingborg should be built first and started as soon as possible,” reads the plan.
“It is a great success that we have managed to get our Danish friends to get on board with the vision of linking all of Skåne and Zealand in a common labour market region,” Henrik Fritzon, the Social Democrat chairman of the Skåne region in southern Sweden, told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
However, those living in the region should not start planning their new commute just yet. The national governments in Stockholm and Copenhagen will have to approve the proposal before drilling begins.
“Now when we agree on a regional basis that the HH-link [Helsingborg-Helsingør] should be built we can be more forceful when we demand things from our governments,” said Fritzon.
Sweden and Denmark are already connected by the Øresund Bridge, which opened in 2000. However, residents have complained of longer journey times hampering their commutes after border and ID checks were set up by Sweden last winter as a result of its unprecedented influx of asylum seekers.
The proposed new tunnel – actually, two tunnels: road and rail – would cost 26 billion kronor ($3.02 billion), but would cut travel times between Helsingborg and Copenhagen from 1.5 hours to 45 minutes, claims the plan.
“The Øresund Bridge was a revolution. Even though it's only been there for 16 years, you can't 'unthink' it. 17,000 people commute across the border every day. Imagine how high unemployment would have been had we not had the bridge,” said Fritzon.
The Greater Copenhagen traffic plan also backs a lower-priority proposal for an 'Øresund metro', a new train tunnel between Copenhagen and the southern Swedish city of Malmö as an extension of the Copenhagen Metro.
It also supports high-speed trains from Malmö-Copenhagen to Stockholm and Hamburg.