STOCKHOLM, 28 January (Xinhua) – Half of all trains planned to travel to and via Stockholm, the Swedish capital, this weekend have been canceled due to a serious shortage of staff.
– The Swedish Transport Administration has never before had to cancel so many departures due to illness within the staff groups, despite two years of pandemic, said Bengt Olsson, press officer in the organization in a press release on Friday.
The settings affect all trains: long-distance lines, commuter lines and freight trains at least until early Sunday.
As Stockholm is an important hub for train traffic, the cancellations will also affect destinations north and south of the city.
Olsson did not go into detail about the nature of the many sick leaves, but the Omicron variant creates havoc in the country and affects critical services whose staff are on sick leave or in quarantine because a household member is infected.
To keep the services running, the government last week announced new rules, including a quarantine exemption for unvaccinated individuals with key functions specified by the Civil Contingencies Agency.
The cumulative number of confirmed infections among Sweden’s population of 10.4 million exceeded 2 million on Thursday. At the same time, a lack of test capacity means that not all cases have been detected and the Swedish Public Health Agency has said that the actual number of new infections per week is currently around half a million.
Despite the escalating spread of covid-19, authorities said on Wednesday that most restrictions could be lifted on February 9 as they expect the number of new infections to drop dramatically by then.