The Øresund Bridge is an approximately 16 km long road and rail link between Sweden and Denmark. But it is much more than that. The Øresund Bridge has created a region with a population of 3.7 million inhabitants.
From vision to reality
The concept of a fixed link across Øresund is not new. For centuries, Øresund presented an obstacle to the transport of passengers and freight between Sweden and Denmark. Moreover, it also represented a psychological barrier simply because the mere thought of a difficult journey hampered trade and closer relations.
With the rise of industrialisation and internationalisation in Europe, the idea of a fixed link became more plausible. From the beginning of the 20th century, several proposals were put forward, although a lack of financing and political support meant that the proposals never got past the drawing board.
Stable political and economic environments in both Sweden and Denmark towards the end of the 20th century, however, laid a new foundation for the project. From vision to reality Stronger ties towards Europe also created a need to bring Scandinavia closer to the European continent.
The decision to build the bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö rather than Elsinore and Helsingborg was based on the wish to bring the two main cities of the Øresund Region closer together. Strategically, the position of the bridge near Copenhagen Airport also played a role.
Øresundsbro Konsortiet is owned jointly by the Danish and Swedish states. As an independent owner and operator, the Øresund Bridge is responsible for providing a fast, safe and convenient journey across Øresund at competitive prices for both private and corporate customers.
Øresundsbro Konsortiet’s parent companies are the Danish A/S Øresund and the Swedish Svensk-Danska Broförbindelsen, SVEDAB AB. The two companies have built and financed the hinterland infrastructure in Denmark and Sweden.
In accordance with an agreement between the two countries, Øresundsbro Konsortiet is entitled to levy charges from users of the link across Øresund. Revenue must cover operating and interest expenses and finance the repayment of the loans raised for the construction of the coast-to-coast link and the landworks on both sides of Øresund.
Committed and well qualified employees are crucial for the Øresund Bridge’s success. The fact that the Øresund Bridge organisation is an integrated DanishSwedish enterprise where Swedes and Danes use both languages as their working language is a significant advantage in respect of contact with customers and for understanding the region’s integration process.
The Øresund Bridge is an approximately 16 km long road and rail link between Sweden and Denmark. It consists of three sections: a bridge, an artificial island and a tunnel.
The bridge accounts for half the length of the link (approx. 8 km) with the two 204 m high pylons supporting the 490 m long bridge span across the Flinte channel. This design is known as a cable-stayed bridge. On the bridge, the railway and motorway run on separate levels with the railway on the lower deck and vehicle traffic on the upper deck.
Most of the bridge structures – the bridge piers and bridge spans – were built on land and subsequently towed out to the bridge alignment by a large floating crane. Only the pylons were cast in situ.
Linking the bridge and tunnel, the man-made island of Peberholm, where the railway and motorway run The link parallel to each other, is neighbour to the natural island of Saltholm further to the north. 4 km long, Peberholm was constructed from the material dredged from the Øresund seabed to accommodate the bridge piers and the tunnel.
Peberholm was built to enable traffic to pass between the bridge, where rail and vehicle traffic run on two levels, to the tunnel where traffic runs on the same level.
The 4 km immersed tunnel was built by concrete elements cast on land and subsequently towed out and lowered into a trench dredged in the Øresund sea bed.
The artificial island of Peberholm does not merely connect the bridge and tunnel. Because its flora and fauna have been allowed to develop freely, undisturbed by man, the island has become a haven for biologists from Denmark and Sweden.
Since Peberholm’s construction, Lund’s Botanical Association has identified more than 500 different species of plant. Although birch, sallow, oak, beech and willow are all found on the island, the strong winds have restricted their growth. Copenhagen’s Zoological Museum has collected beetles and butterflies on the island.
Peberholm serves as a popular breeding ground for birds as well as providing a habitat for the rare green toad. The island is also home to rare spiders and insects.
Safety and traffic
The Øresund Bridge has generated a significant increase in traffic across Øresund. Today, crossing the bridge by car is a matter of 10 minutes. Vehicles pay toll charges at the toll station at Lernacken on the Swedish side.
The railway is an important part of the Øresund Bridge. Around two-thirds of those travelling across the Øresund Bridge go by train, with the journey between Malmö and Copenhagen taking 35 minutes.
Two traffic controllers are permanently on duty at the traffic centre next to the toll station at Lernacken. By way of CCTV cameras and automatic alarm systems, the controllers continually monitor traffic and are prepared for any emergency.
The speed limit on the motorway is usually 90 km per hour in the tunnel and 110 km per hour elsewhere on the link.
In the event of an emergency, assistance can be summoned through the emergency telephones located along the link. The tunnel is equipped with emergency exits as well as alarm cabinets at intervals of 88 metres, which contain emergency telephones, fire extinguishers and fire alarms.
The Øresund Bridge and the region
Linking Scania and Zealand, the Øresund Bridge has created a region with a population of 3.7 million inhabitants. Thanks to the fixed link, it is now easier than ever to live on the one side of Øresund and work on the other. As a result, commuting by car and train has increased dramatically since the bridge was opened, inspiring many Danes to move to Scania.
Cultural events, entertainment, shopping, sport and outdoor activities are world class – all within a 100 km radius of Copenhagen/Malmö.
Universities and other educational institutions work together through the Øresund University which offers students a wide range of opportunities as well as a stimulating research and development environment. The Øresund University ranks among the largest in Europe.
Business and industry benefit from Northern Europe’s strongest home market and Copenhagen/Malmö has become the Nordic centre for a large number of international companies. The Øresund Region’s international marketing adds greater strength to many businesses’ export sales as well as attracting new business and jobs to the region.
March 23, 1991: Sweden and Denmark sign an agreement to build a fixed link across Øresund.
September 16, 1993: Work begins on the Danish landworks which comprise 9 km motorway and 18 km railway.
August 1995: Work on the coast-coast link begins with dredging operations in Øresund.
April 1, 1997: The first of the two foundations for the high bridge pylons are towed from Malmö to the bridge alignment and lowered into a 17 m deep trench excavated in the sea bed.
August 8, 1997: The first of the 20 tunnel elements are towed from the factory at Copenhagen’s North Harbour to Drogden where they are lowered into the dredged tunnel trench.
March 16, 1999: The tunnel is completed and the first vehicle drives through it.
August 14, 1999: As the final bridge section is placed in position, the link between Denmark and Sweden becomes a reality.
December 1, 1999: The final section of the railway between Copenhagen and Malmö is placed in position.
June 9 – 12, 2000: The Øresund Bridge opens to the public. Hundreds of thousands of people cycle, run or walk across the link during the special “Open Bridge” days.
July 1, 2000: Inauguration of the Øresund Bridge
December 31, 2004: For the first time, the Øresund Bridge’s annual accounts show a fall in the interest-bearing net liabilities of almost DKK 20 billion.
July 1, 2005: The Øresund Bridge celebrates its fifth anniversary. Traffic has increased by 74 per cent since the inauguration.
January 11, 2009: Danish train operator, DSB First, takes over the running of the Øresund trains across the Øresund Bridge. The line was previously operated by the Danish DSB and the Swedish SJ.
July 1, 2010: The Øresund Bridge celebrates its tenth anniversary.