Two birds, one stone. How Öresund’s unique cross-border metro will boost labor markets and help reach climate targets.

By Lucas Dietrichson, Communication Strategist, City of Malmö and Braoin MacLauchlan, Communications Assistant, ICLEI World Secreteriat

As one part of Öresund grapples with looming labor shortages due to its ageing population, another struggles to remain attractive for its primarily younger residents. The first international metro in Europe offers to join these two parts and alleviate these issues.

The metro will build on the regional development that kick-started in 2000 with the Öresund Fixed Link [1]. Since then, travel times have been halved between central Copenhagen and Malmö to just 20 minutes and around one million more people are commuting across the region. Faster travel stimulates jobs, education, research and tourism, says Micael Nord, business director in the City of Malmö.

In January 2012, the City of Malmö and the City of Copenhagen started exploring the possibility of establishing a metro link between the two cities. With support from the EU’s Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak program, that metro link is becoming a reality and is regarded as a vital building block in the development of future infrastructure.

Bottleneck issues for green, sustainable transport of goods and labor market mobility across the Öresund. Photo credits: City of Copenhagen

Shorter travel time contributes to a larger labor market

By 2030, there will be 80,000 fewer Danes who are under 60 and of working age. This demographic change means that Denmark, in the long run, will experience great difficulty in meeting its labor needs. At the same time, southern Sweden has rising unemployment and a notably younger population. A better labor market, however, is just one argument for the Öresund international metro. It will also keep both cities on track to meet national and international climate goals.

Shifting from roads to rails in line with EU objectives

The opening of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link [2] between Denmark and Germany, scheduled for 2029, is expected to double the number of freight trains transporting goods between Scandinavia and Central Europe.

“Improving connectivity and reducing travel times across the Öresund will therefore increase social sustainability as well as environmental and economic sustainability.”

– Micael Nord

An Öresund Metro will create a basis for a better mix of passenger, freight, and high-speed trains using the Öresund Fixed Link. This will accommodate the EU Commission’s objective that, by 2030, 30% of road freight journeying over 300 km should shift to other modes of transport, such as rail or waterborne. By 2050 the aim is for more than 50% to make this transition.

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[1] A combined bridge and tunnel link across the Öresund Sound between Denmark and Sweden.

[2] Tunnel