Trail of the Unexpected: Oresund Bridge

The bridge that links Sweden and Denmark has its own TV series, says Gerard Gilbert

Not many people in Britain – not even the educated types who watch BBC4 – know that Denmark and Sweden are joined by the longest road-and-rail bridge in Europe (4km of which is actually a tunnel). Now, however, the Oresund Bridge, which links Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo in Sweden, has a starring role in the latest Saturday night BBC4 cop show from the makers of The Killing.

The Bridge, or Broen, as it's called in Denmark (Bron in Swedish), opens with the murder of a politician whose body is left at the midpoint of the 16km crossing. The body has been cut in two, the legs left in Denmark, the head and torso in Sweden – a neat plot set-up for a crime drama that amusingly explores the cultural differences between the two Scandinavian neighbours.

If you don't stop to dump a bisected corpse, the journey between central Copenhagen and central Malmo would take about 40 minutes. It takes just 15 minutes from Kastrup, Copenhagen's international airport, but the 79 DKK (£8.70) train ticket is the cheapest means of crossing. The car toll costs more than four times that amount although better-value options are available, including the "BroPas", which has an annual fee but pays for itself after a single traverse.

The link, which opened in July 2000, has led to the promotion of the "Oresund region" – an entity with roots in history (until 1658, Malmo and the surrounding Scania region were Danish possessions) while traffic is also generated by Swedes commuting to better-paid jobs in Denmark. There are usually no passport inspections, but random custom checks take place at the bridge's one toll booth, which is on the Swedish side.

Sanna Holmquist, the head of media relations for the company operating the bridge, is herself a Swede who commutes daily to Copenhagen: "Twenty-thousand people cross in cars and trains every day," she says. "The year before it opened, the number making the crossing was just 1,500." The majority of commuters are Swedes seeking Copenhagen's better employment opportunities while some Danes took advantage of cheaper homes in Sweden, while retaining their jobs in Denmark. But "house prices have now evened out", says Holmquist.

One obstacle to further integration is the fact that both countries are outside the eurozone and retain their own currencies. "There are shops in Sweden that accept Danish currency, and vice versa, but I wouldn't count on it," says Holmquist. However, the Oresund Bridge is only one link in a transport chain that is gradually joining together not only the neighbouring countries of the western Baltic, but also Denmark itself.

What you might not fully appreciate until you visit is that Denmark is partially a nation of islands, many of which have been connected by bridges only relatively recently. Zealand, on which sits the capital, Copenhagen and nearly half the population of Denmark, has had a fixed link to Funen island, and thence to the rest of the country, only since 1998. Before then, you had to take an hour-long ferry trip across the Great Belt, as this particular stretch of the Baltic is known. The train or car journey across the 7km suspension bridge now takes only 10 minutes.

I took the train from Copenhagen – in the far east of the country – to Kolding in central Jutland, the western peninsula that points up at Norway and which constitutes the Danish "mainland". We hurtled across this large expanse of water at a speed that made me just a little nervous, with only a flimsy-looking rail between us and the icy Baltic 250m below. One of my fellow passengers, Jan, lived in Kolding, a prosperous town that is the traditional crossroads of Denmark. He told me that there is controversy locally about the latest plan to link Denmark to the rest of Europe: the Fehmarn Belt tunnel, which will join the island of Lolland in the far south-east, onwards to Zealand, Copenhagen and then Germany.

Jutland, which until now shared Denmark's only land border with Germany, fears being turned into a backwater by a project that has already had a green light from Denmark's parliament.

This, the most expensive construction project in Danish history, will begin in 2014 and is expected to be completed by 2020 – and Germany won't be paying a single euro towards it. Almost one-fifth of all Denmark's trade is conducted with its mighty southern neighbour, only 1.5 per cent of German exports go to Denmark, so economically it is one-way traffic.

Perhaps what all this joined-up transport infrastructure will ultimately mean is that while Denmark gets "smaller" (my co-passenger, Jan's word), the Oresund region is likely to get much, much larger.

Oresund Bridge: oresundsbron.com.

The Bridge starts tonight on BBC4 at 9pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor