The Øresund or Öresund Bridge (, , joint hybrid name: Øresundsbron) is a combined twin-track railway and dual carriageway bridge-tunnel across the Øresund strait.
The bridge connects Sweden and Denmark, and it is the longest road and rail bridge in Europe. The Øresund Bridge also connects two major Metropolitan Areas: those of the Danish capital city of Copenhagen and the major Swedish city of Malmö. Furthermore, the Øresund Bridge connects the road network of Scandinavia with those of Central and Western Europe.
The international European route E20 crosses this bridge-tunnel via the road, and the Öresund Railway Line uses the railway. The construction of the Great Belt Fixed Link – which connects Zealand to Funen and thence to the Jutland Peninsula – and the Øresund Bridge have connected Western and Central Europe to Scandinavia. The Øresund Bridge was designed by the Danish architectural practice Dissing+Weitling.
The justification for the additional expenditure and complexity related to digging a tunnel for part of the way – rather than simply raising that section of the bridge – was to avoid interfering with airliners from the nearby Copenhagen International Airport, and also to provide a clear channel for ships in good weather or bad, and to prevent ice floes from blocking the strait. The Øresund Bridge crosses the border between Denmark and Sweden, but in accordance with the Schengen Agreement and the Nordic Passport Union, there are usually no passport inspections. There are random customs checks at the entrance toll booths for entering Sweden, but not for entering Denmark.
The Øresund Bridge received the 2002 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award.
In Sweden and Denmark the bridge is most often referred to as Öresundsbron and Øresundsbroen, respectively. The bridge company itself insists on Øresundsbron, a compromise between the two languages. This symbolises a common cultural identity for the region, with some of the people considering themselves "Öresund citizens" once the Øresund Bridge was completed. Since the crossing is actually composed of a bridge, one artificial island, and a tunnel, it is sometimes called the "Öresund Link" or the "Öresund Connection" (Danish: Øresundsforbindelsen, Swedish: Öresundsförbindelsen).
The phrase The Sound Bridge is occasionally heard, using the historic English name for the strait.
The construction of the Øresund Bridge began in 1995, and was finished 14 August 1999. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden met midway across the bridge-tunnel to celebrate its completion on 14 August 1999. Its official dedication took place on 1 July 2000, with Queen Margrethe II, and King Carl XVI Gustaf as the host and hostess of the ceremony. The bridge-tunnel was opened for public traffic later that day. On 12 June 2000, two weeks before the dedication, 79,871 runners competed in a half marathon (, ; the Bridge Run) from Amager, Denmark, to Skåne, Sweden.
In spite of two schedule setbacks – the discovery of 16 unexploded World War II bombs lying on the seafloor and an inadvertently skewed tunnel segment – the bridge-tunnel was finished three months ahead of schedule.
Initially, the crossing was not used as much as expected, probably because of the high tolls. Since 2005, there has been a rapid increase in traffic. This may have been caused by Danes buying homes in Sweden – to take advantage of lower housing prices in Malmö – and commuting to work in Denmark. In 2008, to cross by car cost DKK 295, SEK 325, or € 36.30, although discounts up to 75% are available for regular users. In 2007, almost 25 million people travelled over the Øresund Bridge: 15.2 million by car and bus, and 9.6 million by train. By 2009, the figure had risen to a total of 35.6 million travellers by car, coach or train.
At 7845 m, the bridge covers half the distance between Sweden and the Danish island of Amager, the border between the two countries being located 5.3 km from the Swedish end. The structure has a mass of 82,000 tonnes and supports two railway tracks beneath four road lanes in a horizontal girder extending along the entire length of the bridge. On both approaches to the three cable-stayed bridge sections, the girder is supported every 140 m by concrete piers. The two pairs of free-standing cable supporting towers are 204 m high allowing shipping 57 m of head room under the main span. Even so, most ship's captains prefer to pass through the unobstructed Drogden Strait above the Drogden Tunnel. Its 491 m cable-stayed main span is the longest of this type in the world. A girder and cable-stayed design was chosen to provide the rigidity necessary to carry heavy rail traffic, and also to resist large accumulations of ice.
The bridge joins the Drogden tunnel on the artificial island christened Peberholm (Pepper Islet). The Danes chose the name to complement the natural island of Saltholm (salt islet) just to the north. They also made Peberholm a designated nature reserve. Built from Swedish rock and the soil dredged up during the bridge and tunnel construction, Peberholm is approximately 4 km long, with an average width of 500 m. It is also 65 ft tall.
The connection between the artificial island of Peberholm and the artificial peninsula at Kastrup on Amager island – the nearest populated part of Denmark – is through the Drogden Tunnel (Drogdentunnelen). The 4050 m long tunnel comprises a 3510 m undersea tube tunnel plus 270 m entry tunnels at each end. The tube tunnel is made from 20 prefabricated reinforced concrete segments – the most massive in the world at 55,000 tonnes each – interconnected in a trench dug in the seabed. Two tubes in the tunnel carry railway tracks; two more carry roads while a small fifth tube is provided for emergencies. The tubes are arranged side by side.
The public transport rail system is operated jointly by the Swedish SJ and the Danish via DSBFirst on a commission by Skånetrafiken and other county traffic companies (that also sell tickets) and the Danish transport agency. A series of new dual-voltage trains were developed which link the Copenhagen area with Malmö and southern Sweden as far as Gothenburg and Kalmar on selected schedules. SJ operate the X2000 and InterCity trains over the bridge with connections to Gothenburg and Stockholm. DSB operate trains to Ystad that connect directly to a ferry to Bornholm. Copenhagen Airport at Kastrup is served by its own train station close to the western bridgehead. Trains operate every 20 minutes over the crossing and once an hour during the night in both directions. An additional couple of Øresundstrains are operated at rush hour, and 1–2 per hour and direction SJ trains and DSB trains every other hour. Freight trains also use the crossing.
The rail section is double track standard gauge (1435 mm; 4 ft 8 in) and capable of high-speeds up to 200 km/h, but slower in Denmark, especially in the tunnel section. There were challenges related to the difference in electrification and signalling between the Danish and Swedish railway networks. The solution chosen is to switch the electrical system, from Swedish 15 kV, 16.7 Hz to Danish 25 kV, 50 Hz AC right before the eastern bridgehead at Lernacken in Sweden. The line is signalled according to the standard Swedish system across the length of the bridge. On Peberholm, the line switches to Danish signalling which continues into the tunnel. Sweden runs railways with left-hand traffic and Denmark with right-hand traffic. Initially, the switch is made at the Malmö Central Station, which was a terminus at that time. To enable through-running trains after the 2010 inauguration of the Malmö City Tunnel connection, a flyover have been built north of Malmö (in Burlöv) that passes the two tracks heading north under the two south-bound. The railway network in Malmö thus uses the Danish standard.
The cost for the entire Øresund Connection construction, including motorway and railway connections on land, was calculated at DKK 30.1 billion (~US$5.7bn) according to the 2000 year price index, with the cost of the bridge paid back by 2035. In 2006 Sweden began spending a further SEK 9.45 billion on the Malmö City Tunnel as a new rail connection to the bridge; completed in December 2010.
The connection will be entirely user financed. The owner company is owned half by the Danish government and half by the Swedish government. This owner company has taken loans guaranteed by the governments to finance the connection, and the user fees are the only incomes for the company. After the increase in traffic, these fees are enough to pay the interest and begin paying back the loans, which is expected to take about 30 years.
The tax payers have not paid for the bridge and the tunnel. However, tax money has been used for the land connections. Especially on the Danish side, the land connection has domestic benefit, mainly connecting the airport to the railway network. The Malmö City Tunnel has the benefit of connecting the southern part of the inner city to the rail network and allowing many more trains to and from Malmö.
In June 2011, the toll for driving the fixed link was as follows (one way trip without discount) in Danish kroner (DKK), Swedish kronor (SEK) and euro (EUR):
|Vehicle||DKK<ref name="DKK"/>||SEK<ref name="SEK"/>||EUR<ref name="EUR"/>|
|Minibus (6–9 metres)||590||720||80|
|Bus (longer than 9 metres)||1450||1750||199|
|Lorry/truck (9–20 metres)||1010||1220||138|
|Lorry/truck (over 20 metres)||1515||1830||207|
- Oresund Region
- Great Belt Fixed Link
- List of bridge-tunnels
- Official website
- Live traffic flow on the bridge (java).
- Øresund bridge project information from Road Traffic Technology
- Video celebrating 10 years of the Bridge
- Impossible Bridges: The Øresund Bridge (National Geographic television channel documentary, 2006)