Danish transport minister Benny Engelbrecht says a proposed international fixed tunnel link between the Danish city of Helsingør and Helsingborg in Sweden is currently unworkable.
The link would cross The Øresund, a 6.7km-wide straight between the two Scandinavian countries and cost around €2.3 million including €1 million from the European Union, according to previous media reports.
Engelbrecht noted that such a project could cost Denmark around €1.9 billion (US$ 2.2 billion) but he also said he did not rule out a link in the future.
He made the comments during an interview with Danish newspaper Sjællands Nyheder.
Engelbrecht apparently caught Sweden’s infrastructure minister Tomas Eneroth off guard, according to media reports. Eneroth later said that he was surprised at Engelbrecht's statement and stresses that he wishes to continue talks with Denmark about a link between the two cities and negotiations to sort out financing for a link.
Analysis for a link was conducted by the Denmark’s national road directorate Vejdirektoratet and Sweden’s national transport administration Trafikverket. The proposal is for a combined road and rail link between Helsingør and Helsingborg.
Analysists have said that completion in 2000 of the road and rail Øresund Bridge to the south, linking Copenhagen and Malmö, lessened the importance of a Helsingør and Helsingborg ferry link but the ships still operate almost non-stop on this short route. The vessels carry man foot-passengers looking for days out in the two cities. For many drivers the ferry crossing saves driving distance compared to using The Øresund toll bridge.
Helsingør, known in English as Elsinore, has a population of around 62,000 and lies 45km from the capital Copenhagen. The city’s Kronborg castle is believed to have been the template for the setting of Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
Helsingborg, with a population of around 140,00, lies 555km to the south of the Swedish capital Stockholm.
The Øresund runs along an 8km cable-stayed bridge to an artificial island where it then enters a 4km-long tunnel. It features two 204m-high pylons supporting the 490m-long bridge span across the Flinte Channel. The motorway runs on the upper level while the railway runs underneath.
Most bridge structures including the piers and spans were built on land and towed into position on barges. Only the pylons were cast in situ. The Øresund is operated by both countries and was designed by Danish engineering firm COWI along with main architect George KS Rotne.