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Author Topic: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"  (Read 348 times)

cpzilliacus

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Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« on: September 03, 2019, 02:08:09 PM »

Dagen H ("Day R") was the day that Sweden switched from driving on the left to driving on the right. 

It was accomplished at 5 AM on a Sunday morning, when all traffic stopped at 4:45 AM, and then carefully crossed over to the right, and and resumed at 5 on the right.

BBC has an excellent story of the planning and traffic engineering that went into this giant project (Sweden has a land area similar to California).

A ‘thrilling’ mission to get the Swedish to change overnight
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Stephane Dumas

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2019, 03:45:42 PM »

It could be interesting to wonder what if Sweden continued to be RHD?

And I spotted some photos showing the automobile landscape during "Dagen H". https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2013/08/29/sweden-1967/
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2019, 03:30:54 PM »

It could be interesting to wonder what if Sweden continued to be RHD?

It would have made for real problems at the border with Norway where the E6 motorway crosses between the two nations (in 1967 it was a busy arterial highway).  The E18 highway is partly arterial and partly motorway, and also crosses the border, and has (by Nordic standards) pretty high traffic volumes and might have caused problems too (because Norway is not in the EU there have to be customs and immigration controls at the border between Sweden and Norway).

It would likely have been a bigger problem at the border with Denmark, where the E20 motorway (Øresund Bridge-Tunnel (opened 2000)) touches down in Sweden.  To this day, the Swedish railroad network runs "on the left" and on the Swedish side of the bridge tunnel there is an "X" track crossover for trains to switch from left-hand running to right-hand running when leaving Sweden and entering Denmark.  Since the last time I looked at it, it appears that the switch of sides has been moved back from the Swedish side further inland.

The Stockholm Metro system also continues to run on the left though I have heard that they could switch to right-side running of the trains quite easily, though all of the signs (for patrons) in the stations would need to be modified or at least moved to the opposite side track and there are 100 subway stations, so that's not cheap,

As regards RHD, well before 1967, most Swedish cars were LHD because the market was sufficiently small that it was easier for the car companies (including SAAB and Volvo) to just build LHD cars.  To the extent there were RHD cars, they came from Great Britain.   The dominant use of LHD cars was one of the biggest motivators by the Government of Sweden to switch to right-side operation on the highways. 

What did not make the switch was the streetcar network in Stockholm.  A decision was made to scrap the streetcars and switch to Diesel-powered transit buses, since keeping the streetcars meant reconstructing them to have doors on the right (ironically, some Swedish RHD transit buses were rebuilt to put doors on the right and the steering wheel on the left). Two suburban lines in Stockholm used a different type of streetcar that had doors on both sides, and those likes have continued to operate, and are still there today.   A downtown line that followed one of the old lines was revived about 1990 at great expense, and even runs a few preserved units with doors on the left side, but those cars must skip stops that only have provision from boarding and alighting on the right side (there are a few stops that were deliberately designed and engineered to allow boarding and alighting from the left or the right side).

And I spotted some photos showing the automobile landscape during "Dagen H". https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2013/08/29/sweden-1967/

These appear to be genuine photos of Stockholm on Dagen H.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 12:54:47 PM by cpzilliacus »
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vdeane

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2019, 08:38:01 PM »

Those pictures sure look bright (and the street quite busy) for 4:45 AM!
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2019, 09:19:45 PM »

Those pictures sure look bright (and the street quite busy) for 4:45 AM!

Sunrise this time of year in Stockholm is about 5:45 AM.  Remember that because it is pretty far north, light on the eastern horizon starts to appear well before that.  Nautical twilight starts at about 4:08 AM local time so there was ambient light available between 4:45 AM (when all cars driving on the left were to pull to the left curb or shoulder and STOP, then carefully move across to the right side and STOP, and then continue on their way on the right at 5:00 AM).  The 5:00 AM timing was precisely announced on national radio so everyone started driving on the right at the same time.

The number of people out was probably because many persons realized the conversion to right-hand running was a one-of-a-kind experience, so many pedestrians were out in urbanized areas like downtown Stockholm to watch this happen.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 09:27:06 PM by cpzilliacus »
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riiga

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2019, 04:37:57 PM »

Also remember there was no DST back then, so the sun rose at 4:45 rather than 5:45.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2019, 05:18:34 PM »

Also remember there was no DST back then, so the sun rose at 4:45 rather than 5:45.

I am quite familiar with Sweden (I speak the language) but I have NO CLUE about when DST was implemented in Sweden.
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Duke87

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2019, 06:52:48 PM »

Okay so this is interesting. I have seen these photos (or ones like them) before, but I never considered/did not realize they might be of the moment the changeover was happening.

I'd always assumed they were taken in the middle of the day, and that they simply depicted a bunch of confused drivers forgetting they were supposed to be driving on the other side of the road from what they were used to.
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GenExpwy

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2019, 02:55:47 AM »

Also remember there was no DST back then, so the sun rose at 4:45 rather than 5:45.

I am quite familiar with Sweden (I speak the language) but I have NO CLUE about when DST was implemented in Sweden.

According to the Olson database (tzdata file), Sweden used DST once, in 1916, then started again in 1980.
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mgk920

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Re: Sweden - 52 years after "Dagen H"
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2019, 10:49:12 AM »

I note that the first image in the site linked by Stephane includes a clock that shows a local time of 04:52.

Mike
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