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Austria stops Hungary trains

September 10, 2015

Austria has suspended train services from Hungary as it struggles to cope with overcrowding at train stations. As the European Parliament backed a plan to distribute refugees, some EU states voiced opposition.

Wien Österreich Flüchtlinge Zug Bahnhof
Image: DW/Ben Knight

The Austrian national rail operator OeBB said in a statement on Thursday that it was temporarily halting train services from Hungary because of "massive overburdening."

OeBB appealed for humanitarian volunteers and bus companies not to bring more refugees to train stations, stating that it was no longer possible to manage.

The company said domestic services would continue to run from Nickelsdorf - the main border crossing into Austria from Hungary for migrants seeking to travel on to other countries such as Germany.

Austrian police said some 3,700 people had crossed the border from Hungary overnight, many being taken to stations in Vienna.

Denmark lets through refugees

Danish train operator DSB said trains to and from Germany, which were suspended on Wednesday, would start running again on Thursday. Danish police said they were letting refugees travel freely towards Sweden.

"We can't hold foreigners who don't want to seek asylum" in Denmark, national police chief Jens Henrik Hojbjerg said.

The decision to allow migrants to travel through Denmark to Sweden was criticized by the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who said all countries needed to follow EU asylum rules.

Hungary said its armed forces were taking part in exercises to prepare to guard the border and assist police in controlling the flow of migrants. Defense Minister Istvan Simicsko on Thursday said some 2,000 soldiers were being trained. Over 3,300 people had entered Hungary in just 24 hours, according to Hungarian police on Thursday, with the country considering a state of crisis over the migrant numbers entering.

EU lawmakers vote for resettlement

Meanwhile, the European Parliament backed the plan of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to distribute 160,000 refugees in Hungary, Greece and Italy across other member states.

Juncker said Europe had a historic duty to act and relocate the refugees. The support of the legislature had been expected, but the measures would also need to backing of EM member states, many of which are opposed.

Romania's president, Klaus Iohannis, said there was "no way" his country would accept the extra number of migrants the European Commission has proposed. Romania has been asked to take some 6,300 people after initially agreeing to accept just under 2,000.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliamentarians in London on Thursday that the measure would be counterproductive.

"If all the focus is on redistributing quotas of refugees around Europe, that won't solve the problem, and it actually sends a message that it is a good idea to get on a boat and make that perilous journey," said Cameron.

Britain, Ireland and Denmark are not legally bound to take part in the redistribution scheme, while Greece, Italy and Hungary are too overwhelmed to participate.

rc/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)