Copenhagen commuters stranded by S-Train delays

Passengers travelling to Copenhagen to begin their working week have experienced severe delays as drivers met over labour terms.

Copenhagen commuters stranded by S-Train delays
A halted S-Train at Copenhagen Central Station. Photo: Uffe Weng/Ritzau Scanpix

Many in Copenhagen may have experienced difficulty arriving on time for work as a result of the union meeting of S-Train drivers, which was scheduled for 7am on Monday, Ritzau writes.

The meeting is a step in ongoing negotiations over a new labour agreement for the regional train drivers.

The drivers are reported to be unhappy with terms currently on offer, while national rail operator DSB considers the meeting an interruption to drivers’ normal work in breach of employment terms.

DSB’s head of information Tony Bispeskov said early on Monday that the extent of the delays was uncertain.

“Service is very irregular, so it is important for our customers to stay updated via our website and,” Bispeskov told Ritzau.

“We will update both when we know more about what is happening,” he added.

S-Trains were stationary in a number of places, according to a message posted by DSB on its website on Monday. 350,000 people use the overground local trains daily, according to the operator.

Monday’s industrial action comes after a breakdown in negotiations between DSB and rail workers’ union Dansk Jernbaneforbund over a new labour agreement.

Train drivers are reported to be upset at DSB’s intention to reduce union representation in the negotiation structure from 99 to 29 members, according to an article posted on the union’s website on November 2nd.

That will reduce the ability of train drivers to influence labour agreements including in relation to work conditions and holiday, the union argues.

READ MORE: Labour disputes in Denmark


Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany