Train traffic resumes on Great Belt Bridge after fatal accident

Trains are again running across the Great Belt Fixed Link between Zealand and Funen after services connecting Danish regions were brought to a standstill by a fatal accident on Wednesday.

Train traffic resumes on Great Belt Bridge after fatal accident
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Rail operations authority Banedanmark confirmed that services would resume following the crash Wednesday morning, in which a passenger train collided with objects fallen from a passing freight train. Eight people lost their lives.

The train crash, which occurred during poor weather conditions resulting from Storm Alfrida, resulted in damage to overhead lines, delaying reopening of the line.

InterCity regional trains would be the first to use the line before the faster, express Lyntog services are given the go-ahead to resume services across the Great Belt, national operator DSB tweeted.

Freight trains have also been permitted to use the line again with one track having reopened on Thursday morning and the second scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Both freight and passenger trains will be required to travel at reduced speeds on a section of the line, Banedanmark said.

Wednesday’s accident saw eight people lose their lives and 16 injured, two of which remain in hospital in non-life threatening condition. The accident was the most devastating train crash in Denmark since 1988.

The Danish Maritime Investigation Board (Havarikommissionen) is investigating the accident along with Funen Police.

Rail connections continued to be affected by the accident into Thursday, with trains between Copenhagen and Esbjerg cancelled and InterCity and express Lyntog trains not crossing the bridge and replacement bus services filling in.

READ ALSO: Death toll rises to eight in Danish Great Belt Bridge train accident


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