Danish rail operator to offer cheaper tickets as passengers make hop to bus travel

Danmark’s national rail operator DSB is to offer new discounted fares as it feels the pinch from competition provided by intercity coach companies.

Danish rail operator to offer cheaper tickets as passengers make hop to bus travel
Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Increasing numbers of passengers are choosing buses or ride sharing services for longer distance journeys within Denmark, such as between Aarhus and Copenhagen.

That means a decreased market share for DSB, the national rail operator. The company’s annual results, published Thursday, showed a decrease in profits in 2018 by 247 million kroner, DR reports.

The dip in profits is, however, primarily related to a decrease in financial support from the state, the broadcaster writes.

Meanwhile, DSB spent 137 million kroner in 2018 providing rail replacement buses during planning maintenance works.

Nevertheless, the company has decided to launch a new type of discount ticket in order to win back passengers.

“We have lost a share of the market over the last couple of years. Competition in the form of both cheaper [shared] cars and buses has entered the market. For that reason, we are now launching a new ticket product,” DSB’s CEO Flemming Jensen said.

The rail company will offer double the number of tickets on the pre-existing Orange discount scheme, with the weekly number of such tickets rising to 120,000.

That will be supplemented by the new ticket type, Orange Fri, which will be a little more expensive than Orange tickets but will be available for all journeys and refundable until shortly before departure.

Newspaper Politiken reported that the new discount could mean a fare of 199 kroner for travel between Copenhagen and Aarhus.

Cutting prices is a wise route for DSB to take in the current market, according to Jeppe Rich, a traffic researcher at the Technical University of Denmark, who commented to DR.

“I think this is a very sensible scheme. DSB has had tough competition from the buses, which have cheap tickets. So they need to do something,” Rich said.

DSB is also planning to spend 250 million kroner renovating carpets, seat covers and head rests in its carriages, and improving Wi-Fi connections on board, DR writes.

READ ALSO: Coffee and cake sales could roll back on board Danish trains


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