Denmark opens first high-speed rail line, but commuters must wait for faster journeys

A rail connection which will allow transport at up to 250 kilometres per hour between Copenhagen and Ringsted was opened on Friday.

Denmark opens first high-speed rail line, but commuters must wait for faster journeys
Photo: Martin Sylvest / Ritzau Scanpix

Crown Prince Frederik was guest of honour as the new high-speed rail track was opened by national rail infrastructure company Banedanmark.

The new line, named Ringstedbanen (the Ringsted Line) connects Ny Ellebjerg in Copenhagen to Ringsted via a new station at Køge North, bypassing the normal route through Høje-Taastrup.

The track has been built to enable high-speed trains which can travel at up to 250 kilometres per hour, although such trains will not be used on the line initially, with operator DSB instead using existing trains at increased speeds.

High-speed rail (HSR) will be possible on the new line in future, however.

Those hoping for expedited commuting times should probably hold off before getting on board with any excitement, as peak travel times between Ringsted and Copenhagen will initially remain unchanged.

But a new timetable to be introduced in December this year will see trains travelling at higher speeds on the line, cutting the journey by five minutes. Journey times between Copenhagen and Næstved will be shortened by up to nine minutes.

The main benefit of the new line will be a reduction in delays, Banedanmark director Per Jacobsen said.

“This will make the railway to and from Copenhagen more efficient and robust. The new track will help us improve the timetable, increase departures and reduce delays,” Jacobsen said in a press statement.

The speed limit on railways in Denmark is normally 180 kilometres per hour.

The new railway was approved by parliament in 2009 and construction of the track and new station began in 2010. Total costs for the project are over nine billion kroner.

READ ALSO: 'Help make us greener': Danish rail operator to passengers

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Denmark offers cheap trains and free ferries to boost domestic tourism

Denmark's government has announced plans to once again heavily subsidise train, buses and ferries across Denmark to boost domestic tourism this summer.

Denmark offers cheap trains and free ferries to boost domestic tourism
A ferry leaves Kulhuse harbour on the way to Sølager. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

As part of a 1.65bn kroner “summer package” agreed by a broad majority of parliamentary parties, the government is bringing back a scheme through which ferry operators will offer free trips to Denmark’s smaller islands, and also between Bornholm and the Swedish city of Ystad for cyclists, pedestrians and handicapped drivers.

“There is no doubt that last year’s free ferry journeys were a great success,” Benny Engelbrecht, Denmark’s Minister of Transport, said in a press release. “Over a million passengers took advantage of the offer last summer, and I am therefore satisfied that the parties to the agreement have agreed to offer Danes those opportunities again this year.” 

Unlike in last year’s summer package, ferry operators will be able to decide which departures are free, which is aimed at ensuring that the ferries do not become so crowded that the local islanders cannot travel. 

The government is also bringing back the popular Travel Pass or Rejsepas, which will be valid between June 27th and August 9th, and will allow holders unlimited travel on DSB and Arriva trains, and on buses, metro services, local rail and light rail across the country. 

The pass will cost 399 kroner for adults and 199 kroner for those between the ages of 12 and 15 years old. According to a press release from the Ministry of Transport, 66,000 Travel Passes will be issued.’

The package was agreed between the Social Democratic government, its support parties the Social Liberal Party, Socialist Left Party and Red-Green Alliance, and with the opposition Liberal, Danish People’s Party, Conservative Party and the Alternativet party. 

Restaurants will also be able to apply for grants of up to 35,000 kroner to provide discounts or hold activities to attract tourists.