Danes depart from Swedish overnight train plans

Denmark's national rail operator DSB has poured cold water on the prospect put forward by Sweden to expand its overnight connections to European destinations.

Danes depart from Swedish overnight train plans
A passenger on a Danish night train in 1997. File photo: Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix

Sweden has recently mooted the idea of expanding its international rail departures to increase overnight connections to European destinations.

The overnight trains would offer a climate-friendly alternative to flying to destinations such as Berlin and Paris.

But Denmark’s national operator DSB says such services would be likely to make a loss.

The company has no plans to invest in sleeping cabins, deputy CEO Aske Wieth-Knudsen told DR Nyheder.

“We’ve tried it before, and it’s precisely this type of rail service that’s hard to make profitable,” Wieth-Knudsen said.

“But we are open to working with the Swedes or others if they want to operate via Copenhagen Central Station,” he added.

“Sleeping carriages are particularly expensive to invest in, and it is something that would make a loss. That’s why DSB is not prepared to invest alone in sleeper trains to Europe. It’s just too expensive and would mean higher ticket prices,” he also told the broadcaster.

Any route from Sweden to mainland Europe would be likely to pass through Denmark via the Øresund Bridge connecting the two Scandinavian countries.

Sweden’s government has already spent 50 million kroner on feasibility studies for the potential new international services, DR writes.

Danish transport minister Benny Engelbrecht has confirmed his willingness to discuss options with Sweden regarding the proposed rail routes.

Henning Hyllested, spokesperson for transport with Denmark's left-wing Red Green Alliance party, said it was currently “very, very difficult” to travel across Europe by rail.

“Connections are slow, you have to change (train) many times, and you can’t book tickets for the entire journey. Denmark and DSB should get on the bandwagon and participate in this plan if it is possible,” he told DR.

Major political investment would be required to persuade large numbers of people to choose rail travel over flying, said Niels Melchior, an Aalborg University analyst.

“It would require large subsidies to be given to rail operations, and the cost of flying would also need to be looked at. One method here would be to increase tax on aircraft fuel,” Melchior told DR.

“It’s currently on the agenda to talk about taking the train more and flying less, and there are some groups who do it in practice. But we don’t know whether it will eventually apply to the general population,” he added. 

READ ALSO: Passenger brings Denmark-Sweden train to emergency stop after realizing he was 'going the wrong way'

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Denmark signals billion-kroner spending on new electric trains

Danish state-owned rail operator DSB is to purchase 100 electric trains at a cost of around 20 billion kroner, including maintenance costs.

Denmark signals billion-kroner spending on new electric trains
File photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

French company Alstom has won the contract to supply the trains to Denmark, DSB and transport minister Benny Engelbrecht said at a briefing on Monday.

The contract includes the option to purchase over the initial agreement for 100 trains. DSB said it expected to eventually receive 150 locomotives.

The electric trains are expected to begin operating on Denmark’s railways from 2024.

The deal comes as a result of a 2018 political which secured the replacement of the older IC4 trains, which have been the cause of a number of technical challenges during their time in service for DSB.

Ole Birk Olesen, the former transport minister who was in the post when the 2018 deal was agreed, said he does not expect such challenges with the new trains.

“Two things will make sure we avoid problems. The people who are supplying the trains are also responsible for maintenance,” Olesen said.

“That bill will not end up in the hands of Danish taxpayers. The other thing is that these are trains which already run in Europe and which have proved to be stable,” he added.

DSB has confirmed that two new maintenance centres will be built for servicing and repairing the new trains. The two workshops will be located in Copenhagen and Aarhus.

Engelbrecht noted at the briefing that the trains, which are of the type Coradia Stream, accelerate faster and have a higher top speed than the IC4 machines.

The top speed of the Coradia Stream is 200 kilometres per hour.

READ ALSO: Danish rail company reintroduces seat reservation rule