Coffee and rolls return to Denmark’s trains

A refreshment service will soon return to some of Denmark’s DSB rail services.

Coffee and rolls return to Denmark’s trains
Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Rail passengers in Denmark will soon once again be able to buy a cup of coffee, a buttered roll or other light refreshments on board DSB's trains.

The national rail operator on Monday reintroduced sales on selected services between Copenhagen and Fredericia.

“We have introduced it because customers have asked for it and have done so for a long time,” said Ulrik Harms-Bauer, retail manager with DSB Kort & Godt which also operates 7-Eleven convenience stores at DSB's stations.

Passengers will be offered the service on 15 InterCityLyntog express departures.

But the new coffee service will not be as extensive as the popular sales trolley (salgsvogn) which was phased out in 2014.

Instead, store employees from 7-Eleven will carry a backpack with coffee as well as a holder in with various snacks and sandwiches.

The range of items will vary depending on whether it is morning, afternoon or evening, as well as from day to day.

“It will not be huge, there will be about ten items maximum, nothing more. So it will just be enough to stay your hunger and quench your coffee thirst,” Harms-Bauer said.

Previously, passengers could choose from about 100 different items, according to the retail manager.

Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht welcomed DSB’s decision to give meet customer requests.

“This is something I encouraged DSB to do when I took over as Minister. Can't we think a little outside the box?”, Engelbrecht said.

“I very much like taking the train. But being able to sit down on board a train with a cup of coffee is also just one of those things that make the travel experience a little better,” the minister added.

The sales trolley was previously phased out of all DSB trains because it was making a loss.

The year prior to its cancellation, in 2013, broadcaster DR reported that DSB made an annual loss of between 86 and 115 million on the service over a ten-year period.

Staff salaries, which amounted to 475,000 kroner per year, were cited as the primary cause of the deficit.

However, the decision to eliminate sales completely led to disappointment among many passengers. DSB subsequently introduced limited sales of water, marzipan bars and potato chips in 2017.

Sales staff for the new service been hired on the same terms as in 7-Eleven stores in order to “make the economy fit together,” Harms-Baur said.

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

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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