The best and worst things about Copenhagen’s Nørreport Station

Copenhagen’s Nørreport Station has been rated one of the worst major rail terminals in Europe. Not all of our readers in Denmark agree.

The best and worst things about Copenhagen’s Nørreport Station
Nørreport in the summer. Photo: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Nørreport came close to the very bottom of the pile in a ranking by the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) of Europe's 50 largest railway stations.

The report was based on factors including facilities, how crowded platforms are, accessibility, the number of destinations and cleanliness.

Several of our readers in Denmark got in touch after reading our article on the report, to share their experiences using Denmark’s busiest station.

“Nørreport Station is designed completely differently to any other traditional station. The station only handles transport. The shops are plentiful and the options for transport to and from are also plentiful,” Dean Pattinson emailed to say.

“The (CCC) survey (is) related to traditional station design. Thus, Nørreport failed the test, because it is a clear step ahead into the future of how stations should be designed,” he explained.

Pattinson defended the design of the station and noted it had features not taken into account in the ranking.

“It has a massive throughput, yet it is so unassuming,” he wrote.

“I really thought the designer was off with the fairies in the start when I saw these futuristic structures that in the end became nothing more than 7-Eleven kiosks, and it appeared that they were installing lakes, which I thought was quite odd, so I pictured throwing coins in and the odd swan floating around, but the lakes became massive ‘bikeparks’… I'm not aware of another station of this size that disguises itself so well,” he explained.

“Instead of creating a typical monstrous and cold station building, they have created a low key meeting place for the masses. It's a transport hub which is central to where most foreigners and probably Danes meet and navigate from. The local area surrounding the station is just packed with options for food, shopping, entertainment, lakes and parks for a romantic walk or a picnic with friends,” Pattinson added.

He was not the only one of our readers in Denmark to stick up for Nørreport.

“Nørreport is great. I have lived quite close for forty years. It just gets better, clean, efficient and good atmosphere,” Amy told us via email, adding that the station is “rollicking in the weekends but not dangerous.”

“There is no lounge but there is no room for one.  Anyway, we all just get on with the business of traveling. Why lounge when you can just get on your train and go?,” she also wrote.

Others were, however, a little less complimentary.

“There is a 7-Eleven on platform 3,” Joanne Lord wrote in an email, pointing out that shops are not completely absent inside Nørreport.

READ ALSO: Is Copenhagen's Nørreport one of 'Europe's worst' rail stations?

But “it is dirty, dark, narrow and overcrowded. And the incessant smoking in an essentially indoor environment is disgusting and inexcusable. Danish pro-smoking culture encourages it,” she added.

“But, it is functional and you can get wherever you’re going,” Lord also said.

Overall, we received more praise than criticism for Nørreport.

“I must say that I'm quite satisfied with Nørreport station, as much as with (the) entire traveling system in Copenhagen,” wrote Marina, who moved to Denmark from Croatia two years ago.

“The needs of citizens are well met, and the primary function is fulfilled in full. Secondary needs like shops are completely irrelevant, considering that the transport is the item that is maximally adapted to people's needs and flexible to autoimprovement,” Marina said, adding that she had been “delighted in the way Denmark is functioning” after moving to the country.

Nørreport sees 107,800 passengers passing through every day, according to Danish Transport, Building and Housing Authority (Trafikstyrelsen) figures from 2014. 

A September 2019 report by consumer rights group Forburgerrådet Tænk found that 25 percent of passengers felt unsafe at train stations in Denmark (not just Nørreport).

More women than men had experienced feeling unsafe, with 29 percent of women experiencing this compared to 21 percent of men.

Passengers feel mostly unsafe in the evening and at night and the most frequent reason that passengers feel unsafe is the unpleasant or asocial behaviour of other people, according to the report.

ForburgerrådetTænk has also criticised poor upkeep of Danish stations.

“We can see that over the past few years, stations have been decaying rather than developing. Toilets and kiosks are closing, and maintenance is slowing in many places,” Rasmus Markussen, a political assistant with the consumer group’s Passagerpulsen section, told Politiken Byrum.

DSB Ejendomme, the arm of national rail operator DSB responsible for maintenance of the company’s property, responded to that criticism in comments made to the same media.

“We are consistently making a lot of improvements and renovations to stations, and replace glass and paint in one place or another on an ongoing basis, but it is clear that with 300 stations across the country, you will be able to find some where there is still something that needs improvement,” DSB Ejendomme’s head of station service Jørgen Dyrendal Rasmussen said.

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Copenhagen to miss 2025 zero emissions target

Copenhagen will not reach its longstanding target of becoming CO2 emissions neutral by 2025.

Cyclists on Copenhagen's
Cyclists on Copenhagen's "Lille Langebro" bridge. The Danish capital has admitted to errors in emissions calculations and says it won't be climate neutral in 2025, a long-standing target. Photo by Febiyan on Unsplash

A city councillor told newspaper Jyllands-Posten that the city, which has long stated its aim of becoming the world’s first CO2-neutral capital, would not meet that target as scheduled.

“I won’t need to stand there in 2025 and say ‘hurrah, we’re CO2 neutral’, because I know that CO2 will still be emitted (then),” elected representative Ninna Hedeager Olsen of the Copenhagen Municipality environment section told Jyllands-Posten.

Tourist board Visit Denmark has previously used the emissions goal to market the city, while Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen named the target during the C40 climate summit when it was hosted by Copenhagen in 2019.

But the municipality has included wind energy produced in other municipalities in its calculations on energy sustainability, according to the newspaper report.

This means it effectively still emits CO2 overall.

The company which supplies energy to the city, Hofor, has erected windmills in a number of municipalities outside of Copenhagen. But the electricity produced by these windmills has been used in calculations of CO2 emissions in both Copenhagen and in the municipalities in which the windmills are actually located.

The replication of the energy production in data for different locations can “rightly” be said to be “cheating the scales”, according to Hedeager Olsen.

But that is not the only problem in calculations of the city’s emissions, she also admitted.

“There are loads of things that haven’t been counted,” she said.

The goal to become climate neutral by 2025 was first set by the city in 2012 in a climate plan adopted by the city government.

Copenhagen was the following year awarded the Cities Climate Leadership award for the plan.