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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.

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TRAVEL

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

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