Direct Aarhus-Hamburg rail connection to stop in 2024

A direct rail connection between Hamburg and Denmark’s second-largest city Aarhus will not be available in 2024 due to modernisation of the tracks on the Danish section of the route.

Direct Aarhus-Hamburg rail connection to stop in 2024
Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) in 2020. A direct rail connection with Danish city Aarhus will be paused from 2024. Photo by Sven Masuhr on Unsplash

The operator of Denmark’s rail network, Banedanmark, will carry out work to install electric power on its tracks from 2024.

That means passengers travelling between Aarhus and Germany will have to change trains at Kolding in southern Denmark, newspaper Politiken reports.

Denmark’s national rail company DSB will therefore not offer a direct route from Aarhus to Hamburg from next year. The affected section of track runs between Aarhus and Fredericia, where the line branches for northbound destinations in Jutland and the route east across the island of Funen towards Copenhagen.

DSB’s head of information Tony Bispeskov admitted in comments to Politiken that the works will make the route less convenient for passengers.

“We certainly recognise that passengers prefer to sit down the whole way,” he said.

There are currently two direct connections daily between Aarhus and Hamburg. The journey takes 4 hours and 24 minutes. Bispeskov said the journey time would not be extended by the change of train during the route.

“In terms of journey time it’s the same. But there will be a change from one platform to another,” he said.

In addition to the two current direct connections, passengers from Aarhus going to Germany can select other departures that already require a change at Kolding to join services coming from Copenhagen. That will continue to be the case next year.

The ongoing works involve rebuilding of bridges and placing electricity supply masts in the ground, Politiken writes.

Banedanmark says it expects to complete electrification of the Fredericia-Aarhus section by late 2026. The direct connection will return once the works are complete.

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‘A game changer’: Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

Industry associations representing airlines have called on European authorities to plan a “public communications campaign” to alert non-EU nationals about new requirements to enter and exit the Schengen area.

'A game changer': Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the biometric data (finger prints and facial recognition) of non-EU citizens travelling for short stays to the Schengen area (EU countries minus Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), each time they cross the external borders.

Fully digital, the system will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. The data collected will be kept in a centralised database shared among the Schengen countries.

The EES was created to tighten up border security and will ensure the enforcement of the 90-day limit in any 180-day period for tourists and visitors. But it requires changes in the infrastructure at the external borders, including airports, and the setting up of a new digital infrastructure to connect authorities in participating countries.

Its entry into operation has already been delayed several times. The latest date for the EES launch was May this year, but last week European authorities decided to postpone it again “due to delays from the contractors”. It is now expected to enter into force at the end of 2023, as The Local reported this week.

Airline associations including European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the delay and said further preparations are needed.

“The EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions,” a joint statement says.

Things to be resolved include a “wider adoption and effective implementation of automation at national border crossing points by national authorities, funding by member states to ensure a sufficient number of trained staff and resources are deployed to manage the EU’s external border, particularly at airports,” and the “deployment of sufficient resources” to help airports and airlines with new procedures.

Airlines also said there needs to be a public communications campaign to inform non-EU citizens about the changes.

In addition, industry groups called on EU-LISA, the agency responsible for managing the system, to “strengthen communication” with airlines and with international partners such as the US “to ensure IT systems are connected and compatible.”

The decision to postpone the EES entry into operation until after the summer “will give airlines, airports and EU and national authorities the opportunity to resolve these issues and ensure the system is fully tested,” the statement continues.

The EU-LISA is currently preparing a revised timeline for the launch, which will be presented for approval at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the meeting of responsible EU ministers, in March 2023.

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.