A star lineup met in Copenhagen to take action on making rail services ready for the Fehmarn fixed link – deadline is 2015!

Photo: Esben Zøllner Olesen

Work Package Leader Sten Hansen started the seminar making the findings of the Green STRING Corridor Project crystal clear - and making them the premises for the day's seminar: Travel time from Hamburg to Copenhagen in 2 hours 15 minutes is possible by train making rail transport competitive with both car and air. As he stated: "With double tracks all the way it will be possible to combine direct trains with regional trains connecting all the cities between the two metropolitan areas."


See Sten Hansens presentation here


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Photo: Esben Zøllner Olesen

So are rail  services from Öresund to Hamburg an attractive scenario for the operators?

A round table discussion left no doubt. Ove Dahl Kristensen, Vice president at  DSB, Björn Westerberg, Director for Strategy at SJ, and Bernhard Wewers CEO of LVS  Schleswig-Holstein all agreed: They believed in the market for a service running from Hamburg to Malmö - and they agreed it should offer at least an  hourly InterCity option.

As Ove Dahl Kristensen said: "I am  positive about the possibility of a service from Hamburg to Malmö. We have a  very positive dialogue with our German Partners DB and I think there is a good  possibility that DB will agree. For us the timetable coordination across local, regional and national services is important. We already have an optimal mix  integrating fast regional traffic with ICE. So - now that we are electrifying  the railway line from Copenhagen via Fehmarn Belt to Hamburg and investing a  lot of money in it - let's use it! I believe we can make a minimum of hourly express services between Copenhagen and Hamburg so connecting with regional we  might even make 30 minute service."

See DSB's presentation here

CEO Bernhard Wewers of LVS Schleswig-Holstein agreed. "There is  definitely a market. But where, and when, do you start the planning? That is  the question. In Germany we have a very complicated system - tendering is
highly complicated. We call it "The spaghetti system" - and negotiating between  federal and regional levels is not easy. Previously we used to start by  building the tracks, buying the trains and then planning the timetable. Now we  try to do it the other way around. When it comes to a service from Schleswig-Holstein, we need to find a mix. Competition for Public Transportation Authorities is a  goal to reach in itself because it means lesser subsidiaries. But let's not  forget how to market and communicate such a product. We need to keep on
thinking about how to make people choose public transportation in general."

A specially invited guest with much relevant experience to share was Erwin Kastberger of  the Austrian National Railways (ÖBB). The ÖBB have experienced both success and  challenges with their two corridor services through Germany, Austria, Italy and  Hungary. His points were simple and to the point:

"You have  to take freight, long distance and regional services into consideration. Find a  timetable that works. Don't make specialized infrastructure, no special  standards or rules. Use well known standards unless you want to meet barriers.  Don't make the infrastructure fee too expensive because if you do you will have  to subsidize the fare - and this creates a subsidizing competition between the subsidizing of the tunnel and the train service. But the means are all from the same public finances. Split the risk and let the operators run the business of running the service", was the experienced advise of Kastberger.


See the presentation of the ÖBB corridor serviced here


Björn Westerberg agreed with Kastberger on the risks of over-subsidizing. "You have  to think carefully about creating a level playing field. You can't fill the tracks with subsidized regional services. You definitely need the right mix with room for commercial players - or in our case Limited Liability Companies. This also connects with the level of deregulation. Deregulation makes room for a more fierce competition - not cooperation. In Sweden we already have a global player in the field MTR from Hong Kong who already run the Metro in Stockholm.
Maybe they will be the ones to run a Scania-Hamburg service?" he asked to stir some debate.


See SJ's  presentation here

The politicians and professional organizations agreed that the Fehmarn Fixed Link will be a "game changing investment" as Jacob Vestergaard of the STRING Political Network coined it.

Mikael Stamming, Director of Regional Development in Region Scania, pointed out that after ten years with the Öresund Bridge the investment already has payed off several times over in terms of benefits for society in the two countries. He had high hopes for a scientific research and business cluster around the ESS (The European Spallation Source) in Lund and DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) in Hamburg. But he also warned as seeing Hamburg as "Germany" and pointed out that we need faster and better service also to Berlin from Hamburg.


Jacob Svane of The Confederation of Danish Industry Transport Section seconded that opinion and pleaded not to make Hamburg a new bottleneck. In a larger strategic framework we need to look further than Hamburg. He also added that Denmark has come out smiling from two large infrastructure projects; Sweden has come out smiling from one. Germany still has to experience that positive feeling!

The concluding remarks from the project manager of Green STRING Corridor, Leif Gjesing Hansen, were that it does take a very long time and a great deal of coordination to prepare cross border services. And the deadline that rang true with all the participants was that 2015 should be the working deadline for starting up the needed cooperation and design of a cross border train service. All speakers agreed upon, that decision makers and operator need to get ready - and need to meet again also with a pro-active participation of national authorities.


The seminar was co-hosted by The Danish Society of Transport Economics (TØF) and Deloitte Consulting


By Anine Asklund


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Photo: Esben Zøllner Olesen



Further information:

See the  presentation on the experiences from the Öresund Bridge and Ôresund trains here


See the presentation on the Rail Travel Market between Öresund and the Hamburg region here

See the presentation on the Customer preferences Göteborg-Malmö-Copenhagen here