Audience with the minister for transportation Magnus Heunicke 20.1. 2015

D. 20 January 2015, the Council for Sustainable Traffic had an audience with the Minister of Transport. The first point is about the night train. This background paper is presented to the Minister and his officials. The original pdf document is here. The wording is as follows with minor adjustments:

Night trains and other international trains from Denmark southwards

The essence of our message to the Minister of Transport is:
  • Air traffic should be limited and competition between planes and trains must be fair
  • Night trains are an important contribution to long distance transportation from Denmark to south of the line Bremen-Hanover-Berlin
  • The night train had lots of passengers, and perhaps an annual occupancy rate of 65%
  • There was an excellent economy in the night train
  • The night train must be included into the new state agreement with DSB, regardless of which foreign partners who are willing to restore it together with DSB

Reasons for Night trains to be maintained / reintroduced

Environmental Benefits of train counterweight / alternative to polluting planes.

Customer base

With 185,000 Danish travelers in the night train in 2013 and perhaps another 35,000 south of the border the night train was not a bad business compared to other train services. International trains were on the contrary the cheapest of all trains in Denmark. The night train came under fire because it as the only drove one was regarded as "free trafic".

The Transport Minister pronounced himself on Twitter at. 22 d. 2.11.: Is the Germans' decision to stop overnight train. We were looking to continue - and was ready to cover the deficit in DK. Too bad.

Danish Parliament's Environment Committee and Transportation Committee v / Lone Loklindt received 2.11. 9,000 signatures against the dismantling of the night train. It was hereby the largest European protest petition.

..// Train route Accounts 2012 (Pia Olsen Dyhr 16.10. 2012)

..// Occupancy night train in 2013, see the pdf of the spreadsheet

Night trains had a customer base with a higher occupancy rate of the day trains. You get rested up in the morning and have a full day ahead of you. It was an important long-distance train, ie further away than Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover and Berlin. With the end of the night train disappeared around half of total rail passenger traffic from Denmark further away than the northern Germany. The customer base will even grow with the Fehmarn Link in 2021, when there will be shorter traveling time from Copenhagen / Sealand also on longer European distances. Lapse of night train is a big win for air traffic. The many passengers now converted to the aircrafts can be difficult to get back. In addition, for many years there has hardly any marketing of the night train.

..// Own calculations of passengers to the South, see the pdf of the spreadsheet


In the "Danish" night trains it was possible to bring bikes (and from Hamburg even private cars on other night trains). These options are about to fall away.

Night trains and high speed day trains are not contradictory, but complementary. Currently, long train driving time to Hamburg is a barrier, where many passengers will turn away from trains, when the night train is gone. To catch a night train with change in Hamburg is also excellent, but is a weak alternative today due to a bad schedule. From 2021 becomes Zealand really connected to the European high-speed network; but it is a long time to wait!

DB will in due time get rid of all not supported passenger traffic / service, except for long distance IC and ICE traffic, ie away with night train, car transport trains and restaurant / bistro operation. It is the subject of a hearing in the German Bundestag on 14.1. 2014 and there is also a hearing in the European Parliament. DB's decision to discontinue the night train is not an established fact if there is political will in this matter. Silence and distorted figures belonged to DB's agenda.

..// Die Welt, 10.13. 2014, at the address

..// Danish Transport Minister's reply to question 1006:

Policy options for improving the situation of European cross-border passenger train

Taxes on air travel, so there will be fair competition. As long as it is not possible, the international passenger trains should be compensated for unfair competition, such as the following ways:

Include night train into the contract with DSB and thus reintroduce the night train from Denmark to a variety of destinations from the next timetable. Need not be the same model as the last, but it can take place in cooperation with Swedish and German authorities!

If there should be a lack of cooperation alone with DB, there are opportunities in Sweden. It requires the removal of technical / bureaucratic barriers to run loco-hauled passenger trains across the Oresund Link. Copenhagen can in a transition period with track work on Funen (or before 2021) run night trains via Malmö to Berlin / Munich / Basel. If DSB and DB would not, maybe VEOLIA or others might run it?

Can the "old" route be restored, it must be ensured that the Night trains also can carry local passengers in the evening and morning hours in two reserved (couchette) cars through Denmark; it gives better economy - and is more logical. Couchette cars can later in the evening draw German passengers from Padborg, Flensburg, Neumünster and Hamburg.

Support / cheap loans to new generations of night train stock.

EU rules

EU rules hamper international trains. Both day trains as night trains. Rules for tenders, contracts and not least the so-called "Free Traffic", has led to individual countries only care about domestic driving. Only in exceptional border regions as the Øresund, cross-border regional trains are run on public contract. In long-distance traffic, individual countries have introduced their own separate high-speed system with special national train types. Previously there were common standards for rolling stock, which included the so-called Euro City trains, which today are only a few ones. Some operators do compete for cross-border rail traffic instead of cooperate. This is especially true where there is free traffic. There should be common rules for international passenger trains like the case for freight trains. And active cross boarder cooperation between national operators. We must ensure against that operators are viewing competition with neighboring countries' operators as more important than cooperation to present good passenger-products.

..// Great new report (paste in google): UIC Study Night Trains 2.0

..// Why it's all that difficult:

..// New Polish trains can not cross borders:

Charges for the use of railways and bridges

Lowering distance charges for international passenger trains, both in Denmark and abroad.

..// Order on charging for the use of the state's rail network and on environmental subsidies for rail freight:

..// Notice of infrastructure charges, etc. the state's rail network:

Removing CO2 taxes for electric trains, to the extent that they are already actually running on green power. Germany, for example, unfortunately has VAT on train services. On the contrary there should be - as for freight trains - an environmental subsidy.

Other matters

Timetables and capacity via Hamburg is to be improved. The long waits at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof should be reduced by better planning, and by change of train to the remaining night trains there must be ensured enough space (hard to book tickets today).

Ensure that the upcoming infrastructure improvements must also be accompanied by passenger trains on the new rails. When overhead wires from Fredericia to Aarhus are in place we suggest (new) electric IC train to run from Aarhus to Hamburg in 2-hour intervals, performed as Danish state contract in cooperation with the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Electrical IC train from Copenhagen to Hamburg in a similar manner from 2021. There is a huge potential for these routes.

Launching an analysis work to find a solution for both short and long term. A working group be established with the involvement of all stakeholders.

We have access to some figures, but they are not detailed enough to figure out the real economy, just as some figures are highly variable over the years. It is necessary with additional numbers for both costs and revenues. Also figures for rail charges and their impact on the overall economy. How is the real competition of aircraft and buses, including climate change?

Scenarios for future international trains:

Across Fehmarn:

Day trains:

Copenhagen - Hamburg (- Berlin) as today, but more departures and customized connections further south in Hamburg, including night train from Hamburg.

Aarhus - Hamburg (- Berlin) as today, but more departures. In cooperation with Schleswig-Holstein.

Night trains:

Via Malmö to Berlin, probably not easy, as it requires new locomotives and cars.

As before, but with the same (two-system-) locomotives (found in Germany) across the border as well as shorter driving times. Including local passengers within Denmark.

After Fehmarn:

Day trains:

Fast trains Stockholm - Hamburg and Copenhagen - more destinations in the middle of Germany. With few stops.

Interregional trains Copenhagen - Hamburg with stops as today's trains. In cooperation with Schleswig-Holstein.

Interregional took Aarhus - Hamburg as today, but more departures. In cooperation with Schleswig-Holstein.

Night trains:

As before via Funen and Jutland, but with the same (two-system-) locomotives (found in Germany) across the border as well as shorter driving times. Including local passengers within Denmark.

Also a new night train Stockholm - Copenhagen - southern Germany and neighboring countries via the new Fehmarn tunnel. Departure late evening from Copenhagen.