Rail transport in Denmark

Rail transport in Denmark
DSB IC3.jpg
National railway DSB
Infrastructure company Banedanmark
Major operators DSB
DB Schenker Rail
Passenger km 6.353 billion
Freight 1.779 billion tkm
System length
Total 2,667 km (1,657 mi)
(2008 data)[3]
Double track 946 km (588 mi)[3]
Electrified 640 km (400 mi)[3]
Freight only 112 km (70 mi)[3]
Main 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
25 kV AC 50 Hz 450 km (280 mi)[3]
1650 V DC 169 km (105 mi)[3]
750 V DC 21 km (13 mi)[3]
No. stations 547[3]

Denmark Railways 2006 Elektrification.JPG
Active lines of the Danish railway network with electrified main lines (blue) and S-train lines (red). The Copenhagen Metro is not shown.

Three rail tracks 350.jpg
Rail transport
Rolling stock
By country


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The rail transport system in Denmark consists of about 2,600 km of railway lines,[4] of which only the Copenhagen S-train network and the main line Helsingør-Copenhagen-Padborg (at the German border) are electrified. Most traffic is passenger trains,[5] although there is considerable transit goods traffic between Sweden and Germany.

Maintenance work on most Danish railway lines is done by Banedanmark, a state-owned company that also allocates tracks for train operators. The majority of passenger trains are operated by DSB, with Arriva operating on some lines in Jutland. Goods transport is mainly performed by DB Schenker Rail, although other operators take care of a significant portion of the non-transit traffic.

Denmark is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). The UIC Country Code for Denmark is 86.



Banedanmark is in charge of 2,132 km of railway lines,[5] which do not include the lines controlled by private railways. All Danish railways are 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (standard gauge), with the exception of a few narrow gauge museum railways; 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge was previously common on branch lines, with 700 mm (2 ft 3 916 in) being prevalent on industry railways, such as those for transporting sugar beets. The narrow gauge lines generally disappeared during the 1950s and 60s.

The maximum speed allowed on main lines is generally 180 km/h, with less trafficked lines usually allowing between 75 and 120 km/h;[6] the speed may be lowered in places due to the condition of the track. While wooden sleepers are used on sidings and branch lines, concrete sleepers are the norm on all main lines; the common two-block concrete sleepers are now being phased out in favour of monoblock ones.

The age of the tracks in Banedanmark's network has become increasingly problematic in later years. A 2002/03 analysis of Banestyrelsen's (now Banedanmark) network states that the average age of the track is too high, with a present average age of 24 years compared to the recommended 20 years.[7]


General-purpose electric propulsion was adopted quite recently in Denmark; the political decision to electrify the main lines was made in 1979.[8] The first line to be electrified was Copenhagen–Elsinore, electrified in 1986, followed by the main line across Zealand, Funen and South Jutland in the 1980s–90s. On the main lines that are equipped with them, the overhead lines carry 25 kV AC at 50 Hz. The system is used on the main line from Sweden through Copenhagen to Fredericia, and from there to Padborg and the German border.[9] 25 kV AC at 50 Hz is better from technical point of view. However, both Sweden and Germany use 15 kV at 1623 Hz, and the multi-system class EG goods locomotive is equipped for both 25 and 15 kV.

The S-train network in Copenhagen operates at 1650 V DC, supplied from overhead lines; the Copenhagen Metro uses 750 V DC, supplied from a third rail.

Since there are heavy delays (several years) with the construction of the new diesel multiple unit IC4, many debators argue that it is better to electrify major railways and purchase electric multiple units instead, since that is a more common product. At least the routes Fredericia-Ålborg and Kolding-Esbjerg must be electrifed in order to run electric passenger trains between Jutland and Copenhagen. The government has in 2009 decided to delay all electrification for several years until the new signal system ERTMS is introduced, since electrification earlier than that requires rebuilding of the existing signal system.[10]

Safety and signalling

Main lines were equipped with the ATC safety system during the 1990s, with a partial, cheaper implementation, ATC train stop, being used on some (but not all) branch lines. A different system, HKT, which was introduced in 1975 and utilises cab signalling, is used on the S-train network, although a simplified version, "forenklet HKT" (F-HKT), is used on some of the lines.[11]

In order to replace the different and ageing signal systems,[12] it has been decided to replace all current signal systems on Banedanmark's active network, except the S-train lines, with ERTMS level 2, relying entirely on cab signalling; general rollout is scheduled for 2018–21.[13] The S-train network is set to be refitted with a suitable urban rail system, possibly a CBTC system allowing driverless trains, by 2020.[13]

Connection to adjacent countries by rail

Connections to Sweden use the Oresund Railway across Oresund Bridge and are SJ's X 2000 service to Stockholm, or frequent Oresundtrain commuter services to Malmö Central Station and beyond.

There are 3 connection to Germany. At the Vogelfluglinie route, EuroCity and ICE uses the train ferry from Rødby (Denmark) to Puttgarden on the island of Fehmarn (Germany), at this point the train proceeds via Lübeck and Hamburg to Berlin. At Padborg ICE, Intercity and regional trains continues to Berlin via Hamburg. Also EuroNight and CityNightLine trains cross at Padborg, connecting Amsterdam via Cologne, Basel via Frankfurt and Munich via Nürnberg.[14] The last crossing is between Tønder and Süderlügum connecting to Niebüll.[15]

See also


  1. ^ "BANE21: Rail transport of passengers by unit and type of transport.". StatBank Denmark. Statistics Denmark. http://www.statistikbanken.dk/. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  2. ^ "BANE1: Rail transport of goods by unit, type of transport and railway system.". StatBank Denmark. Statistics Denmark. http://www.statistikbanken.dk/. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "BANE41: Railway network 1st January by railway system and unit". StatBank Denmark. Statistics Denmark. http://www.statistikbanken.dk/. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  4. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook -- Denmark". CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/da.html#Trans. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  5. ^ a b "Jernbanen i tal". Banedanmark. http://www.bane.dk/visArtikel.asp?artikelID=136. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  6. ^ For details, see the map at "Kort over jernbanenettet - Maksimal hastighed", Banedanmark. (PDF file available.)
  7. ^ See "Analyse af Banestyrelsens sporanlæg - resume" (p. 2), Banestyrelsen. (PDF format.)
  8. ^ Koed, Jan (1997). Danmarks Jernbaner i 150 år. Forlaget Kunst & Kultur. p. 203. ISBN 87 7600 199-7. 
  9. ^ For details, see the map at "Kort over jernbanenettet - Strækninger med el-drift", Banedanmark. (Includes map of the S-train network; PDF file available.)
  10. ^ Transportminister: Glem alt om flere elektriske tog de næste 12 år
  11. ^ For details, see the map at "Kort over jernbanenettet - HKT togkontrol", Banedanmark. (PDF file available.)
  12. ^ "Totaludskiftning af signalanlæggene - hvorfor?". Banedanmark. http://www.bane.dk/visArtikel.asp?artikelID=7441. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  13. ^ a b "The Signalling Programme". Banedanmark. http://uk.bane.dk/db/filarkiv/5579/090216_BDK_UKbrochure_www.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  14. ^ http://www.dsb.dk/Global/PDF/Koereplaner/International/International_Koereplan20jun_11dec_2010.pdf
  15. ^ http://www.neg-niebuell.de/

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