Longer trains and the modal split in freight transport
Why is the Danish modal split so small? How come the percentage of rail freight isn't larger, considering the massive infrastructure investments in rail?

Gottfried Eymer from DB Schenker Rail Scandinavia asked the relevant and purposely provocative questions - all in a friendly manner - at a round table discussion held at the Danish Transport Authority (Trafikstyrelsen). The overall question was "High Capacity Freight trains"  is there a market for this in the STRING corridor Öresund - Hamburg ?" Not an easy question to answer conclusively but the track to answering the questions led us in interesting directions.


Mr. Eymer's questions were relevant for the Danish representatives at the round table. When comparing to Austria, all be it that Austria is almost double the size and population of Denmark, yet still a "small" European country, Denmark only has a modal split of 13 % freight on rail against 87 % on road. In Austria the split is 43 % rail against 57 % road. You say you are a green country, and environmentally friendliness is a part of your countries brand. The why not change the ratio of the modal split? Sooner than later!


There is a window of opportunity now. With the EU Coordinators in place who have money in their pockets they are now able to push some investments in cross-border infrastructure.

Which investments make the most sense to carry out now? What is the most cost/effective way of improving competitiveness?

These were some of the questions put forward by the moderator of the roundtable Professor Per Homann Jespersen from Roskilde University.


Some of the conclusions of the roundtable were:


- Bilateral agreements between Sweden, Denmark and Germany seems the best way forward instead of trying to harmonize all of the TEN-T ScanMed corridor.
- Longer freight trains (740-> 835 -> 1000 m) is a high priority for the stakeholders. German experiences on this issue are useful.
- In Sweden, Malmö can be the starting point for longer trains, followed lather by other lines in Skåne, to Göteborg and lastly Hallsberg in a coordinated plan.
- Higher trains are attractive for at roll-on/roll-off intermodal concept (4,83 m).  This can be facilitated by the Fehmarn tunnel and the Öresund bridge, but a study is needed to identify costs on the German respectively the Danish hinterland connections. Lübeck seems to be a natural ending point for a Scandinavian high train profile.
- Wide trains (complying with Swedish C-profile) are interesting for conventional wagon load traffic and even passenger rail. But this is more costly to establish. A study on the costs is needed.
- There are other more important harmonisation issues that could lower the costs for rail freight: Harmonised braking rules in the 3 countries and coordinated planning of major track works
- The safety authorities of the 3 countries should be brought together to discuss harmonised standards



 1.000 meters for the EU is no big deal compared to 2 - 3.000 meters ind the US. 


Anders Ekmark


Bo-Lennart Nelldal

KTH Railway Group

Gottfried Eymer

DB Schenker Rail Scandinavia A/S

Hans Ege


Johnny Restrup-Sørensen

Femern A/S

Jörgen Westerdahl

Malmö Kombiterminal

Leopold Malmqvist


Marianne Jakobsen


Michael Schultz-Wildelau

DB Netz AG

Nicolai Brix

DSV Rail Department

Per Homann Jespersen


Rolf Sundqvist


Sandrina Lohse

Region Sjælland

Sten Hansen

Region Skåne

Thomas Rosenørn-Dohn


Tobias Behncke 


Tomas Arvidsson


By Anine Asklund