New tunnel, new tracks – what about the service?
When the Fehmarn Belt link opens in 2021 – or a little later – there will be a four-lane motorway all the way from Hamburg to Malmö. So put roughly, the road transportation has got it cove red. The railway infrastructure on the other hand, is a more complex situation. There is still some uncertainty regarding the standards of speed on the German side. However, the major challenge is in fact the lacking of organisation of the cross-border railway service. What good are new tracks and a tunnel, if no one has coordinated the actual running of the rail services across the national borders between Germany, Denmark and Sweden?
2 ½ hours Copenhagen-Hamburg
The fact is that despite huge investments in infrastructure, as of now no attention has been paid to how the full benefits of the infrastructure investment should be capitalised. An attractive rail service between the metropolitan areas in the STRING region and the cities in between is crucial to boost economic development, increase competitiveness of the railway and thereby reduce the environmental impacts of transport. This is why the STRING partners adapted the “Copenhagen Declaration” in September 2014 with the overall goal that the transport time between Hamburg and Copenhagen should not exceed 2,5 hours in 2021, when the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel opens.
Who shall buy the trains? Who is going to run them? Who can use the tracks and when? These issues must be solved at 2016 at the very latest. And a joint German-Danish-Swedish plan for the service must be made in order to make the necessary investments. Without such a plan, the rail service will not be ready at the opening of the Fixed Link. As the responsibility for railway services differs between public and commercial in Germany, Sweden and Denmark, organisation and coordination is paramount.
What is the solution?
The new report “Roadmap for an attractive passenger rail service Öresund-Hamburg” suggests that a joint German-Danish-Swedish service plan must be created by the responsible parties to form the basis for investments and communicating the future travel possibilities to the public. The relevant Public Transport Authorities and the railway companies are: LVS Schleswig-Holstein and the Ministry of Transport in Copenhagen (DSB) and for long-distance service, Deutsche Bahn, DSB and SJ in Sweden.
The Ministers of Transports in the three countries must set up the framework for this planning procedure and invite the parties to start a joint corridor planning. STRING will work towards informing the three Transport Ministries of with the intent of the pressing need for a framework for the planning procedure around the railway services and invite the parties to start a joint corridor planning, the proposed “Rail Traffic Planning Forum”.
The report was handed over to the Swedish, Danish and German Transport Ministries at the Parliamentarian Evening of the 25th of March 2015 in Berlin. More from then evening here.