The rail transport system in Denmark
consists of 2,644 km of railway lines, of which only the Copenhagen S-train
network and the main line Helsingør
(at the German
border) are electrified. Most traffic is passenger trains, although there is considerable transit goods traffic between Sweden
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 Railion, 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.
is in charge of 2,323 km of railway lines, which do not include the lines controlled by private railways. All Danish railways are standard gauge
(1,435 mm), with the exception of a few narrow gauge
museum railways; 1,000 mm gauge was previously common on branch lines, with 700 mm 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; 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.
General-purpose electric propulsion was adopted quite recently in Denmark; the political decision to electrify
the main lines was made in 1979. The first line to be electrified was Copenhagen
, electrified in 1986, followed by the main line across Zealand
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
, and from there to Padborg
and the German
border. 25 kV AC at 50 Hz is better from technical point of view. However, both Sweden and Germany use 15 kV
at 16 2/3 Hz
, and the multisystem 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 much more well-known product among the manufacturers. At least the routes Fredericia-Ålborg and Kolding-Esbjerg must be electrifed in order to run electric passenger trains between Jutland and Copenhagen.
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.
Connection to foreign countries by rail
Connections to Sweden
involve the SJ
and via Malmö
Connections to Germany and Switzerland involve a DSB train, which is put onto a ferry and arrives in Germany in Fehmarn and then proceeds via Lübeck to Hamburg (Vogelfluglinie) and the NachtZug leaving from Hagen, Munich, Zürich and Amsterdam and arriving in Copenhagen at 10 am cutting through mainland Denmark.