INTRO: Staff involved in cross-border railway operation must be able to understand each others’ languages, culture, and procedures. Technology is often emphasised, but education is also of vital importance

BYLINE: Svend Poulsen

Chief Advisor Birch & Krogboe AS Consulting Engineers

WHEN THE Øresund link between Denmark and Sweden opened last year, it was essential that staff could communicate effectively. The railways of the two countries were pysically joined for the first time, and differing operating practices had to be made compatible (RG 7.00 p419). Similarities between the languages mean that Swedes and Danes can usually understand each other. However, confusion often arises, and their understanding is not good enough for a safety critical environment.

The crossing is owned equally by the Swedish and Danish states, through Øresundsbro Konsortiet. During planning and construction, the consortium set up a number of working groups. One handled the catenary interfaces with the existing railways, with representatives from Danish infrastructure owner Banestyrelsen and Sweden’s Banverket.

In October 1998 the Catenary Working Group visited the Channel Tunnel, where the working methods and ways to handle the English and French languages were discussed. The message was that procedures need to be both simple and clear.

For the Øresund link, it was agreed that operational staff would be trained at the Swedish Railway college in ??ngelholm. This already had a Swedish catenary simulator, used to train control room operators. A similar room was developed to simulate Danish overhead line control facilities, with different computers and control rights.


The Øresund link is electrified at 25 kV 50Hz, as are the electrified lines in Denmark. Swedish railways, however, use 16 kV 162/3 Hz. The interface is at Lernacken on the Swedish coast. Electrification in southern Sweden is controlled from Malm