INTRO: Specially-built trains are spearheading the development of local passenger services across the Øresund link. Danish State Railways and Swedish State Railways have pooled their resources with the aim of growing the business to 4·8 million passengers a year by 2005

BYLINE: Bjørn Wahlsten

Head of Passenger DivisionDanish State Railways

INTEGRATING the passenger services of two national railways was never going to be easy. Danish State Railways and Swedish State Railways began work on this challenging task in 1991 after the two governments signed an agreement to build the Øresund Fixed Link in March that year. The agreement expressed the wish to ’create improved communications between the two countries and thus create the prerequisites for increased and extended cultural and economic co-operation and for the development of a joint labour and housing market in the Øresund Region for the benefit of both countries.’

Construction of the link was entrusted to the joint Danish-Swedish company Øresundskonsortiet, whose goal was to build and operate the fixed link for road and rail traffic from coast to coast. National companies were in charge of constructing the approach links on each shore.

Owing to differences in the process for obtaining approval to acquire land and start construction, the Danish link between central København and the city’s airport at Kastrup was commissioned in September 1998, well ahead of the July 2000 opening of the international link.

As soon as the government agreement was signed, DSB and SJ began the task of planning the integration of rail services for the Øresund Region. Closely related to this objective was the development of a common design of train to handle traffic across the link.

Integrated service planning

The starting point was to meet customers’ expectations. A critical need was an integrated train service with fares and ticketing allowing customers to buy just one ticket to travel from an Øresund Region town in Sweden to an equivalent location in Denmark and vice versa.

It has not been as simple as it sounds. Denmark and Sweden remain two independent countries, and even though we have been good neighbours for several hundred years, many facets of life have developed differently. The two railways were no exception. For example, they use different power supplies and signalling systems (p424) and there are also large differences in terms of fares and fare structures.

After negotiations and discussions, on September 15 1999 DSB signed a general agreement with SJ covering train services across the Øresund after July 1 2000. Included in the agreement is a commitment to provide a regional train service every 20min in both directions between Malm