The nation's trains could travel faster between major cities, but so-called ‘extra time allowances’ often tack extra time onto a jouney. In the case of a Copenhagen to Aalborg run, the five hour and 30 minute trip could realistically be nearly 40 minutes shorter, according to a memo from transportation authority Trafikstyrelsen and obtained by Ingeniøren newspaper.
The International Railway Union (IRU) said a 13 minute pad should be more than enough to cover any delays that may occur on the Copenhagen-Aalborg route. The 12-kilometre stretch between Copenhagen’s central station and Kastrup Airport, according to the IRU, could be done five minutes faster than the 12 minutes it currently takes.
The extra travel time allowances were introduced between 2005 and 2007 to ensure the on-time record at a time when rail traffic between Aarhus and Copenhagen was plagued by temporary speed restrictions due to extensive replacement of rails.
Peter Svendsen, the head of traffic operations for Banedanmark, which is responsible for maintenance of the railway network and setting the timetables, said it only made sense to have extra time allowances built into train schedules.
“Raw travel times assume everything is exactly as it should be,” Svendsen told Ingeniøren. “Things like speed restrictions along the way and passengers moving in and out of the trains can gradually affect schedules, and the extra time allowances make sure that timetables are accurate.”
Svendsen said that without the padded times, quality of service would suffer.
“The most important service we provide to our customers is to arrive and leave on time,” Svendsen said. “That requires realistic travel allowances that take into account things like weather and equipment malfunctions.”
Svendsen said Banedanmark would cut scheduled travel times, provided the changes did not impact on-time performance.