Trains back on track, but employees still concerned

Transport minister says there are no safety problems but train drivers “fear the worst” if proposed cuts go through

As train service slowly returns to normal after this morning’s nationwide work stoppage, the Transport Ministry has downplayed concerns that proposed cuts by rail provider DSB will hurt safety. 

“The traffic safety authorities have not informed me of any problems, and would expect that they would have if there were,” the transport minister, Henrik Dam Kristensen (Socialdemokraterne), told media. 

DSB said it had not been made aware of what the employees’ complaints were, but stated that it was focusing on restoring rail service to normal after this morning’s two-hour work stoppage. 

Trains began to run again around 7:15 this morning, although delays continued to plague many passengers' morning commutes. DSB said it was putting more trains into service, but expected traffic disruptions to persist until the early afternoon. 

“We’re doing what we can to make sure that passengers see normal service again this afternoon,” Stig Friisbæk, DSB’s head of traffic operations, told the Ritzau news bureau. 

A spokesperson for railworkers’ union Dansk Jernbaneforbund said they had met to discuss safety issues. 

“It’s only a matter of time before there’s an accident,” union head Henrik Horup said in a statement. 

Horup said employees were concerned about a savings plan that would eliminate ticket takers on several routes, including the Helsingør-Copenhagen-Kastrup line. The move would leave just the train's driver to ensure that all passengers had boarded the train.

The Helsingør-Copenhagen-Kastrup line, according to train drivers, had the highest potential for accidents among the affected lines, because trains there tend to be longer than normal and the platforms are more crowded than in other parts of the country.

“We fear for the worst,” Horup told TV2 News. “We could start moving while a passenger is stuck in the door.”

Train drivers risk prison if a passenger is injured during an accident, and the employees hoped today’s work stoppage would spur DSB’s management to address their concerns about the effects of the move.

The employees said their concerns extended to a management style they felt was based on “intimidation” and “fear”.

Their complaint comes after DSB implemented a safety reporting procedure in which they compiled accident and near-accident data for each train driver from a period of over five years. The drivers were then sent letters informing them of their total number of incidents. 

The move raised concerns among employees that they were being monitored. Doing so, they said, would make them nervous and could result in more accidents. 

“This type of management will have the opposite effect, and will only increase the likelihood that we repeat any mistakes,” Horup said.

To see which trains are cancelled or delayed, vist Banedanmark's website. Click the 'Fjernbane' tab for regional trains, 'S-bane' for Copenhagen S-trains. 'Aflyst' is the Danish word for cancelled. 'Forsinket' means delayed.