Despite political uproar, IC4 trains are here to stay

Banking on diesel trains instead of electric trains years ago has come back to bite Denmark hard in the caboose

Less than a week after the final IC4 train arrived from Italy ten years late, some politicians are already clamouring for the scandal-ridden trains to be scrapped.

Andreas Steenberg, the traffic spokesperson for government coalition party Radikale, said that the IC4s should be taken off the rails and electric trains should be used instead, arguing that they pollute less and actually work.

“They should have done it 20 years ago," Steenberg told DR Nyheder. "Now that the government is investing in the railway network itself, I think we should get DSB to invest in some trains that function.” 

A long and unhappy affair
The IC4 trains have been creating problems since 2000, when national rail operator DSB purchased the 83-train set from Italian producers Ansaldobreda. DSB still owes the Italians four billion kroner for the trains, which have experienced issues from day one.

Kristian Pihl Lorentzen, Venstre’s traffic spokesperson, wants to cut half of the IC4 trains because they have clearly failed in their mission to be the foundation of the nation’s train infrastructure.

“The IC4 trains are a scandal and we have to clean up the mess and find out how many we need,” Lorentzen told DR Nyheder. “We don’t want to spend any more money upgrading all the IC4s, but should rather just upgrade a few until we can get electric trains in.”

IC4s here to stay … for now
The transport minister, Pia Olsen Dyhr (Socialistisk Folkeparti) said it was unrealistic to shelve the IC4s. That position was backed up by Alex Landex, a traffic researcher at the Technical University of Denmark, who argued that the problem stems from Denmark hedging its bets on diesel trains years ago.

”We already lack seats on the railways and it will take years before we can get some new trains running, so it’s hard to scrap the IC4 trains now,” Landex said. “We get electricity on just 30 percent of our rail network and the lack of political will for electrifying the Danish rail network means that we’ve been forced to buy diesel trains.”

Landex contended that dropping the IC4s would result in slower train connections and less options for passengers.

Just yesterday, the government presented its future rail strategy, which includes electrifying stretches of the Danish rail system. In addition to aiming to increase the use of electric trains, the plan hopes to see the travel time between the nation's largest cities significantly shortened by 2025.