News in Digest: Debacle that keeps on getting worse

Long-awaited train purchase confirmation followed by “ridiculous” revelation regarding new electric power cabling system

The Danes are used to bad news regarding their trains, and the June 19 accident at a barrier-free level crossing in southwest Jutland that killed two people was a reminder of the imperfections in the system.

And few will forget the ill-fated IC4 train that was supposed to be national railway company DSB’s new workhorse to replace the outdated IC3.

Plagued by technical problems, the IC4 never really came into service properly and IC3s are still running as a stop-gap.

Finally good news?
So it was welcome news earlier this month when a majority in Parliament gave the go-ahead for a long-planned purchase of new electric locomotives costing around 11 billion kroner.

DSB is now ready to tender for the contracts for a minimum of 100 locomotives, which could start to be phased in at the beginning of 2024.

Additionally, funding is in place to buy between 40 and 56 trains to replace the existing fleet of 113 double-deckers.

Tested in Hungary
So far, so good, but now it would appear track operator Banedanmark has already ordered a new electric power cabling system from Siemens, and it’s not good news.

The system has only been properly tested on a 4 km stretch of railway in Hungary, reports Ingeniøren.

No other countries have dared to sign contracts for it as yet, and a number of experts are surprised that once again Denmark is prepared to be a ‘guinea pig’ when it comes to new technology after the debacle of the IC4 train.

There have also been severe problems with the new ERTMS signalling system, or which a standard has been chosen that no other country uses in the same way.

Let the crap work
Tommy Jensen, who has previously lectured on electrification at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), told Ingeniøren that he expects Siemens will solve the problems along the way, but is surprised that Banedenmark has chosen a new system without testing it first.

“Denmark is going to act as a test-bed for Siemens’ new system. I don’t think that politicians in their wildest dreams had imagined that we were going to play host for experiments with electrification,” said Jensen.

“This is absolutely ridiculous and especially grotesque because for several years now we’ve been saying that the Danish railway system should not be subject to more experiments,” said Enhedslisten’s transport spokesperson, Henning Hyllested.

“It’s certainly also taken me by surprise,” added Kim Christiansen, the spokesperson for Dansk Folkeparti. “I couldn’t care less how they put the cabling up – as long as the crap works.”

The Transport Ministry has commissioned an independent report into the project that should be finished by October.