Our future is abroad

Posted: 15 May 2009 | | No comments yet

Karsten Røn Andersen shares his vision for 20% of Danish State Railways’ turnover to be earned outside Denmark, and the role DSBFirst will play in achieving this.

Karsten Røn Andersen shares his vision for 20% of Danish State Railways' turnover to be earned outside Denmark, and the role DSBFirst will play in achieving this.

The goal for DSB (Danish State Railways) is that in the future 20% of our turnover shall be earned abroad – outside Denmark. The new company, DSBFirst, is an important step in reaching this goal.

On 11 January 2009, the first great border crossing passenger operation in Northern Europe, run by one single operator, started in the Øresund region covering the heavy passenger traffic in the greater Copenhagen area and the Malmoe region in southwestern Sweden. The winner was a new company – DSBFirst – a joint venture between DSB (70%) and Scotland based FirstGroup (30%). As of now, DSBFirst is the dominating operator of passenger trains in southern Sweden.

After fierce competition, the tender from the Danish authority Trafikstyrelsen and the Swedish authority Skånetrafiken, was won by Danish-Scottish joint-venture DSBFirst. Among the other bidders were Arriva Scandinavia, SJ AB (The Swedish State Railways) and DB Regio AG. After the authorities had given the tender to DSBFirst, SJ AB appealed the decision to the legal system – without success.

DSBFirst is operating the Danish-Swedish traffic in the Swedish company Ôresundstrafiken AB and the Danish company Kystbanen A/S. A Swedish holding company, DSB Sverige AB, is operating the Roslagsbanan operation in the Greater Stockholm area. The Øresund traffic is now running from Elsinore in the north on the Danish side, through Greater Copenhagen via the Øresund Bridge to Malmoe, and further on north via Helsingborg to Gothenburg in western Sweden and Karlskrona and Kalmar on the eastern coast of Sweden to the Baltic Sea. DSB now have two good contracts covering passenger traffic in Sweden – The Øresund Traffic and the Roslagsbanan in Stockholm.

We are well established in Sweden. Next year the total of Sweden’s passenger traffic will be open for all bidders. Until now, SJ AB (the Swedish State Railways) has been given exclusive traffic rights for the passenger traffic between Stockholm and Gothenburg, between Stockholm and Malmoe and in other relations. At present, DSBFirst is running the traffic between Copenhagen and Gothenburg in competition with SJ AB. A lot of interesting tenders are now in progress. We have delivered our bid for Västtrafik in Gothenburg. Västtrafik covers several lines connected at Gothenburg Central station in northern, eastern and southern directions. SJ AB has refused to participate in this competition. Other tenders are coming up – the Krösatåg operation in the Småland area including passenger trains between the west and the east coast is another interesting project for DSBFirst, who now has a depot in Gothenburg.

The traffic in southern Sweden is developing rapidly. The frequency and quality of this traffic has resulted in a substantial increase in passenger volume. The local authorities, especially on the Swedish side of the Øresund, are having success with developing this traffic. Old lines are being rebuilt, new lines are being built – among others the several billion GBP project is building an entirely new line underground Malmoe from the Øresund bridge to Malmoe Central station. The actual growth rate in passenger volume was 27% from 2007 to 2008.

Our aim at DSBFirst is that the passengers will not need a timetable – there will always be a train at the platform…frequency is a matter of quality. We also have an internet based information system giving real-time traffic information. The issues are punctuality, reliability and quality in travel. Therefore the trains must be precise, clean and there should be a seat for all passengers. In the future, there will be opportunities for better mobile telephone conditions onboard the trains, possibility for wireless internet access, TV-monitors with entertainment and traffic information etc.

But travel does not only consist of trains. Many of the stations served by the Øresund trains have been rebuilt in cooperation with the subcontractor 7-Eleven operating the shops at the railway stations on the Danish side of the Sound. At present, approximately 200,000 customers are boarding the trains operated by DSBFirst every day in Denmark and in Sweden. The largest part of these is between Elsinore and Copenhagen, between Copenhagen and Malmoe/Lund and between Malmoe and Helsingborg. The international airport Copenhagen-Kastrup is served by DSBFirst trains from both the Danish and the Swedish side. The airport is serving most of Denmark and on the Swedish side the Skåne-Blekinge region.

DSBFirst is currently operating the Øresund traffic with approximately 850 employees running 85 electrical train sets (EMUs) and serving 52 stations in Sweden and Denmark. The contract with the Danish and the Swedish authorities runs to the end of 2015 with an option for a further two years. The contract has a value of approximately DKK 7 billion. If DSBFirst delivers a better performance than specified in the contract with the Danish and Swedish authorities, it can earn a further net payment up to 3 million GBP a year as a premium. Punctuality and reliability are top priorities for the authorities on both sides of Øresund.

However, DSBFirst is not alone on the rails in southern Sweden. On some lines, DSBFirst’s trains share the rails with local trains operated by Arriva Scandinavia, trains from SJ AB and other operators. On the Danish side of the Sound, DSB is the only passenger train operator on the Danish rails, except for a few DSB operated trains between Copenhagen Central Station and The International Airport, Kastrup.

For some time, DSB has been active in bidding for tenders outside of Denmark. The subsidiary DSB International has participated in bidding in Sweden, Norway, UK and Germany. In the coming years, there will be a lot of tenders in Sweden and in Germany.

DSB is only active as an operator of passenger trains. Within the Danish domestic market, DSB is the largest operator. Other operators are Arriva Scandinavia A/S running passenger trains in the western part of Jutland and the former private railways still operating local passenger trains on own infrastructure.

The EU-initiated liberalisation of the Danish railway market is a little bit special, as DSB owns the railway stations and Banedanmark owns the tracks, signaling etc. In Sweden, the tracks are owned by Banverket and the stations owned by Jernhusen – both fully state owned agencies.

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