• The end of an era

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by trainviews
 
Yesterday marked the end of 147 years of running passenger trains on board ferries in Denmark, as the Femern connection to Germany closed down.

The first rail ferry link started operation in Denmark on the Little Belt between the island of Funen and Jutland (which is part of the European Cóntinent) in 1872. It was replaced by a bridge in the 1930's, but train ferries continued on the Great Belt until the fixed link was opened here in 1998 and until yesterday on Femern Belt between the island of Sealand (where capital Copenhagen is situated) and Germany.

The article here https://www.berlingske.dk/nyheder/dsb- ... beslutning is in Danish, but has a few interesting pictures from when the current (shorter) link was opened in 1963.

For the next 9 years or so trains from Copenhagen to Hamburg will run via the Great Belt Bridge, the Little Belt Bridge and turn south through Jutland to Hamburg. The new direct tunnel under the 18 km wide Femern Belt is supposed to be ready in 2028 and operator DSB simply thought the multiple construction projects on the connecting train lines in both Denmark and Germany would make the ferry connection too unstable. The lines are in for double tracking, electrification, curve straigtening, speed upgrades, new signal system and partly new construction, including replacement of several smaller and not so small bridges and a new alignment on much of the German side.

The travel time on the interim connection is actually a bit faster than the ferry link due to higher track standards, but it sure is nostalgic...

I have no idea if this practice of running loaded passenger trains on to ferries exist anywhere else in the world.
  by David Benton
 
Thanks TrainViews. Its hard to imagine the train ferries been missed by passengers after a few years of direct trian service.
Do you know how old the Ferries are, and what will become of them ? New Zealand will be in the market for some new rail capable Ferries, Presumably these Ferries carry road traffic and rail freight as well ?
  by trainviews
 
David Benton wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 12:56 am Thanks TrainViews. Its hard to imagine the train ferries been missed by passengers after a few years of direct trian service.
Do you know how old the Ferries are, and what will become of them ? New Zealand will be in the market for some new rail capable Ferries, Presumably these Ferries carry road traffic and rail freight as well ?
You're welcome.

The current ferries will continue on the route carrying cars until the tunnel opens in 2028. The tracks on the ferry are a groove in the deck, so it can be used as a car deck when no train is on board. The ferries themselves are of various ages, most of them originally built for the then very busy rail traffic over the Great Belt, but I believe not close to retirement either. Presumably they will be sold or utilised on other routes afterwards (The route is owned by shipping line Scandlines which is a privatized fusion of the former Danish and German Railway ferry operations which operates several cross Baltic routes)

Freight ceased to take this route when the Great Belt Bridge was opened in 1997. Even though it's a bit longer, the overland route saves all the shuffling and coupling and is much cheaper to operate. Combined with the Øresund Bridge to Sweden, that took over from the rail ferries here in 2000, this has meant a large boost to transit freight rail, even as domestic freight traffic has been in decline. So only passenger trains has used the ferry for the last couple of decades, but the ferries would certainly be capable of handling freight as they are originally built for it. As a side note, back in time many of the local ferries (we have a lot of islands) would accomodate freight rail cars too, even if there sometimes would be only a short track and a warehouse on the other side, but none of these are in operation any more.

And no - they won't be missed by the general travelling public. Once the tunnel is in place, two hours will be cut out of the Cph-Hamburg trip and that will be much more important to people than any ferry ride, however nice.

Come to think of it, the route from Sassnitz on the German island of Rügen to Trelleborg in Sweden still ferries rail cars, I think. I believe the Sleeper from Malmö to Berlin takes this route along with a substantial, though declining freight rail traffic. It has been rumoured that the operator (also Scandlines I believe) is planning to cease the train traffic and at least when the Fehmern tunnel is open it is likely to close down, for the same reason as the freight traffic ceased via ferry on the Femern route when the Great Belt bridge opened - operationally the longer route over the fixed links will be much easier. The lone seasonal sleeper train will be too little to keep the operation in place and will be routed through Denmark too.
  by ExCon90
 
I think they still have train ferries in Italy, between Reggio Calabria on the mainland and Palermo in Sicily.
  by Benny
 
ExCon90 wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 4:42 pm I think they still have train ferries in Italy, between Reggio Calabria on the mainland and Palermo in Sicily.
Correct, passenger and freight. The real starting points are Villa San Giovanni, near Reggio Calabria, and Messina.
What has been stupidly abandoned is ferrying between mainland and Sardinia.

Ciao :wink:
  by kato
 
trainviews wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:09 am Come to think of it, the route from Sassnitz on the German island of Rügen to Trelleborg in Sweden still ferries rail cars, I think. [...] It has been rumoured that the operator (also Scandlines I believe) is planning to cease the train traffic
Scandlines sold both Trelleborg <> Sassnitz and Trelleborg <> Rostock (along three other routes) to Stena in 2012, along with the three rail ferries that run these two routes alternatingly. The ships are of similar age as on Puttgarden <> Rodby.

Freight train transport is only offered on the Trelleborg <> Rostock leg by Stena since 2014. Since May this year other than normal charter freight trains there are also regular scheduled freight trains that directly use the ferry without combined-freight transloading (running Trelleborg <> Vienna). Transdev's private Berlin-Night-Express overnight passenger train between Berlin and Malmö still uses the Sassnitz <> Trelleborg ferry; it runs sporadically a couple times per week during the summer.
  by Arborwayfan
 
In another thread I have a picture of a train on this ferry, with the train taking up most of one lane of the car deck (or perhaps one of the car decks, idk) and rubber-tired vehicles around it.