DENMARK is currently spending several billion kroner on its national ERTMS project, extending electrification, and building its first section of high-speed railway, but this could soon be joined by the so-called Train Fund DK project which calls for an investment of DKr 28.5bn ($US 5bn) to shrink journey times to just one hour between major city pairs.

Train Fund DK seeks to tap into North Sea oil revenues and use the funds to develop the rail network. The proposal was first published by the government in March. In early September the transport minister, Mrs Pia Olsen Dyhr, went on a whistlestop tour of Danish cities to update them on the proposal and hear their reactions to it.

A political agreement on the various proposed infrastructure elements in Train Fund DK is expected to be reached this autumn. This will pave the way for environmental and planning studies which will take until 2015 to complete. Finally, the necessary legal framework will have to be agreed in the Danish parliament, which should take approximately six months. It is envisaged that the revenue raised from the new tax will be levied until 2042.

DenmarkThe government has identified three new sections of double-track line with speeds of up to 250km/h that will need to be built to achieve the desired journey time reductions:

• a 35km section from Odense to a point to the east of Middlefart cutting 6.5 minutes off journey times at an estimated cost of DKr 4.9bn

• a 9km link across Vejle fjord including a 3km bridge costing a total of around DKr 4.3bn and saving 8.5 minutes, and

• a 23km line costing about DKr 3.4bn from Hovegård to the south of Århus saving a further 6 minutes.

In addition, Train Fund DK calls for sections of the Fredericia - Århus - Aalborg main line to be upgraded to increase the maximum speed where possible to between 160 and 200km/h. The work between Fredericia and Århus will cost about DKr 1bn.

Electrification will be extended beyond the current programme involving 550km of lines between now and 2021. This will cover the rest of the main lines in Jutland from Fredericia north to Frederikshavn as well as to the northwestern town of Struer, plus the Roskilde - Kalundborg line in eastern Denmark.

Improvements may be required to stations to extend platforms depending on the length of train which it is decided to operate. Although it is too early to fix exact numbers, a considerable number of electric trains will need to be acquired.

Construction of the 60km line between Copenhagen, Køge North and Ringsted, which has a maximum speed of up to 250km/h, started this year.

This DKr 10.4bn scheme is due to be completed in 2018 and will make a 58-minute journey time between the capital and Odense possible. This compares with a current time of 1h 15min. Under Train Fund DK the journey times between Odense and Århus and from there to Aalborg will each be cut to 1 hour to achieve a 3-hour Copenhagen - Aalborg trip time, a saving of 1h 15min over current timings. Copenhagen - Esbjerg will be reduced from 2h 55min to just 2 hours. The Copenhagen - Esbjerg journey time reduction is achieved at no extra cost because of the new sections of line between Copenhagen and Middlefart.

Three non-stop high-speed trains per hour are proposed from Copenhagen to Odense, with one going to Esbjerg, one serving intermediate stations to Århus, and the third running non-stop to Århus and then going north to Randers and Aalborg. This is in addition to inter-city and regional services.

Train Fund DK is forecast to generate an internal rate-of-return of 5.4%. Of the traffic that the one-hour model generates, around 25% is expected to come from car traffic. The combined effects of using the full model are that approximately 9 million hours will be saved per year compared with today's situation.

Denmark's national railway has seen a remarkable turnaround during the last few years, when a lack of investment almost brought the network to its knees with a spate of broken rails and unreliable signalling. Danish politicians now clearly recognise the important role which the railway can play in the national economy and are willing to invest serious money in it.