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Intermodal opportunities - Air-Rail for the win in the Öresund region?
Is seamless train-to-plane travel a goal? And is it an attractive opportunity for the Öresund region? And if so, who should carry out the practicalities of such a solution? These and many more issues were discussed by hosts Copenhagen Airport, DSB, SJ, Öresundståg, DB and Lufthansa.

Almost 60 participants had travelled, most by connecting public transport, some by car and only a few by plane, to Copenhagen Airport to talk about seamless transportation, especially air-rail integration. There was a large span in the participants who represented many facets of the transport sector: From business travel consumers, such as IKEA in Sweden, rail companies from Germany, Denmark and Sweden and also both Danish and Swedish transportation authorities. Many different perspectives were represented at Copenhagen Airport's conference room, overlooking the runway with its multicolored airplanes.


The venue was well chosen, many participants felt the sudden urge to jump on the next flight available. Quite a few participants had even chosen to join an exclusive tour of the old Copenhagen Airport terminal designed by the famous Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritsen. As chance has it, it so happens that the first ever flights to and from Copenhagen in the early 20th century were flights to and from Malmö and Hamburg. In those days, the planes navigated by church steeples and other geographical landmarks. To Hamburg, the plane would fly along the coast of Zealand past Køge and down to Rødby. If there was clear visibility to the coast of Germany, the plane would continue to Hamburg. If not, the passengers would have to wait a night at the inn at Rødby.


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CPH - a Nordic hub

At lot has happened since then. Copenhagen Airport now has the largest catchment area of all of the Nordic countries with 4 mio. passengers, 140 routes -including 26 intercontinental destinations coining the airport as a vital hub - and an annual growth from 2013 to 2014 of 3,1 percent. And as Henrik Peter Jørgensen, Vice-president of Copenhagen Airport pointed out, there is already a very high degree of integration with public transport. 60 % of all passengers at Copenhagen Airport arrive by public transportation. The European average is 33 %. Almost 7 mio. passengers use trains and almost 4 mio. passengers use the Metro. This is a fact that made speaker, and senior researcher Bertil Hylén, nominate Copenhagen as one of the best airports to access by public transportation in Europe. Even so, with the Danish governments "hour-plan" upgrading the services between larger Danish cities, and with the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, Copenhagen Airport can easily expand their catchment area from 4 mio. to 6 mio. passengers just by improved infrastructure to the south and east. But Copenhagen Airport have bigger fish to fry. Their ambitious plan is to almost double their business. From 24 mio. passangers per year as of today the goal is to have 40 mio. passengers. This would mean that 11, 3 mio. passengers would connect with their flight from the Airport Station, either from train or Metro. Understandably, Copenhagen Airport is extremely interested in having serious talks with the Danish government and its agencies regarding an expansion of their rail station.

 

Lufthansa- Deutsche Bahn: AIRail

German visitors, Michael Fuchs from Lufthansa and Daniel Schneider  from Deutsche Bahn had travelled 900 km from Frankfurt, to participate in the conference. Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn already have a integrated air-rail solution catering passengers from Stuttgart, Cologne and Düsseldorf to Frankfurt airport. Their premium product AIRail is a seamless, one-ticket, rail station check-in, porter-serviced rail service with designated  wagons and seats and continuous communication between train and airline. Though most popular with business  and first class travelers, this product is available to all, though at a small charge for economy flyers. Despite hard efforts for co-branding and marketing of the service, Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa had to admit  that the integration of buying the service on the respective companies' websites could cause challenges. This "hard to find" experience was one Maria Rosendahl, Route Manager at SJ could nod her head at. SJ have discontinued their attempt at an air-rail solution in cooperation with SAS, one of the reasons being the lack of knowledge of the solution with customers.

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Luggage handling

Yet another hurdle in obtaining truly seamless air-rail travel is the question of luggage handling. Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn had not yet found the complete solution due to legal complications. But it is possible for either an airline or even an airport to handle baggage outside a secured airport area, Henrik Peter Jørgensen explained. Copenhagen Airport has recently found a solution to handling baggage from the large international cruise ships docked in Copenhagen harbor. It's a question of who wants to take the task of making a sustainable business model, Jørgensen says. And that was very much one of the most conclusive agreements of the conference: It is all very good to agree on cooperation. The idea of seamless, intermodal travel is, in theory, a bonus for all involved: Airport, airlines, railway, the business community, travelers and
"society" in general. But who will take the first step? Most probably the ones who can coin the best product with the smartest business plan. So who will take the first step for Copenhagen airport and the Öresund region? We will have to keep tuned in.


Panel discussion was held by:

  • Michael Fuchs, Lufthansa
  • Daniel Scheider, Deutche Bahn
  • Susanne Koch and Lars Krogsdam, DSB
  • Marian Rosendahl, SJ
  • Gunnar Wullf, Öresundståg
  • Henrik Peter Jørgensen, Copenhagen Airport
  • Jesper Rasmussen, Trafikstyrelsen
  • Ola Ohlson, IKEA Sweden
  • Henrik Madsen, Region Hovedstaden
  • Moderator: Mikael Stamming, Region Skåne

 

By Anine Asklund