Op-ed by Tom Gillesberg on

Danish maglev published in Jyllands-Posten


Copenhagen June 21, 2007 --- Today the biggest Danish daily Jyllands-Posten carried an op-ed “Thinking ahead: Maglev trains” by Tom Gillesberg, chairman of the Danish Schiller Institute.

The op-ed was a reply to a recent campaign by Jyllands-Posten for dropping the Femern Belt-bridge connecting Denmark and Germany and instead build a new Danish internal bridge – the so-called Kattegat-link – that would connect Zealand with the Jutland Peninsula. Gillesberg’s op-ed argued that we should think ahead and not only build both bridges but also include a maglev rail that would be the beginning of a Danish and international maglev net operating at speeds of 500-600 km/h.

The printing of the op-ed came the day after Jyllands-Posten featured the possibility of  a Danish maglev on their front page, but is the first time they in their print edition have allowed the Schiller Institute to present its idea of the maglev system. The op-ed was placed at their most prominent op-ed place side by side with their own editorial with a nice color picture of Tom Gillesberg, who was presented as the chairman of the Schiller Institute in Denmark.

In the middle of the op-ed the following quote from it was inserted and  highlighted with bold bigger letters: “Let’s quickly get started on building the Femern Belt-bridge and at the same time prepare the Kattegat-link, so we can start building the Kattegat project soon.“ Below is a translation of the op-ed that can be read at http://jp.dk/meninger/breve/article978177.ece. Headlines and subtitle are as in the paper. Read more on www.magnettog.dk.


Last with the old or first with the new?

Thinking ahead: Maglev trains

By Tom Gillesberg, chairman of the Schiller Institute in Denmark


The editorial “Connections” in Jyllands-Posten June 13 states, that for once Danish traffic planning should think ahead and establish a high speed train connection between Aarhus and Copenhagen via a Kattegat-link [a bridge between the Capital  island Zealand and the Jutland peninsula].

An idea, that over the last couple of weeks have been supported by the CEO of [the national Danish rail company] DSB Soren Eriksen. It is also emphasized that if the travel time between Aarhus and Copenhagen is reduced to 45 minutes it would result in a transfer of travelers from cars to the train. It is good and valid reflections.

But if we are really to think ahead, we have to go one step further and ask, if we should be the last with the old or the first with the new. Instead of applying high speed trains travelling 250-300km/h why not maglev trains that can keep a speed of 500-600 km/h? That would reduce the travelling time between Aarhus and Copenhagen to 25 minutes.

Maglev trains daily transports people from Shanghai to Shanghai Airport with a top speed of 431 km/h (500 km/h on test runs) and the next generation maglev trains will without problems reach 500-600 km/h. Japan have recently announced that the present high-speed train Shinkasen in 2025 will have been replaced with Japanese maglev trains travelling twice as fast.


Use the opportunity

Since we anyway have to build a brand new railroad line over the Kattegat-link it would be foolish not to use the opportunity to make a leap to the technology of the future. The Maglev line Aarhus-Copenhagen would then be the first part of a future national and international maglev network that would connect Denmark internally, and with Oslo and Stockholm in the North, Berlin and Hamburg in the South, and from there reach out to the rest of the World.

The use of maglev trains would reduce and in earnest outdo cars as the quickest mode of transportation. At the same time such a short travelling time would for real tie the two cities together in a way, that Malmoe and Copenhagen to an increasing degree have become after the travelling time between Copenhagen Central Station and Malmoe Central was reduced to 35 minutes [after the opening of the Oresund Bridge in 2000 connecting Denmark and Sweden]. Just with the difference, that it is now the two biggest Danish cities that are being connected, and that all the rest of Jutland also is brought a lot closer to the Capital.

When the maglev line is extended to Aalborg the travelling time between Copenhagen and the Capital of Northern Jutland is reduced to only 45 minutes. And on top the building of a maglev line is cheaper than high speed trains if you look at the total expenses to construction, maintenance and operations.


Hopefully decided

When it comes to the Femern Belt-connection I disagree with the resistance of Jyllands-Posten. The decision to build the Femern Belt [bridge] will hopefully be made in the coming weeks and if it ends up as a purely Danish project [if the Germans won’t share the financial risk] the time will come, when the Germans will bitterly regret that such a success story ended up on Danish hands.

The Femern Belt-bridge is not paid by Danish tax payers anyway, but by the users that will pay bridge tolls instead of ferry fairs. And in addition they then arrive quicker and will as time goes by pay less.


Freight the direct way

At the same time the freight traffic can go the direct way from Oresund over Femern Belt to Germany instead of being a burden the Greater Belt Bridge and the railroad network in Jutland.

Let’s quickly get started on building the Femern Belt-bridge and at the same time prepare the Kattegat-link, so we can start building the Kattegat project soon. And if we think ahead, we will build a maglev line that, just as the opening of the Greater Belt Bridge did, will mean totally new opportunities for the Danish economy.

As we told the Traffic Commission of the Danish Parliament, when the Schiller Institute presented a Danish maglev net via a Kattegat-link on April 12, you just have to make sure that it is faster, cheaper and easier to travel by train than by car. Then people will without doubt take the train.