The company began selling tickets for the Hamburg service on April 27th, and plans to run sleeper trains now every day until May next year, with the service subsidised by Sweden’s government.
However, the company has failed to get approval from Denmark’s rail authority either for its more luxurious sleeper carriages (sovvagn), or for standard seating carriages (sittvagn), meaning the first trains will initially run with only three of more basic couchette carriages (liggvagn), which consist of cabins with six fold-down bunk beds.
The train will also run without a bistro restaurant, although there will be a shop where passengers can buy drinks and snacks.
“When we hired the carriages, we hired them as ‘accepted for traffic in Europe’, including Denmark and Germany, and we could never have predicted that Denmark would have interpreted a new EU directive as they did, meaning they cannot give us permission,” Jonas Olsson, a press spokesperson for SJ, told The Local.
As a result, those who booked trips in the sleeper carriages (which have three more comfortable beds) have had their tickets cancelled, SJ announced in a press release last week.
According to Olsson, the Danish Airports and Railways Authority (Transportsstyrelsen) had informed SJ of the problem at the start of the summer, but the rail company had hoped to overcome the obstacle in negotiations with the Danish authority and ERA, the EU’s rail authority.
Olsson said that the carriages SJ had hired from Germany were accepted for travel in Europe, including Denmark, but that the Danes had then claimed that a new EU law meant they did not have the right to approve the carriages.
Micke Keysendal, who booked a place in a sleeping carriage back in April, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper that he felt SJ should have informed him as soon as the problems became apparent.
“I had to find out for myself that my booking was no longer valid,” he told the newspaper. “It feels very sad to miss the train, but, most of all, SJ could have handled its customer service better. I had been really looking forward to this. I had my 60th birthday in September and wanted to spend the whole month travelling by train in Europe, and the new night train would have been a fun start.”