Copenhagen Central Station

The front entrance to the station facing the Banegardspladsen and looking out onto Vesterbrogade (image from

Copenhagen Central Station, or Københavns Hovedbanegård in Danish, commonly known as København H, is the largest and busiest rail station in Denmark. This building from 1911 is actually the third station on the site, going back to the first railway in Denmark in 1847. It is located on the western edge of the city centre, beyond but on the same axis as the Strøget, and directly adjacent to Tivoli (which must make Tivoli the most rail-accessible theme park in the world!).

Some places have translated it to English as “Grand Central Station”, and it is the right timeframe (GCT in NYC was 1913).  While it is central and busy, I don’t think I’d go so far as grand.  The station serves something like 1500 trains and 110,000 people per day, and certainly feels like a European hauptbahnhof.  Although the station is not connected to the new Copenhagen Metro (an issue that is under construction and expected to be resolved by around 2018), there are six main types of services that operate at the station:

  • S-Tog, the Copenhagen urban and suburban train network, where 5 of the 6 lettered lines pass through the station combining for 30tph peak/27tph midday/15tph other times in each direction (see separate post to come!)
  • Øresundståg (Sound Train), the joint Danish/Swedish service along the Coast Line in Zealand, Denmark, through Copenhagen and Copenhagen Kastrup Airport, and then over the Øresund Bridge to Sweden, with about 6-9tph peak/3-6tph off-peak (see separate post to come!)
  • Danish State Railways (DSB) regional, inter-regional, InterCity, and express InterCity services throughout Denmark, probably about 10tph or so on average
  • X2000, the Swedish Railways (SJ) highish-speed (up to 127mph) tilting train with 6 trains/day to Stockholm (about 5 hours) and 2 trains/day to Gothenburg (a bit over 3 hours)…see more details in the separate post to come!
  • German ICE (Intercity-Express) trains to/from Hamburg, connecting Copenhagen with the German high-speed rail network using diesel versions of the well-known ICE brand; there are 5 trains/day each way taking about 4 1/2 hours each, including 45 minutes on one of the last train ferry crossings around (have to try that some day!)
  • City Night Line, the Deutsche Bahn-led group of overnight trains throughout Europe, has just one daily arrival (~10am) and departure (~6pm) but is quite important networkwise, with direct service to/from both Amsterdam (via Hamburg and Cologne, about 15 hours) and Basel (via Hamburg and Frankfurt, about 16 hours).  More info here.

This is one of the S-Tog platforms looking south away from Copenhagen - the red of the S-Tog fits in with the red of the station roof!

Also the S-Tog platforms, looking north toward the below-grade/tunnel alignment around the city core to Norreport, Osterport, and on to the Coast Line. Note the 7-11 on the platform, one of several throughout the station.

There are 12 main platforms (well, 6 islands) located mostly under the large arched roof and directly accessible from the concourse.  The station has been modernized thoroughly with elevators and escalators, which is nice.

Yeah, this makes sense: platform 1, 2, ... 11, 12 --> 26.

But, Wikipedia says, the station has 13 platforms.  How does that work? After 12 it goes to 26 – and you get to 26, it says, by walking along 3/4 or 5/6.  Well, I hadn’t even noticed that, really, until we were ready to leave for Stockholm and the electronic signs said that our train was on Spor 26.  After hustling along the platform for 3 and 4, we found that you had to then go up to the overpass at the far other end of those platforms and then back down to a separate open platform in the middle of nowhere that happened to be called 26.  Huh?  Doesn’t seem like the right place for the premium highish-speed intercity train to Stockholm, but perhaps it just illustrates the Danish view of the Swedes (by sticking their fancy-pants tilting train way out in southwest bumfuck :)).

Here's the mysterious Spor 26, nowhere near anything else and not easy to get to with luggage (although there was an elevator). "Luckily" for us our train to Stockholm was about 20 minutes late, so no rush (no signs to tell us that either, or to indicate that the train at the platform at the appointed time wasn't the one we wanted). Note that our hotel, the Wakeup Copenhagen (which I'll review separately) is the big building in the top right of the photo.

The inside of the station was nice if unremarkable.  I do like the warmer red colouring and the brick.  Like many big rail stations, there was almost nowhere to sit – likely to discourage loitering.  Astrid and I read in one of the travel books that they started playing classical music at the station late at night to discourage the homeless, etc. from hanging around and/or causing trouble.  The retail choices are the usual, with quite nice 7-11s and the ubiquitous Irish pub!

The facade, arched entryway and inside structure is a bit reminiscent of a cathedral to me - no "religion of the rails" jokes, please!

The hall is quite long - while the daylight is nice in this photo, it gets a bit too dark at night.

See one of the 7-11s on the left...

...and the obligatory Irish pub in the corner.


Posted on 29/08/2011, in Transit, travel, Travel to Europe and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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