Trains that catch ferries, how common?

 
  HeavyHardware Beginner

Hi

Whilst on my honeymoon we caught the train from Germany to Denmark. To my surprise the front few carriages actually follow tracks onto the ferry and continue through into Denmark. I assumed we would have to swap trains at the port.

Does this occur anywhere else in the world? It was quite a novelty for everyone on board.

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  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

That would be the Fehmarn Belt ferry. There is a rather troubled proposal to replace that with a tunnel, but don't hold your breath for it to actually get started.

If you count New Zealand as being part of Australasia, you'll actually find that train ferries are used in all six inhabited continents.

Some of the notable ones include:
  • The link from Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan across the Caspian Sea
  • Various links on the Baltic Sea and Black Sea
  • The link from Sicily to mainland Italy
  • The Interislander between the North Island and South Island in New Zealand
  • The links between the Alaska Railroad and the networks in Canada and the USA
  • The Coastal Gulf Railway in the Gulf of Mexico
  • The Uganda-Tanzania train ferry across Lake Victoria
  • Peru-Bolivia across Lake Titicaca (notable for being at an altitude of 3812m)
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
I have been on the Fehmarn Belt one back in 2008 when it was operated by a German ICE-TD - just 4 cars as that's all that would fit. I think its now operated by Danish IC DMU's. Passengers had a choice, stay on the train, or get off and go upstairs...just be back on board by the time the ferry docked. The train engines were shut down during the crossing. It is still the fastest rail journey from Hamburg to Copenhagen as the other way is much longer and needs at least one change of train (I came back that way - across the bridge where the crash was a few weeks ago).

The Sicily one is even shorter in distance, and I think its all loco hauled carriages - no locomotives of course.

I am not sure if passenger trains travel on the others that JAP listed.
  Big J Assistant Commissioner

Location: In Paradise
Great list.

Are there still freight rail ferries in the US that Traverse the Great Lakes or the NE USA? There use to be lots, but most did close.

Not sure on the Lake Victoria ferry hauling rail. There has been many issues with Ugandan rail and the ferries themselves have had their fair share of tragedy in recent history.

The ferries still run and trains do operate to Mwanza in Tanzania. Not sure of the Port Bell to Kampala trains at Uganda. They are part of the Standardisation scheme with Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I would also add NY ferry shuttling rail cars into Manhattan.
  Brianr Assistant Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
I travelled on the Fehmarn Belt ferry in 2010. I was so absorbed in photographing the docking from upstairs at the front of the ferry, I almost missed getting back on the train.
In 1974 I travelled on the sleeper train from Victoria Station, London to Gare du Nord, Paris and remembering waking during the night and realising there was gentle roll rather than the normal rock on the rails. Much more pleasant than recent trips through the tunnel on the Eurostar, although in 1976, with less money at my disposal, I sat up all night, walked from train to ferry at Dover then the reverse in Calais.
Here in New Zealand I have made many trips on the Interislander but only freight (and the occasional passenger carriage being transhipped) uses the tracks on board.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
There are some videos on YouTube of the Fehmarn Belt one, here is one - few years old as its a Deutsche Bahn ICE-TD.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLOhVxJj2fc
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
And an Italian one across the Strait of Messina to Sicily - much more time consuming with shunting on and off.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4fmUH2d4kY
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
Across Lake Van in Turkey going to Iran.
Only freight and mail wagons shunted on.
Passengers walk on.
  HeavyHardware Beginner

That's a great list. Thank you!

Pretty sure it was DB when we went. We had to depart whilst the ferry was traveling. I remember their call for passengers to return to the train or cars was pretty poor. People running everywhere Smile
Fantastic engineering though!
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I have been on the Fehmarn Belt one back in 2008 when it was operated by a German ICE-TD - just 4 cars as that's all that would fit. I think its now operated by Danish IC DMU's. Passengers had a choice, stay on the train, or get off and go upstairs...just be back on board by the time the ferry docked. The train engines were shut down during the crossing. It is still the fastest rail journey from Hamburg to Copenhagen as the other way is much longer and needs at least one change of train (I came back that way - across the bridge where the crash was a few weeks ago).
mikesyd
I last traveled on this route back In 2015, DB train Hamburg to København and a DSB from København to Berlin (both diesel trains)

Once the train parked on the ferry and shut It's engines down, all passengers had to vacate the train and move to the ferry deck (where there where lots of shops, to spend your money) and the train doors were locked.

An announcement on the ferry deck was made that train passengers were to return to the train.

The train was last on and first off the ferry.

I don't think It would be much more hassle, had the train terminated at the ferry wharf, with passengers boarding the ferry via a ramp (access to a locked luggage room) disembarking at the other side and boarding another train, to complete your journey.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

I have been on the Fehmarn Belt one back in 2008 when it was operated by a German ICE-TD - just 4 cars as that's all that would fit. I think its now operated by Danish IC DMU's. Passengers had a choice, stay on the train, or get off and go upstairs...just be back on board by the time the ferry docked. The train engines were shut down during the crossing. It is still the fastest rail journey from Hamburg to Copenhagen as the other way is much longer and needs at least one change of train (I came back that way - across the bridge where the crash was a few weeks ago).
I last traveled on this route back In 2015, DB train Hamburg to København and a DSB from København to Berlin (both diesel trains)

Once the train parked on the ferry and shut It's engines down, all passengers had to vacate the train and move to the ferry deck (where there where lots of shops, to spend your money) and the train doors were locked.

An announcement on the ferry deck was made that train passengers were to return to the train.

The train was last on and first off the ferry.

I don't think It would be much more hassle, had the train terminated at the ferry wharf, with passengers boarding the ferry via a ramp (access to a locked luggage room) disembarking at the other side and boarding another train, to complete your journey.
Nightfire
That was my experience too, in 2017. The only hassle with your last paragraph would be people with luggage. Our luggage was left in the locked train on the ferry. Forcing all the passengers to disembark, complete with luggage, lug their bags around the ferry, and then leave the ferry and rejoin the train on land would take much more time than disembarking and rejoining the train whilst the ferry is on the move.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
A look at the current timetables shows that the trip from Hamburg to Copenhagen via the Fehmarn route is just on 5 hours, with a 65 minute section from Puttgarden to Roedby of which about 45 minutes is the train on ferry trip. The other route via Frederica (with a change of trains there) takes 5:15. Transferring from Train to Ferry to Train would probably add an hour if the trains didn't take the ferry.

The huge abandoned rail yards at each end point to much more than a few passenger trains in the past (before the Great Belt Bridge was opened in 1998).

I suspect that when the day arrives that the Ferries need to be replaced, then that will probably end the experience - if the proposed Tunnel Construction doesn't end it first. A single train journey via the Great Belt Bridge/Tunnel would probably be the replacement, and would allow for trains longer than the current 4 cars imposed by the ferry length.

Both routes are worth the trip, which is what I did, coming back via the Great Belt - you also get to experience the 'long spiral loop' journey through Flensburg and the trip over the Rendsburg Bridge (it crosses the Kiel canal and is also approached via a 'spiral loop' on the north side).

And the 'Archeology' on the German side of both routes is amazing.

I have found some photos and a poor quality video of my trip on 16 October 2008. They guy in the red jacket in one photo is me. Interestingly, the single DB driver was replaced by about 6 DSB crew at Puttgarden, who all crammed into the cab and thus forward video wasn't possible.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmxoAm88
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
One more it seems - a night train from Malmo in Sweden to Berlin travels aboard the Stena Line Train ferry FS Sassnitz from Trelleborg in Sweden to Sassnitz (Mukran presumably, a few km south of Sassnitz) on an irregular timetable.

https://www.snalltaget.se/en/destinations/berlin
  Big J Assistant Commissioner

Location: In Paradise
Thankyou all for the very informative responses.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

One more it seems - a night train from Malmo in Sweden to Berlin travels aboard the Stena Line Train ferry FS Sassnitz from Trelleborg in Sweden to Sassnitz (Mukran presumably, a few km south of Sassnitz) on an irregular timetable.

https://www.snalltaget.se/en/destinations/berlin
mikesyd
Very interesting.

I also found this note on the timetable page interesting: Summer June 24 – August 18
Du to track works, all Snälltåget departures during this period are replaced by bus beteween Stockholm Cityterminalen and Södertälje Hamn.

In 2017 travelling from Stockholm to Copenhagen we had to use a bus between Stockholm and Södertälje Syd. Back then it was because of trackwork related to the new underground line through Stockholm. I assume it's the same reason in 2019. I must admit that watching all the traffic from the south of Stockholm, suburban and long distance, funnel into the city across a double tracked causeway was a little surprising.

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