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Travel time shrinks, ferry boats doomed as Danish sealink opens

April 4, 1997

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ The trip between Denmark’s two largest cities is about to get quicker, but for some, the journey will have a lot less charm.

The picturesque ferry line across the 11-mile Storebaelt (Danish for ``Big Strait″) is Denmark’s busiest, but the state-owned Scandlink company is getting ready to shut it down once a giant new bridge-tunnel is completely open.

The 50-minute ferry crossing between Copenhagen and Aarhus has pleased tourists with its vistas. The huge, chugging black-and-white ferries have a sentimental spot in many Danes’ hearts.

But _ counting time for waiting, loading and unloading _ the 175-mile trip can last a grinding five hours, frustrating truckers and other drivers who aren’t out to see the sights.

On Sunday, freight trains will begin crossing the Storebaelt bridge-tunnel and passenger trains are to start using it in June. It will open for automobiles next year.

Four years behind schedule and double the original cost estimates, the $6.3 billion link is part of this seafaring nation’s ambitious plan to reduce how much time its people have to spend at sea.

An 11-mile tunnel-and-bridge link between Copenhagen and Malmoe, Sweden, is to open early next century.

The railroad part of the Storebaelt link includes a 5-mile tunnel from Zealand island to the island of Sprogoe in the middle of the strait and a 4-mile bridge from Sprogoe to Funen island, where Aarhus is located. Automobiles will use a bridge from Zealand to Sprogoe instead of a tunnel.

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