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Scandlines history

Scandlines is the result of more than a century’s close co-operation across the German-Danish border, started with the establishing of the first rail ferry link between Warnemünde (Germany) and Gedser (Denmark) 30 September 1903.

M/V Prinsesse Alexandrine plied between Warnemünde and Gedser from 1903 to 1933 (Photo: Arkiv Dansk Færgehistorisk Selskab)

The history of Danish Scandlines ApS goes back to 1872 when the Danish national rail company, DSB, started a ferry route between Funen and Jutland. Shortly after followed the establishment of a rail link across the Great Belt, and in 1957 an actual car ferry link over the Great Belt.

With the road-rail link connecting eastern and western Denmark, the Danish government’s strategic interest in ferry operations disappeared and hence, as far back as 1995 the company was separated from DSB and established as an independent limited company. It was given the name DSB Rederi A/S and the Danish Ministry of Transport was sole shareholder. In 1997, the name was changed from DSB Rederi A/S to Scandlines Danmark A/S.

M/V Dronning Ingrid plied on the Great Belt for many years, before it came to Warnemünde-Gedser in 1956

Scandlines Deutschland GmbH (former DFO) was established in 1993 as a private company when the former east and west German rail companies, Deutsche Reichsbahn and Deutsche Bundesbahn, merged their ferry services. The new shipping company, owned by Deutsche Bahn AG, continued to expand its existing route network and intensified co-operation with its long-term Danish and Swedish partners, Scandlines Danmark A/S and Scandlines AB respectively.

The former DFO merged with Scandlines Danmark A/S in 1993

The German rail company’s ferry history can be traced all the way back to 1903 when the first rail-ferry connection between Warnemünde and Gedser was opened. In 1909, the first rail-ferry service between Germany and Sweden followed, the “Königslinie” between Sassnitz (Germany) and Trelleborg (Sweden).

M/V Kong Frederik opened the Fugleflugtslinje/Vogelfluglinie in 1963 (Photo: Scanpix)

The co-operation between the two ferry companies in Germany and Denmark really reached a new level of quality in 1963, when the common ferry traffic on the "Vogelfluglinie" (Fugleflugtslinjen) between Puttgarden (Germany) and Rødby (Denmark) was opened.

The route was continually improved - for an example in 1997 when EUR 250 million (DKK 2 billion) was invested in a total modernisation of ferry berths and in four modern identical double-ended ferries.

The merger of the former shipping line partners, DFO and Scandlines A/S, resulting in the founding of Scandlines AG on 21 July 1998, brought a new quality to the almost century-long co-operation between the German and Danish rail services and their successor companies. Two partners that have always worked together - despite two world wars and 40 years of a divided Germany - were now united in a single joint enterprise.

The President of the German Federal Republic Dr. Heinrich Lübke and the Danish King Frederik IX at the opening of the Fugleflugtslinje (Photo: Scanpix)

In the following years, Scandlines consequently extended its international route network by establishing new ferry services to the Baltic states and Finland.

After nearly 10 years, the two owners, the Danish Ministry of Transport and Energy and Deutsche Bahn AG (Germany) decided to sell their shares in the company. At the end of August 2007, a consortium consisting of the two investment funds, 3i Group and Allianz Capital Partners GmbH (each taking 40 % of the shares), and Deutsche Seereederei GmbH which owned 20 %, became the new owners of one of Europe’s leading ferry companies. The company was subsequently converted to Scandlines GmbH, and at the end of 2010, Deutsche Seereederei GmbH sold its shares equally to 3i and Allianz, who then owned 50 % each of the Scandlines Group. In December 2013, 3i acquired Allianz Capital Partners' stake in Scandlines and is now the sole shareholder.

M/F Deutschland på Rødby-Puttgarden overfarten
M/V Deutschland on the Puttgarden-Rødby route

As part of a strategic reorientation Scandlines sold its freight-based routes between Germany and Sweden, as well as the freight routes in the Baltic States and Finland in 2012. In January 2015, Scandlines and Stena agreed on the sale of Helsingør-Helsingborg, which was formerly operated as a joint venture. 

Thus Scandlines runs the two traffic machines Rostock–Gedser and Puttgarden–Rødby. This way, Scandlines is able to focus on its core business – frequent and reliable transport services for both freight customers and passengers on board our ferries as well as in our BorderShops.