The Buck Stops … Somewhere

From a political science (and public administration) perspective, these stories are always illuminating, but first the background: The weather is pretty rough in Denmark today and there are lots and lots of delays and cancellations in the train traffic. But why, and who’s to blame?

Why, DSB of course. They operate the trains, don’t they?

Well, these days DSB may be operating the passenger trains, but the responsibility for maintaining the rail infrastructure – including clearing the rails from snow – is placed with a company called BaneDanmark. It used to be a public agency called Banestyrelsen (in itself a child of NPM) but in the 00s, turning agencies into companies was all the rage. Heck, the thing even has a “mission” and “visions” like a true company should have these days.

Okay, the Danish state still owns BaneDanmark but it is probably more difficult to get information about how the unit works. And it is also more difficult for the passengers to find out exactly whom and what to blame.

Actually, NPM is not just hard to understand for citiz … sorry, customers. Politicians are also able to confuse the different actors involved in producing public transport.

Oh, and we did in fact lose one thing when Banestyrelsen was transmogriffed into BaNeDaNmaRk. The opportunity to joke about Baneforstyrrelsen.