Norway is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque countries with its deep blue Fjords and green mountains. The beautiful landscape of the country is the greatest attraction which draws thousands of tourists from all over the world. And to enjoy the great views there is nothing like traveling across the country in a train.
The trains go past the waterfalls, lakes and over high mountains and through tunnels and across rivers and streams before reaching their destination. Train travel in Norway is a great experience and any one who has done it will swear by it.
The trains in Norway are operated by the state owned Norwegian State Railways. The routes cover almost all the country. There are intercity trains and long distance trains, regional trains, trains for the regular commuters and the Gjovikbanen or the Gjovik line and of course the tourist trains. Most of the tracks have been electrified. But some routes are still served by state of the art diesel engines.
Some of the lines operated by the Norwegian State Railways are the Bergen Line, Dovre Line, Sorland Line, Nordland Line, and many others including the picturesque Rauma Line and Flam line.
1. Bergen Line
Bergen Line is technically the standard gauge line running from Bergen to Henefoss but popularly the route from Oslo to Bergen through Drammen is given the name of Bergen line. It is considered one of the most picturesque lines in the whole world and is the highest mainline rail line in Europe.
Photo Credit: Urbanrail.net
The entire route length is 496 km and it crosses the Hardangervidda plateau at a height of over 4000 ft above sea level and the highest station on the route is Finse at 4010 feet. The famous Flam line is a branch of this line. There are 182 tunnels on the line with 10 of them being over 2 km long. One can also access the Old Voss Line which operates in summer with a 1913 steam locomotive. It is exclusively a heritage railway that runs over a distance of 18 km from Garnes to Midttun.
2. The Flam Railway
Though the line traverses only a distance of about 20.6 km, a journey on the Flam Railway is probably the most sought after railway journey in the whole of Scandinavia. Even tour operators from Sweden add Flam Railway in their itinerary. Once this line served as a branch line of the Oslo – Bergen line, but today it has etched a mark for itself as a top tourist attraction ranking third among all the tourist attractions in Norway.
Photo Credit: Fjordtravel.no
Within its short journey from Myrdal to Flam, the train climbs a height of 2831 feet and that makes it Europe’s steepest standard gauge railway. As it climbs passing through 20 tunnels and over a bridge, it reveals some grand vistas of the Nordic mountains. The ride is thrilling too as the trains have to pass through ice shelters and artificial shelves hanging out from the mountain. The Kjosfossen station is there just for giving the passengers an opportunity to have a look at the magnificent waterfall there. But it is not the only one on route. There is another at Rjoandefossen which has a stunning 140 meter vertical drop.
3. Dovre Line
The Dovre line serves as the main line between Oslo and Trondheim. The entire stretch is 553 km long and has 25 stations. The first 65 km from Oslo serve as the Gardermoen line, the only line to run the high speed trains that commute at a maximum of 210 kmph and touch the Oslo airport.
Photo Credit: Zugprofi.de
The next section is part of the old Eidsvoll-Dombas line while the part from Storen to Trondheim is also called the Storen line. The Rauma line, a favorite of the tourists, is also accessed from the Dombas station. The line touches the town of Lillehammer and runs over the mountainous sections of Dover which houses 3 national parks. It then comes down to join the Roros line at Storen.
4. Rauma Line
Rauma line served as a branch of Dovre Line between 1921 and 1924. Now it serves as an independent line and runs over 114 km between Dombas and Andalsnes. The line has 5 tunnels and 103 bridges and 2 horseshoe curves. It is another of the top tourist attractions of Norway. The line runs through some of the most picturesque locales in Norway and the tourists do not miss a chance to hop on to it when the trains operate between Andalsnes and Bjorli in summer.
Photo Credit: Railbrit.co.uk
The trains are sometimes operated with steam engines on special occasions and they slowly chug up and down the mountain allowing the tourists plenty of time to admire the natural beauty of Norway. It moves extra slow near the main tourist attractions and even stops at Kylling Bridge and Trollveggen for the sake of tourists.
5. Nordland Line
Nordland is the longest line of the Norwegian Rail System running 729 km between Trondheim and Bodo. A journey on this line will take one past the Arctic Circle.
Photo Credit: Greentraveller.co.uk
This line joins Sweden to Norway by train and is lined with some great views along the tracks. Those willing to enjoy the midnight sun should travel on this line and the lucky ones may even get to see the Northern Lights.
6. Other Lines
The other railway lines operating in Norway include the Ostfold Line operating from Oslo to Kornsjo over a distance of 171 km. The Hoved line is historically important. It was built by Robert Stephenson and had its initial name as Norwegian Trunk Company. The Sorland Line runs between Drammen and Seavanger via Kristiansand. The whole of Norway is crisscrossed with rail networks and there are many more to explore.
Norwegian State Railway runs various types of trains and the tourists may enjoy especially aboard the tourist trains. Apart from having a comfortable seating arrangement, many of the trains have seating areas especially designed for enjoying the scenic beauty, coffee bar and lounge, place for the wheelchair and prams and also pets. But smoking is prohibited all over Norway including the trains and stations. The trains are hauled by various types of state of the art diesel and electric locomotives.