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What you need to know about train travel in Norway 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
What you need to know about train travel in Norway 
Here are the key things you need to know about rail travel in Norway. Pictured is a Flam Railway train.Photo by Alan W on Unsplash

One of the best ways to see Norway is through the window of a train. There are several things you should know about train travel, from key information to tips and tricks 

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Rail travel has seen an increase in demand in recent years, and even if you aren't using the train to travel on your holidays, there are a number of things you should know about taking a train in Norway. 

How train travel in Norway works

When taking the train anywhere in Norway, you will typically have the choice between a local train (lokaltog), regional train (regiontog) and long-distance train (fjerntog). 

Differentiating these from one another is quite easy. This is because train departures that are local, regional and long-distance are marked with the first letter of the train type. For example, in Bergen, the train between the city and Arna is designated the L4 (L for lokaltog). 

Regional trains, therefore, carry the R designation, such as the R11, and long-distance trains begin with F – with the most famous being the F4 between Oslo and Bergen. The major notable exception to this rule is the express airport train from Oslo to Oslo Airport Gardermoen, which carries the FLY designation. 

The train designation is displayed on the departure board at stations and on all major travel apps. 

READ ALSO: The words to help you navigate public transport in Norway

Tickets

Train traffic is divided up between the Norwegian state-owned Vy, Sweden's SJ, Go-Ahead Norge and the state-owned Flytoget. You can use Vy's website and app to purchase tickets on other services besides Flytoget. 

In most cases, tickets can only be bought some 90 days before departure. Tickets are normally priced on availability, too; many busier departures become more expensive as they fill up. 

Norway's train operators run sales a few times a year and will also offer lower-cost tickets. Taking the train can be expensive, with tickets for long-distance departures costing over 1,000 kroner. 

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First-class seats, or paying for a compartment on a night train, will be even more expensive. 

Season tickets for some short commutes into Oslo will cost more than 10,000 kroner. Season tickets for longer journeys can cost more than 30,000 kroner a year. 

The journey itself

When it comes to the quality of the trains themselves, most are quite well-equipped and will have onboard Wi-Fi. Longer distances trains will have play areas for kids, more room for luggage and café carts where you can order a drink or eat some warm food. 

Some of the more local trains are more basic. The trains one of Norway's most famous train trips, the Flåm Railway, have more old-fashioned and basic interior. For many, this may add to the charm. 

Punctuality can be an issue in Norway. The country's network rail operator, Bane Nor, has set a punctuality target of 90 percent. Earlier this year, around 87 percent of departures left and arrived on time.

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Around Oslo, the issue was worse, with 72.6 percent of the trains there being on time. 

The most common causes of delays are signal faults on the track, issues with contact lines and problems with trains themselves. 

By law, passengers can claim a 25 percent refund on the ticket prices if they arrive at their stop more than 60 minutes late or 50 percent when they are at least 120 minutes late. 

You will be entitled to a refund even if you have yet to incur any extra expenses due to the issue and if you are rebooked onto another train or taken by a replacement bus service. 

Staff on board will have a good grasp of English, and on longer journeys, train announcements are made in both English and Norwegian. 

The most popular routes 

The Nordic country is home to the most scenic rail journeys in Europe. The Bergen railway, the Flåm railway, The Dovre railway, the Nordland line and the Rauma line are among the most popular. 

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The limitations of train travel in Norway

In many cases, taking the train can be a more environmentally friendly and cheaper option than flying. In some cases, some train trips will be even quicker than flying if you account for the time you will spend in the airport. 

READ MORE: What are the alternatives to Norway's busiest flight routes?

Given how long, thin and mountainous Norway is, getting around the country on the ground can take a while and constructing rail lines has proved challenging. 

There is very little rail infrastructure in northern Norway. Rail services go as far north as Bodø, Fauske and Narvik.

READ MORE: Inquiry advises against new railway in northern Norway

Furthermore, there are very few direct services from Norway to cities in other countries. To travel to another country from Norway via train, you would need to take the train to Sweden. There are regular departures between Oslo, Gothenburg and Stockholm. You can travel on further from Sweden. 

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