Swedish railroad SJ (Statens Järnväger) aims to lure passengers away from the airlines with new, higher-speed train lines between Stockholm and Oslo. New trains will cut travel time by 90 minutes on new routes to be introduced in August.
SJ’s new trains are already competing well against the airlines on routes between Stockholm and Gothenburg. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that SJ now plans to attract some of the 1.36 million passengers who flew between Stockholm and Oslo last year, and thinks market potential is high.
It currently takes about an hour to fly between Stockholm’s Arlanda airport and Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen. Both airports are located north of the cities they serve, and passengers generally allow an hour to travel between downtown and the airport, plus an hour at the airport to clear security. When the extra time involved in flying is factored into the duration of the entire trip, SJ’s plan to offer three trains a day with travel time set at four-and-a-half hours is expected to be competitive. The trains will only make three stops along the way, in Karlstad, Örebro and Västerås.
Kristin Krohn Devold, the former Norwegian defense minister who now leads the travel division of national employers’ organization NHO, is enthusiastic about the prospect of better and faster train service between the Swedish and Norwegian capitals. “This offers opportunities that both the Swedish and Norwegian travel industries must take advantage of,” Devold told Aftenposten.
Fares are also due to be competitive, and passengers will be spared the extra travel costs of traveling back and forth to the airports. It currently costs NOK 170 to travel to OSL Gardermoen with the Airport Express Train, and SEK 260 to travel on Stockholm’s Arlanda Express Train. Taxi fare often amounts to as much as the airfare, sometimes more.