Oslo’s old eastern train station, “Østbanen,” has reopened after two years of renovation. Hundreds turned up last week to be the first to see the former station’s interior refurbished with its old ceilings in place.
“This was our gateway to the world,” Jørn Holme, the state’s top preservationist, told the crowd. “It was here that I took off on my first Interrail trip, and here where I returned. We wanted to preserve this cultural landmark, and see it used by everyone.”
Trains now leave from the modern adjacent station, Oslo S, while the former station has served as an entryway of sorts and now features shops and cafés. A hotel recently opened in the station’s building next door as city planners work to refurbish the entire area around Oslo’s central station, which has been plagued by crime and drug dealing in recent years.
The old Østbanen station was initially built in 1854 as the southern end of Norway’s first train line, between Oslo (then called Kristiania) and Eidsvold. The station was expanded many times but became part of the new Oslo Sentralstasjon (Oslo S) in 1980, when a tunnel under the city’s downtown area eliminated the need for two separate end stations on the eastern and western sides of the city. The former western station (Vestbanen) closed in 1989 and now houses the Nobel Peace Center, while trains through Oslo run in the tunnel from Oslo S to and beyond the National Teater station.