Nearly all east- and northbound trains between Oslo’s central station (Oslo S) and Grefsen, Bryn, Lillestrøm and Ski will be shut down this week, in connection with construction of the new Follo line. Bus service will be offered instead, but commuters and railway officials alike were bracing for some chaos.
Not even the Airport Express Train (Flytoget), which runs high-speed service between Oslo S and Norway’s gateway airport at Gardermoen, will be running from August 1-7 because of the construction project along with needed maintenance work. The airport train will run between OSL Gardermoen and Lillestrøm, though, from which point passengers can transfer to a bus. Direct bus service will also be offered between Oslo S and the airport, in addition to the other bus lines serving the airport.
State railway NSB has leased 300 buses to carry train passengers during the week-long shutdown and claim they’re as prepared as they can be. They’re nonetheless urging passengers to allow extra time, not least because buses arriving in Oslo will unload passengers at Tollbukaia, around 300 meters from the station itself. Bus travel also takes longer than train travel.
Train passengers leaving from Oslo S will be able to board alternative bus transport at the station itself, near Track 19.
NSB was also frankly hoping that many regular commuters would still be on summer holiday this week, and urging others to work from home if at all possible to reduce demand.
“As long as traffic flows well, we have enough capacity for our passengers,” Tove Flobergseter of NSB told newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend. Around 300 NSB employees would also be placed at train stations to help passengers find the best alternative mode of travel.
Oslo’s regional public transport agency Ruter was also adding additional bus service between Oslo S and areas south to Kolbotn to help provide more capacity. Any chaos is being justified as “an investment in the future,” and part of major upgrades to train service in general in Norway’s most heavily trafficked corridors.
“It will be more difficult for many travelers right now, but it’s better this happens for a week in the summer instead of steadily getting to the station and finding out that the trains aren’t running as they should,” said Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen. There will be more shutdowns in connection with construction of the new Follobanen, on the weekends of September 24-25 and October 29-30, plus during the night of October 1.