Norwegians haven’t been able to take the train to any foreign destinations since the Corona pandemic first shut down operations in March of last year. They’ll finally start rolling again later this month, at least to Sweden.
“We’ve all really been looking forward to this day,” Erik Røhne, chief executive of Norwegian railway Vy (the former state train line NSB), stated in a press release on Thursday. “Now that both Norway and Sweden have reopened with far fewer travel restrictions, more people both can and will want to travel by train over the borders.”
All border crossings between Norway and Sweden also reopened as of midnight Wednesday, and most Covid-19 testing stations were being dismantled as virus testing requirements were eased.
Train service was halted 20 months ago because most train lines run relatively far from the control points that were in place at highway border crossings. That forced cancellation of all train service, since there were never any adequate means of monitoring rail passengers on board.
Gradual return to normal service
Now train service can resume, first between Oslo and Gothenburg on October 18, with two daily departures each way. More routes and full traffic on the Oslo-Gothenburg line are due from December 12, just in time for the Christmas holidays.
“We need some time to get everything ready in order to do this right,” Røhne said, “therefore we’re starting up gradually with two departures each way every day.” He said that a return to full service (with four departures each way on each line on weekdays and three on weekends) is due from December 12.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that next in line to reopen is service between Narvik in Northern Norway and Stockholm, from October 24 at the earliest. Vy also plans to reopen the line between Oslo and Karlstad from November 1.
Swedish train operator SJ is also planning to resume passenger service between Oslo and Stockholm from December 12. An SJ line between Trondheim and Storlien will also reopen from October 31, with bus service on the same route offered from October 21-30.
Some rules remain
Requirements for documentation of vaccination remain, along with some requirements for testing, “so it’s important to still have all your papers and get tested if required,” Røhne said. He also reminded passengers that no one should head out traveling if they feel ill.
“If we all follow the important recommendations and remaining rules, we contribute to safe travels between Norway and the rest of Europe,” Røhne said. Plans are still in the works for ongoing service to Copenhagen and onwards to other European destinations. Train ticket sales were due to begin soon.