Why cross-country flights are more popular than trains in Norway 

Figures have revealed that routes between Oslo and Bergen and the capital and Trondheim are among the most flown in Europe, with around 20 departures a day in each direction. So why are Norwegians opting for flights over the train? 

Pictured is short haul flight.
Norwegians tend to opt to take short haul flights over train journeys in Norway, here's why. Pictured is short haul flight. Photo by Aleksei Zaitcev on Unsplash

Flights between Oslo and Bergen and Trondheim and Oslo were the fourth and fifth busiest air routes in Europe last year, according to European data agency Eurostat. 

Around 44 daily flights between Oslo and Trondheim and 38 between Bergen and the capital took off last year, contributing to some 222,622 domestic flights in total in 2022. 

Research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) found that Norwegians’ flying habits contributed to twice as many C02 emissions as Swedish, German or French air passengers.

Flights between Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim account for around 20 percent of emissions caused by domestic flights within Norway, public broadcaster NRK reports.

So why are Norwegians choosing to fly between cities rather than taking the train or other means of transport? 

Climate researcher Helene Muri from NTNU said that several factors explain why domestic flights are far more popular than trains. 

First of all, she told NRK that the cost of taking a long-distance train between cities in Europe is cheaper and faster than it is in Norway. 

“The average Norwegian often has enough to travel with to be able to take a weekend trip and take these perhaps unnecessary flights. Trains in Norway are quite expensive, so when flying is cheaper and faster, you understand that people choose it,” she told NRK. 

For example, a flight between Oslo and Bergen can be completed in under an hour, while the train between Bergen and Oslo can take six to eight hours to complete. Trains to Trondheim from the capital take a similar time too. 

In some cases, such as when travelling to Tromsø from further south in Norway, a flight may be the most practical option due to Norway’s geography. 

“For example, Oslo-Tromsø is a stretch where it is not easy to find alternative means of transport,” Muri explained. 

Another reason why planes may be more attractive than trains is due to the sheer number of flights compared to trains. Recently the number of trains between Oslo and Bergen has been cut due to a lack of demand, with there typically being around four departures per day. 

In comparison, there are flight departures just over once an hour between the two biggest cities in Norway, meaning finding a flight to fit around one’s plans and itinerary is much easier. 

The popularity of flying between cities in Norway comes despite train travel contributing 12.2 grams of C02 per passenger per kilometre to the 236 grams of C02 emitted by planes per traveller and kilometre

Muri said that to entice more travellers onto trains, journey speeds and onboard amenities would need to be improved. 

“The time it takes to take a train between cities in Norway has actually increased. It takes longer now than it did before. It’s a bit remarkable and takes things in a bit of a wrong direction,” she said. 

“Increased capacity, increased speed and the availability of stable broadband in the trains are measures that can help shift traffic from the air onto the railway network,” she added. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Delays contribute to a decline in passenger happiness on Norwegian trains

Issues with punctuality and a need for clearer information were identified as issues for travellers on Norwegian trains, the latest figures for customer satisfaction from the Norwegian Railway Directorate show. 

Delays contribute to a decline in passenger happiness on Norwegian trains

Passenger satisfaction on Norwegian trains has fallen between the end of last year and the opening months of 2023, a survey from the Norwegian Railway Directorate shows. 

Punctuality and customer information were highlighted as issues affecting passengers’ happiness with train services in Norway. 

“The results reflect the challenges with punctuality in recent months and emphasize the need for a more stable train service, especially in Eastern Norway,” Knut Sletta from the Norwegian Railway Directorate said of the figures. 

In recent months services in eastern Norway especially have been prone to issues with delays and cancellations, in addition to teething problems with the new Folloban line. 

On a scale of one to 100, customer satisfaction was ranked at 76, a drop of three percentage points compared to the last quarter of 2022. One area where customers were happy was when it came to the service onboard and the cleanliness of trains. 

Out of all the companies operating on Norway’s railways, only SJ Norge, which runs the trains between Oslo and Trondheim and Trondheim and Bodø, saw an improvement in customer satisfaction. 

READ ALSO: What are your rights if your train in Norway is delayed or cancelled?