New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Plans for a new rail service running from Oslo and stopping in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen before arriving in Hamburg are in the works, Swedish state-owned rail operator SJ has said.

Pictured is Hamburg Central Station.
A new train line running from Oslo, through Sweden and Denmark and Germany to Hamburg has been planned. Pictured is Hamburg Central Station. Photo by Hannes Köttner on Unsplash

Sweden’s state-owned SJ, along with Denmark’s DSB and DB of Germany, plans to offer a new international train line which runs between the Norwegian capital Oslo and Hamburg in northern Germany. 

The planned route would run daily, departing from Oslo at 8am before making stops in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen and arriving in Hamburg at 7pm. A service departing Hamburg and terminating in Gothenburg is also planned.

The 11 hour service would be quicker than the equivalent journey using either a car and ferry connection or existing train services. 

The planned service will enter into operation in 2027. Petter Essén, head of SJ’s vehicle and traffic programme, said the route made sense as it would connect a long stretch which doesn’t have continuous train traffic. 

“Today, there is a great deal of flying between Copenhagen and Oslo and between Oslo and Gothenburg, routes that would be fine by train,” Essén told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter

Currently, the only direct trains from the Norwegian capital to other countries are services to Gothenburg and Stockholm. 

The European Commission has selected the potential line as one of ten pilot projects that will receive support. This does not mean it will receive direct funding from the EU, but it will get backing on regulations and logistics, Essén explained.

“You can get help with various regulations and the process of getting all vehicles approved in all countries,” he said.

Generally, many Swedish and Norwegian trains can only operate within Sweden and Norway, while the majority of Danish and German trains are not cleared to run in Sweden in Norway. 

The Snälltåget line between Stockholm and Berlin has also been selected to receive support from the European Commission. 

SJ also announced plans to increase the number of trains between Gothenburg and Malmö to ten per day and offer the Gothenburg-Copenhagen service all year round. It said that these plans could come to fruition by 2026 or 2027. 

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Inquiry advises against new railway in northern Norway

A new line finally linking the city of Tromsø in northern Norway to the country's rail network would cost too much and have negative effects on the environment, reindeer and the rights of Sami people, the country's railway directorate has concluded.

Inquiry advises against new railway in northern Norway

The government launched the inquiry to investigate the viability of the North Norway Railway (Nord-Norgebanen) as part of the Hurdal agreement on which the coalition government of the Labour Party and Centre Party was formed

It appointed the Norwegian Railway Directorate to carry out an inquiry after taking power at the end of 2021.

“A new northern Norway railway would have very negative effects when it comes to nature and the environment, greenhouse gas emissions and reindeer herding and the rights of indigenous people,” Madeleine Kristiansen, the project manager who ran the investigation, said when the directorate submitted its report on Wednesday.

According to Knut Sletta, the director of Norway’s railways, any carbon emissions saved by reducing the number of flights to and from Tromsø would be far outweighed by that emitted during the project’s construction.

“Although rail traffic is in itself climate and environmentally friendly, the calculations show that the emissions in the construction phase would be so large that they would never be able to be recovered in the analysis phase of 75 years,” he said.

According to the directorate, the new project would cost 281 billion kroner if it had a spur line to Harstad, and only 234 billion kroner if it only went to Tromsø, costs which it judged would be vastly outweighed by any economic benefits.

Norway’s Transport Minister, Jon-Ivar Nygård, said on Wednesday it was too early to comment on the conclusions of the report.

“I cannot go into more detail about the content of the investigations and how the government is dealing with it now. We will familiarise ourselves with the reports and take them with us further in our work,” he said.

The Centre Party has long campaigned for the line to be built, and in the Hurdal agreement, the two parties agreed to “carry out a concept selection study with the aim of realising the development of the Nord-Norgebanen”.