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Old 25th December 2016, 20:19   #1
Iskra
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Default Arctic Circle Train- Stockholm to Narvik

Hi all, I'm planning what looks like a rather interesting rail journey during some time I have planned in Sweden in April. I'm looking to travel from Stockholm, Sweden to Narvik, Norway which is inside the arctic circle. I'm looking to use the direct sleeper train which takes around 20 hours. I have a few queries:

1) How punctual is the train at arriving into Narvik? I'm looking to get the train back the same day I arrive, which means I'll only have 4/5 hours in Narvik before my train back. However, if my first train is delayed I could have problems.
2) Has anyone done this journey, is it good/worth it? What is the onboard food like? How much, if any scenery could I expect to see? Any chance of seeing the Northern Lights?
3) Do any of the staff speak any English? I can speak French and Italian, but Swedish is a different kettle of fish and I currently have no understanding of the language. I'm happy to learn some basic phrases, but will the potential language barrier cause me any problems?
4) Is the Swedish Rail system easy to use?
5) I'm looking to travel in my own private cabin in at least one direction in order to use the shower, but would be open to doing the other direction in the normal seating. Is 20 hours in a seat comfortable and are the carriages warm/safe? I've only travelled on British sleepers in solo berths before so I have no experience of seated sleepers.
6) Is there a better/cheaper way to get tickets than through the Swedish Rail Company's website?
7) Any other tips or advice?
8) Anything I must do in Narvik if I get the timetabled 4/5 hours there?

I've tried to google this but there aren't many travellers accounts of this service.

All help appreciated.
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Old 25th December 2016, 21:04   #2
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Hi, not answers to all your questions but..

2) possible but not guaranteed, depends upon the weather (cloudy or not) and what the sun is doing *and* that part of the Earth being in the right position. Of course you have to go in winter when it is dark...

3) finding any nordic person without a degree of English fluency that puts a native speaker to shame is getting hard OK, a bit of an over-statement...

You'll have no problems with the language here. Basic phrases, eg: tak, hej etc will always be appreciated. If you do happen to meet someone who doesn't speak English or doesn't have the confidence to speak English then you can almost guarantee that someone (literally) near-by can. On-train staff in Sweden will more than likely speak sufficient English - maybe a conversation about 17century philosophy in pre-Revolutionary France is out of the question (though on one trip to St.Petersburg...)

4) From experience in Scandiavia and Finland, yes - at least it is more logical than the UK IMHO

7) Credit/debit cards are accepted everywhere, though check with your local bank about your card's validity (Visa Electron can be very problematic!).

If you do get lucky and see northern lights then I suggest a camera that can take a long exposure (20-30s), low f-stop lens and a tripod.

t.

Ian
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Old 25th December 2016, 21:09   #3
Groningen
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Go from Stockholm to Narvik, stay there for 5 hours and return. What a waste of time. What i have done several times is to take the bus in Narvik to Fauske and then with the nighttrain to Trondheim and daytrain to Oslo and v.v..

Narvik 16.10 - Fauske 21.30
Fauske 22.00 - Trondheim 7.47
Trondheim 8.18 - Oslo 15.03
With a 5 hour wait in Halmstad; 1 is at 12.20 in Hamburg Hbf.

The D94 stands still in Boden almost 30 minutes and Kiruna almost 20. So time enough to make up any delays. There seems to be wild animals in Sweden; that walk upon tracks.
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Old 26th December 2016, 02:26   #4
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1) I've got the D94 sleeper as arriving Narvik at 12.29 and the return train leaving at 15.15, which is sadly not 4-5 hours in Narvik.

2) Do make the journey, one of the classic rail journeys - recently featured on Chris Tarrant's Extreme Railways. Scenery - wise it is not Alpine and spectacular in the 'Swiss Alps' sense of the phrase, but Arctic Scandinavia is of course a particular type of spectacular scenery that should be witnessed, even if low lying.

In any case the journey is worth it to see the huge iron ore trains with the massive IORE twin Co-Co locos, paired up they are six times more powerful than a pair of BR class 47s.

A chance of seeing the northern lights I would have said.

3) Just about every European speaks decent English, especially in Scandinavia ( classically we Brits are put to shame in this respect). But I agree with other posts, use 'hey', and tak for Hi and thank you and you will be respected.

5) Nordic coach seating is traditionally warm, safe and very comfortable due to the generous loading gauge (larger than Germany which in turn is larger than France which in turn is larger than UK)



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Last edited by Gordon; 26th December 2016 at 02:28.
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Old 26th December 2016, 09:17   #5
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The Lulea - Narvik line is fascinating, as Gordon says for the Iron Ore traffic. I've been up there a few times so here's my 2p worth.

Each time I've done a circular trip, although only did the sleeper from Stockholm to Lulea once, and that was a while ago.

Oslo - Trondheim - Fauske - Narvik is a spectacular journey, especially if you include the Andalsnes branch from Dombas. If loco hauled trains are your thing beware, only some of the Oslo - Trondheim trains are hauled, but the Trondheim - Fauske train certainly is. The bus from Fauske to Narvik goes on a ferry too. Normally the bus connects with the train but I did this on a Sunday so had an extra hour in Fauske. Excellent full dinner in the station buffet, run by an East Londoner, so language only a problem if you don't speak Cockney. No worries about language otherwise.

Narvik is handy for the bus to Svolvaer, where the Hurtigruten Coastal Boat calls. The bus journey is also scenic as you'd expect.

As for Narvik itself, not a lot there, it exists for the Ore exports. The town museum is interesting, describing the history of Narvik and the importance of the iron ore industry, but that's about it. The tourist office is at the station, they'll advise you best.

Personally if going that far, I'd take more time and break the journey up. Appreciate some of this doesn't appear to suit you on this occasion, but if you only have a short amount of spare time while in Sweden go for it, providing you've got the stamina.
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Old 26th December 2016, 09:55   #6
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There are less than 19.000 people in Narvik. The tracks go right to the harbour. The railway is more for the ore, than people. There are only 2 trains from Narvik going south at 11 and 15.15 hours. So you have only 2 hours and 45 minutes to visit the city.
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Old 26th December 2016, 10:26   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groningen View Post
Go from Stockholm to Narvik, stay there for 5 hours and return. What a waste of time. What i have done several times is to take the bus in Narvik to Fauske and then with the nighttrain to Trondheim and daytrain to Oslo and v.v..

Narvik 16.10 - Fauske 21.30
Fauske 22.00 - Trondheim 7.47
Trondheim 8.18 - Oslo 15.03
With a 5 hour wait in Halmstad; 1 is at 12.20 in Hamburg Hbf.

The D94 stands still in Boden almost 30 minutes and Kiruna almost 20. So time enough to make up any delays. There seems to be wild animals in Sweden; that walk upon tracks.
I would really recommend this. The museum in Narvik is very interesting about the Second World War. You also stop in Hell I think.
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Old 26th December 2016, 10:36   #8
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The cable-car to high above the town - Narvikfjellet - is well worth a trip to spend a couple of hours, with spectacular panoramic views over to the Lofoten Islands. The bottom station is near(ish) to the railway station.

http://www.narvikfjellet.no/Home/?Article=12
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Old 26th December 2016, 10:49   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Felix Pole View Post
The cable-car to high above the town - Narvikfjellet - is well worth a trip to spend a couple of hours, with spectacular panoramic views over to the Lofoten Islands. The bottom station is near(ish) to the railway station.

http://www.narvikfjellet.no/Home/?Article=12
Agree, forgot to mention that. Just need a clear day. Yes a short walk up the hill from the railway station.
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Old 26th December 2016, 13:40   #10
Iskra
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groningen View Post
Go from Stockholm to Narvik, stay there for 5 hours and return. What a waste of time. What i have done several times is to take the bus in Narvik to Fauske and then with the nighttrain to Trondheim and daytrain to Oslo and v.v..

Narvik 16.10 - Fauske 21.30
Fauske 22.00 - Trondheim 7.47
Trondheim 8.18 - Oslo 15.03
With a 5 hour wait in Halmstad; 1 is at 12.20 in Hamburg Hbf.

The D94 stands still in Boden almost 30 minutes and Kiruna almost 20. So time enough to make up any delays. There seems to be wild animals in Sweden; that walk upon tracks.
That's exactly what I'm doing. I would otherwise be based in an uninspiring hotel room near Stockholm for two days. I will see enough of Stockholm throughout my week, so rather than stay there, I would rather get out and about.

I am based in Stockholm that week and have only two days spare, thus a more elaborate trip is out of the question I'm afraid. A 'there and back' lets me see a lot more of Scandinavia than by staying in Stockholm, lets me test out European sleeper trains as a practice before doing one of the France-Moscow sleeper trains and I do enjoy travelling anyway. I appreciate it's not everyone's cup of tea, but this is a rail forum after all. If I see anywhere I like on route, I will make a note to return and do a fuller exploration when I have more time. Money and time are limiting factor's too, as I have other international travels planned this year and my resources are limited. If anyone has any better suggestions for something that involves rail travel for two days that gets me back to Stockholm, I'm all ears.

Thank you everyone for the replies, advice and information.

Last edited by Iskra; 26th December 2016 at 13:59.
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Old 26th December 2016, 16:35   #11
Groningen
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Narvik 16.10 - Fauske 21.30
Fauske 22.00 - Vaernes 7.06
Vaernes 7.21 - Hell 7.23
Hell 8.18 - Storlien 9.22
Storlien 9.42 - Sundvall 13.53
Sundvall 14.39 - Stockholm 18.38

So you arrive 9 hours later in Stockholm than the direct train, but you make a huge detour. You can also travel further to Trondheim (from Fauske), but there you have 3 minutes to change trains. No X2 in Sweden; just regional trains.
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Old 26th December 2016, 16:46   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groningen View Post
Narvik 16.10 - Fauske 21.30
Fauske 22.00 - Vaernes 7.06
Vaernes 7.21 - Hell 7.23
Hell 8.18 - Storlien 9.22
Storlien 9.42 - Sundvall 13.53
Sundvall 14.39 - Stockholm 18.38

So you arrive 9 hours later in Stockholm than the direct train, but you make a huge detour. You can also travel further to Trondheim (from Fauske), but there you have 3 minutes to change trains. No X2 in Sweden; just regional trains.
Thank you, that is most interesting. I will consider doing that instead. How should I get tickets for that journey?
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Old 26th December 2016, 16:56   #13
Groningen
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Daylight in the middle of April 2017 will be from 6.00 to 20.40 in Trondheim. Sunrise is 1 hour earlier in Narvik than Trondheim. From May 23 untill July 20 the sun will not rise or set in Narvik. 24 hour of daylight!
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Old 26th December 2016, 16:57   #14
Iskra
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groningen View Post
Daylight in the middle of April 2017 will be from 6.00 to 20.40 in Trondheim. Sunrise is 1 hour earlier in Narvik than Trondheim. From May 23 untill July 20 the sun will not rise or set in Narvik. 24 hour of daylight!
Thank you, you've been very helpful. I think I'll follow your itinery
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Old 26th December 2016, 17:21   #15
Groningen
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Do not believe on my eyes. I only give you a free advice what you could do. The real travel you have to figure yourself out.

Other way around:
Stockholm 7.22 - Sundvall 11.23 (with X2 departure possible at 10.22 from Stockholm to make connection)
Sundvall 14.08 - Storlien 18.25
Storlien 18.30 - Trondheim 20.00
Trondheim 23.40 - Fauske 8.28
Fauske 8.50 - Narvik 13.30 (bus)
Narvik 15.15 - Stockholm 9.15

Even a route via Oslo is possible: Stockholm 7.14 Oslo 12.29 - 14.02 Trondheim 20.45

Last edited by Groningen; 26th December 2016 at 17:23.
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