The most scenic train journey in Europe

The most scenic train journey in Europe

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-10-25 12:03 The red train I have always been fascinated by train journeys. It is the best way to know how people live and the best way to enjoy a country’s landscape. Having undertaken several scenic train journeys in Switzerland, I did not believe my friend when he told me that the most dramatic and scenic train journey in Europe is to be experienced in Norway.  To prove him wrong, I decided to travel the seven-hour, 500km-long journey between Oslo, the capital of Norway located in the eastern part of the country, and Bergen — the gateway to scenic fjords located in the west. We booked our tickets in advance. To me, the fare appeared to be quite steep (Rs.10000/- per person approx.) but since most things in Norway are costly, I didn’t grumble. When my wife and I boarded the early morning train at Oslo Central Station, it was still dark and very cold. At the stroke of six, the red coloured train chugged off from the platform. Within fifteen minutes, we were on the outskirts of Oslo. The train actually travels underground from the Central Station; and when it surfaces again, the train is on the outskirts of Oslo. Here, the train stopped at two stations. At about 7 am, the train crossed Drammen station. We were moving along the beautiful countryside, leaving aside the industrial area of Oslo. A station As the train moved along, the countryside changed dramatically. Initially, the landscape consisted of a bit of forest and some fields.  But as the train rattled along, snowcapped hillocks and pristine valleys came to view. As we climbed higher, we reached a station called Finse. We were told that it was 1200 metres above sea level and the highest point on the train route. In this station, I was amused to see a quaint little bicycle trolley which could move on the rail track! As the train moved towards Bergen, the landscape changed dramatically, with lakes, fast moving streams, majestic forests, magnificent glaciers, canyons and small villages appearing. The mountain plateau called Hardangavidda, through which the train passed, is lovely. At Finse Station Oslo bergen scenic rail Between Bergen station and Oslo Central, there are 18 stations and the train stops in all the stations to allow crossing. Whenever the train stopped, I would get down and breathe the chilly, salubrious air deeply and enjoy the moment. Coffee, and snacks are sold in the train, but they are very costly indeed! The train passes through 182 tunnels with a total length of 28 kms. The tunnel called Grave Holson is more than half a kilometre long.  I was informed that the construction of this railway line began in 1883 in a small way. In 1901, a new line was laid and it took eight years to complete.  One cannot but marvel at the engineering skills of Norwegians, especially their tunnel-boring skills.  Waterfall Wayside village   Myrdal station (I remembered the economist Gunnar Myrdal when I saw this station) is an important junction on this route. Travellers can get down here and take a side journey on the famous Flam railway. Flam rail route is 20 kilometres long and said to be spectacular, with 80 percent of the journey having a gradient of 5.5 percent. The route runs through the famous fjords of Norway and is the third most visited attraction in Norway. But I could not experience it due to lack of time. After passing Myrdal, our train took a downward route and we reached Bergen Railway Station around 2 pm. Built in 1913, the station is in a beautiful building. On completing the train journey, I realised that my friend’s claim was right. Author: Dr.Guruprasad (former DGP Karnataka) is presently the Chief Executive of the Gokula Education Foundation (Medical) which works in the field of education and health care.