Departures On Norway’s Bergen Line Railway May Be Cut

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Train operator Vy has announced plans to cut the number of daily departures on Norway's world-famous Oslo to Bergen railway.

It's certainly the most famous railway trip in Norway, and one of the most famous in all of Europe. Popular with tourists, the Bergen line (Bergensbanen) also plays an important role for locals travelling between Norway's two biggest cities.

Oslo to Bergen railway feature image

But now train operator Vy wants to cut the number of daily departures on the Bergen line railway from six to just four. Environmental campaigners and regular users of the line are among those unhappy.

One of the most famous railway lines in Europe

The Bergen line railway is a critical part of Norway's transport infrastructure. A popular way for people who prefer not to fly to travel between Oslo and Bergen, the railway has also become a major tourist attraction in recent years.

Often named as one of the world's most beautiful rail journeys, the Bergen line soars high over the Hardangervidda mountain plateau as it travels between Norway's two biggest cities.

The route competes with one of Europe's busiest air routes. There are about 18 flights per day between Oslo and Bergen.

Bergen railway in the winter

While train passenger numbers are relatively low outside of the high tourist season, tourists do use the route year-round.

Two daily departures could be cut

Despite the route's fame, Vy now wants to cut the number of daily departures from six to four. Their justification is that travel habits of train passengers changed during the pandemic, and the passenger base is no longer the same.

“We envision that we will gradually increase to the level we had before the pandemic, but the foundation is not there yet,” said Åge-Christoffer Lundeby, Vy communications manager, to NRK.

Vy increased the number of departures when they took over the route in 2019 following Norway's comprehensive railway reform.

View of snowy mountains from the Oslo to Bergen railway
View from a train on the Bergen line.

Less trains will see more people fly

Fewer train departures to choose from will likely result in more people choosing to fly. That's the verdict of environmental campaigners, who are calling for investments, not cuts, in Norwegian trains.

Holger Schlaupitz of Friends of the Earth Norway said making cuts to train travel in Norway is the opposite of what we need: “Now there is a need to cut air traffic to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to Schlaupitz, both Oslo and Bergen airports have many travellers despite the travel disruption of recent years. During 2021, just under 2 million people traveled by plane between the two cities.

Schlaupitz said this is a sign that there is a need for more train departures, not fewer: “It is actually time for Vy to invest, and try to get those passengers who may be on their way back to the plane, onto the train.”

Bergen railway station.

Vy's Lundeby said it is more environmentally friendly to run a few departures with more passengers.

Final decision yet to be made

However, Vy may not get their way. The number of departures will be negotiated between Vy and the Norwegian Railway Directorate later this year.

That being said, the Norwegian Railway Directorate seem likely to agree with Vy, based on a comment from its communications director to NRK. The final decision should be made by September.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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1 thought on “Departures On Norway’s Bergen Line Railway May Be Cut”

  1. That is a scandalous decision to make. Passengers use railways because the service runs and it’s affordable. If you don’t run trains, people won’t use them. Fewer trains means a less-flexible timetable and people need to be able to know they have a regular service. The Norwegian Government should not allow this reduction to take place based on a profit-driven service. The UK is far from perfect with its railway system but standards and levels of service are set out as minimums before private companies are allowed to take over a franchise operation. The Norwegian government should insist on a minimum of six departures per day – possibly even more if it can work on the single line.


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