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A Personal Recollection of (Train/Travel) to and from Scandinavia from the 1970's to today   Phil Sp.

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For many, their earliest travels to Scandinavia used to be by Inter-Rail; armed with a Thomas Cook International Timetable, rather than Michael Portillo's Bradshaw and film crew.

Inter-Rail was originally 4 weeks, for under 23's, then later 26, but now country-by country and day-by-day for all ages at differing prices.
With a mixture of Ferries, through coaches, and Rail Ferries, it was possible to reach Sweden and Norway, or go 'over the top' to Finland; although the Stockholm-Helsinki ferries offered discounted tickets.
Then the Nord-Turist ticket allowed 'all-ages' to travel within the area; which we accessed by flying into Bergen on a package-deal including at least 1 night at the Youth Hostel. Backpack with tent meant travelling light and no video.

There used to be frequent Roll-on/Roll-off Car, Freight and passenger sailings from the UK to and from Sweden Norway and Denmark, from Harwich or Newcastle, but these have all now ceased - just Holland remaining.
This summer, even passenger-on-freighter services to/from Göteborg ended abruptly without notice.

In Norway, North Sea Oil paved the way for Norwegian's favourite occupation of tunnelling through their mountains, and building bridges. The Nord-Norge Bussen trip from Narvik to Bodø (completing the loop from Sweden via Gallivare and Kiruna) had been a series of ferry crossings where the bus(ses) [there were about 6 at a time] had booked-priority-passage and bypassed the long queues of cars and lorries waiting for their turn. The last time we took the bus, we don't recall a single ferry. Our most recent loop from the Ice Hotel to Bergen used the Hurtigruten.

Within Denmark, bridges began to replace train ferries, culminating in the Øresund Bridge (Storebælt) to Sweden now more than 10 years (and 3 TV series) old, free travel on the link is now impeded by passport controls.

As a series of islands, and occupying the obvious route from Western Europe to Sweden and Norway, Denmark had many rail-ferry services, with constant activity marshalling the freight trains and splitting / combining the through passenger services. but now land-and-bridge based routes have almost completely replaced them all... the last being Rødby-Puttgarten.

The Rødby-Puttgarten Ferry Route is mainly a Ro-Ro Lorry, Car and Passenger turn-up-and-go Service, for the 40 minute crossing, but there is still a through train service from København to Berlin with a 2-hourly ICE-TD service, as 1 of the ferries still has a single track aboard which can cope with the 4-car unit. Rødby Station is now almost a wilderness (see photos)

Along with Inter-National sleeper services, this is also under threat: Cheap Airline flights apparently taking the passengers.
The alternative of driving to Scandinavia for a holiday via Germany is achievable in 1 day from dis-embarking from the ferry at Hoek, in Holland, on a Sunday morning at 8.00 and reaching Göteborg at 22.00
The Channel Tunnel offers a slightly longer route, but with more flexibility.

The time now taken to reach Sweden, and allow for the return journey, tends to limit the extent of Sweden that can be visited now in a short holiday. Reaching the Malmbanan or Nord-Kapp requires a longer holiday, and a reconsideration of the flight and train package including hotels rather than camping ... a very different kind of holiday. In 2015 we managed to travel on about 8 or more ferries; watching the Trains come on and off the Rødby ferry as we queued to board with our campervan.


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