Enthusiast, Culture

Northern Sweden by Private Train

13 to 22 July
Sweden, Scandinavia

The north of Sweden is the remotest and most sparsely populated part of the country, extending beyond the Arctic Circle into Lappland. Distances are considerable, accommodation sparse and there are few opportunities to change locomotives. Nevertheless, there is considerable railway interest, with parallel routes north linked by long freight only connecting lines and long freight branches to the Gulf of Bothnia.  Being so far north, daylight hours in summer are long, and beyond the Arctic Circle the sun does not set at the time of our visit so we will enjoy continuous daylight here. The journey gives an unusual opportunity to travel the major remaining sections of the world famous Inlandsbanan by diesel hauled passenger train, rather than the usual diesel units. That’s over 1000km of diesel haulage. Our return journey will take us over the full length of the upper Norrland main line between Boden and Ånge, a journey many will only have made overnight, and a lengthy section of which is now freight only.  The final days of the journey see us visit two heritage railways as well as using – we hope – some very photogenic motive power!

The following itinerary has been agreed in principle by our Swedish operator but is subject to final confirmation and pricing. The motive power quoted will be requested but is subject to availability and may change.

Highlights

  • Private charter train
  • Unusual locomotives
  • Non-passenger lines
  • Good hotels
  • Great scenery
Itinerary

Day 1 Friday 13 July  Flights from several UK airports to Stockholm. Those booked on group flights to Stockholm Arlanda will be met and taken by fast train to the Stockholm hotels. Early arrivals can take the opportunity to travel through the Citybana tunnel which has opened since our last visit or explore the metro and fascinating light railways of the Stockholm conurbation. We spend the night at a hotel near Stockholm Central station.

Day 2 Saturday 14 July (B) Today we start our ‘dash to the North’, our preferred traction being a big fast diesel possibly an exDSB MZ.  With no time to dally, we take the direct route to Mora through Uppsala, Avesta Krylbo and Borlänge.  The line between Borlänge and Mora is quite scenic and there may be opportunity for a photo stop. At Mora we reverse and set off up the Inlandsbanan. There will definitely be a photo stop just after Tallhed where the line crosses the Emån river on a 34 metre high bridge.  The highest point on the Inlandsbanan (524metres a.s.l.) is at km 269, and soon there is an opportunity to get off the train and walk a short distance to a bear’s former winter den.  There are numerous lakes and some fine old water towers to be seen until, just before Sveg, the Ljusnan is crossed on a combined road/rail bridge. We continue north through some small communities to  Brunflo where we join the Ånge to Bräcke railway and  soon reach the sizeable town of Östersund for our overnight stop.

Day 3 Sunday 15 July (B) We have a long day in prospect and may need an early start for the longest section of the Inlandsbanan, for which we plan to use an Inlandsbanan locomotive.  At Ulriksfors we see the short branch from Strömsund trail in. This will be covered later in the tour, but for now we continue to Hoting, a major forestry centre where a freight line heads for Forsmo. That too comes later, so we continue north through Dorotea and Vilhelmina – both middle names of a queen of Sweden – keeping a look out for reindeer on the tracks as they are quite common on the line. After Storuman, sited on the lake of the same name, the second of the connecting lines to the upper Norrland main line diverges right towards Lycksele. A steam train operates in summer between Slagnäs and Arvidsjaur and we will probably see it at some point.  We must run round at Arvidsjaur, so there will be time to visit the  Inlandsbanen museum in the station building.  There is a second road/rail bridge now over the Piteälven before we cross the Arctic circle at km 241 – pausing briefly at the large sign.  By now everyone will be looking forward to arriving at Gällivare the northern end of the Inlandsbanan, and of course, no matter how late we arrive it will still be light! The hardy or insomniac may wish to photograph the station clock at midnight.

Day 4 Monday 16 July (B) Today is an easier day as we travel south down the Malmbanan (the famous Iron Ore railway) through Boden to Luleå, using authentic Malmbanan power in the form of the Dm3 triple electric locomotive normally to be found at the Norrbottens railway museum. Luleå is a coastal city in Swedish Lapland, known for the Gammelstad Church Town, a cluster of well-preserved wooden houses and the stone Nederluleå Church from the 1400s. Arrangements are being progressed for a short freight line tour in the afternoon visiting the end of the Iron ore railway at the unloading terminal of Sandskär, and the museum railway branch from Gammelstad to Karlsvikshyttan where there will be the possibility to visit the Norrbottens railway museum. If it is available English Electric built shunter V1 Nr3 will be requested. Luleå is the major rail centre for the north of Sweden and there should be plenty of locos stabled as well as IORE double electrics passing through with iron ore wagons.

Day 5 Tuesday 17 July (B) Today will be a long day, partly due to distance travelled. We expect to use a pair of class Da electric locomotives built between 1953 and 1960. Our route takes us back to Boden where we reverse and head south down the Norrland main line towards Bräcke. At Älvsbyn we take the 53km freight line to the port of Piteå which lost its passenger service in 1972, and follow the course of the Piteälven river which is crossed by a single arch metal bridge near Sikfors.  When we return we will take the south facing curve of the triangle south of Älvsbyn  and continue south passing many closed stations and crossing the Skellefte River on a 464 metre long bridge to reach Bastuträsk where we diverge left onto another long freight branch. This is the Skellefteåbanan and runs for 64km to Skelleftehamn. Once there were 20 stations on the line, and one of them, Klutmark, was exactly 1000 km from Stockholm, but final closure to passenger services was in 1990. After 47km is the sizeable town of Skellefteå, where one day the Norrbotniabanan will pass through on its way from Umeå to Piteå and Luleå.  We continue until we reach the end of the peninsula by the Sörfjärden on which the port of Skelleftehamn stands and hope to reach the SJ limit at Rönnskärsverken.  Returning to the Norrland main line we again take an east to south curve to continue south through the junction station of Hällnäs to diverge left (again!) before Vännäs and run on a very attractive section of railway to reach our destination for the night – the city of Umeå.

Day 6 Wednesday 18 July (B) Umeå is the biggest city in Norrland, the twelfth biggest in Sweden and is situated on an inlet of the Gulf of Bothnia at the mouth of the Ume River. The main tourist sights are museums, and amazingly Umeå Ostra railway station is considered an attraction to people other than railway enthusiasts! Our locomotive today is a little uncertain – we would like an SJ class Td diesel (a modified T44) if possible.  Our first port of call is Holmsund, at the end of a short branch south of Umeå, where there are wood and paper industries. Now we reverse, pass though Umeå again, and, taking the east to south curve of the triangle, call at Vännäs to reverse. This curve, and the line south of Vännäs are now freight only, passenger trains running by the Botniabanan. We retrace our route of yesterday to Hällnäs, where we take the non-electrified line to Lycksele passing initially through the dense forests of Västerbotten. A passenger service from Umeå goes this far, but we continue on over the Umeälven river which we follow and cross again as we head for Storuman, where we join the Inlandsbanan.  Now we must retrace our outward route to Vännäs, travelling south as far as Mellansel where we reverse and take the freight only branch to Örnsköldsvik, our overnight stop and an important industrial centre, though the port is in decline.

Day 7 Thursday 19 July (B) Örnsköldsvik station is on the Botniabanan, which we cannot use due to signalling requirements, and is passenger track anyway. Instead we return to Mellansel, possibly with a Swedish Railway museum diesel (the amazingly noisy T42-205 is favourite), and continue south on the now freight only section of the former main line crossing the magnificent Forsmobron, a 50 metre high bridge over the Ångermanälven.  At Långsele we reverse, go north again two stations to Forsmo and take the second of the lines connecting the Norrland main line with the Inlandsbanan. We follow the Ångermanälven though open countryside passing the closed station of Ådalsliden, where there are stone age rock paintings nearby. This single track non-electrified line joins the Inlandsbanan at Hoting, and we continue down the Inlandsbanan as far as Ulriksfors where we take the short branch to Strömsund.  We return by the outward route to Långsele where we reverse and take the freight line to Västeraspby as far as the closed station of Solleftea which is a small town but with a big hotel near the station. The station is in an elevated position looking over the town which is attractively sited on either side of the river.

Day 8 Friday 20 July (B) Today starts with the train completing the non-passenger section of the Ådalsbanan by following the Ångermanälven valley as far as Västeraspby where the Botniabanan joins from the north.  We reverse, return to Långsele  and set off south for Bräcke where passenger metals are finally rejoined. The train will bypass Ånge station on  a freight line and continue directly through some very fine scenery to Ockelbo where a coach will be waiting to transport us to Jädraås for our special train on the Jädraås-Tallås Järnväg. This is the remaining section of the Dala-Ockelbo-Norrsundets railway closed in 1970. The 6 km of narrow gauge line is full of interest and we shall try to do all available track, probably with their ex SJ Z4p diesel. Back on our main line train at Ockelbo we shall speed down the main line to Gävle for our overnight stop.  It is quite possible to walk to the national railway museum and view some of the outside exhibits.

Day 9 Saturday 21 July (B) We aim to do at least part, preferably all, of the day with the Swedish Railway Museum’s Dm3 triple electric loco comprising 1246, 1247 and 1248. First we head north to Gävle  godsbangård to access the freight line to Gävle port before taking the Gävle avoiding line and heading for Storvik with its pink station building. We may have to wait for a path on the single track to the junction station of Avesta Krylbo where we continue south to the station at Ängelsberg, attractively sited by a lake. Here we board our chartered railcar for a journey through Snyten and along the museum railway to Kärrgruvan. A weak bridge means locomotives are banned from the branch. At Kärrgruvan we will be able to inspect the roundhouse and rolling stock before returning to Ängelsberg. Our route now takes us south to Västerås and the Mälarbanan to Stockholm – the end of a truly epic journey to the North of Sweden.

Day 10  Sunday 22 July (B) Flights back to several UK airports. Train tickets will be supplied to those on the group flights from Arlanda.

 

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • 8 day charter train only: £1,500 (or £1,300 see below*)
  • 9 night hotel package (double/twin): £495 standard, £695 quality
  • 9 night hotel package (single): £770 standard, £1,030 quality
  • Flights and transfers: from £200

Options

  • *If you have travelled with us on any of our previous Sweden or Finland charter trains you can deduct £50 for each one. So £200 off if you have done all four.
  • Individual special train days: £195 (£185 if travelled before)

Deposit

  • Travelling by air: £500
  • Own travel: £300
  • Train only: £200

Price includes

  • All travel as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation with breakfast (not if train only)
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted.

Flights

  • Various flight options from the UK including direct flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
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