How to travel around Sweden by train this summer

How to travel around Sweden by train this summer
Trains leaving from Stockholm to Gothenburg. File photo: Pontus Lundahl / TT
From June 13th the restrictions on travelling within Sweden will be lifted for people without any symptoms, but the Public Health Agency has issued special guidance on how public transport should be used. Here's what that means for train travel.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, which is at significantly different stages in different parts of Sweden, the agency has said everyone in Sweden should still choose other means of transport if possible (such as cycling or driving). If you do use public transport for a non-essential journey, you should avoid rush hour and choose an option where you can book a fixed seat in advance. 

This is to ensure you will be able to keep following the other guidelines that remain in place to limit the spread of infection, including keeping a distance from others in public. It's also important not to travel at all if you show any signs of illness, and most companies will refund your ticket if you develop symptoms before planned travel.

There are a few different train companies that traffic different stretches in Sweden, but the largest rail operator is SJ. If you're planning extensive travel within Sweden, it may be worthwhile to buy a 15-day or 30-day pass, which start at 3,295 kronor for 15 days with discounts for students, under-26s and pensioners.

From July 1st, it will be possible to book adjacent seats on SJ trains for passengers travelling together, something which isn't currently possible (although you can ask train staff to sit together after boarding, for example if travelling with children). You should still keep a distance from other passengers on board, and SJ will not be filling trains to the usual capacity. 

If you develop symptoms and are unable to travel on your planned date, SJ allows fee-free cancellation. You can read about SJ's efforts to reduce the spread of infection, and train cancellations, here.

MTRX, an alternative for train travel between Stockholm and Gothenburg, also introduced measures due to the coronavirus, but be aware that many of these change from June 14th.

For journeys with departure up until June 14th, you can cancel up to 48 hours beforehand and receive a voucher for the equivalent amount, and all new bookings with departure up until June 14th include a free seat next to you, meaning you won't be sitting next to a stranger.

MTRX hasn't yet announced any measures for after June 14th, but you can read more about how they're responding to the virus outbreak here.

Snälltåget is currently offering free rebooking of all tickets bought before May 13th. You need to rebook at least 24 days before departure in most cases, and seven days before hand if you had booked a cabin.

These trains will also not be filled to capacity to help passengers keep their distance and seat bookings have been spread out through carriages. Keep up to date on the company's coronavirus measures here.

The Inlandsbanan, a tourist train offering slow travel options and package tours usually only operates during the summer but in 2020 has suspended all routes due to low demand. 

If your pre-booked trip is cancelled, you'll receive a full refund or re-booking, but most of the company's tours are set to run as normal. Read more about the company's response to the outbreak here.


Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

If you're staying within your region this summer, you may be hoping to use local trains to explore. On these, it's less common to be able to book your own seat, so check with your region's transport operator if they have their own recommendations or changes to timetables and other policies due to the coronavirus.

In Stockholm, transport operator SL still asks passengers to avoid travelling with them unless absolutely essential, and especially to avoid rush hour. Read their guidelines here.

In Skåne, there are also changes although there's no general recommendation to avoid travel, except during rush hour. Up until June 14th, Skånetrafiken is offering a 7-day ticket to help people who usually get longer travel passes but are facing uncertainty. The company has also launched a live map where you can not only see where trains are, but also how many seats are filled on each one.

The region wants to promote travel within Skåne, which has so far been much less affected by the virus than other densely populated parts of Sweden. You can buy a summer ticket for 699 kronor, which can be used on trips within the region between June 15th and August 15th, on all routes run by Skånetrafiken. 

In Västra Götaland, Västtrafik has asked everyone to avoid non-essential journeys between 6am-8.30am and 3pm-6pm. Each week, the company also shares a list of the lines and stops which have been most crowded, to help passengers plan their journeys. Read more about their guidelines here.


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