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TRAVEL NEWS

Tips for short-haul foreign travel from Norway this Christmas

For the past two Christmases, strict Covid rules prevented many people from travelling. This year that isn't an issue, but there are a few things you should know about your journey this year.

Pictured is passenger at a rail station in Norway.
Here's what you need to know if you will be travelling from Norway across Europe this winter. Pictured is passenger at a rail station in Norway.Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash

Whether you’re a foreigner in Norway planning a trip to see friends or relatives over the festive season or you’re planning a Christmas or New Year trip to Norway, there are several things worth keeping in mind when planning travel.

Strikes

If you’re taking a trip to the UK, be aware that rail workers are currently engaged in a protracted battle to secure pay increases that will help them cope with the soaring cost of living and have not ruled out further strikes over the festive season.

Several strike dates have been announced for December 2022 and January 2023. These may complicate your travel plans significantly after arriving in the UK. You can check the latest strike dates here. In addition, public transport workers in London will also strike throughout December.  

If you’re going to Italy, there are widespread air and rail strikes in November that could continue into December, while Germany has also seen airline strikes. Low-cost airlines in Spain are also staging strike action that is currently scheduled to last until after Christmas.

You can find the latest in Italy here, Spain here and Germany here.

Meanwhile, back in Scandinavia, SAS cabin crew could strike over wages and working hours if an agreement isn’t reached during meditation. If they strike, this could lead to a reduced schedule to and from Norway.  

Flying

Many airlines are struggling to bring back staffing to pre-pandemic levels, making it difficult to increase the number of flights to meet demand. The current oil prices have also significantly increased airlines’ fuel costs.

Long-haul flight prices have increased significantly, while short-haul prices have also risen. 

One tip would be to travel from different airports to get to your destination. 

For example, flights from Oslo Torp (Sandjefjord) are typically cheaper than flights from Oslo Gardermoen. The downside is that you will need to travel to the other airport, meaning the journey may take longer. 

Earlier this summer, most airports across Europe, Norway (pretty much) excluded, suffered staffing issues, which led to travel disruption and long delays. 

Trains

While Norway is quite well connected to neighbours Sweden, with regular connections between the two countries and overnight options, the country’s rail links to other nations leave much to be desired. 

Essentially, if you plan to take a train to your destination, you will need to first get to Sweden or Denmark and use those countries as hubs to reach the rest of Europe. 

With train tickets across Norway and other countries, for that matter, you’ll need to book relatively soon-ish or face being disappointed. 

The Seat 61 website provides tips on how to travel comfortably and affordably by train. It includes an introduction to train travel in Europe and an extensive search feature to find trains by starting location.

Here you can find a link for journey plans from Oslo to London and other European cities. However, be aware that Eurostar is running around one-third fewer services to avoid massive queues due to the post-Brexit passport check rules, and passengers are now advised to allow 90 minutes for pre-boarding checks. Financial troubles at the company have also seen ticket prices rise.

The Trainline is an international platform focused on train travel. The company is based in the UK but has extensive coverage of train travel in 45 countries across Europe.

The Trainline aims to find the cheapest tickets for a selected route. Most of the time, this means booking in advance.

Ferry

Taking a ferry is another option if you wish to avoid airport queues and all the hassle of checking in bags. The Oslo-Kiel line will get you to northern Germany. From there, you can head to the rest of Europe. Journeys on this route regularly sell out, though. 

For a family with a car, two adults and two children, tickets cost around 275 pounds per person for a return journey

Another option is the Kristiansand Eemshaven ferry, which travels from the south of Norway to outside Groningen in the Netherlands three times a week. Tickets, excluding the cost of a cabin, begin from 310 euros for a family of four and a car- 

Then there are various links to Denmark, where one can take the ferry to the top of the country or straight to Copenhagen and drive across the continent from there. Ferries from Norway include several routes from Larvik, Kristiansand, Langesund, Stavanger, and Bergen to Hirtshals. For a full overview of ferries from Norway, click here.  

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TRAVEL NEWS

Why cross-country flights are more popular than trains in Norway 

Figures have revealed that routes between Oslo and Bergen and the capital and Trondheim are among the most flown in Europe, with around 20 departures a day in each direction. So why are Norwegians opting for flights over the train? 

Why cross-country flights are more popular than trains in Norway 

Flights between Oslo and Bergen and Trondheim and Oslo were the fourth and fifth busiest air routes in Europe last year, according to European data agency Eurostat. 

Around 44 daily flights between Oslo and Trondheim and 38 between Bergen and the capital took off last year, contributing to some 222,622 domestic flights in total in 2022. 

Research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) found that Norwegians’ flying habits contributed to twice as many C02 emissions as Swedish, German or French air passengers.

Flights between Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim account for around 20 percent of emissions caused by domestic flights within Norway, public broadcaster NRK reports.

So why are Norwegians choosing to fly between cities rather than taking the train or other means of transport? 

Climate researcher Helene Muri from NTNU said that several factors explain why domestic flights are far more popular than trains. 

First of all, she told NRK that the cost of taking a long-distance train between cities in Europe is cheaper and faster than it is in Norway. 

“The average Norwegian often has enough to travel with to be able to take a weekend trip and take these perhaps unnecessary flights. Trains in Norway are quite expensive, so when flying is cheaper and faster, you understand that people choose it,” she told NRK. 

For example, a flight between Oslo and Bergen can be completed in under an hour, while the train between Bergen and Oslo can take six to eight hours to complete. Trains to Trondheim from the capital take a similar time too. 

In some cases, such as when travelling to Tromsø from further south in Norway, a flight may be the most practical option due to Norway’s geography. 

“For example, Oslo-Tromsø is a stretch where it is not easy to find alternative means of transport,” Muri explained. 

Another reason why planes may be more attractive than trains is due to the sheer number of flights compared to trains. Recently the number of trains between Oslo and Bergen has been cut due to a lack of demand, with there typically being around four departures per day. 

In comparison, there are flight departures just over once an hour between the two biggest cities in Norway, meaning finding a flight to fit around one’s plans and itinerary is much easier. 

The popularity of flying between cities in Norway comes despite train travel contributing 12.2 grams of C02 per passenger per kilometre to the 236 grams of C02 emitted by planes per traveller and kilometre

Muri said that to entice more travellers onto trains, journey speeds and onboard amenities would need to be improved. 

“The time it takes to take a train between cities in Norway has actually increased. It takes longer now than it did before. It’s a bit remarkable and takes things in a bit of a wrong direction,” she said. 

“Increased capacity, increased speed and the availability of stable broadband in the trains are measures that can help shift traffic from the air onto the railway network,” she added. 

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