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? 

Pictured is short haul flight.
Norwegians tend to opt to take short haul flights over train journeys in Norway, here's why. Pictured is short haul flight. Photo by Aleksei Zaitcev on Unsplash

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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What you need to know about skiing in Norway this Easter

Conditions are looking good, with Easter being one of Norway's most popular times for cross-country and alpine skiing. However, there are a few things you should know before you take to the slopes this year. 

What you need to know about skiing in Norway this Easter

Why Easter? 

Easter is an incredibly popular time for skiing for a number of reasons. Firstly, most people are off work due to the public holidays or choose to take a full week off to spend an entire week’s worth of vacation with their family. 

Secondly, the days are longer, and the weather is normally warmer than earlier in the ski season. For many, this means skiing in the sun with fewer layers to keep the cold away. 

Furthermore, the snow conditions are usually quite nice and less hard and icy than during the earlier winter holiday or Christmas. The promise of sun and decent weather make cross-country skiing particularly special. Many like to stop on their journeys to grill hotdogs, eat an orange or a kvikk lunsj. 

All of these add up to skiing at Easter being something of a tradition for Norwegians. 

However, it’s not just skiing that’s popular this time of year. Resorts like Hemsedal have built up a reputation for hosting some of the best after-ski in Norway at this time of year. 

This means that it isn’t just families heading to the mountains for a wholesome time on the slopes before playing some board games. Partygoers are also among the masses migrating to the mountains for Easter. 

READ ALSO: How Norwegians celebrate Easter

Expect busy slopes 

For many centres, the week leading up to Easter is the busiest time of the year. Families choose to travel on the Wednesday or Maundy Thursday before Easter. This means that by Good Friday, slopes will probably be at their busiest for the year. The weekend before Easter is also busy as kids break up from school on the Friday before Good Friday. 

Even at the biggest resorts, you can expect queues for most lifts that will persist well into the afternoon. Cross-country ski areas and tracks will also remain busy. In many places with a robust cross-country infrastructure, courses will be floodlit – meaning late trips may be one way of avoiding crowds. 

When alpine skiing, try to ski safely around crowds and adjust your speed accordingly. You should always check junctions and when ski slopes intersect and combine. As in other countries, the skier behind is the one responsible. 

While you may be in the mood for after-ski, drinking excessively on skis is a serious no and could lead to major injuries for yourself or someone you collide with. 

If you do find yourself in an accident, you must remain at the scene and wait for the ski patrol to attend the accident if one or more parties are injured. 

What are the conditions looking like? 

Norway’s Energy and Water Directorate (NVE) has said that there is more snow than typical at this time of year in parts of eastern and northwest Norway and the county of Trøndaleg. 

In western Norway, there is an average or slightly below-average amount of snow. According to the NVE, this is the best year for snow since 2018. 

However, Good Friday could see rain in places in southern Norway which could make driving conditions difficult. 

Wind is also on the forecast, Norwegian newspaper Dagavisen reports. 

Saturday and Easter Sunday are likely to see some sunshine, which will be good news to many. 

For those heading off-piste or on backcountry skiing (or touring) trips, keeping an eye on avalanche danger is important. You can check the avalanche danger warning of several regions here. In addition, if you are skiing in a new area, always ensure you contact a local expert or guide for information on conditions. 

Where to rent equipment

Most resorts and villages, and towns with a ski centre will have a rental service where you pay to rent gear. 

However, this can be expensive if you are skiing the entire long weekend or are travelling with kids. 

If you are a full-time resident of Norway, try using your nearest BUA. BUA is a volunteering group which rents out sports and leisure equipment to people living in their area. 

This means you should rent equipment near where you live rather than the town you travel to. This is because BUAs prefer to save their equipment for locals rather than tourists. Rental from BUA is free, but you will need to pay to replace any equipment you break, lose or damage. 

What you need to know if you are travelling for Easter this year 

Norwegian schools break up for påskeferie (Easter holidays) this Friday (March 31st), so you can expect heavy traffic on the roads out of the big cities starting from Friday afternoon and continuing over the weekend.

Typically well over a million Norwegians take to the roads over Easter to stay in their cabins or visit relatives. 

There is also likely to be heavy traffic between Maundy Thursday (April 6th) and Easter Saturday (April 8th) and again on Easter Monday (April 10th) as people return home.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about travel in Norway this Easter