A rail postcard from Göteborg

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Dear Siim,

I hope you liked my last e-postcard from Hendaye.

Today I am writing to you from Göteborg, Sweden. I’m only writing this from the comfort of the train south of Sweden’s second city because I’m lucky – my train from Oslo arrived 2 minutes early, at 1038. Meaning I could catch the 1040 train to København. But that was just luck. Normally I would have been hanging around in Göteborg for a full hour. Who sets these timetables, Siim? Because they sure are not done with international passengers in mind.

There are coaches that run direct every day between the capitals of Denmark and Norway – do you wonder why trains cannot do the same? I do.

If my Oslo – Göteborg train had been very delayed, and I had missed the 1140 train to København, no-one would really know what my rights would be. Because no-one can book a through ticket between Oslo and Berlin (my final destination) any more, at least not online. So for Oslo – Göteborg I have a NSB ticket, and for Göteborg – Berlin a separate DB ticket. If the NSB train had broken down, and I ended up getting stuck, who pays? Or who has the responsibility to give me a hotel?

It’s even more laughable in the other direction, Siim. You cannot even buy tickets for the Göteborg – Oslo service at the station in Göteborg, and there is no NSB ticket machine there either. You need either to have a mobile ticket or have the ticket posted to you. Not ideal for passengers that want to turn up and ride, is it?

Plus if you looked at the Swedish rail timetable on their mobile app you would not even find an Oslo train, or indeed a København train for that matter, as all services show just the Swedish part of the journey. That’s not very handy to foster EU-wide rail travel is it now Siim? And isn’t that your job?

Until next time,

Jon

P.S. I was even subjected to a customs control of questionable legality at Oslo S this morning. But that’s an issue for your colleague Cecilia.

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4 comments

  1. ajklgjsalk

    I have been able to buy Öresundståg/Øresundstog tickets from SJ for many years. What’s changing is seat reservations: SJ sometimes thinks that seat reservations are mandatory, sometimes that they are optional and sometimes that they are impossible. By buying the tickets directly before departure from the ticket machines at the station, you get the same price, but it’s up to you to decide if you want a seat reservation or not, and you can choose to include trains/buses/metro to any station in the Copenhagen Capital Area if you so wish. All DSB ticket machines in the Capital Area should sell tickets for the train (starting from the station where you buy the ticket), but DSB ticket machines outside the Capital Area won’t sell you any tickets outside Denmark. In Sweden, tickets are sold in ticket machines operated by Skånetrafiken, Västtrafik, Blekingetrafiken, Hallandstrafiken, Länstrafiken Kronoberg and Kalmar Länstrafik. Some of the Swedish companies issue travel cards which give you a 20% discount if you use those cards to pay for the tickets. Europa-Spezial to Flensburg or Puttgarden is sometimes cheaper than a regular ticket, even if you only use the Öresundståg leg.

    The problem with booking the Oslo-Gothenburg train at http://www.sj.se is that SJ only sells the most expensive tickets. The cheap tickets can only be bought at NSB’s website. This seems to be NSB’s fault. SJ also claims that it is impossible to make seat reservations for the Oslo-Gothenburg trains and that 1st class is unavailable, although you can easily make seat reservations in both 1st and 2nd class if you buy the ticket from NSB’s website.

    Did you consider taking the DFDS Seaways overnight ferry between Oslo and Copenhagen? This might be better if you have to make a long trip through Germany and Denmark on your way to Oslo.

  2. Martin Holterman

    As far as I know, if the NSB train breaks down, NSB has to compensate you for any resulting damage. (Assuming normal EU law applies.)

  3. Jon

    @aslajg – yes, and at least the SJ situation has improved. When I last did København – Oslo, SJ wouldn’t include *any* Øresundståg services. Now it does, but favours its own routes. But the essential problem remains – to book trips like this, and know you get the best price and a reliable connection requires far more time and knowledge than most customers have!

  4. aslajg

    If you take the night train between Malmö and Berlin (only runs three days per week, only runs during summer, only couchette cars, timetable here: http://tidtabell.resplus.se/tidtabell/102_tag102.pdf), then you can book the entire trip as one booking at http://www.sj.se. You can book Copenhagen-Oslo at http://www.sj.se but SJ only sells the most expensive Gothenburg-Oslo tickets and sometimes shows stupid connections which go via Stockholm. You sometimes get a little better choices if you enter “2” as via station.

    Also consider getting an Interrail pass for Sweden as Swedish Interrail passes are claimed to cover the international Danish/German/Norwegian portion of international InterCity trains and night trains (but NOT the international portion of regional trains such as Öresundståg).