Flåm is a small town with a permanent population of only about 600. It has a spectacular location at the head of Aurlandsfjord, and as a result it is visited by large numbers of tourists.

There is an express boat service from Bergen to Flåm, taking 5-1/2 hours for the journey, and making up to ten stops at small towns along the way. Many of these stops are extremely brief. The main part of this journey is along Sognefjord.

Flåm is also visited by monstrously huge cruise ships which tend to dominate the place when they are there. At the time of my visit one of these was in port for a few hours, and before departing it made the most outrageously loud and rude noises, presumably to warn its customers that it was about to leave.

Flåm can also be reached by a 20 km long railway from Myrdal, a station on the mainline between Oslo and Bergen.

Both the boat and the train provide a spectacular trip, so I travelled in by boat and out by train.

The third way to reach Flåm is by road, as the main Oslo - Bergen highway passes nearby. The scenery on this is much less spectacular as it passes through some very long tunnels - the longest being 24 km!.

Frank Stamford

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The expres boats are big and spacious with 12 seats across the width of the boat, in four rows of three. Nevertheless, on the day I travelled it was only about 20% full and easy to get a window seat.


This journey along Sognefjord and Aurlandsfjord gives a constant succession of magnificent views.

One of the small towns along the way. Because of the convoluted coastline the boat often provides the quickest means of transport, and the only road vehicle access to some of the towns is by ferry. The boat also did two mid-fjord transfers of passengers to other boats, in both cases the two boats drew up alongside, touching each other, and the transfer was done almost before you knew it happened.


Another view from the boat.

Leading to bridge

The narrowest fjord in Europe. The Bergen - Flåm boat does not go up here, but it is visible from on board.

bridge pier

At Flåm. The Bergen-Flåm express boat is on the right.

At Flåm. The long-established Fretheim Hotel is on the left-hand side. It dates from the nineteenth century.


There is a railway museum at Flåm, which is dedicated to the Flåm railway. Included in the museum is one of the first electric locos used on the line. This view is somewhat distorted as it was taken with an extreme wide angle lens. Unfortunately the museum makes very little mention of the first seven years of the line's operation after it was opened in August 1940. During those seven years it was worked by steam using three 25d class 0-6-0T locomotives. These had been modified for use on the line by mounting the boiler at a slight angle, fitting Riggenbach system brakes, and Schlieren air brakes. These applied four carborundum-based blocks against the rail head.

The builders' plates on the electric loco in the Flåm railway museum.

View from my room at the Fretheim Hotel, Flåm.

Two trains waiting to depart from Flåm for Myrdal. Each train has two locomotives, one at each end of the six car train. The railway is standard gauge and 20 km long, and rises 864 km to Myrdal. Over 8 km of the line is at the ruling gradient of 1 in 18 (5.5%). The minimum curve radius is 130 metres. There are 20 tunnels with a total length of 6 km, the length of the longest being 1.3 km.

The rolling stock used on the Flåm railway carries descriptive information on the railway in several languages, to help entice visitors to Flåm to take the trip to Myrdal.

View from the train on the Flåm railway.

View from the train on the Flåm railway.

View from the train on the Flåm railway.

Kjosfossen falls, on the Flåm railway. The train stops here for the benefit of photographers.

Another view of Kjosfossen falls.

On arrival at Myrdal I changed to the normal train to head back to Bergen. Whilst waiting for the train to depart I took this shot out of the window. Above the white building you can see the entrance to a tunnel on the Bergen-Oslo railway.

Links:

Sognefjord cruise and the Flåm Railway

Fjord1: Bergen — Flåm Express Boats

Norwegian State Railways — train times


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All photographs Copyright Frank Stamford, 2008, who may be contacted by email at: frank.stamford@bigpond.com

Last updated: 10 November 2013