Bergen, Norway's second city, is about 530 km from Oslo by rail. The western half of the railway route is extremely difficult railway country and there are many long tunnels and long snow shelters.

Most of these pictures were taken around the area of Finse in the west, where the railway is at an elevation of around 1,200 metres. The elevation of the highest point on the railway is 1,237 metres.

The majority of the pictures were taken from the train during sometimes brief moments between tunnels and snowsheds.

The decision to build the Bergen — Oslo railway was made in 1898, after great controversy as to whether it should be built to 3 ft 6 in gauge or standard gauge. The decision was made to build it to standard gauge, and that decision spelt the doom of 3 ft 6 in gauge in Norway.

At the time of the decision the 107 km long Bergen — Voss 3 ft 6 in gauge line already existed, and this would form part of the new mainline, so it had to be converted to standard gauge.

Due to the difficult topography and the many tunnels the railway was not opened throughout until 1909.

It is a difficult railway to operate and maintain in winter. For example, in 1918 a 19 km section was blocked by avalanches for a week; a landslide pushed an NSB staff house into a fjord, drowning the three occupants; six bridges were damaged by avalanches in 1928 and one was pushed into a fjord; and a train and its occupants was snow bound for two days in 1937.

Electrification of the whole line was completed in 1964, a process which was complicated and delayed because the catenary (overhead wires) would be vulnerable to rockslides, snow and ice.

Frank Stamford

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Nesbyen station is a little on the Oslo side of the half-way point between Oslo and Bergen. Its elevation is only 169 metres.

 

At Finse there is a railway museum to recognise the work of the people who built the railway. On display there is this steam rotary snow plough.

Further west the elevation rises to 1,200 metres.


This type of scenery can be seen sometimes only briefly between a succession of tunnels and snow shelters.

 

 


The next picture is a close up of the bottom centre section of this photograph..

Leading to bridge

 

 

bridge pier

 

 


 

Myrdal station, junction for the famous Flåm line.

View from the train west of Voss.

 

And the next two pictures show what you might see on arrival in Bergen:



There are many magnificent late nineteenth century mansions in Bergen, like this ...

And these.


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

Last updated: 31 December 2008