On Trains & Buses

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Criss-Crossing Stockholm and Going Further Afield

Posted on December 6, 2022

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SL train, Stockholm, Sweden

There have been a few trips to Sweden in my life. The first was a business trip to Lund in February 2006 where no public transport got used. That is of no interest here, but there was another to Södertälje that did better. The reason is that a borrowed Access card allowed a return trip to Stockholm of a sunny evening. The train journeys in and out of Sweden’s capital city were efficient and uncrowded. This was my first time using public transport away from Ireland, Britain and the Isle of Man, and attracted no adverse comment at all. Even without advance planning, I found my way around on foot easily enough, so I made no use of the buses that I saw plying the streets. Trains were watched are they went their way and I noted the overnight service to Oslo that was awaiting departure as I made for the return train to my base for the trip.

At the start of what became a lengthy career break, I returned to Stockholm for around a week for more leisurely purposes. The news of the trip to others was a way of keeping my time of recovery and reassessment known only to those who needed to know about it. This was in August 2017, and I based myself in a hotel away from the city centre. At the airport, I acquired my own Access card loaded with a seven-day pass. This allowed me the liberty to travel whenever and wherever I wanted on Stockholm’s transport system, SL.

My base was on Lidingö, so I was away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. That came in useful for Sunday morning strolling, but it meant that I was in for a long walk if I was travel on foot. Getting there from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport involved using an Arlanda Express train service, followed by travel on a local train. My initial recollection of this journey was that I then caught a tram for the rest of the way. On second thoughts, I now think that I walked from Ropsten train terminus to the hotel. Tram travel came later; this was to be multi-modal trip.

The strange thing about Ropsten’s train station was that it was built high up in the air as if there was to be a bridge connection to Lidingö only for the money to run out. This peculiar sight was to become familiar to me as I went to and fro. There was a bus terminus too but lack of confidence in a language that I do not use every day was to limit was travels using that mode of transport. Train travel was just as handy.

After an abortive city centre shopping trip caused by late arrival because I resorted to walking, the next day was spent around the city centre with a foray to Drottningholm Palace on a tourist boat. That did not accept my Access card, so it will not cover everything. Thoughts of returning by bus were abandoned for a return sailing that I feared I would not make.

Next morning saw me walk across Lidingö using the Lidingöloppet after a short tram ride. Eventually, I would find my way its terminus at Gåshaga Brygga. More multi-modal travel followed that as I criss-crossed Stockholm in bright sunshine. The day after that would say the same approach would get me to Tyresta National Park with some wandering along the Sörmlandsleden, and with some bus travel too.

A longer trip to Gothenburg followed using high speed travel train travel. While I travelled with the national operator SJ, it is also possible to do this using MTR’s MTRX as well. The trip was a relaxing one, though a later start reduced the time that I had in Gothenburg. Naturally, my Access card did not cover this either but the ticket machines were simple enough to use anyway.

On the last day of the stay in Sweden, I toyed with the idea of using a normal train service to get to the airport, but timings were such that I stuck with the Arlanda Express in the end. Allowing more time might have avoided this, but I wanted to see a little more of Stockholm before I left.

In marked contrast to public transport in Britain at the moment, I only ever found its Swedish counterpart to be efficient, pleasant and dependable. Admittedly, these were different times, but my trips to Ireland showed that the current British malaise does not extend everywhere. When everything just works, there is a lot for which we need to be grateful.