An additional summer service has increased the number of passengers in Kiruna (Sweden) and Narvik (Norway).
Between June and August, 12% more passengers travelled on Swedish rail operator SJ’s services to and from northern Scandinavia compared with the same period last year.
Both the night-time and a new seasonal daytime service between Kiruna in northern Sweden and Narvik over the border in Norway have contributed to the increase in travel, the operator says.
Kiruna and Narvik saw a positive trend of 14% and 20% more passengers, respectively, while in total, SJ’s northern stations saw a 12% rise.
“The effort to run the new daytime service between Kiruna and Narvik has been well received, giving travellers more opportunities to explore both the mountains and nature in the region – something the destinations feel very positive about,” says Jan Kyrk, business manager at SJ.
The regional destination company the Swedish Lapland Visitors Board points to more contributing factors to the increased interest in rail travel.
“More and more people are choosing to travel the climate smart way, not least between Kiruna and Narvik,” says Camilla Bondareva, the board’s destination manager.
“With its magnificent countryside, the route has been ranked as one of Europe’s most beautiful, but is also a sought after destination among Swedes. Together with SJ and other destinations in the region, we want to continue to work for more people choosing the train in the future.”
The daytime train between Kiruna and Narvik has contributed to the fact, for example, that the mountain station Låktatjåkka between Björkliden and Riksgränsen has seen double the number of rail passengers.
SJ claims that more and more people who previously chose the bus from Kiruna for their daytrips from the Låktatjåkka station now choose the train instead.
“We will continue the daytime train also next summer, not least for the tourism industry. The increased mobility seems to have contributed to an increasing number of people staying longer in the region,” says Kyrk.
Killer whale safari
Known as the Arctic Circle Train, the journey between Kiruna and Narvik calls at “many exciting destinations”, SJ says on its website.
“Combine spectacular scenery with skiing and a killer whale safari. Kiruna is the place to experience the midnight sun, polar night and the fantastical Northern Lights as they illuminate the skies with cascades of colour.”
Visitors can also go dog sledding and cross-country skiing through forests and by lakes, go to Europe’s largest civil space centre Esrange or, nearby, stay at the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi.
The Norwegian coastal town of Narvik, meanwhile, is a base for killer whale safaris and has many ski slopes, SJ says.
The two daily train services between Kiruna and Narvik have a travel time of around three hours. To reach Kiruna, there are two night trains daily from Stockholm to Kiruna.
Among the 12 stops on the Kiruna-Narvik journey are attractions like the Abisko National Park, the Björkliden ski resort and the Riksgränsen mountain range which can be explored by snowmobile, dog sled or helicopter.