Take the train to the adventure

”Inlandsbanan is very unique. Whereas other trains stop in the middle of a town, Inlandsbanan drops you in the middle of an adventure. Cycle along forest trails, pitch your tent under the midnight sun, make coffee over an open fire, fish, and keep an eye out for moose, reindeer and the odd bear. Welcome aboard!”

Elena Jönsson, managing director Destination Inlandsbanan AB

Inlandsbanan is a 1,288-kilometre railway line between Kristinehamn in the south and Gällivare in the north. It’s a wonderful trip into the Swedish inland, where sparkling lakes, babbling streams, proud pine trees and exotic animals play a big part of the experience. MagazineSweden meets Elena Jönsson, managing director of Destination Inlandsbanan, for a talk about this centuries-old cultural treasure.

Northern Sweden and the arctic region are on the bucketlist of many travelers. Maybe more people should go to Sweden and book a trip with Inlandsbanan to experience the wonders of the north?
– I absolutely agree, says Elena. You will get to see a fantastic and beautiful part of Sweden whilst traveling. Come and experience the stillness and silence, magic views, fresh air and midnight sun. You will find adventure, hiking and cycling trails, fantastic fishing waters and a rich wildlife.
– You can also participate in one of the many festivals that are held every year along the track and experience the rich cultural life and Sami history. Jump on one of the mountain buses and get further up into the mountain range.
– There is a nice coffeeshop on-board the train, but a big part of the enjoyment of traveling on Inlandsbanan is to get off the train and experience the area. Eat local food, meet the locals and get a closer look at Inland Sweden.

It must also feel special to travel on a single-track railway, almost like train journeys of the olden days.
– Absolutely! And because Inlandsbanan runs on a line of its own. We are the only company in the country that run trains, manages the rails and arranges journeys. It gives us unique opportunities to offer trips based on our own criteria. It gives us a unique flexibility and helps to create the feeling that it is a special thing to travel with us.
– Of course, we run to a timetable, but it often happens, for example, that the driver must stop because of reindeer on the track. When this happens, we wait patiently until they move off back into the forest and it sometimes takes a while. But this is all part of the experience and even an exciting experience for many of our travelers.

A trip with the Inlandsbanan really sounds like an amazing experience!
– Absolutely! It’s an experience from the second you get on the train. The travel can be described as slow, but, this is meant in the very best sense of the word; you can enjoy your time
in peace and quiet with your travel companion or alone, while Sweden’s beautiful wilderness
spreads out before you through the window. It is almost guaranteed that you will get to see
reindeer and moose and if you are very lucky, you may also witness a curious bear.
– In addition, we have a pleasant train host who is well-read and will guide you, keeping you informed about the local cultures and nature that you will pass along the way. There is a whole host of great tips about things to experience along the journey.

You can hop off the train for your own little adventure and when you’re done, then hop back on again?
– Yes it is true! We have a special ‘interrail’ card available for the summer, which is valid for fourteen days. This will allow you, the traveller to jump on and off exactly when you want. Many choose to travel this way, if, for example, they are interested in fishing, we pass through some of Sweden’s best fishing waters.
– You can travel with us in one of three ways; either choose a ticket between two destinations, buy the interrail card, or you can choose one of the many travel packages, which allow you to take turns choosing from the many options available, such as a visit to the wilderness or a trip to sample the local food or any other special cultural experiences you wish to experience. There is something for everyone!

What are some special experiences along the way?
– During the winter, the snow train is our most popular experience. We go from Mora to Östersund, and via the stop in Röjan you can transfer on to the snow paradise in Vemdalsfjällen. So whether you want to go cross-country skiing or downhill, the adventure is waiting for you!
– Then there is the Jokkmokk’s Market in February, which is also very popular. This package includes both food and accommodation. You can also travel to Jukkasjärvi and visit the world
famous ice hotel, which really is fantastic for a winter trip. We also pass the Arctic Circle, which is yet another special experience. If you are lucky you can also witness the northern lights.
– Our most popular package is available during the Summer months, a combination of the Inlandsbanan with the Hurtigruten. This provides a wonderful combination of Swedish
mountains and Norwegian fjords. It is a truly spectacular experience, with the magical nature on show all around, which we feel will beat almost everything. You can breathe in the crispy clear mountain air and taste the salt-sprayed sea breeze on the same journey!
– Another unique experience is our ‘Taste of Lapland’, where you can sample the local food and experience some traditions from the Sami people. Enjoy a fantastic journey with many unique tastes and experiences from a part of Sweden that is unlike any other.
– We also have a collaboration on-going with the Railway Museum, where we travel in the Wilderness train, between Stockholm and Abisko, a splendid trip with the final station at Kiruna. We then journey on the Railway Museum’s historic train, a thing we are really proud of.

In addition, the Inlandsbanan have invested in a lot of sustainable travel?
– Trains are a sustainable journey in themselves and we have also taken more steps to further reduce the climate footprint. As of this year, we are refueling the trains with fossil-free fuel, HVO, which we are immensely proud of.

So, what does the future look like for Inlandsbanan?
– There’s an increasing fascination in discovering the Swedish Lapland and Inland Sweden, along with an interest in rail journeys, so the future for Inlandsbanan is bright, concludes Elena Jönsson.

Text: Tony Manieri
Photo previous spread: Ulrica Dahlqvist