5.5% from the sea to the mountains!
Is an one of the engineering marvels in Scandinavia, located in Norway and was constructed as a branch line from the Bergen Line from Myrdal located 866 metres above the sea level to the settlement of Flåm at the Sognefjorden. The station itself is located only 2 metres above the sea level. The line is only 20 km.s long, but has 11 stops and 20 tunnels. The consruction of this unlkely line began in 1923, though the line was put to service in 1941 by the German forces who occupied Norway during WWII. The line was electrified in 1944, and the line was completed in 1947, but the official opening was not untill 1980. The line is now operated by a private management called Flåm Utvikling, though the line is owned by the national Jernbaneverket and operated with NSB equipment, yet repainted in special liveries and markings. The line is the third steapest line in the world as is standard gauged.
The line has seen a various equipment from the specially for this line desigend El9.s to masstransit train setd from Oslo and Stockholm. But in the later years a set of El 17.s and rebuilt B3.s are used. The usual trains consists of an El17 at each end sandwiching some 5 or six cars. I did notice un repainted El.17 in the engine hed but could not photograph it. The service year around but during the summers the line is kept busy and a number of cruise ships visiting the port keeps the rains packed with people. The 20 km ride taks some 30-35 minutes one way.
I vistied the area for the first time in June 2008 and the Flåm station was packed with people, mostly thanks to some 20 tourist buses and two cruise ships were visiting the town. The second time was in early September same year and though there were less tourists but still a plenty of trains I did not ride it yet. But there are plans to do it 2009 or so. I did however buy a pair of DVD.s of the line including one cab ride and it is impressive. The town Flåm itself is very tourist oriented and besides by boat or ship from the fjord or by train you can reach it by using Laerdal tunnel the longest road tunnel in the world....
Naturally all trains don't use rails in a tourist town and there is a large variation to see the splendid surroundings from the sea. Wheter by large cruse ships to to small canotes.... By the way the other picture is from the rail road station. Just wondering this must be the largest souverneer section of any rail road station of a town of this size. By the way one cool place to visit is the Flåm line museum which is located in the old station house and besides all kinds of displays has one of the three original electric engines, the El9.2063.....
Here are a few photos of the trains and the surroundings in Flåm!