Today we journeyed from Bergen back to Oslo, but we took a trip on a branch line from Myrdal to Flåm on the Flåm Railway, where the train twists its way down the wild and dramatic Flåm Valley before returning to Myrdal to continue to Oslo.
This meant a taxi at 07:00 to Bergen Station departing at 08:00 and arriving at Myrdal at 10:00. A walk from one platform to the other (through thick snow, and actually snowing at the time) to the Flåmsbana for our 50 minute ride to Flåm.
This branch line of the Bergen Railway runs from Myrdal, at an altitude of 866 metres, to Flåm, which is just 2 metres above sea level. This means that the line has a gradient of 1 in 18, making it the steepest normal gauge railway line in Northern Europe.
The name Flām means grassy plain surrounded by mountains. The village has a population of roughly 400 and there are hotels, railway museum, shops and restaurants (all closed today) and a Church built in 1668 lies in the old village.
Flåm is one of the most popular cruise harbours in Norway, particularly in the Summer months.
The railway carries over 300,000 passengers per year.
The Flåm Railway was completed in 1944 after a construction period lasting 20 years. Eighteen of the line’s 20 tunnels, which have a total length of 6 Kms, were built by hand. The Nåli Tunnel at 1,350 metres is the longest and on average each metre of tunnel took 150 man-hours. It is a masterpiece of engineering. Trial operation started in 1940 with small steam locomotives. The line was fully electrified in 1944.
The Flåm valley is a typical Western Norwegian fjord valley.
Majestic Kjosfossen waterfall has a fall of 94 metres. The train stopped for a few minutes to enable us to go on to the platform to take a closer look at the waterfall. The water is used among other things to produce electricity for the Flåm Railway. The green water in the Flåmselva River is caused by particles of clay in the meltwater. The particles refract sunlight in a special way making the water appear green.
The Flåm Railway is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway.
On our return to Myrdal we had nearly two hours to wait for the train to Oslo. We were now back on the Bergen train so had the bonus of viewing once more the snow-covered landscape with a setting sun colouring the sky, arriving at Central Station at 19:00 hours.
Many train hours today, but incredible scenery.