This guide to Swedish train tickets, and how to buy them online, covers the basics of what you can expect to encounter when making bookings.
The aim is to provide context for the tickets and journey options you should encounter, in usual circumstances, when making a booking either online or at the station.
SMTJ has striven to ensure that the advice presented is as accurate as possible, but a guide such as this cannot cover every combination of journey options.
SJ is Sweden's national operator, but other companies complete with SJ on certain routes, including the Stockholm <> Goteborg route, on which MTR also provides some services.
However, tickets for the MTR trains are not visible on the SJ website.
SJ is the national rail operator in Sweden and if SMTJ could present awards for which ticket site is easiest to use for booking train tickets, its website would be a contender.
Which is highly useful because if you will be travelling long distance on one of SJ's express train services, it can pay off to book in advance; you can save more than 3 x the price of booking last minute at a station.
The nine things most worth knowing when booking tickets on the SJ website:
1: Tickets are usually placed on sale up to six months ahead of the travel date, though prior to the annual timetable update on the second Sunday in December, the tickets for journeys after the new schedule being in place, won't be released for sale until early November,
2: Limited numbers of discounted tickets will be made available for long distance trains; and not just the fastest Snabbtåg services.
So the earlier you book the more you will save.
3: A quirk of SJ’s booking service to look out for, is that when attempting to book too far ahead, before tickets are released for sale, the English translation is 'not available’.
This does not mean that tickets for this train have sold out; what you need to do is check back a few days later to see if the tickets have been released.
4: It’s worth being flexible re: departure and arrival times and searching through the departures on the day you want to travel to find the cheapest fares.
The more popular a train departure is, the more expensive it is likely to be; as those most heavily discounted tickets are more likely to have sold out.
5: SJ doesn't assign names to the types of tickets such as Advance or Premier, instead their differentiated by their core terms and conditions, with the greater flexibility having a higher price.
The same three types of ticket are offered regardless of which travel class has been selected.
6: When you book 1st class tickets on the SJ website for any train service, the seat reservation is always complimentary; and this is also the case when booking 2nd class tickets on in on the express Snabbtåg and IC trains which are operated by SJ.
7: SJ also sells tickets for trains from Sweden to Norway and Denmark (Kobenhavn/Copenhagen).
During June – September the direct trains between Stockholm and Copenhagen/Kobenhavn can sell out days in advance.
(If they are then book a Stockholm to Malmo ticket and then a separate ticket for the journey between Malmo and Kobenhavn; there are 3x trains per hour from Malmo to Kobenhavn).
8: What's comparatively new is that the SJ website now also sells tickets for journeys by Snälltåget trains, which it doesn't operate, on routes between Stockholm and Malmo and Are.
9: Booking beds on SJ Night trains
When you want to book a bed(s) in sleeping cabins or a berth in a couchette, the accommodation options, their respective features and the total price to travel by each of them are clearly shown.
If you will be travelling with children, for each adult ticket booked, discounts can be applied to two children aged 15 and under.
However, be aware that different terms per train service apply to child tickets.
SJ offers tickets for 'Pensioners' which typically give a 10% discount on journeys by SJ trains and the pensionable age in Sweden is 65.
But if you're 65 and over you don't have to be a Swedish resident to obtain this discount, you can select the 'Pensionar' category when booking and then demonstrate your eligible age by showing your passport to the train conductor.
On the trains provided by the national rail operator, SJ, up two dogs can be taken on board for no additional cost, but on the express Snabbtag and IC trains, you and the dog(s) will need to travel in specific spaces on the train, which must be reserved in advance.
These spaces are in Second Class, you cannot travel with dogs in first class on any SJ train.
Though if you want more space, because your animals is large, you can purchase a ticket at the equivalent of the youth rate.
When booking the ticket for yourself you will need to select the 'Animals Allowed' option on the seating plan.
On other trains you will need to board the train into the specific marked areas.
These four things are particularly worth knowing about how SJ manages seat reservations on its train services.
(1) When travelling on a Snabbtåg service or an IC service, the reservations are included in the ticket price when booking 1st or 2nd class tickets online or at stations.
When booking online, or the SJ app, your seat(s) will be automatically assigned.
If a Snabbtåg train is being used for your chosen departure, you will be able to select specific seats from a seating plan.
If an IC train is being used for your chosen departure, you will be able to select your type of seat; window or aisle etc.
(2) Rail pass users must pay a reservation fee for journeys by Snabbtåg trains, prior to boarding, but they're optional when travelling on IC or Regional trains.
(3) 'Calm coaches' are available on the Snabbtåg trains, they are the same as second class coaches, but mobile phone use isn't permitted. They cost more than the standard second class tickets, but also have the same complimentary catering as first class.
(4) If your journey is by SJ Regional trains; if 1st class is available and you book 1st class tickets, seat reservations are complimentary.
If you book 2nd class tickets on these trains, you can opt to add a reservation to your booking for 50 kr.
SJ does not have a monopoly on Swedish train services, operators can compete with SJ AND sell tickets online on their respective websites.
A key competitor is the MTR Express on the Stockholm <> Göteborg route.
Often the only means of comparing schedules is to check their respective sites and then look up the same journeys on the SJ website.
But some welcome news is that journeys by Snälltåget trains (between Stockholm and Malmo/Are) can now also be looked up on the SJ website; and can therefore be directly compared with SJ's own trains on these routes.
When travelling in Sweden with Eurail or InterRail passes, whether you need to make reservations for journeys is dependent on the type of train service you travel by
(1) Travel by Snabbtåg services, the fastest trains in Sweden, and you MUST reserve prior to boarding
The fees are 1st class = €15.50; 2nd class = €7 (equivalent prices will be charged in Swedish krona)
These fees ALSO need to be paid in advance when taking these trains between Stockholm and both Copenhagen and Oslo*.
Booking in advance is recommended for the international services, seats can sell out days in advance.
*IC trains are currently being used instead of Snabbtåg trains on the Stockholm ↔ Oslo route and rail pass reservations are also mandatory on those trains.
(2) Travel by SJ Intercity AND SJ Regional* trains and reservations are OPTIONAL for rail pass users.
The fees for both 1st and 2nd class pass users = the equivalent of €3
*There are fairly frequent Regional trains between Stockholm and Gothenburg.
All rail pass reservations can be booked without booking fees on the SJ (Swedish Railways) website - up to 6 months ahead of the travel date.
The instructions for doing so are included on SMTJ's guide to using the SJ website.
Using SJ's rail pass reservation service had only been an option for users of paper passes, as the type of numbers issued for paper passes are required when making a booking, so the numbers issued for mobile passes can't be used.
But new online services have been launched which enable mobile pass users to obtain the necessary pass numbers.
Eurail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; InterRail pass purchasers can this pass number generation service.
Or you can book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service regardless of whether you have a mobile or papers pass, but you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.
Rail passes cannot be used on the MTR trains which compete with SJ's trains on the Stockholm <> Goteborg route.
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
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