Travelling by train in Sweden


General information


Welcome to our guide to how to save money and time and avoid confusion, when travelling in and from/to Sweden by train.

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Or take time out to discover all you need to know about making your Swedish train travel experience as fabulous as possible!

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Travelling around Sweden by train is generally a joy, the journeys are predominantly fairly scenic, and the trains are comparatively comfortable.

And planning and booking journeys is also comparatively easy too, as Sweden’s national rail operator SJ's ticket booking website is one of the least complicated we've ever used.


However, some pre-planning is generally recommended, particularly if you won’t be travelling on routes to/from Göteborg, Malmö or Stockholm, or plan to travel north of Uppsala.

14 Things Worth Knowing about travelling on Swedish trains:

1. The national operator SJ, does not have a monopoly on operating Swedish train services.

It has competitors on routes between some cities (these are listed below), and private operators also provide many of Sweden’s rural train services and on branch lines.

The two main railway lines/networks not operated by SJ are:

(1) the Inlandsbannan, which lives up to its name by providing train services on its lengthy north to south route in central Sweden, that serves many scenic destinations and ski-resorts not reached by SJ trains.

Interchange is available between SJ trains and the Inlandsbannan at several stations.
From north to south they are - 
Gällivare; Östersund; Mora and Kristinehamn.

(2) the Smalsparet - though the attraction of this line is mainly for those who want to enjoy a nostalgic railway experience.

Eurail and InterRail Passes are valid on both of these railways.

SJ's Train services:

2. SJ operates three types of long distance DAYTIME  train services.
(1) Snabbtåg
(2) Intercity
(3) Regional

Plus there are SJ Night trains which connect the main cities to the very north of Sweden - and they also operate on most nights of the week between Stockholm and Malmo.


3. SJ operates significantly fewer trains on Saturdays on its long-distance routes, so it can be a particulalrly good idea to book at least a couple of days ahead if you want to travel on a Saturday.

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4. ElevenThings Worth Knowing About Snabbtåg train services:

(1) Snabbtåg is the fastest train service in Sweden.

(2) Two different trains are used on Snabbtåg services, the X2000 and the SJ 3000.

(3) The X2000 trains are also used for the international Snabbtåg services on the Stockholm to Copenhagen and Stockholm to Oslo routes.

(4) Sweden has no high speed lines, so the X2000 trains TILT to make them faster -  and they also call at fewer stations than IC trains, when those trains share a route.

(5) Despite the lack of high speed lines in Sweden, when you look up journeys on the English language version of the SJ website, 'high speed' is the term that's used to indicate which departures are the Snabbtåg services.

(6) Reservations are compulsory on Snabbtåg services (rail pass users take note), but when booking online or at stations, the reservation is automatically included - at no extra cost!

(7) The seat number will be on your ticket, but the reservation won't be displayed in the seating saloons - you just need to match the numbers of the seat(s) to the numbers on your ticket.

(8) When booking first or second class journeys by Snabbtåg trains, on the SJ app AND now the website, you can choose your seat(s) on a seating plan - which is recommended, as not all of the seats on the train are by a window.


(9) Free Wi-Fi is available on Snabbtåg services.

(10) Quiet zones are available in both 1st and 2nd class

(11) The less obvious benefits of travelling in 1st class on Snabbtåg trains include:
- free 4G wi-fi
- a help yourself supply of fresh fruit, tea/coffee and soft drinks
- on departures before 09:00 there is an at seat service of a rather lovely complimentary continental breakfast.


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5: Seven Things Worth Knowing About SJ InterCity train services:

(1) InterCity trains used to be the top tier SJ trains, but now they typically provide a slower, cheaper and less frequent alternative to the Snabbtåg services.

(2) However, there are no SJ Intercity services on the Stockholm - Malmo route.


(3) Though on certain routes between Stockholm and cities to the north, these IC services are the only express trains operated by SJ.

(4) Seat reservations are included in the price when booking tickets for journeys by SJ, Intercity services.

(5) For rail pass users the reservations fees on these Intercity (IC) trains are optional.
If you do want to reserve, they're much cheaper than the
Snabbtåg trains - these rail pass reservations can be booked at stations or on the SJ website.

(6) Free Wi-Fi is available on InterCity services.

(7) Quiet zones are available in both 1st and 2nd class.


6. Routes that have no Snabbtåg or Intercity services are served by SJ Regional services - these routes include many of the cross country routes that don't serve Stockholm

Some of SJ’s most modern trains are used for these Regional services

7. SJ Regional trains can travel long distances.

Between Stockholm and
Göteborg they take a different (but much slower) route to the Snabbtåg trains – but they’re cheaper when the discounted tickets for the Snabbtåg trains have sold out.

8. Unusually for European regional trains, discounted tickets can be available for journeys by SJ Regional trains:

9.  Öresundståg train services are the regional trains between Denmark and Sweden, but these services also travel fairly long distances in southern Sweden.

All trains between Malmö and both Karlskrona and Kalmar via
Växjö are Öresundståg trains.

10. On the route between Malmö and Göteborg, the Öresundståg trains provide the most frequent (hourly) services - the Snabbtågs are faster, but less frequent.

11. These Øresundståg trains are now once again operating in both directions between Denmark and southern Sweden, as the ID checks are now carried out on the trains.

12.  SJ’s overnight trains connect both Göteborg and Stockholm with the far north of Sweden and Narvik in Norway..

13. From Stockholm it’s possible to travel south to destinations in northern Germany such as Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt in a single day, but for longer distances an overnight stay is required.

Bikes:

14  An unusal aspect of Swedish train travel is that NON-FOLDING bicycles are not allowed on any train operated by SJ.

Also folding bikes must be placed in a travel bag and stored in the luggage racks at the end of coaches and not in the overhead
racks.

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The other major train operators - Six Things Worth Knowing:

1.  Snälltåget trains offer a daytime alternative to SJ's trains on the Stockholm - Malmö  route

The company also operates overnight trains between Malmö/Stockholm and the skiing areas in north-west Sweden (Åre and Duved).


2. Rail pass users should note that rail pass reservation fees also apply to Snälltåget services.

3. Snälltåget also operates the overnight train service between Malmö and Berlin – which spends the majority of its journey travelling on a train ferry!

Between the end of June and mid-August the train departs from Malmö only on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and also on a few dates between mid-April and the end of June.


4. MTR now operates the Stockholm commuter train network, but tickets for these trains are not sold online.

5. What can be booked online are tickets for the MTR Express, which competes with SJ's trains on the route between Stockholm and Göteborg.

6. Blå Tåget is a retro-train that features beautifully restored carriages in both directions on an Uppsala – Stockholm – Göteborg route.

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Tickets For Swedish Trains - 12 Things Worth Knowing:

More info about how to book is available by clicking the green 'Tickets & Passes; button below.

1. SJ’s booking service sells tickets for the trains it operates, the Öresundståg trains and the Snalltaget trains

2. Some other operators, including MTR Express, only sell tickets for their respective services, so the only means of comparing prices and schedules is to check each company’s website.

3. SJ usually places tickets on sale up to three months ahead and  it’s worth booking in advance for SJ's train services.

The most heavily discounted SJ tickets are some of Europe’s best rail travel bargains -  travel from Stockholm to Malmö  for the equivalent of around €22.


4.  The cheapest discounted tickets can be 3 x cheaper than the standard price, but prices can vary widely between different departures on the same date.

So it can be worth being flexible re: departure/arrival times and looking through the departures to find the cheapest fares.


5.  Remember that on the SJ booking service, the prices will be displayed in Swedish krona and NOT euros.

6. Also the most popular Snabbtåg departures CAN sell out completely days in advance - rail pass users take note.

7.  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 in a few days to see if the tickets have been released.

8. 
Book 1st class tickets on virtually all long distance journeys on SJ's trains and the seat reservation is complimentary and included in the ticket price. 

9. Limited numbers of discounted tickets are also available for SJ Regional trains – they're usually a cheaper alternative to the faster express trains on the Stockholm – Göteborg route.

10.  SJ’s booking system will sell tickets for journeys to Copenhagen/København and Oslo - and to Norwegian stations that the trains from Sweden call at.

It dosn't sell tickets to destinations in Denmark or Norway that require a change of train.

11. Because the majority of Swedish train passengers now book mid and long distance journey tickets online, conventional ticket offices and ticket machines are not available at some comparatively busy stations.

If you want to book tickets at the last minute for a journey by a
Snabbtåg or IC service, you may have to seek out a travel agent near the station.

Tickets for local and Regional services are often sold by news stands/kiosks.


Travelling With Children:

12. If you will be travelling with children, for each adult ticket booked, discounts can USUALLY be applied to two children aged 15 and under.

However, be aware that different terms apply to child tickets, depending on the type of train service that you will be taking.

(i) For journeys by Snabbtåg trains, an adult booking enables up to two children to travel for around 15% of the adult fare.

(ii) For journeys by Intercity train, up to two children travelling with an adult, only have to pay the 5 SEK (kronor) reservation fee.

(iii) On SJ Regional trains the maximum price that two children travelling with an adult will pay is 5 SEK.


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