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Travel Tales Episode 2: Solving a metro puzzle

Episode 2: Solving a metro puzzle

How to find your metro train in Stockholm and other thrilling nuggets of highly useful info

| Last Updated: about 2 months ago

How to avoid the mistake I made

Well, there's no hiding that my quest to prove I'm a train travel guru had erm not got off to the start I had in mind, thanks to the 10 minutes I spent lost inside T-Centalnen, the metro station attached to Stockholm Central.
But ultimately I saw the light, and did eventually manage to figure out how to get where I was going on that particular evening.
So read on and discover how you can avoid getting similarly stuck on your travels by train; the other 350+ trains I've taken since, haven't proved so elusive.

Train journey no.2 of 357 was the shortest journey of them all, just a one-station hop on the Stockholm Metro, but I couldn’t figure out how to find the train.
I'd spent 10 minutes gradually going bonkers in T-Centralen station and was contemplating finding a taxi, despite having set out on an epic quest to erm prove that one doesn't ever need a car to see the best of Europe.
Of course I knew how to take a metro, ride the subway, travel on the Underground, I hail from the city that come up with the idea in the first place, this was not supposed to be a problem.

I was learning a lesson that would serve me well over my 68 days of European train travel researching what I and you need to know for ShowMeTheJourney to be a success - namely never assume that you’ll instinctively just know how to get from A to B.

I’d worked out that I needed to take a Metro train on line 16 or 19, so figured that all I had to was head in their direction, after all I'd successfully found the 6 and the C in New York and even gone straight to the Ginza and Nambuko lines in Tokyo.
But having entered the labyrinth of T-Centralnen station I was only seeing the numbers 1-6 on the signs, so I guessed that I must have missed a sign pointing the way to lines 16-19.
Stockholm Metro
In my defence it had been a long day, and I virtually had the station to myself, so the strategy of going deeper and deeper and round and round in search of an elusive sign didn't seem such a totally bizarre idea at the time.
It was when I had given up and was heading back to the entrance that the lightbulb in my head switched on.
The boink moment was realising that the word ‘Spar’, which was on the signs alongside the numbers, didn’t translate as ‘line’, instead it meant platform, or to use American parlance ‘track’.
So the trick was to figure out that trains heading north on green lines 16 and 19, left from ‘spar 1’ so it was the signs to ‘1’ which I needed to follow.
And the tip to share is... don't make illogical assumptions about a language you can't read.

A core purpose of my mission on these research trips was to experience and learn, so that the info presented on ShowMeTheJourney could then be as accurate as possible.
I was to discover time and time again that, despite more than 20 years of consumer facing websites being part of everyday life, reading and fact-checking online, is often still no substitute for seeing and doing.
And now you won’t have to follow in my hundreds of footsteps in T-Centralnen station.
You’ll have learned from my mistakes, which admittedly you may have never made in the first place, but you’ll now have a better chance of navigating the Stockholm Metro with confidence, if you ever find yourself in this fabulous city.


Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.


This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.


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