downwards in northern direction
(X : stop on demand)
PART I: ÖSTERSUND - ARVIDSJAUR
© Kurt Bangert und Carola Bläsing-Bangert
Since several years we are planning a ride on the Inland Railway Line, but unfortunately the passenger service stops in the middle of August, and our vacation is always too late. But in 1999 we are earlier, and so we reserve a flight to Östersund and a hotel. We chose Hotel Älgen, because it can be reserved by e-mail and is located near the train station. We plan to go from Östersund to Jokkmokk with the railway, and we want to make a stopover in Arvidsjaur to enjoy a steam train special tour.
We enter the plane in Frankfurt, Germany at a summer heat of over 30 degrees, and a few hours later we are in the more pleasant climate of Östersund. We take the airport bus to the city. It is around 7 p.m. when we reach the hotel. We have to pay at arrival due to the high turnover of hotel guests. This is better for us, anyway, because we have to leave very early to get the train. As we cannot get breakfast so early, we receive a breakfast package now. A nice service, I believe.
We go to the station to get tickets for tomorrow. In the meantime, it is 9 p.m. and I think they will have closed. But the ticket counter is still open, and the train from Gällivare will arrive at 9.27 p.m. Because we will stop in Arvidsjaur to do the trip with the steam train, we have to get two different tickets. Östersund - Arvidsjaur costs 237 crowns and Arvidsjaur - Jokkmokk 87 crowns. We make a seat reservation, which might be unnecessary, but we want to be sure to get window seats.
We walk through the park to the shore of the Storsjö (great lake). This is the home of storsjöodjuret, an animal of 3 to 6 meters length with 3 characteristic bumps on its back, which has its own web pages. We hope to get a rare picture of this animal, but it does not show up, and so we go to a cosy bar instead.
The clock radio wakes us at 6.00 a.m. We have some packing to do. Breakfast without fresh coffee is not so pleasing, but we hope to get coffee in the train. At 6.45 a.m. we are at the train station. A train from Stockholm has arrived. Hundreds of hikers leave the train and go to three big buses. "Storlien" is the destination indicated on the buses. Obviously, Storlien is a frequented place for a short weekend tour for people from Stockholm. The STF-Fjällstation Helags has the highest guest count of all STF-stations, and the night train from Stockholm is probably one reason for that.
In the meantime, the train of the Inland Railway Line has arrived. About 30 passengers are boarding. It is combined from a railbus with a modern painting and one with the classic red color, in which we get our seats. There is lots of space, but our reserved seats are in a group of four, and so it is very comfortable for us.
Bikes are stored in the luggage compartment, and we also deposit our backpacks there. The train departs exactly at 7.05 Uhr.
We pass Östersund Västra and Jamtli. We have a short stop in Lit at 7.30 a.m. The tickets are checked, and after that, the breakfast orders are taken. We chose the coffee that we had missed so much in the morning, and a sandwich with goat cheese.
We go through Häggenås, Norderåsen and Munkflohögen. At 8.15 a.m. we reach Jämtlands Sikås. The train makes another stop, because we are too fast and ahead of the schedule. The train waits for the regular departure time. We pass Hallviken and reach Ulriksfors in time.
Breakfast awaits us on a table at the train station. The weather is fine. The sandwich is a roll of Lappland's flat bread with Geitost, the Scandinavian sweet-tasting goat cheese. It is delicious. We sit in front of the station building with a view on the railbus and drink our coffee. Could there be a better day for a railfan ? No one is hurrying here, and so we are a few minutes late when the train leaves the station. We also leave the province of Jämtland now.
Our next stop is Hoting. A diesel locomotive is parked in a distance, and I have to run to get a picture. Hoting is in Angermanland, a province that stretches to the East Coast of Sweden. It's western part is very narrow, and a short while later we cross the southern border of the Lappland province.
Every little town seems to have a campground here, and the train stops in the town and on demand also at the campgrounds. Dorotea, Meselfors, Vilhelmina have nice station buildings. Time passes quickly, and we enjoy our ride. We get hungry again.
At 12.15 p.m. we reach Storuman at the Umeälv. Here is a bigger station building, which we know from a ride with a bus in winter time. As most other passengers, we have lunch from a buffet at reasonable prices in the restaurant of the station.
The lunch break is good to relax for a while, the train looks fine in the sunshine, and I take lots of photos. At 12.45 p.m. we have to board the railbus again, and the journey to the north continues.
In Blattnicksele, they say, is one of the best campgrounds along the river Vindelälven.
Another break is scheduled in Sorsele, because there is a Railway Museum in the station building. Half an hour later the train leaves. We are still south of the Polar Circle, but Buresjön, which we pass at the moment, is one of the coldest places in Sweden. In 1951 the temperature was as low as -55 degrees. The loudspeaker warns us that we will pass the smallest station building in Sweden immediately, otherwise I surely would have missed that picture of Buddnak.
We reach Arvidsjaur, our destination for today. The other passengers leave the train to take a coffee break of half an hour. We get our backpacks and bring them to the hotel. There is not much time left, we have to be back at the station soon to partake in the last steam train trip of this year.