IMG_20180307_142908Courtesy of snowmageddon cancelling a trip to London last week, I unexpectedly ended up going to Bath in Somerset a little earlier this week. Given that I was booking just a few days before departure, I was pleased to find that it was possible to book a return trip with EasyJet from Edinburgh to Bristol for just over £60. Capacity is decent on this route, with up to 5 flights per day in each direction – passengers (based on my observations of travelling this route a couple of times) appear to be a mix of business and leisure travellers.

IMG_20180306_091614On Tuesday, various diary clashes meant I had to take a morning outing to Stirling before going to the airport. While the snow was all gone in Edinburgh, I found there was still a lot on the ground in the central belt of Scotland. I ended up on a train earlier than the one I was aiming for, which was fortunate given ScotRail were still struggling to get back up to speed and it transpired the one I had been aiming for was cancelled. Once I was done in Stirling, I got a lift from my father in the car to the Ingliston Park and Ride. My father needed to be at a meeting in central Edinburgh, so then hopped on the tram. Meanwhile, I decided to experiment with walking from the park and ride to Edinburgh Airport. It is all of 2 minutes on the tram from Ingliston to the airport, but the nature of the fare system means it costs £6 for a single. It only took me about 15 minutes to walk it – and there are pavements all the way, even if the route isn’t all that direct. Here is a photo of the exciting trail I followed, and another shot of two trams at the Airport terminus – without me as a passenger.

I was travelling light, and the airport was quiet. This meant I was through security and airside in under 5 minutes – even though I had to remove my shoes. After a quick lunch in the lounge, it was time to head to the gate. It was obvious that there was a fairly light load on my 3pm flight – just 80 passengers according to crew on board. I was seated in a row of three on my own. The flight pushed back on time and was uneventful. In fact, I took the opportunity to listen to the recent Radio 4 documentary Inside the world of the frequent flyer. Well worth a listen if you’re intrigued by the way frequent flyer schemes work. While I had hoped for good views of snow, there was cloud cover almost all the way en route. However, there were great views of the Severn on approach to Bristol. This was great to see, as the last time I flew to Bristol in 2015 I arrived in dense fog and saw nothing from the air!


IMG_20180310_141805After swift disembarkation, I headed to kerbside outside the terminal to find my onward transport, which was running late. While waiting, I got to see many many passengers board a bus to Plymouth. In contrast, very few people were waiting for the bus to Bath – I would estimate around 12 of us got on at the airport at 4.30pm. The Air Decker is the only operator of bus services from Bristol Airport to Bath – a journey of about 18 miles, which takes a little over an hour. I paid £18 for a return ticket to Bath with a student discount (it’s £20 for normals) – cash only. The buses used on this route vary – on the journey to Bath I benefited from a new double decker with good seats, and multiple tables. The tables featured USB charging (although no on board wifi so I had to use my phone), and given how quiet it was I got to have a table to myself, which was useful for work purposes. On the return journey, the older bus was far less appealing for the worker on the move. Being the middle of rush hour, the bus not only left late but the journey took an age – getting stuck in traffic in all sort of exotic outer suburbs of Bristol as we slowly made our way to Bath. Eventually, however, I made it – and checked into my pleasant but cheap guest house (booked hours earlier using the HotelTonight app – possibly more on that in a future blog.IMG_20180306_163650

IMG_20180307_201358I had a lovely time in Bath, which really is a beautiful city – with lots of good coffee. However, all good outings must eventually come to an end. I hopped on a bus at 7pm heading back to Bristol Airport, which was a much smoother run outside of rush hour. Upon arrival at the airport (just 15 mins before the gate closure time for the final departure of the night from Bristol) I headed up through the deserted terminal and cleared security – along with a handful of other stragglers – in 2 minutes. The gate had just been announced and I headed there, joining the pen. It wasn’t long before we had embarked (via a remarkable looking ramp contraption!) and we were informed we were running 15 minutes early.The flight north was smooth, with great views on a very clear night. Pictured below are the ramp and views of Liverpool.

We arrived in Edinburgh ahead of schedule on a central stand, which meant that from pulling up to the gate to my taxi pulling away took all of 5 minutes. I was home by 10.15pm, which meant I had managed a door-to-door journey from Bath to south Edinburgh in just 3.25 hours. This isn’t necessarily something I’d willingly replicate – I cut it far too fine getting to Bristol Airport – but I was impressed that it could be done. EasyJet really does provide a steady service on the Edinburgh-Bristol route, which can be used in a number of ways. However, I look forward to visiting Bath in future using the train!




Taxis in Edinburgh

Darkness in a taxi
All too often, I end up in the back of a taxi cab to or from the airport at times when any sane person is in bed.

I thought I would post a few thoughts about taxis in Edinburgh to mark my one-year-anniversary of (sporadically) using Gett. Edinburgh has traditionally used black hackney cabs, which are now dominated by City Cabs and Central Cabs, with the remainder made up by independent street cars. Nowadays, there are obviously plenty of minicab operators out there, with Capital Cars being the biggest provider. More recently, these have been joined by Uber and Gett. What strikes me as most peculiar is the fact that the rates for all of these are set by the City of Edinburgh Council. Consequently, what you pay is effectively the same across the board – with some minor variations.

I tend to use City Cabs for bookings from home, as it is easy to make a booking via their app (or on the phone) and they turn up. The app is a little idiosyncratic – it was recently ‘relaunched’ which meant I had to re-register to keep using it. But it comes with what you would expect. There’s GPS and live tracking of cars and you can arrange card payment through the app and so on. For me, the most useful thing is that a booking made in advance generates a confirmation email, which makes it feel more certain than simply an app-based system. City all, theoretically, take cards for payment, but they still charge 5% for this. You also run into the occasional driver who doesn’t want to, or whose card reader isn’t on or working. Most of the cabs also have free onboard WiFi, although I haven’t tried this as I rely on my own 4G. In terms of the vehicles used, it’s the usual range of black hackney cabs, although I would say that cabs in Edinburgh are typically newer and of a better standard than in many other provincial towns and cities outside of London. City often end up being the ride home as well, as they hold the contract to provide vehicles for the cab rank at the airport. This is something they struggle with at times, as they often have insufficient cars available late at night.

I’ve taken to using Gett for most other, smaller journeys around Edinburgh by taxi. I find the app is easy to use, the ability to update and amend journey details while the journey is taking place is a bonus, and paying by card through the app automatically speeds up arrival. (I suppose this sounds like Uber!) However, drivers are street car providers – which means they’re licensed black cabs but not with any radio support. Traditionally, they would drive around town waiting to be hailed, and Gett is an updated version of this. The cabs tend to be a little older than those used by City, but drivers still know what they’re doing and where they’re going. Oddly, Central Taxis often have cars providing Gett services. The biggest frustration is that there are often no cars available at all – you cannot solely rely on Gett. This is a big part of why I have not yet attempted to book a cab with Gett in advance for anything ‘important’ (like an early morning airport run).

As I found a couple of weeks ago, hailing cabs still works just fine. We were in the Old Town and needed to be at the Foot of the Walk in Leith 5 minutes ago. A cab going the wrong way was hailed, and despite it being a tricky route to navigate due to the closure of Leith Street, it made good time without needing directions or prompting. On the flipside, cars like this rarely take card payments – so you will need cash with you.

So what don’t I use? Well, I’ve tended to avoid minicabs, even from the big providers. I have an inherent preference for black cabs, whose drivers (in Edinburgh at least) tend to have a good sense for the city and don’t need directions. We may not have The Knowledge in Edinburgh, but drivers need to know a lot if they’re not to spend all day in traffic jams. Nominally, the minicab providers can only charge the same as the black cabs – in practice most run various discount schemes, although on those few occasions I have used them, they never seem  cheaper. The most common occasion for using them is from the airport if there are no black cabs available, where they offer no discounts at all. Uber, which is, in Edinburgh-terms, simply another minicab company, is something I’ve avoided. They aren’t cheaper and there have been reports of availability issues in Edinburgh. While the app-based system appeals to me, the way that Uber conducts business and treats people does not – as I have a choice I’ve exercised it.

Despite having many, many taxis, Edinburgh does suffer from availability issues. As already noted, the airport is problematic. They struggle to drum up enough black cabs to come to the airport (pick ups are expensive due to airport charges and the distance from the city, while drivers are concerned they may only get a low value job to South Gyle). This often leads to long queues in the evenings. Sometimes, the solution is to use the minicab ‘rank’ – an office will take your advance booking, but is often able to allocate you a car that happens to be standing outside. This has paid off on some occasions, but recently I arrived at 11pm on a Sunday evening to find that it too had a huge queue and no cars. The airport is worst for this, but the railway stations also suffer from the same difficulties.

I suspect I’m going to keep up the same approach I’ve been using. As of October 2017, I no longer have a Ridacard for use on Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams (more on that in future), which has meant that I now evaluate each local trip I need to make on the basis of cost/speed/convenience. City Cabs works well for pre-booked trips, while a mixture of City, Gett and hailing cabs works for everything else. I’d like to see the airport work out a way of getting its contracted taxi providers to get more vehicles out there, especially at peak times, but I suspect there’s more chance of pigs flying.

Reflections on travel in 2017

IMG_20170621_1311052017 has been an odd one, with travel seeming more sporadic than ever – long stretches with none of any interest whatsoever followed by intense bursts of activity – all while my time has seemingly been at more of a premium than ever. After feeling for many years that I rarely got to spend as much time in Sweden as I would like to, I’ve managed five different trips in 2017 – so no complaints on that front. However, all bar the first have involved most of my time spent working. There was a chance to enjoy some interesting travel options and do a few new things though – I particularly enjoyed my run to and from Linköping during the autumn.

An X2000 departing Linköping in late autumn sun
Boarding an Edinburgh-bound EasyJet flight in June

I also had plenty of opportunities to try different combinations of rail services in and around southern Sweden more generally.

Unlike in recent years, where routes to and from Sweden were occasionally convoluted (2016 saw me use Brussels Airlines and British Airways via Brussels and Heathrow respectively), all of my Sweden trips were using direct flights to either Copenhagen or Gothenburg.On the whole, this is preferable – it does keep journey times down and for brief trips I really prefer not to have connections.

IMG_20170313_225216The Caledonian Sleeper saw me several times this year, albeit with the bulk of my travel being northbound. I did a day trip to London in March where I travelled down overnight on the sleeper before returning in the evening. While it works well when necessary (I had commitments in Edinburgh both the day before and after), it left me feeling dead for days. A lesson learnt this year on the Sleeper was to always be clear about when you want to be woken up – but if you ask to have your breakfast to-go, you may be forgotten entirely!

The East Coast Mainline saw a lot of me this year, although I did not actually make it as far as London on any occasion. It was used for trips within Scotland and to the northeast of England. I think this is the first year in which I have not used Transpennine Express on services to Manchester – all trips to the northwest were done using Virgin Trains to Crewe, with a little help from FlyBe on one or two occasions.

Loganair’s Saab 2000, which flew me from Edinburgh to Norwich

It was exciting to visit Norwich for the first time – I flew in with LoganAir and travelled on the London by train. Not only was it a beautiful city, and one I happened to need to visit on those dates for a workshop, but it was exciting to try out a new aircraft type and a new airport in the UK.


Toronto Streetcar
A new streetcar (tram) in Toronto

I did two longhaul trips in 2017. In May, I was in Toronto for a week at a conference. This was a great week, with lots of interesting travel and transit forms used, and a trip that ran surprisingly smoothly. (I may go back and blog about this at some point). The other was Hong Kong, earlier this month, which was an extravaganza of transport – both in terms of how we got there and back, and in terms of what we did on the ground. (More on this to follow in due course). Aside from both being good trips, what is most interesting is to see how other large cities compare against my own experience in Edinburgh, as well as my big-city-expectations based on London. It was also an interesting opportunity to compare and contrast how Citymapper deals with three rather different cities.

Buses at the Macau Ferry Bus Terminus in Hong Kong

Closer to home, I have given up my Lothian Buses Ridacard. My card expired, and to renew would have incurred a big price rise as I was no longer eligible for the student discount. I’ve switched to using singles on Lothian’s CitySmartCard, which seems to be working fairly well so far. The budget didn’t really balance on continuing with the ridacard as I have been walking an increasing amount. In the summer months, especially, the card was being used rarely. My conclusion was that the money would be better spent on cash singles and the odd taxi here and there, with a saving still possible. I expect some changes to my local travel patterns in 2018, so we’ll see how that pans out.

On the whole, 2017 has been a good year of travel with plenty of good or interesting experiences had. There have been very few poor ones. Just a few days ago, I was a little taken aback at how Hong Kong-Macau ferries worked, and in October I ran into real difficulties at Gothenburg station due to a lineside fire. On the whole though, things have gone right when they’ve needed to, which is good as there were a number of rather frail plans in the 2017 itinerary that could have gone horribly wrong!

Apart from a couple of pencilled London trips, 2018 is currently an unknown. Doubtless, I will be in Sweden at some point – but beyond that I don’t know what the year will hold for me in travel terms. Perhaps I’ll get around to mentioning it here though…






Late evening departures from Copenhagen


Two recent trips to Sweden have seen me return on late evening departures from Copenhagen. In both instances, the primary draw has been the departure time itself, with the added benefit that the fares have been highly affordable. In early November, I was booked onto Ryanair’s 22:50 departure to Stansted on a Wednesday night. In late November, I was on the 22:05 service to Edinburgh on a Sunday night.

IMG_20171101_211229For the first trip, I did it all from Haverdal by public transport. I didn’t have to leave the house until just after 6pm, and I took the bus to Halmstad. (After the only other passengers got off in the town centre, the driver turned off the GPS and drove me to the station front door instead of the bus station!). I ended up on a delayed Pågatåg to Helsingborg, where I then changed onto an Öresund train on to Copenhagen Airport. A perfectly smooth run, and I did Haverdal to the airport in 3 hours flat. Unsurprisingly, the airport was more or less dead. The lounges close early in Copenhagen, so I was left to wander the rather eery terminal before heading out to the F gates, which were similarly quiet. The Stansted flight was the last to go. After a rapid turnaround of the inbound aircraft, we made an on time departure, and actually arrived at Stansted 30 minutes early. Fortunately, my booked minicab had arrived early, and I was in my cosy Travelodge in Finchley before 1am. Under 8 hours from rural Sweden to north London seems good, especially as I managed a full writing day beforehand.

The second trip in November actually saw me leave at around the same time – 6pm – but this time in a taxi. I could probably have gone later, as the taxi to town was very fast. I put myself on a fast SJ service to Malmö, where I then changed onto an Öresund for the final hop across the sound. I managed to get it down to 2.5 hours from Haverdal to the airport, really not bad. The terminal was busier this time, but still not a patch on other occasions. Ryanair once again delivered a fairly prompt departure that had us in Edinburgh ahead of schedule. In true Edinburgh fashion, we were put onto buses to the border, which meant I was slowed down a bit. However, even after a wait there and for a cab, I made it home just before midnight. Door-to-door from Haverdal to Edinburgh in under 7 hours is pretty great – and even better given that I was able to do a full day on the ground in Sweden before leaving.

I always have mixed feelings about late flights – on the one hand, it can be exhausting to be up late, especially if delays occur. On the other hand, the benefit in terms of more daytime for other activities, and cheaper fares, often makes it worth considering. In both these cases it served me well. The biggest downside was the need to sort out a car transfer from Stansted (which went off without a hitch, as it turned out), while in Edinburgh you know that any late international arrival will see you waiting for ages at passport control and that cabs are hard to come by. In conclusion though, I was glad to discover that the travel experience can be streamlined somewhat, and I was really pleased not to have to surrender 8 hours from the middle of my day.

Linköping to Haverdal (South by Lund)


After a lovely late autumn weekend in and around Linköping (the above photo is taken in the Omberg Ecopark by Lake Vättern), it was time to head back to Haverdal on the west coast. While I had benefitted from sale rates on my outbound journey, I discovered that I was attempting to travel on the final Sunday of the school half term holidays and was stuck with paying full rate for whatever I wanted. The upside of this was that everything – while very expensive – cost about the same, so I could pick and choose based on timings and routings. For the sake of variation from my outbound, I opted to return via the south, using a Linköping-Lund-Halmstad routing.

Having had a lovely day with my hosts, I set off for the station on the first day after the clocks had gone back, realising that sunset would be around the time of my departure at 15:59. I managed to take some lovely photos as I got to the station.



My train was already running a few minutes late, but it looked simply fantastic as it arrived.


Once onboard, I had one of the more interesting experiences I’ve had since SJ switched to personalised ticketing a few years ago. I no longer travel with printed tickets, but have the barcode for my booking in the SJ app (more on the app another time, perhaps). A few minutes after departure, the conductor came down through the coach and stopped next to my seat. First he turned to the other passenger who had boarded at Linköping across the aisle from me and said “Are you Sven?” to which the man agreed he was. The conductor then turned to me and said “You must be Ian?” and I also agreed. That was it – that was the ticket check!


The train was gradually losing time, and by the time we were on approach to Alvesta (yet another key railway hub in Sweden) the conductor had bad news. Everyone who was hoping to connect to the Öresundståg service to Kalmar was out of luck – we were going to be late enough that it would have departed. The solution – wait for over an hour in the freezing cold. There seemed to be a lot of people who were looking to connect and they didn’t seem very happy. However, just a few minutes later, the conductor came back and said they had spoken to staff at Alvesta who had agreed to hold the Kalmar service for connecting passengers (so please would everyone hurry across the platform upon arrival!). We arrived in Alvesta, and I watched as a lot of people scurried across the platform (see below). What is most striking is that post privatisation in Sweden, this kind of railway-think rarely happens any longer – but it did demonstrate that it is possible to look after the passenger’s best interests.


We continued to lose time, and by the time we got to Lund we were running over 20 minutes after our scheduled arrival of 18:31. This was only frustrating because I had been banking on having time to grab a hasty dinner in Lund before catching my connection. As it was, I had to make do with a quick stroll around the station before heading to my platform for my onward connection – a fast SJ service to Halmstad.

These are run as SJ 3000s, but are effectively Regina X55s. I’ve been on them a fair few times now and find them to be really pleasant trains to travel on. There’s not much to tell about the run up to Halmstad, which was smooth and on-time.

We arrived at 20:16, which meant I had ample time to pop over the footbridge to the bus station to catch my onward bus connection, scheduled to depart at 20:30. The bus station was deserted, and 20:30 came and went. I checked the usual social media channels to see whether I had a cancellation on my hands, but there was no indication of this. Eventually, the bus pulled up into my bay, unmarked, about 12 minutes late. The driver seemed puzzled, and the bus was freezing. But we set off, with the driver only making two rather confused, unscheduled stops in the middle of Halmstad. What was most peculiar was that once we got up speed, we really got up speed. The driver appeared not to be familiar with the route, being taken by surprise by corners in the road, but also driving much faster than you might expect (I had some idea of what we were doing by tracking the bus through the bus provider app). Suffice to say that despite leaving almost 15 minutes late, I was only 2 minutes late upon arrival in Haverdal. An interesting… experience.

Comparing my outbound and return journeys, both had their merits. I really liked using the direct northbound service from Halmstad to Katrineholm, but using Lund as the connecting point in the south is generally quicker. If travelling this route again in future, I might try the third option, which is to travel with Krösatåg across country from Halmstad to Nässjö, before connecting on to Linköping. Best to cover all the options!

Haverdal to Linköping (North by Katrineholm)

As part of my stay in Haverdal during October, I had made plans to have a change of scene for a couple of days midway through to ensure I cleared my head and had some company. I have friends in Linköping in the east of Sweden, and this seemed as good an opportunity to head to see them. By road, it’s a fairly arduous 300km cross country – further if you opt for motorways all the way. By rail, you can select one of several routes, all of them seeming a little circuitous. Naturally, this felt like an ideal opportunity to try out some routes not travelled much previously – and when an SJ sale came along, the deal was sealed. For my outbound journey, I was booked to travel on a Friday morning.

It was a very early start for me, as I was booked to travel on the 06:21 bus from Haverdal in to the station in Halmstad. I had booked my ticket all the way through via SJ’s website, using the Resplus function. Resplus comes in handy, despite costing a small premium, because it provides protected connections between bus and rail. If the bus doesn’t get you to the station on time, you can travel on the next available service. I headed to the bus stop and my service arrived on time. After some confusion about my ticket exacerbated by the driver not turning on the lights to actually look at it, all was well and I settled down in the dark towards the back of the bus. It was a quick run to town, picking up a few commuters but not making many stops. As we swooshed through central Halmstad, we passed a pink-lit tree.


I had plenty of time to mooch around Halmstad station in the cold and the dark, so I got myself a coffee and ambled up and down the platforms. As discussed previously, Halmstad is the point on the west coast mainline where the fast SJ services pass the slower Öresundståg services. As you can see here, the departure times are almost the same. What was exciting was that I was booked on the 07:18, which is the only through train of the day from Halmstad to Stockholm, run using an X2000. A few minutes before my service, a purple Pågatåg turned up, terminating at Halmstad. Then the X2000 swept in through the darkness – hence the blur!


First class is pretty comfy onboard the X2000, and I had a window/aisle seat. I was served breakfast within 90 seconds of departure, which seemed like excellent service. As far as Gothenburg (non-stop from Halmstad), the train was pretty much empty. However, in Gothenburg, it was filled up with lots of people heading to Stockholm for the weekend. Below you can see my seat as well as my delicious breakfast box. These aren’t actually too bad for what they are, but once you’ve had the same one a few times it does begin to wear a little thin!


We made steady progress, with the tilt in full use once we left Gothenburg and used to remarkable effect. In some places, it really does feel like you’re about to be dumped into a lake! We arrived on time in Katrineholm at 10:47. Katrineholm is a 19th century railway town, hence why it was my connection point. Below you can see the X2000 I arrived on standing at the platform waiting to depart for Stockholm. Meanwhile, I poked around the station. As you can see from the departure board, it’s a fairly busy station, and even features international services!

My onward connection from Katrineholm was scheduled for 10:58, but was running a few minutes late. When it did eventually arrive, I was pleased to discover I was going to sample a new type of train: a Regina EMU (the X50 version). I really liked the look on the outside, with the chrome and red/blue thing making it look very striking. We had a straightforward run through the lakes of Östgötaland, arriving in Linköping bang on time at 11:49. For the £25 I had paid (remember, it was in a sale), I was pretty pleased to have done 3.5 hours in first class direct from Halmstad, and to have got to where I needed to before lunch time. Below are a few buses and a tram I ran into on the journey, as well.

London to Haverdal

As previously mentioned, I was away from home in October for a three-week mega trip that covered a range of activities. The most prominent of these was getting some dedicated writing time in peace and quiet, so I decided to decamp to Haverdal. I’ve never travelled to Haverdal from London before, so I thought it would be interesting to record the experience.  The first decision was where to fly to – Copenhagen or Gothenburg. A combination of factors helped to make that decision – I was going to be at an event in central London until relatively late the evening before, so didn’t want a dawn start. Having written off the entire day for travel, I was also fairly flexible and happy to save a few pounds. The decision was made by the fact that a colleague has been spending their sabbatical in Gothenburg – the opportunity for a cup of coffee as I passed through seemed too good to pass up. I was able to secure a ticket with Norwegian from Gatwick to Gothenburg for just north of £30, which seemed very reasonable.

My Thursday morning began at the Gatwick Sofitel, where I was able to avail myself of free breakfast in the lounge (on the left below). Nothing that exciting, but really wonderful views of the apron at Gatwick that I failed to take good photos of because it was dark. However, I pressed on to the terminal, feeling my stomach rumbling. The good news was that I managed to persuade the check in robot to take my very heavy bag – apparently it will accept anything up to 20.9kg. The even better news was that I reassigned my seat to 1F. The bad news was that the flight was showing as fairly heavily delayed. I proceeded through security and after some quick shopping tasks, I headed for the Grain Store for my second breakfast (on the right below) as part of their deal with Priority Pass. I was very pleasantly surprised by the Grain Store – nice setting, good service, ok food – and a good spot to settle down while waiting out the delay.

Eventually, some progress on our flight was made – it was running a mere 100 minutes late. We were assigned a gate, and FlightRadar gave the impression that the aircraft was inbound, so off I went. The windows at Gatwick into the baggage hall really are good fun, and I could have happily spent longer looking through them. Boarding was a zoo, but I was on in fairly short order and settled down in 1F, which is one of my preferred seats on Norwegian. Leg room was decent – even more decent was the fact that I was not joined on my row by anyone else. As we got underway, I saw one of Norwegian’s 787s – next to a 737 they really look huge. The flight itself was uneventful, except for the fact that it was the first Norwegian flight I’ve taken in years with functioning Wi-Fi, which was a novelty. Of course, it wears off quickly! We made decent time and it wasn’t long before Swedish terra firma beckoned.

After retrieving my luggage, I headed outside to find that an empty bus was just pulling up. I got on and had my pick of the seats. These buses are heavily used and often depart full and standing – which is highly unusual in Swedish terms. They simply aren’t designed for so many passengers with luggage. On this occasion, it wasn’t too bad, and we made steady progress down to the Nils Ericson Terminal in central Gothenburg (next door to the central railway station). There I found my colleague, and off we went for a coffee.

Little did I know that upon my return to the station at around 5pm, all hell would have broken loose. An electrical line side fire not far from Gothenburg station had led to a suspension of all departures. Despite being fairly savvy, and keeping an eye on appropriate travel company social media pages, it was clear this was not something they have great contingencies for. It was the middle of rush hour and the station was already absolutely heaving. It was apparent that I wasn’t going anywhere soon, so I decided to deposit my bag in a locker and headed out for a stroll and some dinner.

When I returned a couple of hours later, having had the impression from the web that there might be some progress, I found this was not the case. The station was still as busy as before, and while some departures had been managed, many had not. It was an opportunity to have a wander and see the new MTR Express trains used by MTR, an open access operator, on the Gothenburg-Stockholm line.

I retrieved my luggage and put myself on what appeared to be the first train going south to Halmstad with space and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Repeated promises that we would be departing shortly were made and broken. Eventually, we were informed that the service was cancelled due to a train fault and directed to another platform, where we waited in the dark and cold for half an hour before the next train appeared. Which we then waited onboard to depart for another 45 minutes. Eventually, we got away – running as a triple set Öresund train, which I don’t think I’ve encountered before (indeed, the train was too long for the platform at Varberg). By the time I arrived at Halmstad, the last bus to Haverdal had departed an hour earlier. With a little British elbowing, I ensured I secured one of the few taxis available on the station rank and I was in the house in Haverdal just before midnight, only 5.5 hours later than expected.

What did I learn from this? Well, the lack of contingency for this kind of mass event in Sweden seems poor. Station staff were powerless and clueless – train crews were baffled – and there seemed to be little interest in moving people on. The line side fire had an impact on signalling, but there seemed to be little in the way of efforts to work around these issues. Communications with passengers onboard trains were poor too. I’m not saying this wouldn’t happen in Britain – but station staff and crew are better trained, and the (better) TOCs are primed to jump into action to make sure they lessen the impact when it does. I’ve been promised a refund of my taxi fare, but am still awaiting the funds…

All in all, it was a rather more eventful journey to Haverdal than I had anticipated. (Had Norwegian not been late, I would not have run into my trouble in Gothenburg). Nevertheless, I did eventually get to where I was meant to be. Next time I run into an event of that kind, rather than spending 6.5 hours to go 80 miles down the road, I’ll get in a taxi and figure it out later!