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!