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Krøderbanen: Guide to the Heritage Railway near Oslo

    Krøderbanen stands as Norway’s longest heritage railway, a well-preserved engineering marvel that carries echoes of a bygone era. Established in 1872, this historic railway holds a unique place in the country’s transportation history. Originally laid down as a narrow gauge track, it underwent a transformation in 1909 to become a standard gauge railway in tandem with the opening of the Bergen Railway. However, its true allure lies in the fact that it has remained remarkably unaltered since its closure by Norway’s State Railways (NSB) in 1985.

    Currently preserved as a heritage railway through the pioneering efforts of the Norwegian Railway Club (Norsk Jernbaneklubb), it allows visitors to enjoy intricate narratives of the railways of yesteryear, while vintage trains hauled by steam locomotives, with passenger carriages adorned with timeless elegance time of teak and engines of the 50s, evoke a sense of nostalgia and wonder as they pass through beautiful landscapes.

    Krøderbanen: A ride through history between Krøderen and Vikersund

    The beautifully preserved Krøderen Railway Station hosts exhibits on the technical heritage of Krøderbanen, while the Vikersund Railway Station represents the ideal connection to Oslo and the rest of Norway, being a significant waypoint for those traveling along the Bergensbanen, the famous Oslo-Bergen railway.

    Krøderbanen welcomes visitors from the end of June to the end of August. During this time, you can visit Krøderen Station every day except Monday and enjoy the vintage train ride every Sunday. The train rides start on the last Sunday of June and continue until the end of August. There are also additional rides scheduled for special events. While most travelers begin their journey at Krøderen or Vikersund station, the railway adventure offers the freedom to disembark at Kløftefoss, Snarum, and Sysle. You have the option to choose between a single trip or a return trip, except for the last trip of the day, which is only one way.

    Discovering Krøderbanen: History & Interesting Facts

    Nestled within the picturesque Viken County, the Krøderbanen weaves a tapestry of history, nature and transportation. This heritage railway, spanning a modest 26 kilometers, connects the tranquil Krøderen Lake to the charming town of Vikersund. Originally constructed as a narrow gauge branch line in 1872 by the Norwegian State Railways (NSB), the Krøderbanen holds a rich past and a unique charm that captivates visitors and history enthusiasts alike.

    In its early days, the Krøderbanen was an essential link for transporting agricultural and forest products from remote villages to the bustling town of Drammen. Hallingdal timber, transported across the serene Lake Krøderen, played a central role in the railway’s operations. Stepping further back into history, the 19th century marked a period when horse carriages and ships were the primary modes of passenger transport in the Buskerud region. Krødsherad hosted three government-subsidized coaching inns that were popular among travelers.

    The Krøderbanen Heritage Railway operates in the summer with steam locomotives from the late 1800s and diesel trains from the mid-1900s. The carriages, locomotives and most of the stations have been preserved in their original appearance. Photo: Espen Franck-Nielsen, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    The push for improved transport between Drammen and Buskerud led to the commencement of the Krøderbanen‘s construction in the spring of 1870. The challenging terrain necessitated sixteen sharp curves and a steep gradient of 1:45 from Vikersund, all of which were expertly tackled. Utilizing the cost-efficient narrow 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge, the line was completed by November 19, 1872, when King Oscar II graced Krøderen with his presence.

    Passenger numbers gradually increased from 10 a day to over 50 passengers a day in 1974, a sizable number for the region. But the true heartbeat of the line was timber transport. The surrounding forests served as the primary source of timber, destined for paper factories in Drammen or export to England. Even during the construction of the Bergen Railway, materials were transported via the Krøderen Line and steam ships over Lake Krøderen.

    The significance of this line expanded when the Bergen Railway opened its Bergen-Gulsvik section in the summer of 1908. This event saw the Krøderbanen become part of a broader network, with boat transportation between Gulsvik and Krøderen facilitating passenger travel. However, as the Bergen Railway extended to Hønefoss and Oslo in 1909, the need for boat traffic dwindled, marking the end of an era that had flourished around Lake Krøderen.

    The historic railway station in Krøderen, the starting point of the Krøderbanen for over a century. Today it houses a museum about the historical heritage of the Norwegian railways.

    Diesel-powered trains replaced steam-powered ones in 1948, slashing travel time and adding a modern touch. However, dwindling passenger numbers led to the discontinuation of passenger services in 1958, when the railway gave way to competition from faster and more practical buses. The last steam-powered freight train chugged along in 1967, matching the cessation of timber floating in Hallindalen’s waterways. Finally, the last diesel-powered freight train ventured through the line on February 28, 1985.

    But this was not the end for the Krøderbanen. In 1987, a new chapter began when the Norwegian Railway Club transformed the platform into a living museum, a nostalgic space where steam locomotives, interwar-era teak carriages, and 1950s motor carriages are brought back to life. The Krøderen and Snarum stations, adorned with station buildings designed by Georg Andreas Bull, stand as testimony to an era long gone. While the original Snarum Station sadly fell victim to a fire in 1992, it has since been meticulously restored to its former glory.

    Intriguing, nostalgic, and deeply rooted in history, the Krøderbanen invites travelers to step into the past and journey through the remarkable landscapes of Norway. The whistles of steam locomotives, the creak of vintage carriages, and the echoes of history resonate along this storied railway, painting a vivid portrait of a bygone era.

    How to Take a Ride on Krøderbanen: Timetables and Tickets

    The Krøderbanen operates exclusively during the summer, following a fixed calendar established on a yearly basis. Krøderbanen typically runs every Sunday, from the final Sunday of June to the last Sunday of August.

    Additionally, there are extra rides on select Saturdays and during special events. Tickets must be purchased online well in advance, this is the sole official method of purchase. Tickets cannot be acquired on-site. However, each passenger will receive a vintage souvenir ticket upon arrival, an authentic Edmondson railway ticket of the type once used on Krøderbanen.

    Krøderbanen Ticket Prices

    Ticket prices start at NOK 224 for a one-way trip and NOK 329 for a return ticket for adults. For children aged 4-15, prices start from NOK 124 for a one-way trip and NOK 174 for a return ticket. Children under 4 years of age travel for as little as NOK 19 for both one-way and return journeys. Krøderen Station houses a steam railway museum, free to visit during the summer, open every day except Mondays.

    Departure Schedule

    Typically, there are several morning and afternoon departures, some operated by steam locomotives and others by diesel locomotives. All rolling stock is authentic vintage material. Often there are also vintage buses that allow you to return by bus. The departure schedule is subject to change and can be checked on the NJK website.

    The train station in Vikersund, where the journey on Krøderbanen ends. Today it is one of the stations along the railway line that connects Oslo with Bergen.

    Krøderbanen Special Trips

    Special trips are also offered on the Krøderbanen, such as the Evening Twilight Train between Krøderen and Snarum. This unique trip only takes place on special occasions on Saturdays, featuring steam locomotive no. 11 “Ulka” from 1892 and historic passenger carriages. Since the train operates after dark, the landscape view is limited, but the experience is enriched by the kerosene lighting in the carriages, evoking an old-fashioned ambiance.

    On certain days, you have the opportunity to join the Boat and Train combination, which includes a journey on the M/S Kryllingen II boat reminiscent of the old boat crossings of Krøderbanen. This is combined with a steam train ride and a vintage bus trip. The journey starts from Olberg Brygge in Noresund, traversing the picturesque Krøderfjorden to Krøderen Station. From there, the steam train takes you to Sysle station, followed by a vintage bus ride back to Noresund. Ticket prices begin at NOK 514 for adults and NOK 254 for children.

    The official Krøderbanen tickets can only be purchased from here, where you can see all the days and options available in real time. Unfortunately the descriptions are only in Norwegian, also because Krøderbanen is truly a hidden gem in Norway and is mostly known and visited only by locals. However, translating the page with Google Translate will make it easy to book your ticket even if you don’t speak Norwegian.

    The Krøderbanen runs through the idyllic landscapes between the Krøderen mountains and the fjord near Vikersund and Drammen, making it one of the least known and most underrated, despite its beauty, day trips from Oslo.

    How to Get to Krøderbanen

    The main stations on Krøderbanen are Vikersund and Krøderen. Visitors arriving by car can choose either station, and they also have the option to arrive at Krøderen and park near the station. For those traveling by public transport, the closest cities are Oslo and Drammen. The town of Vikersund can be reached by bus, usually requiring a change at Hokksund or Hønefoss, both of which can be accessed by train from Oslo. Some trains along the Oslo-Bergen Railway also make stops at Vikersund, offering the most comfortable and fastest option.

    There are also some great nature accommodations in the area, perfect for a relaxing getaway around Oslo. In Vikersund, there is the Tyrifjord Hotell, offering a beautiful view of the fjord. In the surrounding area, there are several cozy lodgings in nature, such as Eika Cottage, Norefjell Ski & Spa, and Lampeland Hotel. In Hønefoss, a popular choice is the Grand Hotel Hønefoss, located in a historic building from 1809 within walking distance of the station.