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The World's Most Beautiful Railways: The Flåm Mountain Railway Claims the Title

The World's Most Beautiful Railways: The Flåm Mountain Railway Claims the Title
photo: 2punys / Flickr/The Flam Railway
25 / 12 / 2023

The northern lights are not the only stunning phenomenon in Norway. The Flåm Railway is considered one of the most beautiful railway lines in the world and ranks as one of Norway's most visited tourist attractions, drawing visitors from across the globe annually.

The route begins in the village of Flåm and concludes at the Myrdal mountain station. Norway's breathtaking nature is further showcased on the Flåm railway journey. The train traverses through gorges, waterfalls, and other magnificent natural wonders. Passengers can anticipate passing through twenty classic and four water tunnels. The track spans just over 20 kilometers, reaching an elevation of 863.5 meters, with a maximum gradient of 55‰ (1:18). The rail gauge measures 1435 mm.

Traveling at a maximum speed of 40 km/h, the entire journey takes approximately one hour. During the trip, the train, using 5 brake systems, makes stops at 8 stations. Flåmsbana, the Norwegian name for the track, ranks among Europe's steepest. Therefore, only sets with two or more locomotives, equipped with a special high-performance and reliable brake system, navigate this section.

Ryan Mallady / Flickr

The line is also reinforced multiple times for safety, and its characteristic metallic sound is distinctly audible while descending into the valley. These are classic trains, meaning they are neither cogwheel trains nor underground cable cars. The line is located about one hundred kilometers from Bergen, connecting Flåm on the shore of the Aurlandsfjord to the Myrdal mountain railway station.

Flåmsbana was constructed between 1923 and 1936, opening on August 1, 1940, with two steam trains in each direction, linked by daily trains on the Bergen railway line. The electrification was completed in 1944, making it one of Norway's first electrified railway lines.

The journey can be undertaken from either direction. Passengers on the train are in constant motion to fully appreciate the natural beauty during the journey. The steep mountain walls of the Flåmsdalen valley are a sight to behold, offering views of a wild river, dozens of waterfalls, quaint wooden churches, and isolated farms.

helsingforskundi / Flickr

The most captivating part occurs near the journey's end. The train halts for 10 minutes, and passengers step onto a wooden platform. Here, they face the majestic Kjorsfossen waterfall, where two elegantly clad Scandinavian women emerge from the lower cascades to perform a dramatic etude set to Grieg's music, enriched with Norwegian folk sounds.