Bergen is a lovely place to visit in May – the trees are just coming into leaf and the swathes of Rhododendrons growing around the city are in flower. The added attraction is the National Day on the 17th of the month. For railway enthusiasts – the Fløibanen is not to be missed – the funicular railway which takes you from the centre of Bergen up Mount Fløyen, 320 metres above sea level.
The service is frequent and popular with visitors and locals alike. In terms of value for money, it came joint top of my list of things to do as a tourist to Norway, together with the ‘Arctic Cathedral’ in Tromsø.
Setting off – the first part of the railway is in a tunnel under a residential part of the city.
The upper section runs in the open with some great views across the city and surrounding area.
The station on Mount Fløyen and the view west over the city.
Looking back down the hill with an approaching train – it’s quite an incline.
Interestingly enough, there are some intermediate stations and the line is run to a timetable with a mix of stopping and direct trains. Whilst visitors to Bergen see the Fløibanen as a great afternoon out, the local people also see it as useful transport to residential areas on the side of the mountain.
End of the run – it takes around seven to five minutes to complete the journey. A return ticket in May 2015 is NOK 85 for an adult which by any standards is very reasonably priced. Singles are also available for those wishing to walk back down to the centre of Bergen using the clearly marked trails and paths.
Two trains work the funicular, passing each other at a passing place or loop exactly halfway along the line. The track arrangement is interesting in that it has clear gaps for the cables and the turnouts are not powered. Also, note the crossing vee or frog of the ‘turnout’ – there are no check rails. Clearly, only the outer wheels of each car are flanged, with the inner wheels being blind with no flanges. They simply ride on the rail but are not guided by it and do not need check rails or flangeways to pass over the track.
A train calls at one of the intermediate stations where the platform is steeply inclined and composed of a series of wide shallow steps. Details of the Fløibanen can be found at http://floyen.no