We joined the train driver and crew at work on the beautiful Flåm railway.
Text: Mikael Lunde
Snow-capped peaks rise far above the tracks, splashing waterfalls clinging to their sides. They feed the rapid river running down the valley. Near the tail end of summer, it is still lush and green. Some of Norway’s most magnificent fjord landscapes are on display.
Following in his father’s footsteps driving the train, after 34 years in charge, Mølster still isn’t blind to the beauty of this vista.
“Especially on a clear spring day, when there’s still a lot of snow on the mountaintops, I don’t think there’s any place in the world that is more beautiful”, he says. Mølster is echoed by his conductor, Knut Erik Seierslund, inside the train. “I love it; I see something new every day. And I never get tired of the view”, he says – not quite content though and merely looking at it. “I’ve been to almost every one of these peaks, on either side of the valley.”
The two active trains at the Flåm Railway carry passengers, largely tourists with a return ticket, up and down the mountain from six in the morning till ten at night. They take about 500 people, and it’s mid-season, which means that most departures are fully booked.
Back when Mølster’s father worked at “Flåmsbana” – indeed, as late as in the 1990s – the situation was different. The train was carrying goods. Its construction was approved by the Norwegian government as early as 1908 when they built the Bergen Railway across the mountains from Oslo. “They wanted to connect that line with the Sognefjord”, Mølster explains. Yet this was a huge task, and construction didn’t actually begin until 1923.
Though Flåm is a scenic location, next to the world-famous Nærøyfjord and idyllic villages like Undredal (known for its delicious goat cheese), Mølster believes this place would only have been a shadow of what it is today without the railway. “Flåmsbana connects all life in these parts. Without it, the village would have withered away”, he says.