Sunday 21 April 2013

Trondheim, Norway

Founded in 997, the city of Trondheim lies roughly 400km north of Oslo.  The third largest city in Norway, Trondheim has in the past been the capital.  The benediction ceremony for new Norwegian monarchs is still held in Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral.

Trondheim is home to the world's northernmost trams, having held this title since 2004 when the tram system the Russian city of Arkhangelsk was closed.

The tram system comprises just one line, the Gråkallbanen, which operates from the centre of Trondheim into the hills overlooking the city.  At the city end, trams run on-street.  As they climb away from the city, the trams use a segregated alignment. So it is arguably a light rail system incorporating some street running. 
Many of the trams carry commercial advertising liveries.


Gråkallbanen is the surviving remnant of a more extensive tram network which once served Trondheim.  In fact, the system had closed entirely by 1988s but the Gråkallbanen line was restored to service a couple of years later.  It is operated by Gråkallbanen AS, but is integrated into Trondheim's local transport system which is co-ordinated by ATB

Other than the Gråkallbanen, the city transport system in Trondheim is provided by buses.  These are coordinated by ATB and carry ATB livery, but are operated by several companies under contract to ATB.

Many of the buses are powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).



A small number of buses powered by hybrid technology have also entered service in Trondheim.

As well as the standard two-axle vehicles, there are numerous tri-axle single deckers at work in Trondheim.  These have three doors.




Articulated buses operate on route 5, one of Trondheim's core cross-city services.


On Sundays, the shops are closed all day.  I noticed that on the Sunday that I was in Trondheim, in April 2013, three-axle single-deckers were operating in place of the articulated buses on route 5.

Within Trondheim, a flat fare applies on ATB buses and on the Gråkallbanen.  Fares can be paid on board, but it is cheaper to buy them in advance from ticket machines.  Tickets by mobile phone are also available, at the same price as tickets bought in advance while cheaper still are tickets paid for using the "t-kort" smartcard.  As in many of the cities I have visited outside the UK, a single ticket allows transfers between bus services and to or from the tram.  In Trondheim's case, transfer is valid for up to 45 minutes of arriving at the point of interchange.

Some ATB-branded services extend beyond the city to surrounding settlements.  


Other bus services stretching beyond Trondheim are operated by Nettbuss Trøndelag (who also operate some of the ATB-branded routes within the city), using buses in their own blue livery.  Their website is in Norwegian only.


Longer-distance coach services also operate into Trondheim. 

Coaches serve the city centre, and terminate at the central railway station.  The station is thus a hub for longer-distance travel both by coach and by rail.

Trondheim's airport is at Vaernes, around 30 kilometres from the city centre.  Although there is a direct train service from the airport to Trondheim's central railway station, this only operates hourly.  Most of the airport traffic is handled by coaches, which serve many of Trondheim's hotels.  The Flybussen service operates every 10 minutes, using three-axle coaches.

Flybussen is a brand name for airport coach services in a number of Norwegian cities.  Different companies operate under the brand name in different cities.  In Trondheim, the service is operated by Nettbuss Trøndelag.

At certain times, the Flybussen coaches operate via the Clarion Hotel & Congress.  At times when the coaches omit this stop, buses provide a dedicated shuttle service to and from the central station, where they connect with the Flybussen coaches.

Flybussen aren't the only coaches linking Trondheim city centre with the airport.  VaernesEkspressen also operate a service, although this is less frequent.

Since Trondheim is located on the south bank of a fjord, it is no surprise that ferries provide links across the water, in some cases connecting with buses running further north.

The ferry terminal in Trondheim is close to the coach and railway station.

The Hurtigruten ships, which provide a daily service along the Norwegian coast from Bergen to Kirkenes, stop in Trondheim for a few hours in the mornings.  This is one of the places where northbound and southbound vessels meet.  The end-to-end voyage is more than 2,000 km through some truly stunning scenery.  These images show two of Hurtigruten's larger vessels, the Midnatsol berthed in Trondheim on a southbound voyage:

...and the Finnmarken sailing out from Trondheim on its voyage northwards:

The following morning, the Finnmarken will cross the Arctic Circle.  It will take 4 days' sailing from Trondheim to reach Kirkenes, close to the Russian border.

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