So as a follow on to my last brief post, I have (I think) figured out the times and dates of all my travels to Norway. Time is now not such an important factor as I won’t be travelling the entire distance in one go, which would have been a rather unhelpful metric to measure the way finding to get there when planes win every time in time and cost.
Ferries (as I perhaps mentioned recently) also ended up being much more expensive when I looked closer into booking them due to the need to book an overnight cabin to the value of more than £100 per night on either the ferries between Kiel and Oslo or Harwich to Esbjerg. Ruling out that option, together with the bus option left only trains. I decided not to take the suggested route from Seat61 as this involves an overnight train at higher cost from Cologne to Denmark, and was instead able to book my trip from London through to Kiel in one go with a 24 hour stopover in Brussels to spend time with a friend I know there.
So in general the trip is going to cost approximately £200 and consists of the following legs:
- Train Cambridge to London (Kings Cross) 18th
- Train London to Kiel via Brussels, Cologne and Hamburg (with an extended layover in Brussels). 18th, 19th-20th (Kiel)
- Train Kiel to Copenhagen in one of two ways (train-ferry-train or train via tunnel) 21st-22nd
- Train Copenhagen to Hirtshals 23rd
- Ferry Hirtshals to Kristiansand 23rd
- Car Kristiansand to Arendal 23rd
Arendal is the final destination for Christmas and it’s important to get there prior to Christmas Eve as this is the main celebratory day during the Christmas period in Norway.
What can I say about this journey? Well as I said earlier you cannot justify it on economic or time concerns, and so it’s best to make the most of the trip and visit people or places. Also:
- There are lots of trains involved. Good thing I like them.
- The two-option journey between Kiel and Copenhagen take completely different routes and yet require exactly the same amount of time. The route I think I will try to take is called Vogulfluglinie and involves the high speed ICE train sitting on board the ferry between Puttgarden (Germany) and Rødby (Denmark). Seems like a rather curious option to me and I couldn’t convince myself that the train actually goes on the ferry until I saw a video of it. The other option is the expected route that goes via the ‘land connected’ pathway through the south of Denmark and across the various islands.
- These island-like parts of the world are getting ever more connected with the completion of the tunnel and suspension bridge link between Sjælland and Fyn completed in 1997 and the Øresund bridge was constructed in 2000. More recently the Danish government approved the construction of an immersed rail/road tunnel across the Fehmarn Belt which is where the train ferry goes currently in the uppermost of the two pictures above.
You can gather an appreciation for why these links are being built when you consider the marine traffic that currently is being used to connect these places. So things ought only to get easier with time to take sustainable transport. European interconnected-ness is happening in other ways too such as the European Supergrid. If only I could travel along electrical wires at the speed of their contents…
- My guess is that we must surely be in or very close to the golden age of air travel. How can things get any cheaper per passenger kilometer than £14 for a trip of over 1000km between Oslo and London? Having said that I once did a 5000 word assignment looking at the market penetration and profitability of the proposed Chinese COMAC C919 narrowbody aircraft, which we concluded could be a real competitor to the Boeing-Airbus duopoly and take up significant sales. Currently scheduled for customer deliveries in 2016 but you can read more up to date information about the progress of this aircraft here.
- I haven’t worked out what I’m doing after Christmas yet, but after having added up the costs of this trip to be about £200, I may end up having to break the principle rule of my sustainable transport challenge at that point and take a plane again. And this is entirely a monetary decision as I don’t have endless funds to travel in sustainable ways (pretty sad that the cheapest option is the most polluting). I will definitely continue to avoid using planes when feasible options exist as I’ve racked up quite enough plane miles over recent years coming to Europe. This journey, whilst generally producing significantly less CO2 than alternatives will still produce some emissions and so I aim to investigate appropriate offsetting methods and choose one of these for the entirety of this journey (including the possible plane return trip from Norway).
Hopefully I’ll have compiled more environmental data about my trip vs the plane and see how the offsetting options stack up. I think currently that offsets are not a very viable alternative and have similar problems to biofuels. Yes it can be done and yes it’s better than not doing it, but when we are considering reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, planting trees and then flying is not really the best answer. And this reminds me of something an energy expert once said to me:
‘The best renewable energy is the energy that you don’t use.’