Photo of a Swedish train by hgaronfolo1984 @ flickr.
Leisure travel is a Swedish pastime almost as integrated into the culture as filmjÃ¶lk (sour cultured milk), Swedish meatballs, and moose hunting. Swedes know their international travel habits generate a lot of carbon dioxide emissions, yet they are loathe to give up the ability to escape the gray Swedish winters. The bad economy has caused some charter companies to cancel lots of trips, but charter train trips are expanind. Unfortunately, one of the most popular destinations - Thailand - is accessible by train, but it takes over ten days (you cross the Baltic to Finland first) and includes a week on the Trans-Siberian railroad. Not for everyone - so some Swedes are instead choosing train charter closer to home.Introduced to Sweden in the summer of 2007, train charter trips sold out immediately. The first year the charter trips were all to selected destinations in Northern Italy, and put out by one of the country's largest charter companies - Fritidsresor. Main competitor Ving followed up with trips to Italy, Slovenia, and Hungary. Swedes love charters for the "everything included" or half-pension (breakfast and dinner) plans that are supposed to make trips more affordable.
Now there are charter trips to Croatia and Austria, and "weekend" trips are starting to be introduced. The weekend trips are actually five days - you leave from the southern Swedish city of MalmÃ¶ on Wednesday evening, and arrive in Berlin on Thursday morning, or to Prague by mid-day Thursday. The return train trip is Sunday night and gets you back in time for work on Monday morning. Berlin costs around 2,500 SEK (US$300) with night accommodations (hotel in the cities, too) included, while Prague is 3,000 SEK (US$365).
This spring and summer both train charter companies are introducing more trips - Fritidsresor will have a total of 22 train trips to 9 different countries. The volume of charter trips will be 60% more than for the 2008 season. As canny TreeHuggers have pointed out, if the trains get their electricity from coal-fired generation, train travel can't exactly call itself low-carbon or carbon-free (within Sweden the bulk of electricity is obtained from hydropower and nuclear). But the growth of this medium of slow travel is at the least encouraging. Hello, Amtrak? Via: Kossornas Planet (Swedish)and Vagabond
Read more on charter travel
Slow Trains Heading South
Swedish Tourism Cold Comfort for Warming Globe
Seven Slow Movements That Can Change Our Lives