SJ announced in January that it would replace the two daily Inter-City services between the Swedish and Norwegian capitals with three X2000 services, reducing the journey time for the 572km trip from 5h 38min to around four-and-a-half hours with intermediate stops at Karlstad and Arvika.
In June the plan appeared to be in jeopardy because Jernbaneverket was planning two-and-a-half years of daytime closures on Kongsvinger Line between Lillestrøm and Kongsvinger from mid-2016 for catenary renewals. However, Jernbaneverket subsequently agreed to defer the start of these works until 2018 to allow time for planning alternative arrangements during the closures.
SJ previously operated X2000s to Oslo between 2000 and 2004 under its Linx 50:50 joint venture with Norwegian State Railways (NSB). However, competition from low-fares airlines led to a 40% decline in ridership and SJ decided to redeploy the trains on busier domestic routes.
SJ says around 1.1 million passengers fly between the two cities each year and it believes rail could ultimately increase its share of the air-rail market on the route to 20%.
SJ is offering free Wi-Fi onboard in both first and standard class accommodation, with at-seat breakfast, hot drinks, fruit and newspapers in first class.