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The ridiculously beautiful country without a single train station

Known for its stunning landscapes and natural beauty, Iceland is an extremely popular tourist destination, yet it has no train stations. 

The Nordic country attracts roughly two million tourists every year, but none of these will be able to travel by train as it has no railway network. 

Iceland is small country, roughly 2.4 times smaller than the UK, meaning travelling from the world famous Blue Lagoon to the array of volcanoes is doable by other modes of transport.

Travellers can hire cars for roadtrips or take buses, and some even choose to hitchhike, but there are no trains, trams, or underground system in Iceland. It is the only country in Europe to not have a railway network, other than the Principality of Andorra.

There are trains in the country, but they are only used to transport goods and have never been for public use. There has been discussion amongst the Icelandic authorities about building a railway network, but nothing has come to fruition as yet.

The country’s topography and climate make it tricky to construct or safely travel across a railway network, especially due to all the volcanoes.

On top of this, Iceland’s small population of 382,000, connected road network and widespread use of cars also negate the need for a railway network.

Tourists are advised to hire a car or take the various bus services across the country, as well as boats to reach more remote parts and neighbouring islands.

However, Iceland did once have an operational railway, and the only two trains remain preserved in Árbær Open Air Museum. Sigurlaugur Ingólfsson, project manager at the museum

He told The Reykjavic Grapevine: “It was a period of about 15 years that we had an operational railway in Reykjavík. The trains were brought here by a Danish company that was contracted to build the harbour. There was so much inflation … so Reykajvík bought the two locomotives.

“There had been plans for further railway use. There were mainly foreign companies that suggested building railway lines in the late 19th century and it had some support among Icelanders … But all of these plans were vetoed by parliament or didn’t go through parliament, maybe because people didn’t trust these companies fully.”

There was previously a proposal to build a railway route between Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavík, but this was terminated in 2003 in favour of a four-lane road between the airport and the city.

In 2020, construction was due to start on the railway line that would run alongside the road and reduce the travel time between the airport and city to just 15 minutes, but this never materialised.


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