Missing In Iceland: Trains - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Missing In Iceland: Trains

Missing In Iceland: Trains

Published March 17, 2017

A couple times a year, we see news stories about a possible train connecting Keflavík airport and Reykjavík. Sometimes this proposal includes another train line that would circle the greater capital area. This discussion has been going on for ten or more years, and yet still: no trains. Why? It can’t be because of earthquakes and volcanoes; Japan has the fastest train in the world, and that country is wracked with earthquakes and volcanoes. It can’t be for lack of money; we have hundreds of millions to spare for the national church, and we increase their budget every year. And it sure isn’t for a lack of energy resources. Could it be that we simply lack the will to build a single train line connecting two towns half an hour apart?

The train is inarguably the best way to travel over land. Consider for a moment all the movies, books and television shows that take place on trains. In all of them, the train is a setting of romance, mystery and intrigue. Imagine combining that with green energy. Sounds positively utopian, doesn’t it? And yet over 50% of Reykjavík land use is devoted to roads, and the number of drivers is only going to keep increasing with the number of tourists renting cars. Our bus system is teetering on the edge of incompetency. What gives?

Icelanders used to jokingly mention that we do, in fact, have a “train line.” You can see it down at Reykjavík harbour, sitting on three metres of rail, going nowhere. Mocking us. That little green engine sits there as a daily reminder of yet another missing thing in this country, that you can find in pretty much any civilised country on the planet. If there were any justice in this world, we’d already have a train by now. Sadly, trains will remain missing in Iceland until such time as we can muster up the pluck to make them a reality.

Read more ‘Missing In Iceland’ posts here.


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