Environmental Pioneer

Sahara Sumpter

The Arlanda Express rolls past forests and farmland on its way into Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.  It covers the 26 miles between Stockholm Arlanda Airport and downtown in 20 minutes, faster than a car or a bus.

It is sleek, luxurious, and has played a big part in Sweden’s successful drive to reduce air pollution and congestion in Stockholm and its surroundings.

The Arlanda Express is powered by electricity.  It was inaugurated more than a decade ago.  It hits peak speeds of 120 miles or 200 kilometers an hour. It is not the fastest train in the world these days, but it pioneered high-speed, environmentally efficient transportation.

It is painted soft grey with a bright yellow nose. The cabins have a modern design with matching décor. There are 190 seats on the train; they are spacious, comfortable, and covered in a wool mesh material.  At high counters, passengers can plug in their computers and sit on bar stools. Each work space has its own built-in lamp.

Two flat panel televisions are built into the walls in the front of each car. The bathrooms are tiled and elegant, reminiscent of those in lavish hotels. The back wall of each passenger car is covered with scenes of nature in Swedish regions that might inspire a visit to the rest of the country.

Travelers from New York City might marvel at the cleanliness of the trains and their sleek design. The commuter trains that run from Penn Station in New York to Newark, N.J., can be dirty and smelly.  Garbage is often strewn in the aisles. Graffiti sometimes covers the exterior of the cars.  Some seats are ripped and stained. Much of the time, the bathrooms of the American commuter trains are unusable.

In Stockholm,  passengers lounge in comfortable chairs and chat as if they’re on holiday – which some are.  The train silently pulls into the downtown station and everyone quietly disembarks. In 15 minutes another train leaves for the return trip to the airport. #

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