Travel in a Tram (Tube, or Metro): A Gothenburgian Experience


Gothenburg Railways (Göteborgs Spårvägar) runs the local rail service in Sweden’s second largest city. It has been in public service of public transport (kollektivtrafik) since 1879. The company has total of 263 trams running on 12 routes (lines) with 132 tram stops (stations) providing local transport from wee hours in the morning to wee hours in the night but it works 24 hours a day. For example one take a tram at 01:49 am on a Monday from Central Station to Marklandsgatan or at 04:39 am from Marklandsgatan to Central Station. It is one of the most public-friendly public transport systems in the world.



The local trains are variously called as Underground or tube in London, metro in New Delhi, subway in New York, U-Bahn and S-Bahn in Berlin  but in Gothenburg the local trains are called ‘trams’. In Swedish it is spårvagn (spårvagnen – singular definite form, spårvagnar – plural, indefinite form). The tram or streetcar is also sometimes referred to as a trolley. If you happen to hear from a local referring to tram as a trolley, you can infer that the Gothenburger is having an American cultural influence {Frank J. Sprague (1857-1934) the American naval officer and inventor devised an electrical streetcar with a spring-loaded trolley pole}.  Tram is a cognate of German’s traam and Dutch’s trame.

The buses are part of Göteborgs Spårvägar for a rail replacement service (ersättningsbuss) in case of track works on the tram routes. In some stretch there will be tram-related work but it is mostly during weekends and late night.


The trams in Gothenburge are not named but numbered from 1 to 13. The 263 trams has different models of wagons or carriages. The oldest wagons date back to mid-1960s, and the recent ones in 2015 which are more environmental friendly.

Tram number 6 is almost like the Circle Line in London: goes round and round but with two different starting and terminating points: Aprilgatan in Kortedala and Varmfrontsgatan in Länsmansgården. The tram running between Liseberg /Sankt Sigfrids Plan-Central Station / Drottningtorget carries the number 12 but it is a museum line.


Unlike in other cities including in Stockholm, one can get into the tram for the farthest or the nearest journey without showing one’s ticket unless a ticket inspector asks. Usually, the Göteborgs Spårvägar trusts the commuter that he or she buys ticket. One can buy a ticket in a shop such as Pressbyrån or 7Eleven or Västtrafik’s kiosk or online or via an app on smartphone or in the tram, and one should have a ticket to tram.

SINCE 1879:

Gothenburg Railways has been in operation since 1879. In the late nineteenth century, the wagons were pulled by horses till electric carriages replaced the horse-drawn wagons in 1902. The local rail transport has more than 1400 employees.


If one loses one’s things on the tram, one can call the lost and found property office on 031-80 20 88 or enquire through an email