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Group Launches First Tourist Train Service Through Russia's Arctic Region To Norway

A close view of a car of the first tourist train passing through Russia's Arctic regions to Norway as it prepares to leave Saint Petersburg for a 11-day trip with 91 passengers on board on June 5.

A tour group has launched the first tourist train service traveling through Russia’s Arctic region to Norway.

The initial train with 91 passengers aboard left St. Petersburg on June 5 for an 11-day "test journey," passing through Petrozavodsk, the historic town of Kem, and Murmansk.

"The Arctic fascinates everybody," said Nurlan Mukesh, chief of the German Lernidee Erlebnisreisen tour group, which is behind the project.

"This destination has been covered by Canadian and Norwegian tourist agencies but, this has not been the case for Russia," he told AFP.

The train, named Zarengold ("The Tsar's Gold" in German), has two restaurant cars.

Travelers will depart the train at Murmansk and continue by bus to the Norwegian city of Kirkenes and end their journey with a boat trip to Oslo or by air to the island of Spitsbergen.

On the inaugural voyage, tourists came from seven countries, including the United States, Germany, Norway, and Russia.

"In future we hope to run trains regularly," Mukash said. It is expected to run twice next year and four times in 2021.

Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway, and China all see the Arctic region as a site for future economic and military development.

Based on reporting by AFP