MTR Express is a Swedish train company, a subsidiary of MTR Nordic Group, part of the global MTR Corporation, which was founded in 1975 in Hong Kong operating the underground system in the city. In March 2015 MTR Express launched its new route between Stockholm and Gothenburg, between the capital and the second largest city in Sweden, in direct competition with the state-owned national train company SJ.
The ticket was booked on the MTR Express webpage and even two days before departure the ticket in their first class (1 Klass Plus) was cheaper than all other alternatives in the morning when I needed to go.
This is a review of a journey in their 1 Klass Plus (first class) between Gothenburg and Stockholm.
I stayed overnight at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel just across the street from the Central station in Gothenburg, with five minutes to walk from the lobby to the platform. Breakfast had not started yet but at least they had a grab-to-go counter with some coffee and snacks.
On platform 5 the train was already waiting but the doors were still locked and you could see through the windows that the carriages were being prepared with the catering, especially in first class.
The train doors eventually opened ten minutes before departure at 6.45 am.
MTR Express train 12004
First Class (1 Klass Plus)
The train model used is called FLIRT Nordic, constructed by Swiss manufacturer Stadler. The train sets used by MTR Express are especially adjusted to be able to cope with snow, ice and low temperatures during the Nordic winter season.
Being a Tuesday morning the load onboard was rather good with several business travellers going to the capital. The interior of the carriage gave a good impression with a rather modern interior in an excellent condition. We left Gothenburg right on time.
Seat and comfort
The train set on all departures consists of five carriages named A to E. There are two classes of travel onboard. The standard class is called 2 Klass with ‘Flex’ and ‘Fix’ tickets and then there is a first class section which they call ‘Plus’. The premium concept is not very different from what many airlines offer on intra-European flights.
On MTR Express the seats are exactly the same throughout the train so they can adjust the division between the two classes based on the demand. On a Monday morning when there are many business travellers there will probably be a larger ‘Plus’ section. On a Saturday afternoon, when there are more leisure travellers, the ‘Plus’ section will probably be smaller. The ‘Plus’ class always starts at Coach A and 2 Class always starts at Coach E.
Although the configuration is 2-2 throughout the entire train, if you travel in ‘Plus’ the adjacent seat will always be kept free.
The seats are in grey and maroon and all seats have headrests for those who want to get some rest during the journey. It is also possible to recline the seat using a lever under the seat. The seat cushion will then move forward and the seatback will be lowered, which means it will not affect the person sitting behind.
Some of the seats also have larger tables, a good choice if you are a party travelling together.
Some extra benefits of booking a ‘Plus’ ticket are that the ticket is refundable, you can change train the same day free of charge (sometimes you can just board a train and show your ticket, subject to space of course) and you get free newspapers.
Food and drinks
On this morning departure from Gothenburg breakfast was served in Plus which consisted of a paper breakfast box. Most passengers boarding the train in Gothenburg and who had purchased the ticket at least a few hours in advance had a breakfast box waiting at the table upon boarding. For a few passengers who booked last-minute ticket breakfast boxes were delivered later after departure.
MTR Express has a cooperation with famous Swedish chef Pontus Frithiof, who runs several restaurants in Sweden and also the American Express Lounge at Stockholm Arlanda airport. He has prepared several dishes for MTR Express, including the signature shrimp sandwich, which is often served in Plus and available for purchase for the other passengers.
The breakfast this morning consisted of rye bread with beetroot salad and a yoghurt. Although the sandwich was tasty and filling it did feel a bit odd for breakfast. There was also a small bottle of apple juice.
The train attendant passed through the carriage offering coffee, tea and other soft drinks and later also offered refills.
There is also a cafe on the train for those travelling in 2 Class, on a Fix or Flex ticket, located in Coach B. And of course passengers in Plus are also welcome to come here if you want to buy something else to eat or drink other than what they offer for free in Plus. They have champagne for sale for example.
The bistro-style cafe is very compact and has food and drinks on one side and the cashier on the other side. The food and snacks selection has been composed by famous Swedish chef Pontus Frithiof and as mentioned the signature dish is the MTR Express shrimp sandwich.
The service was friendly by the female train attendant. Since the breakfast box was already available at the seat upon boarding her job was to offer drinks (and later refills) and to collect the boxes.
A signature detail in the train is the lamp available at each seat. A Swedish design from 1968 created by designer Anders Pehrson named ‘Bumling’. It has been redesigned to fit onboard and to harmonise with the MTR Express train design.
Free wireless internet was also available on the train, and it is free of charge to all passengers. Just like on many other trains though it worked quite well when passing through urban areas, to the extent that you could even stream a video or a TV-program, but with a much slower when passing through rural areas, of which there are plenty during the journey from Gothenburg to Stockholm. At those times the connection was often so slow that it was better using a mobile phone as Wi-Fi hotstpot.
We arrived in Stockholm right on time just after 10 am. During the summer several railway tracks in the city centre are being replaced so therefore our train service terminated at Stockholm Södra (Stockholm South), a station normally only used for suburban trains. During the construction works the MTR Express tickets also include free travel on the suburban train to reach the main central station, a short train ride of 3-4 minutes.
MTR Express Plus class is very much like flying business class on an intra-European flight. The seats are the same but you get a free adjacent seat. A breakfast box, free drinks, free Wi-Fi and friendly service were also provided. The train set was in an excellent condition and the ticket was very affordable.