East Railway Station

Denne artikkelen omtaler et sted

Åpne i Oslo Bykart
Photo: Mirko Junge /Creative Commons

East Railway Station (Østbanestasjonen), Oslo Ø, Jernbanetorget1, Norway’s former main railway station. The first station was built in 1854. The West Railway Station (Vestbanestasjonen) was built in 1872. Since 1980, Oslo Sentralstasjon is the centre for railway traffic.

The first Norwegian railway line – Hovedbanen– was established between Christiania and Eidsvoll in 1854. Various sites were proposed for the station. Some people wished locate it on Youngstorget because of the trading there, others at Grünerløkka. Another proposal was to locate it at Vaterlandsbru. Most people felt that the station ought to have as central position and one as close to the harbour as possible, and it was situated on the left side of the river Akerselva, on a site belonging to Christiania Glasmagasin, on the corner of Lille Strandgade and Lille Tomtegade (Jernbanegata). After winning a competition, the architects Heinrich Ernst Schirmer and Wilhelm von Hanno were commissioned to design the building. A long, narrow two-storey building of red brick was completed in 1854. It had an open arcade along the entire ground floor of the building. In the middle of the facade was a tower with a clock. Behind this there lay a long, low covered platform area with skylights and a gable with a large window out towards the square Jernbanetorget. In 1861, the arcade was bricked in.

When the Østfoldbanenline was to be led into the station, it was too small. The station complex with tracks and buildings was expanded in 1879-82. The covered area was demolished. Alongside the old station building a new building was erected in an L shape, with facades facing Jernbanetorget and Havnegata. Between this new building and the oldest section a new covered platform area was erected. The new building was designed by city architect G. A. Bull, who placed the main entrance as an extension of the centre line of Karl Johans gate.  The station’s enginesheds and workshops were placed on the east side of Akerselva, between the river and Oslo gate. Later expansions of the station were considerable additions of a goods shed, a junction and workshops across at Loenga (Sørenga).

In 1938, it was proposed that the eastern and western railway systems should be linked by a tunnel, and that the city’s two stations should be replaced by a new central station, to be located at Østbanestasjonen. An architectural competition held in 1946 was won by the architects John Engh and Per Qvam. Their proposal presupposed the demolition of the old station buildings. In 1962, the Norwegian Parliament approved the realisation of the plans for a new station. In 1976, however, the city council approved a local development plan which presupposed that an important part of the old station building was to be preserved.

East Railway Station during Second World War. Photo: Unknown / Oslo Byarkiv

The War Years

During the war, Østbanen was an important place for propaganda, with departures and arrivals. The passenger areas were at times plastered with NS posters and slogans. On the occasion of Joseph Goebbel’s visit to Oslo on 28 November 1940, the station hall was decorated with large swastika banners, and the facade facing Jernbanetorget was decorated with garlands and a transparency with the German national coat of arms. The Germans erected two extra luggage and storage barracks at the station, as well as a garage barracks in Nylandsveien.

On the night of 2 February 1942, the building was exposed to a bomb attack carried out by the Osvald Group in connection with the so-called state ceremony at Akershus, when a large number of Norwegian Nazi party members were expected to have a dinner at the Railway Restaurant. The restaurant was set alight and the fire was so intense that flames stood out of the windows here and those of the offices on the floor above. It took almost until the following morning to put out the flames. Two firemen suffered smoke-poisoning and one person was injured. A similar bomb attack was carried out at the same time at Vestbanestasjonen. These were the first acts of sabotage in Oslo during the war.

On 17 July 1942, the first hospital train arrived with wounded German soldiers from the Eastern Front. They came from Haparanda via Sweden. They were received at Østbanen by General von Falkenhorst and a brass band. It is estimated that eventually approx. 30,000 wounded German soldiers were transported from Finland via Sweden to war hospitals in Norway.

In 1947, a commemorative tablet was set up on the north wall of the entrance hall from Jernbanetorget with the names of NSB employees who had fallen during the war. 

There were lit torches on either side of the tablet. On the other wall, a tablet was set up in 1955 with the names of those in the Osvald Group who had fallen. These tablets were removed, and replicas of them mounted at the Osvald Monument out on Jernbanetorget square in 2015.

The Oslo Tunnel opened in 1980 and the first local trains began to stop at Oslo Central Station, even though it was far from being completed. It was not officially opened until 1987. Østbanestasjonen was gradually phased out as a railway station in 1987-90. It was later converted into a shopping centre, Østbanehallen, with restaurants and shops, which opened in 1993. In 2009, the building was re-zoned and converted into Comfort Hotel Grand Central. A new shopping centre with quality shops and restaurants opened together with the hotel in 2012. From 2013 onwards, Østbanehallen was renovated once again, and when it re-opened in 2015, it was as a food hall with a number of restaurants and eateries as well as Oslo Visitor Centre. 

The East Railway Station is marked with one of The Oslo Society`s blue plaque.