The iron ore train derailment in Northern Sweden brings up the debate about a double track on the Ofoten Line: "What has happened now should be a serious wake-up call for Bane Nor, the Norwegian Railway Directorate, the government, and parliament. The same goes for Swedish authorities. A double track can no longer be postponed," says the mayor of Narvik in Northern Norway.
A unanimous municipal council in Narvik demands that a double track on the Ofoten Line must be built by 2035, writes the municipality in a press release.
The message comes after a hearing by the municipal council in mid-December.
Just after, the municipality's demand was made relevant by the derailment on the Iron Ore Line, which is the name of the railway line on the Swedish side.
High North News recently reported that a derailed iron ore train a few kilometers into the Swedish side of the border has stopped traffic between Narvik in Northern Norway and Kiruna in Northern Sweden. Traffic is expected to resume at the end of January.
The municipality believes that if there had been a double track on the line between Narvik and Kiruna, other traffic could have continued as usual.
A wake-up call
The derailment has put the entire single-track line between Narvik and Kiruna out of action indefinitely. This has caused economic losses in the billions for the local, Northern Norwegian, and Swedish business sectors, writes Narvik municipality.
"What has happened now should be a serious wake-up call for Bane Nor, the Norwegian Railway Directorate, the government, and parliament. The same goes for Swedish authorities. A double track can no longer be postponed. We must eliminate Norway's largest bottleneck," says Mayor Rune Edvardsen (Labor).
"The aquaculture industry transports billions worth of goods on the Ofoten Line, and large parts of Northern Norway's daily consumption is supplied with goods. In addition, there is the Swedish mining industry, of course, which depends on reaching the Port of Narvik," he adds.
The Swedish mining company LKAB, which operates iron ore extraction in Norrbotten, depends on the transport line. It sends significant amounts of iron ore products with the railway line to Narvik, where it is shipped to its customers.
"It costs money, and valuable time is lost for the fish transports. That affects quality and value," says Edvardsen and concludes:
"The capacity and operational safety on the Ofoten Line can no longer be neglected."
The Ofoten and Iron Ore Line
The Ofoten Line, or the Iron Ore Line, is a railway line stretching from Narvik in the west to the border with Sweden in the east. From there, it extends through Northern Sweden to Luleå.
The Iron Ore Line is Sweden's busiest railway. The Iron Ore Line can take 8600 tonnes-heavy and 750-meter-long trains with a total of 68 carriages.
About 24 iron ore trains run in each direction per day between Narvik and Kiruna.
Significant amounts of iron ore products are sent to Narvik and Luleå on the line, as well as seafood, transported through Sweden to Oslo.