The Train Derailment in Narvik: Hopes to Resume Limited Ore Traffic Shortly

Malmtog i Narvik
Iron ore train in Narvik. By the Port of Narvik, iron ore is loaded for shipment to the mining company LKAB's customers in Europe. (Photo: Harald Groven/Flickr)

Passenger and freight traffic is now running again on the Ofoten Railway in Northern Norway. However, much work remains on the tracks used by the ore trains. The mining company LKAB hopes that they can resume iron ore traffic soon, but to a limited extent.

On Monday, the status of the train derailment at Narvik was that traffic had resumed on two of a total of four tracks that were affected by the derailment at Narvik Station.

"It is still uncertain when the entire area will be back to normal. We hope to open the third of the four tracks this evening. However, the situation looks better than it did right after the incident occurred," said press officer Harry Korslund of Bane Nor to High North News.

On Tuesday, Korslund can report that the third track is now also open for traffic. The third track is one of the tracks used by LKAB, but the opening of the track is also significant for passenger and freight traffic. Track four, where the derailment took place, is still closed to traffic.

One of LKAB's iron ore trains headed from Kiruna to Narvik derailed on Sunday at Narvik Station. In total, it looks like around 30 of the train's 68 carriages are affected by the derailment, according to the Swedish mining company LKAB.

The Ofoten Line was closed to traffic until the first two tracks were reopened. Another aspect now is that the electrification used by the trains that pass Narvik Station is disconnected during the day when the work is in progress," says Korslund.

The use of diesel locomotives contributes to keeping up the traffic of the normal freight traffic, as well as passenger traffic, which can now go in both directions on the Ofoten Line. However, limitations on speed and the requirement of driving permits between 6 AM and 9 PM lead to some delays, he adds. 

Togavsporing i Narvik
Train derailment in Narvik. (Photo: Tommy Simonsen, Bane Nor).

A lot of work remains

Pressevakt Harry Korslund i Bane Nor
Pressevakt Harry Korslund i Bane Nor. (Foto: Bane Nor).
Press officer Harry Korslund of Bane Nor. (Photo: Bane Nor)

"When it comes to reopening the fourth track, quite an extensive job remains. The time frame is somewhat longer there and we are uncertain how long it will take to repair the damage and clear away the carriages that derailed here; it can quickly become two, three days," says the press officer for Bane Nor.

In the morning hours on Monday, the work of clearing tracks three and four had begun. The train with 23 derailed carriages is located on track four and approximately 200 meters of the railway track must be replaced, writes the newspaper Fremover.

"Major wheel loaders are needed to lift the carriages of the track. In addition, there are still a few hundred tonnes of iron ore at the accident site from the carriages that derailed," says Korslund in a comment to HNN.

According to Korslund of Bane Nor, they currently do now know anything about the cause of the derailment. He says that the Accident Investigation Board Norway came to Narvik yesterday. Bane Nor assists with the work. 

"We have to make some reservations if there are any unforeseen challenges that could change the time horizon further," he concludes.

LKAB informs that 30 undamaged wagons have been moved to the terminal area. The mining company hopes to resume iron ore traffic within 24 hours but to a limited extent.

According to LKAB, no injuries have been registered.

An important vein

The Ofoten Line is a 43-kilometer-long railway track from the Port of Narvik to the national border with Sweden where the line is connected with the Swedish railway network. Normally, 10-12 of LKAB's iron ore trains run in each direction every day between Narvik and Kiruna. In addition, other freight and passenger traffic takes place on the railway.

According to Bane Nor, the Ofoten Line is also an important freight corridor for the entire Nordic region and a large portion of the grocery supply to Northern Norway comes by train via Narvik. There are several daily freight trains shuttles between Alnabru in Oslo and Narvik via Sweden.

LKAB's 750-meter-long ore trains transport around 6,800 tonnes of iron ore product per train. Between eight and ten trains loaded with iron ore travel between Kiruna and Narvik every day. Each train consists of 68 carriages, where each carriage weighs 20 tonnes and is loaded with approx. 100 tonnes, writes SVT. At the Port of Narvik, the iron ore is loaded for shipment to customers in Europe.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.