NORWAY SEEKS A RAILWAY THAT RESPONDS TO NEW MOBILITY REQUIREMENTS WHILE BEING RESPECTFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT. FOR THIS REASON, IT FOSTERS THE LARGEST TRANSPORT PROGRAMME IN ITS HISTORY WITH HIGH-SPEED PROJECTS, COMMUTER RAIL INITIATIVES, DUPLICATION AND ELECTRIFICATION OF LINES. FURTHERMORE, THE AIM IS TO INCORPORATE GREATEST ADVANCES, MEANING THIS WILL ENHANCE COLLABORATION IN TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION.
Norway is one of the most developed countries in the world.
With 5,258,317 inhabitants and an area of 323,781 square metres, more than 80% of the population is concentrated into urban areas. The prosperous financial situation, with a thriving and highly stable economy , is notable in many sectors, including transport, where infrastructure standards are particularly high. A level that wants to be given a boost in the coming years with the implementation of the advantages of new technological advancements.
In the coming years, a substantial increase of inhabitants is expected, which will mean that there will be more than six million people in 2030, a figure that will increase to seven million in 2060. It is estimated that this growth will go hand in hand with a greater volume of passenger and freight transport that will continue until 2050. In this context, within all means of transport, the railway will take on a special role as the backbone of mobility.
The current network has 4,208 kilometres of track, of which 2,459 are electrified at 15 kV 16.7 Hz AC; also it features 269 kilometres of double track and 69 for high speed rail.
The train is a growing means of transport that, in the last year, transported 56,827 passengers 2,956 million kilometres of passengers and 24,783 tons of freight. The main long-distance branch leaves from Oslo westwards, along the south coast to Stavanger and over the mountains to Bergen; and north to Åndalsnes and via Trondheim to Bodø.
The country also has four connection lines with Europe. Although there is only one high-speed line in commercial operation, the Gardermobanen line, which links the capital with Oslo’s airport, Gardermoen, plans are in place to build more high-speed lines.
The Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications has been commission to handle the framework conditions necessary for the activities of the sector. Within this administration the Public Department of Rail Transport is framed. Alongside this, it has the Norwegian Railway Directorate, which is the government agency created in 2017 after the railway reform that was carried out in the country, and which has the strategic responsibility of the network.
Its main mission is to create “efficient, safe and environmentally friendly railroad that benefits passengers and operators”. The National Railway Infrastructure rests with Bane NOR, which is entrusted with the planning, development, operation and maintenance of the network, traffic management and development of railway properties. They are joined by the Norwegian Railway Authority, responsible for all safety issues.
In 2000, railway operations were deregulated. With this reform, freight and passenger services were privatised, but not the infrastructure. Therefore, Bane NOR is in charge of the planning, building and maintaining of the latter. At present there are several operators present in the Norwegian market and they offer competitive and efficient services, thanks to the three approved railway packages.
Among them is the NSB Group, which also works in Sweden and is one of the largest companies in the Nordic countries.
In April of this year, it was renamed Vy Group; and Norske Tog, a Norwegian state company established for rental of rolling stock for passenger traffic operators.
Other operators are: Cargo Net and Ofoten Line, of goods; the German Hector Rail; the Swedish Tågåkeriet; Sporveien T-banen AS, in charge of the Oslo Metro; LKAB Malmtrafik; Go-Ahead Nordic (Great Britain) and Flytoget AS, which serves on the Gardermoen high-speed line.
There are several operators present in the Norwegian market and offer competitive and efficient services.
The “National Transport Plan for Norway 2018-2029” is currently underway. In this programme, investments in the railway sector will involve an annual expenditure amount of 26.578 billion crowns (2.738 billion euros). For this year, Bane NOR, foresees several projects of major significance. In addition, throughout these years, the funds will be used for new large-scale projects. New initiatives will be launched, as well as the renewal of existing infrastructures. Furthermore, a major boost will be given to R&D and digitisation in order to prepare for the construction of railway systems that meet the needs of its growing population and reduce congestion and pollution on the roadways.
The main aims pursued are the reduction of the country’s carbon footprint, as well as taking full advantage of the new technologies based on ITS (Intelligent Transport System) applied to mobility
Regarding the way of carrying out the projects, the PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode is insisted in order to achieve an efficient undertaking of the works development.
The Rail Development Plan specifies a series of priority initiatives for the coming years, including large investments for the InterCity network in Eastern Valleys, the electrification of the Trønder and Meråker lines, new routes between Bergen and Voss, as well as a Ringerike line, which will also shorten the connection with Bergen, among others.
Apart from the budgets allocated in the Transport Plan, a new infrastructure fund of NOK 100 billion (EUR 10.326 billion) has been established, in order to promote the financing of these long-term projects.
The “Norwegian National Transportation Plan 2018-2029 with an average annual expenditure of €2.738 Bn is already underway.
Digitisation, automation and ERTMS
Within the modernisation plan of the railway network, Bane NOR has announced that it will also invest 20 billion NOK Norwegian crowns (2.063 billion euros) allocated to the digitisation and automation of the railway network and systems over the next 10 years.
These improvement tasks include the implementation of the ERTMS / ECTS L2 system throughout the country with completion scheduled for 2034. Precisely, for the 2014-2023 horizon, a total of 6 billion Norwegian crowns (750 million euros) has been allocated to the implementation of this European system; Some works that will be synchronised with the Swedish ERTMS plan to ensure interoperability.
Bane NOR plans to enable 270 kilometres of dual track and build 25 stations in the southeast of the country with an investment of 150 billion Norwegian kronor (1.546 billion euros). The routes will run between Oslo-Lillehammer (Dovre line), Oslo-Halden (Østfold line), Oslo-Porsgrunn (Vestfold line) and Sandvika-Hønefoss (Ringerike line). The new lines, which will be completed in 2036, will allow for speeds of up to 250 km / h. Of all of these, the Ringerike commuter network is one of the flagship projects. Its aim, to develop and increase the area of operation around the capital of Oslo, including Hønefoss and Ringerike in the InterCity rail network.
Another highly significant effect is the substantial reduction in train travel time between the two largest cities in Norway, Bergen and Oslo, which is close to five hours.
The works include large structures such as the construction of several bridges and tunnels. The main contract works are scheduled to start between 2021 and 2022.
Boosting metropolitan and light rail networks
Urban transport networks will also be bolstered in the coming years. There are light rail projects such as the extension of the network of the cities of Bergen-Kronstad-Fyllingsdalen) and Oslo (Old Town-Sjo Mannskolen Tunnel and Tonsenhagen Tram), as well as metropolitan rail projects in the capital, where Line 6 will be extended.
Follo Line and new high-speed lines
Among the main railway plans in Norway is the boost to high-speed lines. The largest project is known as the “Follo Line”.
This involves a 22.5 kilometre network that has been allotted investment of 2.609 billion euros and will link the cities of Oslo and Ski. The highlight is the construction of the two twin tunnels, entrusted to the firm Acciona, of 19.5 kilometres each one, which will become the longest in Scandinavia.
Alongside this great infrastructure project, the largest in the country, other networks are planned: Vest foldbanen / Tonsberg-Skien, with a budget of 4.104 billion euros; Frederikstad-Halden, Gardermoen-Hamar, Hamar-Lillehammer, Sandbukta-Sastad and Drammen-Kobbernikdalen.
With regard to transport plans, the R&D strategy is one of the cornerstones. To this end, a specific research plan has been designed with areas for development in matters of accessibility, security, climate and the environment. The initiatives will focus on areas such as electrification, railway technology , materials testing, etc. Likewise, one of the main Innovation programmes for the transport sector consists of 40 million NOK Norwegian crowns (4.124 billion euros) for collaborative projects to advance effective, safe and sustainable transport solutions.
Funding is available under the Transportation 2025 programme for organisations into research, in cooperation with other stakeholders.