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Introduction: Northern Europe – a hotbed for rail development

4 June 2014  •  Author(s): Craig Waters

There is one standard theme currently running through the railways of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia; that theme is development, writes Craig Waters, Editor of European Railway Review. Northern Europe is a current hotbed for investment and growth in the railway industry, and governments in Scandinavia are continuing to support the need for rail development with the allocation of funds in order to open-up the region’s potential. Construction of new tracks, establishing new cross-border links, and investing in new rolling stock are all elements of what can be seen in Scandinavia right now.

Norway’s population is increasing and the country’s rail network needs to keep up with growing transportation demands for both passengers and freight. Not only is there a vital need for more capacity, but shorter journey times, improved regularity and more frequent departures are also essential.

Take Norway’s InterCity development for example, which includes the construction of modern double-track lines between Oslo and the towns of Lillehammer, Skien and Halden. The project has a total investment cost of approximately €12.5 billion, and the aim is to transform rail travel in eastern Norway by constructing double-tracks plus various other constructions, including 21 stations. Some sections are already under construction and the aim is to complete the entire network by 2030 which will dramatically reduce travel times.

Elsewhere in Norway is the construction of the new Ulriken Tunnel between Arna and Bergen as part of the Arna–Bergen double-track project. The line is currently one of the most heavily trafficked sections of single-track railway in Europe, with approximately 130 trains passing daily. Work on this section is primarily intended to increase capacity, and together with the overall national implementation of ERTMS in Norway, the country’s railway administration is showing that it is committed to developing rail transportation for a growing country.

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