During the summer there will be normal train traffic on most railway lines. The exceptions are parts of the Østfold Line and the Drammen and Spikkestad Line, where necessary development, maintenance and renewal work has been scheduled.
For many, the 2020 summer holidays will be a bit different to before, due to the coronavirus situation. More people will be staying home and many are planning holidays in Norway. Nevertheless, at Bane NOR, we will still need to keep parts of the Østfold Line and the Drammen/Spikkestad Line closed this summer, as the development of the Follo Line and Østfold Line, as well as railway infrastructure maintenance work, have been scheduled for a long time. It is critical for progress that we complete in accordance with the schedule. Due to the complexity of the work that will be carried out, it is not possible to close at other times of year.
“We require continuous working periods spanning several weeks in order to perform major complex activities on the railway tracks and in connection with the tracks. The safety of those working on the project is one of the reasons why we have to stop traffic,” explains Gorm Frimannslund, CEO of Bane NOR.
Building the railway requires close collaboration with several parties
There are many conditions that influence when we can close a line. The train-free periods are therefore scheduled years in advance, among other things to ensure that the work can be coordinated. Various parties are involved to ensure that train, road and public transport run as smoothly as possible during the summer period. We solve this puzzle in collaboration with railway and freight companies, the Norwegian Public Road Administration, Ruter and, not least, our contractors and suppliers. This is one of the reasons why it is difficult for us to change the plans at short notice.
“The work that is carried out during a summer requires close collaboration, during both the planning and the execution phases. We work with projects spanning multiple years and, in order to ensure that the scheduled work is completed, we need to maintain progress in the summer. If we were to postpone the work, it would have consequences for our development projects and, over time, consequences for the expected improvements to rail services. Unlike roads, the railway is a very fixed system in which there are few possibilities to divert traffic,” explains Frimannslund.
The benefits of summer work
When parts of the railway are closed for several weeks, this is done to ensure a more reliable and resilient railway, while also expanding the railway network. Passengers will experience improved levels of comfort, with old tracks replaced by new. Trains will run more quietly, something those who live near the railway will also be able to notice.
This summer, among other things, we will replace the tracks from Lieråsen to Brakerøya on the Drammen Line and we will also upgrade the Lieråsen tunnel. We will also upgrade the overhead line system at several locations. This means that the system will become less vulnerable. We can see that there are far fewer faults occurring in areas where we have already modernised.
The summer weeks are crucial for ensuring that our major development projects are completed on schedule. Among other things, the first part of Ski station, which is part of the Follo Line Project, will be completed during this period. Trains that currently run through the eastern side of the station will be moved to the new part.
We are keeping the wheels of society running during a unique period
Due to the coronavirus situation, the government and parliament have introduced schemes and measures to keep the wheels of society and business running as well as possible and it is therefore crucial that we, as part of society, contribute to maintaining activity. The pandemic also means that those who will be travelling by train and bus this summer will be faced with additional infection control measures.
“We are following the advice from the health authorities and we have already implemented infection control measures for those working on the railway to prevent them, and passengers, from becoming infected. Cleaning has been increased to reduce the risk of infection in station areas. Oslo Central Station, Østbanehallen station and Nationaltheatret station are currently being deep cleaned and the premises are also being disinfected using hydrogen peroxide, an agent that has been documented as effective against the coronavirus. Distance markings will be installed in the bus queue areas,” says Frimannslund.
Bane NOR and the train companies follow the infection control regulations and guidelines applicable at any time. Norwegian Authorities have issued general travel advice and infection control guidelines for public transport and you can read more about this on the Vy and Go-Ahead websites.
You can still take the train this summer
Most railway lines will remain open throughout the summer with normal train traffic. Trains will also be running on the parts of the lines that are being closed. If the line you were planning to take is closed, the train companies will arrange alternative transport. You will be able to find information about how traffic will be managed via the travel apps and on the train companies’ websites. In addition to Vy, Flytoget and Go-Ahead will also be affected by this year’s summer activities.
The line closure between Asker and Drammen in particular will have an impact on holiday traffic. While the Bergen Line is largely unaffected with an alternative route via Roa on the Gjøvik Line, there will be alternative transport for some of the route for those travelling to/from Oslo on the Sørland Line.
Railway lines that will be closed this summer:
Asker-Drammen on the Drammen Line, 20 June - 2 August
The route from Asker to Drammen will be closed to train traffic. This is part of the extensive renovation of the Lieråsen tunnel, which will complete during 2021. The measures include the replacement of tracks and points, extensive material replacement, renewal of the catenary system and a new emergency lighting system.
Sandvika-Asker on the Drammen Line (local only), 27 June - 2 August
The local line between Sandvika and Asker (L1) will be closed due to the work on the overhead lines between Slependen and Høn.
Note: Train traffic will still run between Oslo, Sandvika and Asker on the Asker Line (tunnels).
Spikkestad Line, 20 - 24 July
Closed to traffic between Sandvika and the terminus at Spikkestad. Track work and maintenance will be carried out here.
Oslo-Rygge/Mysen on the Østfold Line, 27 June - 9 August
The route from Oslo Central Station to Rygge on the Western Line and to Mysen on the Eastern Line will be closed.
Note: Trains will operate on the Østfold Line between Rygge and towns and cities in Østfold/Gothenburg.
This is because the Follo Line Project needs to connect tracks and overhead lines, test signalling systems and demolish a suspension bridge across the tracks at Ski station. This is crucial work that will result in the western side of the new Ski station being put into service as early as 10 August. Train traffic will therefore be moved to the new part of the station and the development of the eastern side of the station can continue in autumn without affecting traffic.
At Oslo Central Station, the Follo Line Project will carry out preparatory work for the connection to the Østfold Line. Some demolition work, track work and important signalling work will also be carried out so that Loenga can subsequently be controlled remotely from the train controller centre at Oslo Central Station. The testing of the signalling system is extensive and will continue throughout the summer. This work will not necessarily be visible at the construction site. The Follo Line Project is scheduled for completion in 2022.
Development work will also be carried out in connection with the new Sandbukta-Moss-Såstad double track and there will be extensive renovation and maintenance work carried out at several locations, including between Oslo Central Station and Ski.