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Malmbanan Line and Scenery

Welcome to the opening Malmbanan line and scenery page! The nature around the Europe's busiest ore railway is spectacular, the railway line snakes around, up and down mountains while opening magnificent vistas to the travellers.
A view to the Torneträsk, Kiruna, Sweden
Picture above: A breathtaking summer wilderness view to the Torneträsk in the Sweden's north. Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.

- - - Click any picture to see a larger version of it! - - -

Subjects: Beginnings of the Malmbana Line * Providing Electricity *

MTAB Dm3s 1216 in Abisco, Sweden

Created for by John McKey and Ilkka Siissalo. Pictures by Ilkka Siissalo, Hannu Peltola, Andreas Ehnberg and John McKey.

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Also in this sectionSBB RABe 514 number 054, Stadelhofen, Switzerland
Malmbana in the Norway's north is a major ore railroad with heaviest equipment in Europe.

SSRT Rc6 number 1335 with a regional at Riksgränsen, Sweden
Like with any busy mainline, also the Malmbanan sees a multitude of locomotive models, all equipped for tough winter conditions.

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 The Beginnings of the Malmbanan Line

LKAB IORE number 124 in Torneträsk, Sweden
IORE Numbers 124 and 123 at Torneträsk, Sweden. The units on today's heavy weight Malmbanan are hauling an empty ore train back from Narvik. The grade is steep in places, like here on the Eastern end of the Torneträsk station. Picture by John McKey.
Built in 1882, Bifrost was one of the 4-4-0 pioneers on the Malmbanan working ore trains from Kiruna in Sweden to Narvik, Norway until the line was electrified. It arrived from Sweden in 1901 and was used on building the line until 1903. Bifrost then took active switching duty for several decades until 1942 when it was retired. Picture by John McKey.LKAB IORE number 124 in Torneträsk, SwedenLook at the Malmbana line climbing the side of a mountain! Not an easy place to build a railway on the hard rock. Falling rocks are the least of the challenges. The concrete pillars might be bases for the water towers to feed the water thirsty steam locomotives. Picture by John McKey.

The current bold Malmbanan railway line has very humble beginnings: Think about a remote Northern hill of very pure quality of iron ore...with only one problem. The site is North of the arctic circle far beyond the reach of a road or a railroad. The transportation modes available were go by foot or take a reindeer with a sledge. If you only could cross the mountain range, on the other side would be waiting a natural harbor that is open and free of ice year around despite the arctic climate.

This is the beginning of the saga for the Malmbanan. A story that seems to be ever developing.

The origin of the Malmbanan stretches all the way to the 19th century, when the ideas of the line connecting the two seas and the rich iron ore area in between were put forward. The first lines to attract attention were in the Southern part of Sweden and track building slowly crept Northwards. The Southern part of the Malmbana line, where the terrain is smoother, was opened in 1888. This part stretched from Luleå on the south coast to Gällivare in the middle point of the line. From there the line was soon extended to Kiruna, the main mining site a hundred kilometers North. In 1902 the whole line was opened to traffic, this time extending the missing part from Kiruna to Narvik.

Narvik is an important harbor that is naturally ice free all year round. In Norway, the line was build on the steep mountain sides of hard rock, with tunnels and frequent snow sheds adding to the difficulty of building and operating. One huge bridge was also built on the Norwegian part. This part of the building must have been extremely hard, since roads were unknown in those days and everything had to be hauled to place by either rail or a reindeer or horse drawn sledge!


   Providing electricity for the Malmbanan line...






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 Providing the Electricity for the Malmbanan Line

Torneträsk station, Northern Sweden

Abisco Östra station, Northern Sweden

Building of the Malmbana (Ore railway) was a formidable task, but so was the electrifying of it, which was completed as early as 1923.

The Torneträsk power station and railway station in the picture is one of the huge buildings for the surroundings. Imagine these in the northern wilderness, where no road reached before 1984! Although the power stations are no longer needed today, they are still remarkable sights along the original railway line.









Below left another power station, Abisco Östra.



We will continue the story soon, so please come back after a few update rounds.






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© Railroad Reference 2004 - 2012   -   Created 13.9.2011 John McKey, updated 22.12.2011