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  Previous page  Running with IOREs on Malmbana in the Swedish and Norwegian North
By John McKey, Pictures by John McKey, Nick Slocombe, Deane Motis, Dvid Gubler and Hannu Peltola

Running with IOREs, Part 5 - Abisko Östra, the Largest Station on the Mountains

Abisco Östra station sign, Sweden
Welcome to Abisko Östra station on the "Running with IOREs" series! Abisko is the largest village of Malmbana between Kiruna in Sweden and Narvik on the Norwegian coast. Abisko also has accommodation for thousands of tourists hiking or skiing on the mountains. Located on the hillside of large mountains it offers great views to the Torneträsk, a huge lake we have been following for previous two parts of the series. I also suspect the place has a lot of sunshine due to mountains blocking effectively the bad weather on their other side.

For this train safari, Abisko was also a place for the meal and checking in the dormitory (actually they call it a hotel, and it is priced like one, but the accommodation level is 'quite modest' at best (I recommend you stay in at Kiruna Järnvägshotellet instead!). Because of these extra activities we said good bye for a little while to the train we had been following all the way from Kiruna, but were happy to see other similar ore transports heading up the mountains towards the coast line.

Abisco Östra station, Sweden
The Abisko station was still under heavy earth moving work for underpass, new extra long passenger platforms and other RR infrastructure. The work had taken for 2 years and it looked like there was several months more through the summer until everything would be completed.
Abisco Östra station, Sweden

Abisco Östra station green works sign, Sweden
According to the sign this is one of the "green" works preserving as much of the wilderness as possible. The sign also says the works should had been finished a year before.


VR-Track Tka7 number 175 at Abisco, northern Sweden
Normally there are several MOW vehicles parked at the roundhouse of Abisko station, but this time we only managed to find a lonely VR-Track Tka7 rail truck. VR-Track is one of the operators responsible for maintenance here. The Tka7 unit 175 originates in the neighboring country Finland, and was re-gauged for the "narrow" (actually it is called "standard") gauge commonly used in Europe. There are many similar rail trucks in Sweden for VR-Track.

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden
But, since we are chasing IOREs with cameras, let's go to the main subject ... there seems to be string of empties being pulled up the hill to the station by IORE units 124 and 119.
MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden
The train moves past the temporary wooden passenger platform.
MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden
And for once it looks like that even the MTAB engineers are actually waving back to our salutes.
MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden
The train covering the horizon continues towards some steep mountain grades.
MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 124 and 119 at Abisko station, Sweden

 

Abisco Östra station on Malmbana line & skidoo, Sweden
This machine next to the station building looks like being a feather weight series of skidoos. Maybe it is being used on the lake Torneträsk when the ice starts melting and can't carry a bigger vehicle any more?






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///
   Part 6: Snow sheds at Tornehamn...
   Part 7: Snow Sheds an Mountain Labyrinth at Vassijaure...
   Part 8: Björnfjellet Curve in the Blizzard on the Norwegian side...

   Part 9: Rainy Hill at Straumnes, Norway...
   Part 10: At Narvik Station, Norway...

   Part 11: Loading and Unloading Ore at Narvik, Norway...


  Running with IOREs, Part 6 - Snow Sheds at Tornehamn

Snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden
The late spring train safari has now progressed to the first snow shed at Tornehamn, the harbor location on the lake Torneträsk end. This must have been the other end of an ancient water way before the railroad was built. Today there is no activity that I would have noticed to be seen here. Waterways were extensively used in the North before any railroad / road building could be achieved through the wilderness. Salt, tar, fur, meat and all kinds of supplies were transported this way but for the need of ore transportation waterways were not a satisfactory solution.
Snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden
This shed is numbered 6. It could well be that number from either direction, the border line or the city of Kiruna, sheds being frequent here. It look like this is an old one and was built much lighter than some others. Just stainless steel supporting structure with tin paneling. The black paint has even faded and the structure has obviously taken a lot of direct hits of ice from the rolling stock during the years. Still, this steel structure is decades newer than what we are about to see on the Norwegians side later. Where the avalanche danger exists, the Swedish snow sheds seem to be built of steel with heavy concrete covering.

Enjoy the views of northern railroads & wilderness!
Snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

Reindeer reamins at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden
Something that can often be seen in the North: the predator eaten remains of the reindeer (you can tell from the fur that it was a reindeer). From the scene it is hard to tell if this poor creature was a victim of a wolf or was hit by a train first while trying to seek cover from the blizzard and coldness in the snow shed. Many fences are build today around Malmbana to make hits less frequent, but also to annoy railfans and hikers since the earlier access points across the track might no more be there.

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, SwedenTime to lean back and enjoy the IOREs and the mountain views!

The IOREs 116 and 126 (the newest one before 2013 when 6 more units will follow) are to be followed next in this series of mountain railroading.
MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden

MTAB IORES 116 and 126 at snowshed number 6 at Tornehamn, Sweden


Running with IOREs in the Swedish north was created for 4rail.net by John McKey. Pictures by Hannu Peltola and John McKey.



 

 
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  Running with IOREs, Part 7 - Snow Sheds and Mountain Labyrinth at Vassijaure

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden
Though writing takes time and at the time it felt a bit funny to show snowy images in the middle of the hot and humid summer. But I decided to go ahead with the "Running with IOREs series" anyway.

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden
The altitude on the Swedish and Norwegian northern mountains is rising constantly while we progress on our train safari, so now Hannu and I have reached the point of over 500 meters from the sea level, where the winter is still ruling and most of the snow is left there in late May. From the pictures of Gerry one month later I can tell that much snow was left even in June, maybe enough even for skiing in the middle of the summer. The pictures are from Vassijaure and the gorge leading southwards winds up to a labyrinth of other gorges around tens of quite big hills and mountains. For the moment these are in a total wilderness, with only one road, not accessible with a normal car, running north-south through the 100 kilometers (70 miles) of pure northern nature from here. The wilderness ends at Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in the area. This is where a Hercules transporter crashed during the joint military exercise of Sweden, Finland, Norway and a whole bunch of Nato countries in April 2012. No instrument failure here, they were flying "blind" an exercise without instruments, and since the weather here can change literally in minutes, they were too late to notice their error. Not much was left of the transporter, nor its personnel. At first it seemed curious to me that the rescuers could only find the huge plane one day later, but considering the vastness of the area and foul weather I suppose this is still possible even today.

This will all change in the future.

I was reading a book "The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future" which tells about the warming of the climate in the Northern latitudes. (You might wish to read the most helpful customer reviews from http://www.amazon.com/World-2050-Shaping-Civilizations-Northern/dp/0452297478/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343806432&sr=1-1&keywords=laurence+c.+smith) . Many of the results of the inevitable change (there is no way we could produce enough energy for all the people on earth without using ever more coal and oil) are positive but some are quite striking. For example: The climate is changing rapidly. On the level surface here the change will move 1 meter (over 3 feet) PER DAY, on the vertical scale 0,3 millimeters. While the vertical shift seems little, it is in fact the fastest warming ever known for the earth. The plants and the animals have a very hard time coping with this. Some more examples not from the book: because of the warming, there will be practically no snow here in a few decades, not at least outside the winter period, when some of it might still be seen. The reindeer probably will become extinct, driven out by its close cousins now living a little bit south. Warming will also make this area wooded with spruce and pine trees, which gives you an idea of how significant the change really is.

I believe also that the mountains now almost unreachable will be exploited of their rich minerals.

But since we are after IOREs this time, lets see the units 116 and 126 rolling out of the snow shed and to the tracks past Vassijaure snowy station ... enjoy the rolling train!
MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden

MTAB IORE units 116 and 126 at Vassijaure tunnel, Sweden



Running with IOREs in the Swedish north was created for 4rail.net by John McKey. Pictures by Hannu Peltola and John McKey.



 

 
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  Running with IOREs, Part 8 - Björnfjellet Curve in a Blizzard

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway
Running high on the arctic mountains the weather can turn nasty any time. Here is the third and last snow shed for Running with IOREs article series. It is located over 500 meters from the sea level on one of the dividers on the pass for the mountains. From here it is possible to continue on the rails a little bit down hill. This means going literally around and around in loops, going through the rock and over the embankments and bridges. All this with packs of ice and snow around the operation almost always. And once the worst is cleared, the rails will hang 500 meters above the sea on the steep cliff, not a place for the fainthearted engineers! But definitely a beautiful scenery in a pretty weather.

Björnfjellet (English: Bear mountain) is the last place where the track can be seen running near the road until closer to Narvik an hours drive away. So we take our last pictures of the IOREs slowly creeping through the small diameter loops of track here. The units 116 and 126 are just leaving the relative shelter of the here typical wooden Norwegian snow shed and are soon exposed to the same elements that are trying to deep freeze us with cameras in a record time. Just being outside two minutes here not properly clothed for the weather (since we had to run to reach the train in time from the car) can be quite awakening :) .

Enjoy the IOREs in the storm!
LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the snow shed in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway


Running with IOREs in the Swedish north was created for 4rail.net by John McKey. Pictures by Hannu Peltola and John McKey.



 

 
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