Main > Sweden / Visions > Running with IORE on Malmbana, part 2

 

Running with IORE on Malmbana in the Swedish and Norwegian North
By John McKey, Pictures by John McKey and Hannu Peltola

Page 1
   Part 1: Malmbana Railroading in Kiruna...
   Part 2: From the Kiruna City to the Foothills of the Bigger Mountains...
   Part 3: Torneträsk Station and the Mountains...
   Part 4: Train Meeting at Kaisepakte Mountain...
   Part 5: the Largest Station on the Mountains: Abisko Östra...

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

Page 2
   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 9 - Rain(y) Hill at Straumnes, Norway
LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the tunnel in Straumnes in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, NorwayStraumnes, Norway. Pouring icy rain with heavy wind behind our backs. With sunny conditions the views from here down and across the Ofotfjorden would be breathtaking. Now we are only wishing the IORE headed train would arrive on timetable and would let us get back to our Volvo to dry out. But of course heavy wind has positive sides too: while the back is soaking, cameras at the front can be kept in a relative dryness, enough not to sacrifice them to the elements.

The railroad line here slopes gently towards the city of Narvik 15 kilometers / 10 miles towards the sea on the same fjord. The line has to go through numerous tunnels and most of the remainder is hanging on the shelves carved into the hard rock. The road too has again joined the railroad, albeit couple of hundred meters lower near the sea level. This is definitely one of the most demanding sections of rail for the train personnel too, especially in the winter conditions. The section has seen a number of trains run out of the line too, the last about two decades ago, when one of the Dm3 units rolled down the bank. The engineer was scared waiting for the ore cars topple on top of the triple electric with disastrous results, but fortunately the cars stayed on the line, just a few of them derailing. The locomotive proved too difficult to move back to rails and to be fixed, so it was left there as a part of the embankment and covered with gravel. This Dm unit still remains in its place today. The newer IOREs are built to withstand this kind of accidents by simply adding over 4 cm / 1,5 inches thick of steel on many places around them to protect the drivers. But even then the nature can sometimes cause surprises.

At Straumnes we are still watching the little famous (tens of pictures from Malmbana taken of it) "stuga" guard hut next to the the entrance of the short tunnel. Only rain and snow on the opposing mountain slopes can be seen. But then all of a sudden here comes the train, stealthy as ever...

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

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

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

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

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

LKAB IOREs 116 and 126 coming out of the tunnel in Straumnes in Norwegian mountains, east of Narvik, Norway
And then back to car to dry out! We still see a few Allied monuments on our way to Narvik. Suppose there was some heavy fighting because of the iron ore shipments during the WW2. Both sides wanted to get their share of the especially high grade magnetite iron ore. Looks like the Allied forces were finally evacuated to the fjord and the Germans ruled the line for a few years.


 



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  Go to part 10...

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  Running with IOREs, Part 10 - Narvik, Norway

Narvik station, Norway
Narvik, the city on the Nortwegian coast line by Ofotfjorden stretching 100 kilometers inlands from the harsh North Atlantic. The weather is today unpredictable even here. One moment we are bathing in the warm sunshine, 5 minutes later the shower forces us to protect our cameras. Visiting supermarket at the LKAB loading facilities (one of the very convenient picture taking places is just on the supermarket 50 meters from the older unloading building) it is literally hard to get out of the car because the wind is trying to push the door back shut / rip it from the frame on my Volvo. But, it is a day off and devoted to railroading so who could complain!

The Narvik passenger station also serves as a junction for other activities. It is a starting point of the passenger depot. This sees now little use, besides storing old coaches and DMUs of the 10 years ago bankrupt Ofotban. The current SJ operated passenger services have replaces these well, so I don't think any service is missing and connections are pretty good considering the arctic climate and long and heavily trafficked Malmbana line. The station area itself also stores some interesting equipment from the past. The LKAB unloading is also located just west of the station on the northern side of the bay. One of the lines starting at Narvik station slopes down to Fagernes, the southern side on the bay and the Narvik "normal" harbor for occasional freighters and fishing boats.

Above a "very typical shot" of the Narvik passenger station. Below the station area seen from the eastern end.
Narvik station, Norway


Narvik station, Norway
Bifrost 4-4-0 built by Nohab served here starting around year 1900 and deserves an article itself a little later. It was used for Malmabana line building and later for switching here.

Vintage class Rs snow plow, Narvik, Norway
Among the vintage treasures at Narvik station are the NSB (Norwegian railways) Rs class snow plow and its "thunder cabin" service coach. These were most likely left here at the end of WW2 by German troops retreating fast. The "Donnerbüchse" (Engl: Thunder cabin) was a very common passenger car from 1920s and 1930s and built as many as 8000, so it is not surprising to find one of those here at the top of the world. The name derives from the poor sound insulation of the first generation steel cars. Travelling cars must have been awfully noisy running over the tracks joints, the noise transmitted directly through the steel with a considerable amplification!
Vintage snow plow train service coach, Narvik, Norway


And here comes the unit train we were first after on part 1, with MTAB IOREs 108 and 122 at the point. It is now tracing its route back with empties / almost all empties.MTAB ore train headed by IOREs 122 and 108 rolling by Narvik station, Norway

MTAB ore train headed by IOREs 122 and 108 rolling by Narvik station, Norway

MTAB ore train headed by IOREs 122 and 108 rolling by Narvik station, Norway

MTAB ore train headed by IOREs 122 and 108 rolling by Narvik station, Norway

MTAB ore train headed by IOREs 122 and 108 rolling by Narvik station, Norway

MTAB ore train headed by IOREs 122 and 108 rolling by Narvik station, Norway

MTAB ore train headed by IOREs 122 and 108 rolling by Narvik station, Norway
Off to the wilderness on the mountains!

Part 11 handles the loading and unloading and their facilities in Narvik, with IOREs.


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



  Go to part 11...

 
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  Running with IOREs, Part 11 - Unloading and Loading Ore in Narvik, Norway

LKAB IORE number 125 and 126 in front of empties, Narvik, Norway
Still spotting IORE pulled trains in Narvik, northern Norway, we move through the sites of unloading to find all the action.

The easiest starting point is always the LKAB ore unloading facility just 200 meters / 660 feet west of the Narvik station. Here the huge ore trains end their journey through the mountains and slowly roll through either of the unloading facility. The new one is next to the bridge where this picture from last year was taken, the facility seen on the right. The older one is the shed where the ore train ends in the picture. The IOREs can handle the ore unloading and smaller switching assignments by themselves. If need be the missing electrical sections can be passed with putting empties between the loco and the filled ore cars, so those sections provide no obstacle. Actually this is just what we often see happening. So far using dedicated switchers for normal switching has been rare, where electricity is available.

This is also a facility, where digging a loop inside the mountain would easily be accomplished (like in Kiruna or Luleå on Malmbana). I believe this way running long unit trains would be even more efficient for the MTAB (the Swedish transportation section for LKAB) and MTAS (the Norwegian transportation section for the LKAB). If you wish to see the area from above, use something else besides Google Maps satellite view, which is hopelessly old in this case, the pictures must actually be 3 - 4 years old, so even the new unloading facility or all the big buildings next to the area are missing.

Immediately under the older shed there is an area with a lot of vintage rolling stock to be seen (weather allowing). I will write about those later, but for now let's say that the seagulls nest that was on top of the El12 electric locomotive last year seems to be a permanent installation. Talk about adaptive reuse, a term Gerry invented last year about this! Ok, here is a picture of the El12 for those who can't wait till later for the vintage rolling stock. Can you spot the seagull sitting on top of the loco?
EL12 vintage loco in Narvik, Norway

There is also a spur leading down hill and south from the Narvik station. This goes past the town center and to the Narvik harbors stretching about two kilometers south. The rail line follows the shore line. We take a shortcut road bored inside one of the mountains to end up to the other end of the harbor. After a quick refueling of the Volvo at Shell gas station we are off with cameras again. The southern end has an auto terminal with auto carriers in it. There is also a depot for the Norwegian operator CargoNet with some brand new TRAXX locomotives parked there. These units are on hire from Railpool, though CN also has TRAXXes of its own. In the part 12 of this series we are about to see these in action along with IOREs...

CargoNet / Railpool class 185 number 712 parked in Narvik, Norway

MTAB IORE 103 at Fagernes, Narvik, Norway
While we are spotting the depot and its locos all of a sudden Hannu sees the IOREs 103 and 113 stopping behind the rock cliff. Next the MTAS owned T44 number 5 appears with 10 ore cars filled with something necessary to form the pellets. In the harbor there is no electricity, so using a diesel switcher is necessary. Once the ore cars are at the outbound tracks, the IOREs move forward to pick them up.
MTAS T44 number 5 switching in Narvik, Norway

MTAB IORE 103 at Fagernes, Narvik, Norway

MTAB IOREs 103 and 113 at Fagernes, Narvik, Norway

MTAB IOREs 103 and 113 at Fagernes, Narvik, Norway

MTAB IOREs 103 and 113 at Fagernes, Narvik, Norway

MTAB IOREs 103 and 113 at Fagernes, Narvik, Norway

MTAB IOREs 103 and 113 at Fagernes, Narvik, Norway

MTAS T44 number 5 switching in Narvik, Norway
...and to our great surprise the T44 crea for once enjoys a free ride from IOREs...
MTAS T44 number 5 switching in Narvik, Norway

MTAS T44 number 5 switching in Narvik, Norway

MTAS T44 number 5 switching in Narvik, Norway
...this train is really flying past us!
MTAS T44 number 5 switching in Narvik, Norway


Next time we will be again enjoying the views up on the mountains, freezing and wishing the trains would arrive soon.


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 12 - Up on the Mountains in Rombak, Norway

View below Rombak, Norway
The views in northern Norway can be quite breathtaking with all the mountains and fjords around. The snow seems to be melting and fresh snow covering again the mountain tops to replace it, forming streams and rivers. Norway is actually totally independent in electricity, milled mainly by hydroelectric stations. There is also a great surpluss of electricity to sell the neighboring countries Sweden and Finland. This gives you some idea of all the magnitude of streams and rivers harnessed for power generation.

Waterfall under Rombak, Norway
Thought this stream is unharnessed, a steady supply of hydroelectric power also today provides the electricity needed for the Malmbana railroad line. This stream also marks the place where to start the 500 meters /1600 feet climb up the mountain to the line. Fortunately there is a service road to trek. If we were the electric line service persons, we would probabaly take a crawler or skidoo from the carage at the starting point of the road.

Still taking the last look at the line targeted by the sea level shows is meandering by the mountain side with numerous tunnels and snow sheds.
View below Rombak, Norway

View below Rombak, Norway
Here genuinely even the great accomplishment of Malmbana too gets to its real scale agains the huge backdrop mountains of the nature.

Oforfjorden near Rombak, Norway
While Hannu and I trek uphill and sweat to be by the track when the next ore tranportation arrives, the scenery changes little by little as the altitude gets higher. Ascending the mountain side the tree speciaes change from Spruce and pine to more and more small birch trees. The rain at lower levels now turns to snow. And to make things even tougher, the hard wind makes the weather to change from one moment to next. Fortunately, by now we have made it near our target at the Rombak tunnel. Oforfjorden near Rombak, Norway

 

A tunnel entrance in a snow fall, Rombak, Norway
Finally by the track! The heavy wind with some snow falling makes waiting tough after the sweat has turned to cold damp. But fortuntely there is a phone boot right next ot my location so I can cover myself from the worst of the wind.

A tunnel entrance in a snow fall, Rombak, Norway Vintage telephone by Rombak tunnel, Norway This is a true Ericsson manufactured vintage phone (for those who are young and can't recognize the device). The wilderness has this kind of telephones scattered around in every 20 kilometers or so and you can use them in case of emergency. (The cell phones most likely do not have coverage in the remote parts of the mountains, since there are hardly any people there. Except for occasional hikers).

This telephone however is to be used by the Malmbana line traffic in case other communication methods of today should be out. Look at the fine industrial era telephone design!


CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway
Just before we are about to freeze and give in something starts to happen, but not the ore train we expected. The CargoNet intermodal express is arriving over the mountains from Sweden and crawling to halt at Rombak station siding. This can only mean the ore train is nearby. As noticed before the MTAB ore transport hardly ever take siding but let any other train do it for them.
CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway

And here comes the ore transport rounding the curve and running steadily towards the even higher hills of north Norway mountains!
LKAB IOREs 113 and 103 going in the tunnel in the Norwegian mountains, Rombak, Norway

LKAB IOREs 113 and 103 going in the tunnel in the Norwegian mountains, Rombak, Norway

LKAB IOREs 113 and 103 going in the tunnel in the Norwegian mountains, Rombak, Norway

LKAB IOREs 113 and 103 going in the tunnel in the Norwegian mountains, Rombak, Norway

LKAB IOREs 113 and 103 going in the tunnel in the Norwegian mountains, Rombak, Norway



[picture]

The ore train rolls past the intermodal at Rombak station and the CargoNet intermodal is on its way as soon as the switch is cleared. Here the TRAXX2 pulled train is appearing out of tunnel and gaining speed going uphill (for this place) and towards Narvik.

CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway

CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway

CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway

CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway

CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway

CargoNet class 119 with intermodal at Rombak near Narvik, Norway

It is getting dark so its also time to climb down from Malmbana to the car waiting by the fjord. Below is a proof that spring is still letting to wait itseld this high on the mountains: a fozen vintage culvert of Malmbana. For some reason it has bars stopping entrance from above so animals can't use it as an underpass when crossing the Malmbana.
Culvert on Malmbana, Norway

Colored rock with ore on Norwegian mountains
Maybe a hundred meters lower we stuble into nicely iron colored rock by the road side. The mountains around must have hundreds of other deposits besides those mined today, waiting for their turn to be exploited.
Colored rock with ore on Norwegian mountains

 


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 13 - Back in Abisko and Driving to Kiruna




To be continued soon...


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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© 4rail.net Railroad Reference 2004 - 2013   -   Created 10.6.2012 John McKey, Hannu Peltola, Updated 29.1.20123