This maintenance carriage was stuck in the snow attempting to clear the Oslo to Bergen railway

  

The world-famous Oslo to Bergen is finally back open after a landslide caused chaos on the rails. Such was the weight of the snow that fell in the landslide on Monday afternoon, wooden structures built to protect the tracks collapsed and power lines were torn down.

Train driver Kjell Haugerud told TV2 of the experience on the last train before the closure. “We couldn’t see our hand in front of us,” he said. Haugerud, who has 40 years experience on the Bergen Line, described the need to stop the train every few minutes to clear the front windshield after the blades of the wiper broke under the stress of strong winds and heavy snowfall.

Bus replacement services offered

The stretch form Myrdal to Ustaoset was closed to all train traffic for more than two days. Bus transport replaced the trains for this section of the route although this did not apply to the stations at Haugastøl, Finse and Myrdal as they have no road access.

This means that passengers making the trip from Oslo to Bergen were able to complete the journey, albeit with less spectacular scenery and a longer journey time. The bus journey takes significantly longer than the 6.5 hours for the regular train journey.

Bane NOR, the company with overall responsibility for rail infrastructure in Norway, said on Wednesday afternoon that it was still too early to say when the full route will be reopened to traffic.

However, as of the 0825 departure from Oslo to Bergen on Thursday morning, traffic appears to be back to normal.

Repair work was challenging

Bane NOR said that a geologist and expert in landslides gave the go-ahead for repair work to begin. On Wednesday morning, repair crews worked to reinstate the overhead power lines that provide the power to trains. The clearing of snow from the rails couldn’t begin until this work was completed.

The affected area is on an exposed mountain plateau at more than 1,000 meters (3,280ft) above sea level. Up to three meters (10ft) of snow has fallen since the landslide, which complicating the repair work. On Wednesday a maintenance carriage became stuck in a snow drift near Finse.

A 25-meter-long (82ft) section of the wooden structure built to keep snow off the tracks near the Kleven bridge also had to be repaired.

Improved weather gave repair crews an opportunity to complete the work by the end of Wednesday, however. Anne Solveig Andersen from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute said the weather is easing: “There has been both snow and heavy winds in several places, but now there is a break throughout the day.”

Problems elsewhere in Norway

Storms, closed mountain passes and train delays have occurred in several other places across south and south-central Norway since the weekend. The E134 highway over Haukelifjell was closed for several days and left around 70 people stranded at the Haukeliseter Mountain Lodge. National road 7 over Hardangervidda, county road 50 between Hol and Aurland, and county road 53 from Årdal to Tyin were all impacted too.