Train boss quits

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After 10 years in the hot seat as head of Norwegian State Railways (NSB), Einar Enger has handed in his resignation. He would have liked the promised new investments in Norway’s train system to have come sooner.

NSB boss Einar Enger is hopping off the fast track to claim retirement pay and run a farm in Rakkestad. PHOTO: NSB

The soft-spoken 60-year-old says he has never considered quitting to protest the government’s earlier lack of funding for the railways. “I don’t work like that,” Enger told newspaper Aftenposten.

He also has a reputation for not blaming either the unions or the government for hurting the railway’s chances for success. This is in sharp contrast to his predecessors, who left NSB after a lot of mudslinging, culminating in dramatic changes at the helm. Nevertheless he has been clear about what the railways have needed.

The widower and  father of three was prepared for a turbulent job when he signed on in December 2000. In this respect the work has lived up to his expectations.

“NSB  was down for the count after (a major) train crash (at Åsta), and with broken and worn-out equipment,” Enger said. “We found a strategy for survival and we made it through. By 2005 we were third-best in Europe in terms of punctuality, beaten only by Switzerland and Finland. However we have too many old trains, infrastructure which is not good enough and I feel that renewal is taking too much time.”

Among the major goals of the railway has been to construct new dual-track railway lines between Halden, Skien and Lillehammer and Oslo. This would allow more people to work in Oslo without having to move into an expensive and crowded housing market in the capital, offering NSB stable income from increasing numbers of daily commuters.

Some progress has been made, but because of year-by-year allotments by the government, projects have been built sporadically. Asked when he thinks this upgrading will be finished, Enger responds that “it’s impossible to say.”

Apart from his 10 years as head of NSB, Enger worked for many years in industries related to agriculture. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported he’ll get NOK 1.6 million (USD 266,000) in annual pension payments (more than the prime minister gets working full time) and that he’s bought a farm in Rakkestad in Østfold County. No other job awaits, Enger said.

No new leader has been chosen to take over from Enger and he plans to work for another six months while NSB finds his replacement.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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