Conflict over commuter chaos

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Morning rush hour lasted until well into the afternoon as the scheduled halt of all trains through Oslo got off to a start yesterday morning. While initial reports from NSB were positive, the decision by state highway department (Statens vegvesen) to schedule road maintenance on major highways leading in and out of the capital without giving notice has become a point of conflict.

Oslo's central station will be close to all thru-traffic from June 26 until August 8, so passengers need to prepare for delays and disruption. PHOTO: Views and News

The heavily congested highways surrounding the capitol are putting an additional strain on the already labored travel situation. NSB has chosen to substitute train routes with hundreds of extra buses that run frequently and are not able to get to their destination on time. Additional traffic through Oslo was only to be expected with the six week closure of the Oslo central train station and tunnel, more than usual have relied on cars for transport to and from the office, but the volume has been heavily underestimated.

“The buses and remaining public transport must be able to reach their destination. We can not have more days like today, and have therefore initiated efforts to find concrete solutions to resolve the situation.” Bjørn Stuedal, press officer at NSB told newspaper  Aftenposten. Further talks between NSB and the state highway department will be held midday, and the Ministry of Transport will be involved.

The  Oslo Fjord tunnel, shuttered following a fire last week, has caused unforeseen traffic on state highway E18. Though regular traffic will resume in two weeks, trucks will not be allowed through the tunnel until the state highway department has ensured that safety measures are sound. In addition maintenance is being performed on a bridge by Furuset on state highway E6, east Oslo. According to the state highway department, this maintenance work cannot wait.

“We considered postponing the work, but chose to proceed during the vacation season because this is when there is the least amount of traffic. As the situation stands, it is not an option to delay work. The bridge is 40 years old, and the maintenance is essential.” Anders Aaram, section leader of development at the state highway department, told Aftenposten.

Commuters will have to continue to exercise patience in the coming weeks, and it is recommended that people leave their cars at home.”I think the situation would improve if more people would give us a chance – even though this hasn’t gone off without a hitch – and ride our busses,” Åge-Kristoffer Lundby, communications manager at NSB, told Aftenposten.

Views and News from Norway/Liv Buli
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