Bergen-Oslo train line closed again

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More trouble hit the heavily trafficked train line between Bergen and Oslo (Bergensbanen), after several rock- and earthslides left entire portions of the tracks hanging in open air. Some mountain communities have also been isolated.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that hundreds of owners of holiday cabins (hytter) are trapped by the landslides that were set off by torrential rains in Hallingdal Tuesday night. The hardest hit areas are between Ål and Hol, where as many as 300 hytte owners have been cut off because the only road into their area washed out.

Several  other roads were also blocked, according to NRK, but state railway NSB was struggling the most once again. Around 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) of track was left dangling after the ground under them washed away. Jon Anders Hefte of state railroad Jernbaneverket, in charge of the rail infrastructure, was at Ål station early Wednesday to assess the damage.

“Bergensbanen will be closed at least until Monday,” Hefte told NRK. “There are around five or six areas where the ground under the tracks has slid out, two of them severely. It will take a lot of work to get them back in shape.”

He claimed that Jernbaneverket tries to follow the weather to prevent such damage, but that severe weather, and highly localized, can come suddenly. In this case, the cloudburst came relatively late on Tuesday night.

Train passengers were being offered bus service between Ål and Hol. It’s the second time Bergensbanen has been closed in less than a month, following a fire in June that damaged tracks further west on the line. The line’s safety has recently been questioned.

Meanwhile, local officials in Ål set up a special phone information line (32-08-50-03) following the rain damage. Hytte owners have no choice but to hike out of their properties because it will “take time” before their road can be repaired, Ål Mayor Torleif Dalseide told NRK.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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