More rain brings even more trouble

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UPDATED: The relentless rain that’s been falling over large portions of Norway since June was causing more trouble on Wednesday. Saturated ground forced a commuter train line near Oslo to close for the second time in a week, because of fears it would slide out from under the tracks. Rail service in Trøndelag was also disrupted and the city of Levanger was flooded.

The eastern portion of the line known as Østfoldbanen was halted between Askim and Mysen, southeast of Oslo after railroad engineers determined that around 10 meters of track were threatened by another landslide.

Kjell Bakken, a spokesman for state railroad Jernbaneverket, said the trouble spot was around a kilometer-and-a-half north of the area that was in danger of sliding last week. Inspectors, who have intensified their evaluations of rail lines because of all the rain, discovered the beginnings of another landslide Tuesday evening and the line was closed shortly after 8pm.

“We’ve been working all night to make repairs,” Bakken told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Railroad officials hoped the line could reopen in time for the afternoon rush. Østfoldbanen is a key commuter line relied on by residents of such towns as Mysen and Rakkestad.

They were being offered alternative bus and taxi service between Askim and Mysen. The rain was letting up in the Oslo area Wednesday morning and state meteorologists were predicting some sunshine through Friday. More rain, however, was forecast from Sunday.

Water damage caused by heavy rain through the summer was also boosting what already was a flood of claims in to insurance companies. One leading insurance firm reported more than 90 claims in one day this week, a level she described as “extremely high.”

More flooding was reported in Trøndelag with areas of downtown Levanger under water and portions of the train line Nordlandsbanen blocked because of flooding and landslides. Heavy rains prompted the Levanger River to rise over its banks and some local roads were closed as well.

There was one bright spot amidst all the gloom from the rain storms: Norwegian reservoirs are full and spot prices for electricity have taken a dive in the past week, reports news bureau NTB.

The lowest spot price for Norway’s hydro-electric power was down to just one øre (one-one-hundredth of a krone) per kilowatt hour during the night on Monday, while prices were listed at around 4.3 øre kwh Tuesday morning in southern Norway where it has rained the most. Prices for central and northern Norway were running around 27 øre kwh.

Consumers may not notice much relief, though, when bills come in for September. That’s because consumption likely will have gone up from the summer months and prices are generally set at an average of spot prices over the month. Electricity customers are also billed for the separate standard rate for power line use (nettleie). Still, the low spot prices should be reflected in lower average rates for electricity.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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