UPDATED: Norway was hit by major transport disruption all over the country on Tuesday after technical trouble with the railroad’s emergency communications system forced a shutdown of all train traffic nationwide. The error was located shortly after 11am and trains were rolling again by noon, but traffic was expected to be disrupted throughout the day.
Commuter trains, long-distance trains, the Oslo Airport Express Train (Flytoget) and cargo trains stood still for nearly three hours from Bodø in the north to Kristiansand in the south. Trains that were in motion Tuesday morning when the emergency system called the GSM-R-nettet broke down were instructed to head for the next station and park.
Engineers worked feverishly at state railroad Jernbaneverket’s operations center in Trondheim to locate the problem and fix it. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported at around 11:30am that the systems error was located and the system restarted at 11:12am, but Jernbaneverket didn’t expect operations to resume until around 12:30pm. They got them rolling again, however, around 11:30am.
Tens of thousands of passengers were told to find other means of transport, but taxis were hard to find as were available busses that could help transport those stranded.
The systems error, which involved two computer servers that stopped communicating with each other, occurred around 9am, just as the morning commuter rush was winding down. Thousands of passengers were nonetheless stuck at stations or on board trains all over the country, because of the safety issues involved when train communications break down.
“The trains can run if their radio communications don’t work,” Arvid Bårdstu of Jernbaneverket told NRK.
State railway NSB scrambled to find alternate transport for passengers but the sheer capacity involved made the job difficult if not impossible. NSB’s website also collapsed under the heavy demands for information.
Passengers on the Airport Express Train who were heading for Oslo’s main airport at Gardemoen were being driven from airport train stations with the taxis that could be secured to the airport, but many faced the prospect of missing their flights.