The relatively new trains serving Oslo’s metro system known as the “T-bane” have been well-received for their comfort and reliability, but a nagging problem has cropped up this winter. When a driver needs to sound the horn, it often can’t be turned off.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that last week, a T-bane train had to keep traveling with its horn blaring constantly, all the way from Kalbakken on Oslo’s east side to Majorstuen in the west, before it could finally be turned off. On Wednesday, a train on the scenic Frognerseteren line that winds it way into the hills above Oslo sat at the end station with its horn blaring for quite a while after its driver had cautiously tooted at some pedestrians crossing the tracks.
At least three trains had tooting trouble on Thursday and one train had to drive through the otherwise quiet wooded residential area with its horn at full blast, before 7am.
Drivers reportedly are now reluctant to sound their horns when needed, for fear of not being able to shut them off again. On the Holmenkollen line, though, trains aren’t supposed to run without operative horns, because of all the swings and spots where the tracks cross the road.
Engineers believe the cold weather causes the horns to get stuck in the “on” position, startling everyone in their path. The horns function like a trumpet that takes in air. Problems arise when dampness enters the system and freezes to ice in the cold weather. Then the vent that opens to sound the horn fails to close, leaving the horn bellowing, and the drivers have no means of fixing the problem.
Metro officials have had meetings with the company that built the trains, which otherwise function well in Oslo’s winters. “We thought the problem was fixed but it apparently wasn’t,” T-bane spokesman Cato Asperud told Aftenposten, adding that the problem would be followed up until it finally was solved.