Officials at BaneNor, the state agency in charge of Norway’s rail systems, found themselves the targets of both praise and anger this week. Just as some were opening a long-awaited high-speed train line, others were fending off complaints after a power failure on another busy line left passengers stranded for hours inside a dark tunnel.
It was not the best of days for BaneNor, which had just ceremoniously opened the new high-speed train line south from Oslo. King Harald, Crown Prince Haakon and the prime minister were among those taking part in the opening of Follobanen, 12 years and NOK 37 billion after work on it began. The new line boasts the longest train tunnel in the Nordic countries and can whisk passengers at speeds of 250kph in just 11 minutes between Oslo and Ski.
The new line was plagued by signal failure the very next day, however, and then two trains on another high-speed line northeast from Oslo lost power. Nearly 800 passengers were left stranded inside a dark and cold tunnel known as Romeriksporten for more than four hours, in what commuters’ representatives called an “entirely unacceptable” situation that they blamed on lack of maintenance and preparedeness.
BaneNor officials apologized for the incidents but claimed rescue crews worked as quickly as they could. The signal trouble on the Follo line, meanwhile, was also repaired as its trains ran at lowered speeds in the meantime.