Traffic on Malmbanan back on track

By Lennart Håkansson, North Sweden Business - March 7, 2024
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Testtåg Vassijaure
One of the test trains that the Swedish Transport Administration, together with LKAB, ran on the line at Vassijaure station on Wednesday. Photo: Swedish Transport Administration

On Wednesday evening, the first ore train ran on the Vassijaure section of the Iron Ore Line, Malmbanan, that has been repaired since the last train derailment on February 24.

The repair work has been faster than expected due to the limited damage and good weather conditions. In recent days, the repaired section has been tested.

“Together with LKAB, we have stress tested the railroad, that is, we have driven back and forth on the track with a train with some loaded wagons at different speeds. Then we made further inspections and checks along the track to ensure that everything looks good,” says Håkan Äijä, crisis manager at the Swedish Transport Administration.

When the train derailment occurred on February 24, it had only been four days since traffic was released after a more than two-month long stop after the train derailment on December 17.

In total, the traffic disruption has resulted in a loss of income of at least SEK 5.5 billion for the mining company LKAB. The mining company Kaunis Iron in Pajala has also been affected by delivery stops and reduced income. Other freight transports, such as fish deliveries from Norway, have also been affected. For the tourism industry, especially STF in Abisko, it has meant a major setback when tourists cannot take the train to the resort.

Passenger traffic is still at a standstill; only freight traffic is allowed to travel on the route so far.

After the recent major derailments and traffic jams, the demands from industry for investments in the Malmbanan have increased. These demands relate primarily to the construction of a double track to increase the capacity of the Malmbanan and reduce the sensitivity to disruptions.