Until 14th June 2019, Narvik, in Norway, is hosting the International Heavy Haul STS Conference organized by the International Heavy Haul Association (IHHA), in partnership with Bane NOR and Trafikverket. This is IHHA Conference number 20, and Norway is the 10th country where an IHHA Conference is hosted and is the same time in the biggest international railway conference ever to be held in Norway.
“The infrastructure administrations at Trafikverket and Bane NOR cooperate closely on relevant aspects of operations on the Iron Ore Line in Sweden and the Ofoten Line in Norway. Together with the mining company and train operator LKAB and three universities in Sweden – Luleå University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, we have joined forces as Nordic Heavy Haul, which has a joint membership of the IHHA,” Thor Braekkan, Vice Chairman of IHHA said.
The conference includes presentations of technical papers on research and development areas such as rolling stock, railway infrastructure and operations, a technical workshop, where international railway technical experts will present selected topics within the infrastructure and rolling stock fields.
The conference is also organises technical tours for delegates involving site visits to LKAB’s shipping facility in Narvik and Bane NOR’s Heavy Haul line between Narvik and the Swedish border and social tours for delegates and partners to visit tourist attractions in Narvik and the surrounding area.
“In Norway, like many other places, building the railways was a major factor in shaping how modern society developed. Narvik is a prime example. Were it not for the railway, this town probably would not have existed,” Vibeke Aarnes, the Executive Director for Infrastructure of Bane NOR said.
The event is taking into account the impact of digitalization in the railway transport sector.
“Technological breakthroughs and new engineering systems are changing the way we work. It is visible everywhere – at home, at work and in the industries. Digitalization is here to stay and the digital change is irreversible and fast. The way that younger generations are born into a digital world will affect how new technologies are used in future. Technology is not just a tool any more. For us, this means that rather than thinking about what technology can help us achieve in strict productivity terms, we need to change the essential relationship with technology.
We need to direct our activities and strategies towards how technology impact human factors and change management. This is a major shift in mindset,” said Stefan Engdahl, the Executive Director of Market and Planning at the Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket.
The Iron Ore Line in Sweden and the Ofoten Line in Norway are the backbone of heavy rail transport services. Currently, Ofoten Line constitutes 1% of the Norwegian rail network, but it transports more than 60 per cent of domestic freight tonnage.
In effect, the Ofoten Line is an extension of the Swedish rail network. This connection is important in more ways than one. The 20 million tonnes of iron ore transported each year are vital to the mining operations in Northern Sweden, as are synergies created by the shipment of ore from Narvik. There are three daily container trains between Oslo and Narvik. At 1950 km, this is one of the longest scheduled freight routes in Europe, mostly through Sweden. This is how some 90% of grocery supplies to Northern Norway arrive here in Narvik, before being transferred to road for distribution. Locally produced seafood for the European market is carried on the return journey. In fact, in terms of value, the seafood exports on the Ofoten Line constitute some 65% of the iron ore going the other way, Vibeke explained.
Railway PRO is media partner for International Heavy Haul STS Conference.