No climate for trains in Norway? / Columns / The Foreigner

No climate for trains in Norway?. I write this column on an inexplicably delayed train in England. Other common adjectives for the UK's train system include rickety, slow, cramped, and unreliable. That matches my experiences in Norway. I have reserved seats which do not exist when I board the train. I have been rattled around so much that my fingers could not stay on the keyboard. It’s an irrelevant inconvenience compared to those who fell ill. Decades of underinvestment inhibit an improved rail service in the UK. Increasing capacity through longer or double-decker trains is difficult due to the infrastructure. The height of existing bridges and tunnels is fixed. Not all train stations have room to expand their length.

norwaytrains, osloairportexpresstrain, norwaytransport



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No climate for trains in Norway?

Published on Saturday, 4th May, 2013 at 20:46 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

I write this column on an inexplicably delayed train in England. Other common adjectives for the UK's train system include rickety, slow, cramped, and unreliable.

Oslo's airport train
Oslo's airport train
Photo: Ilan Kelman


That matches my experiences in Norway. I have reserved seats which do not exist when I board the train. I have been rattled around so much that my fingers could not stay on the keyboard. It’s an irrelevant inconvenience compared to those who fell ill.

Decades of underinvestment inhibit an improved rail service in the UK. Increasing capacity through longer or double-decker trains is difficult due to the infrastructure. The height of existing bridges and tunnels is fixed. Not all train stations have room to expand their length.

The country's dense population results in legitimate opposition to new high-speed lines zipping past residential areas. The way in which privatisation was enacted creates chaos and complexity for any upgrades or expansions--not to mention a fare system which is impossible to fathom.

Improving Norway's rail infrastructure is similarly not simple. Valleys flood, hillsides experience landslides. Both have undermined tracks recently. Land for doubling or straightening track routes is not always available.

Yet success is possible.

The dedicated train from Drammen to Oslo's Gardermoen Airport is comfortable, easy-to-use, acceptably-priced for the service, and comparatively reliable. Contingency plans are implemented when delays occur; staff is available to provide information and support.

It is not important if it is profitable.

If a business argument must be made for a genuine train 'service', then we must factor in the work completed on comfortable and reliable trains, the money saved from fewer private vehicles and less road maintenance, as well as any stress or emissions reduction over life cycles of different transportation options.

We must also recognise disadvantages, such as train lines cutting a noisy swathe through the countryside. Moreover, not everyone could live near a station.

Yet so much more could be done with trains, not just in the UK and Norway. Rail journeys should be enjoyable, not frustrating.

We can definitely do better than a minimum 27-hour train journey from London to Oslo!

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).




Published on Saturday, 4th May, 2013 at 20:46 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: norwaytrains, osloairportexpresstrain, norwaytransport.





  
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