Published: 07-10-2006 photo #123 0 comments 0 votes
Category:Wagons and Coaches - Passenger Trains - Electric Locomotives   Manufacturer:Norsk Elektrisk & Brown Boveri   Country:Norway   Year:2004 Group:Flam Railway and Museum, Norway   Contributor:Marcel Sloover
The Flåm Railway, which passes through the beautiful, narrow Flåm valley, is regarded as a masterpiece of Norwegian engineering. The only thing lacking when the railway line between Oslo and Bergen was opened in 1909, was a branch line to the Sognefjord. In order to assure a transport route to the fjord, work was begun on the Flåm Railway in 1923. It was to take 20 years to complete.
The most time-consuming work was on the tunnels. These were excavated manually. Only two of the twenty tunnels, which have a total length of 6 km, were excavated using machines. Every metre of tunnel cost the labour force, the navvies a month's hard work. The labour force, 120 strong at the outset, rapidly increased to 220.
The steep mountainsides were a major challenge, the solution being to build hairpin tunnels in order to equalise the big differences in altitude on the steep mountain. The danger of avalanches and rock falls also constituted a problem. To avoid these hazardous stretches, the line crosses the river and valley three times during the journey, but it does not cross the river on bridges. Instead, the river is led through the mountain in tunnels underneath the railway line.
The Flåm Railway was opened temporarily for steam engines on 1 August 1940. The newspapers reported that the first train "honoured" the navvies by carrying freight in the cars. The railway was opened for passenger traffic not long afterwards, with two trains in each direction that connected at Myrdal with the day trains on the Bergen Railway. Electrification of the Flåm Railway was completed in 1944 making it one of the first Norwegian railway lines to be electrified. The journey took an hour and a quarter as against one hour today.
Traffic estimates carried out in 1908 and 1915 forecast 22,000 passengers a year on the line. The result soon turned out to be much better. A new record of 475,033 passengers was set in 2005. On the other hand, goods traffic on the railway has been reduced to a minimum. The increasing proportion of tourists from the whole world has led to the Flåm Railway becoming one of the most popular as well as spectacular tourist attractions in Norway.
On 1 Januar 1998 Flåm Utvikling as took over marketing and product responsibility for the Flåm Railway from NSB AS (the Norwegian State Railways), making it one of Norway's few privately-owned railways. NSB AS is still, as responsible operator, responsible for for security, handeling and actual running of the trains. Flåm Utvikling as aim is to consolidate and further develop the Flåm Railway and the Flåm / Aurland region to make it one of the best tourist destionations and experience-centres in Scandinavia.
Nowadays, the Flåm Railway presents a new face to the world - with engines and carriages in natural green, new interiors, and a unique guide-and-loudspeaker service, with information in several languages. The train journey has been given a new dimension by extending the platforms and improving the viewing points. Our completely new fleet of trains comprises of 5 engines and 12 new carriages, thus guaranteeing an unforgettable train ride passing through the best scenery in Norway.