INTRO: Rails are going down on 66 km of new line that will put Oslo’s Gardermoen airport within 19min of the city’s central station when it opens on October 4 1998

BYLINE: Arne Svensøy

NSB Gardermobanen AS

AS CIVIL WORKS approach completion on the new railway being constructed between Norway’s capital and the new national gateway airport at Gardermoen, tracklaying is in full swing using Plasser’s recently developed SVM1000 machine. This self-contained unit carries with it all the track components and machinery necessary to place assembled track on the sub-ballast, ready for ballasting, lifting and tamping to the final level and alignment.

When the Storting (Parliament) decided in October 1992 to build a completely new airport almost 50 km north of Oslo, an integral part of the plan was a dedicated high speed rail link that is expected to carry 50% of air passengers and 40% of staff working at Gardermoen, amounting in all to some 25 000 rail journeys per day.

Both projects are scheduled to open on October 4 1998. In fact, the railway is due to be completed by April 1 1998, allowing six months for commissioning and trial running so any problems can be sorted out before the opening.

The new railway is 66 km long and is electrified at 15 kV 162??3Hz, and double track except for 3·5 km close to the junction at Eidsvoll with the existing Norwegian State Railways trunk line to Lillehammer and the north. The tracklaying contract was awarded to Banverket Industridivisionen, a subsidiary of Sweden’s state-owned rail infrastructure authority. It covers a total of 130track-km and allows the contractor to chose the method of working within guidelines covering quality and tolerances.

Construction and subsequent operation of the airport line has been entrusted to NSB Gardermobanen AS, an NSB subsidiary, which was established in November 1992. NSB Gardermobanen supplies rail and other material to Banverket at no cost, and specifies time windows within which each section of track must be laid to fit the overall programme.

High quality track

The 16 three-car EMUs ordered from Adtranz Norway for the dedicated airport service will operate over much the new line at 200 km/h, but the track, signalling and catenary are designed to allow speeds in the 220 to 230 km/h range and must therefore be laid - and maintained - to high standards.

Each EMU has 175 seats, and six-car trains carrying 350 will run in peak hours. They will run at 10min headways between Gardermoen and the rail-air terminal at Oslo Sentral, with alternate trains calling at the important junction of Lillestrøm. The non-stop trains to Sentral will continue for a further 27 km to Asker, west of the city, calling at four stations on the way. This will widen the range of destinations linked directly with the airport to cover 70% of the air passenger market.

After 19.00 and at weekends, airport trains will run at 20min intervals between Gardermoen and Asker calling at Lillestrøm. The time from Gardermoen to Sentral will be 19min non-stop (156 km/h average), or 22min with one stop at Lillestrøm. In addition, there will be at least one inter-city train every hour calling at Gardermoen. These will run the full length of the new line including the 19 km between the airport station and the junction with the northern trunk line at Eidsvoll.

The new line starts at Etterstad, 2·5 km to the east of Oslo Sentral, and takes a direct course in tunnel through a mountain barrier to Lillestrøm, where a major transport interchange is being constructed around the existing station. Lillestrøm is the only intermediate station between Etterstad and Eidsvoll where trains will be able to switch between the old and new lines. Among other benefits, this connection will allow Oslo - Stockholm services to use the shorter route through the 13·8 km Romeriks tunnel, which is due to be holed through this month.

North of Lillestrøm the new railway follows the same general route as NSB’s main line through Kl