Mighty Trains

Sunday 7ET

About the North Rail Express

Posted:
When it comes to transporting fresh fish, time and temperature control are of the essence, and there is no train better equipped to handle a speedier and more efficient fish transport than the North Rail Express.  The highly-specialized container train travels the 2,000 kilometer single track between Narvik, deep in the Norwegian Arctic Circle and Oslo, Norway’s capital in the south, to deliver its precious cargo of cod, mackerel, herring, monkfish, and salmon to customers in Europe and around the world.

The train’s twenty-seven hour travel time for this journey is impressive, but fish depreciates 20% over the first three days it is out of the water, so the faster it gets to the customer, the more valuable it becomes. The pressure is on for the one-person crew of the North Rail Express to get to Oslo as quickly as possible. 

Temperature control on the train is crucial. The North Rail Express operates high tech containers equipped with state-of-the-art temperature and atmosphere controls.  If the heating or cooling systems fail, an automatic warning SMS is sent to the head office in Oslo, enabling a repair to be arranged at the next stop. Continuous temperature monitors are also used to provide evidence that the cold chain has not been broken. 

Mighty Trains joins the North Rail Express as it travels on Europe’s longest continuous freight link. The first forty-two kilometers of this link is the most treacherous. Passing through the mountains between the two countries is never routine. During the long Arctic winters, lack of daylight and limited visibility are big challenges.  Once through the mountains, they have to constantly slow down the heavy train on the steep downward section into Kiruna.

At maximum capacity, the North Rail Express can carry up to 1600 tonnes of cargo in 40 containers.  Temperatures, which often fall below 40 degrees Celsius, primarily affect wheelsets, meaning that they have to be replaced frequently and unexpectedly on route.