On the evening of December 17th a fully-loaded ore train, en route from Kiruna to Narvik, derailed near Vassijaure Station, near the Norwegian border. Trafikverket (the Swedish Transport Administration) estimates that traffic on the line will not resume until the last week of December, which on Monday 18th was changed to early January. "This will have major consequenses for us. Each day that we cannot operate means a significant financial setback", says Linda Bjurholt, logistics manager, LKAB.
The train derailed when it was entering a so-called snow shed, a structure built over the track to protect it from snow. Several rail cars remain on the track at the front and rear ends of the train, while several have derailed inside the snow shed. Personnel on board the train were unharmed.
“The main thing is that there were no personal injuries. However, it is very serious when such a large derailment leaves traffic at a standstill over a longer period. Every day matters. If we are standing still for the remainder of the year we will have lost more than a billion kronor in revenue,” says Linda Bjurholt.
Since Haverikommissionen (the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority) may be called in, LKAB has not been able to access the accident site and cannot therefore provide a detailed forecast of the outcome. Trafikverket first sated that traffic would resume on Christmas Eve, at the earliest, but later revised its forecast to the end of the final week of December, at the earliest. The cause of the derailment is as yet unknown.
“We are now investigating how this will impact our deliveries and our production. Although we have a certain capacity to stockpile products, it is limited. At worst, we may have to shut down production in Kiruna. We have good collaboration with Trafikverket and, by joining forces, we hope to be able to resolve this as soon as possible,” says Linda Bjurholt.
With ten fully-loaded trains a day, the Kiruna-Narvik stretch of the line accounts for about two-thirds of LKAB’s deliveries of iron ore products. On the southern circuit, Gällivare-Luleå, four or five trains run each day. There is currently no capacity to compensate for the shortfall by hauling products south to Luleå.