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Rail transport is amongst the most environmentally sound and profitable transport alternatives. In the North the railway is particularly important for transport of iron ore, minerals, goods and fresh fish. A well-functioning interaction between train rolling stock and railway infrastructure is therefore a prerequisite. Northern Research Institute Narvik solves railway technology challenges for both rail system managers and train companies.

At present our core activities within Railway Technology cover:

  • Competence on the railway’s ‘superstructure’; heavy rail/ cold climate; measurement/monitoring of track forces and load effect analyses.
  • Strengthening of existing infrastructure as well as design of new upgrading and reinforcement solutions.
  • Operation and maintenance; Structural Health Monitoring (SHM); sensor technology; structural integrity of structures and remaining service life, etc.

Examples of activities within these topics

Sustainable Bridges (FP7)

Sustainable bridges is a previously completed EU Framework-project with a consortium consisting of bridge owners, consultants, entrepreneurs, universities and research institutes from all of Europe.

The background for the project was that it was necessary to upgrade the existing railway bridges to meet the demands of increased railway capacity. The project had the goal of increasing the transport capacity and lifetime of existing bridges to enable freight trains with axle loads up to 33 tonne, as well as to increase the capacity such that passenger trains with low axle load can operate with speeds up to 350 km/h.

The project had the following activities and workpackages:

  • Mapping of existing experience and bridge types
  • WP1 Examination of the requirements for interoperability between countries
  • WP2 Develop new methods for inspection and condition evaluation
  • WP3 Develop new methods to determine capacity. Identification of load and load distribution.
  • WP4 Develop monitoring methods based on new technologies
  • WP5 Develop new repair and reinforcement methods
  • WP6 Demonstrate new methods with field testing of existing and new bridges
  • WP7-8 Utilisation of the new methods (consultants and entrepreneurs).

NORUT Narvik (now SINTEF Narvik) was the only Norwegian participant, and participated in the project work packages WP2, WP3 and WP6.

Ofotbanen 40-tonne axle load

The Ofotbanen 40 – ton axle load was a project for the Norwegian Railway Authority which gave suggestions on how to upgrade the existing railway (Ofotbanen) to be able to allow heavy trains with up to 40 tonnes of axle load. Norut Narvik led the project which consisted of a consortium of SINTEF and the Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) in the United States. The project recommended a controlled and gradual increase in axle load, where especially critical infrastructure and railway components were monitored to study the load effects. The axle load increase was to be carried out in parallel with the experience from North America where trains run with similar axle load, and from railway lines with similar climatic challenges that exist on the Ofotbanen. The project also proposed the establishment of the Ofotbanen as a national arena for the testing of railway materials – and infrastructure for trains with high axle loads.

LKAB – BALO losseanlegg

Norut Narvik has, on assignment from LKAB, carried out a project which has calculated the carrying capacity and residual life of railway bridges at LKAB’s old unloading station BALO in Narvik. The project was carried out on the basis that LKAB would increase the axle load on ore trains from 25 to 30 tonnes. In the project, reinforcement solutions were also designed so that the axle load increase could be realized on the existing infrastructure of the plant.

LKAB – SILA losseanlegg

In LKAB’s SILA unloading plant there are 12 pcs. large underground mountain silos. Above each of the silos there are railway bridges where ore trains unload ore through bottom hatches in the carriages and openings in the bridge deck and down into the silos. The silos are used as intermediate storage of various iron ore products before the ore is transported further and loaded into ore vessels.
LKAB plans to increase iron ore production. In order to enable such an increase in production, it is desired to increase the amount of ore in the ore trains that operate between Kiruna and Narvik. In this connection, Norut Narvik has carried out capacity and lifetime calculations of the bridges at LKAB’s SILA unloading station.
Norut Narvik has also assisted LKAB in designing a new track in the unloading facility, in particular new track solutions, specially designed according to the design of the unloading and thawing plant.
As part of the production, a monitoring system has also been established that measures the loads in the bridges in SILA. This system is equipped with a number of load sensors to give infrastructure owners notice of structural changes in the bridge structure as a result of the delivery and unloading of trains in the unloading facility.

Bane NOR – 32,5 tonne axle load, track turnouts/switch at Narvik station

SINTEF Narvik is carrying out a project for Bane NOR, which consists of measuring track forces in the track switching at Narvik Station on the Ofotbanen. The aim of the project is to study load-effect effects as a result of increasing the axle load 30 to 32.5 axle load from LKAB’s ore train. Specifically, components in the track changer are instrumented with sensors, and using continuous measurements one can calculate the load in the components. The measurements are then compared with finite element (FE) analyses in a computer model of similar components. The project has a duration of approx. 2 years such that seasonal and climate variations can be studied.

Arctic Railway Infrastructure in Kolarctic – ARINKA

Programme funding: 1 528 207€         Total budget: 1 698 008€
Duration: 15.10.2018 –31.10.2021
Call for proposal: 2nd call for proposal
Type of the project: Standard Project
Priority axis: 2. Fluent mobility of people, goods and knowledge
Thematic objective: 7. Improvement of accessibility to the regions, development of sustainable and climate-proof transport and communication networks and systems.

Main objective –The main programme thematic objective that the Kolarctic CBC 2014-2020 Project aims to address is Business and SME development, under the thematic objectives; TO7 Improvement of accessibility to regions, development of sustainable and climate-proof transport and communication networks and systems.

The project “Arctic Railway Infrastructure in Kolarctic (ARINKA)” aims to develop a cross-border railway research and development collaboration between parties from different countries in the Kolarctic region. The project aims to exchange railway technical know-how and best-practice solutions. The goals are to make the Kolarctic railway more reliable through robust infrastructure solutions, to obtain more cost-effective maintenance and repair operations, and to develop railway infrastructure monitoring through advanced sensor technology solutions.

A very competent project group has been established with partners who have complementary knowledge within the most relevant railway technical disciplines. The project is led by Northern Research Institute Narvik (NORUT Narvik). Other project partners are:

  • Federal State Budget Educational Institute for Higher Educational “Emperor Alexander I St. Petersburg State Transport University (PGUPS)”, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Luleå University of Technology (LTU), Luleå, Sweden
  • Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (KSC RAS), Apatity, Russia
  • Lapland University of Applied Sciences (LUAS), Kemi, Finland
  • Bane NOR, Narvik, Norway
  • Finnish Transportation Infrastructure Agency (FTIA –VÄLYÄ), Finland
  • Trafikverket, Luleå, Sverige
  • October Railway, Branch of Joint Stock Company “Russian Railways”, Russia

The ARINKA project is divided into the following work packages:

  • WP1 Project management and coordination
  • WP2 Competence building and cross-border experience transfer
  • WP3 Railway infrastructure
  • WP4 Railway maintenance and repair operations
  • WP5 Measuring and monitoring technologies

The project has established a consortium consisting of universities and railway companies from Norway, Finland, Russia and Sweden.

The project is financed through the Kolarctic CBC 2014–2020 Programme, which is a program that supports collaboration between Northern Scandinavia and North-West Russia. The project is also partly financed by the Nordland County Council and Region Norrbotten.

For more information please visit the project website: www.arinka.eu. The project is summarised in this brochure.