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Sweden deploys vintage trains to battle the snow

TT/The Local/pvs · 27 Dec 2010, 16:26

Published: 27 Dec 2010 16:26 GMT+01:00

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The trains, old DA locomotives normally resident in the Swedish Railway Museum in Gävle in northern Sweden, have been dusted off and put back into service to clear the tracks of snow between Mjölby and Alvesta in southern Sweden.

Furthermore a 100-year-old snowplough is in place alongside the tracks in nearby Nässjö, ready to be called into action if needed.

"These are made of stern stuff which can take the winter and we are very happy to be able to help to keep the railways running," said Henrik Reuterdahl at the museum.

The two locomotives were constructed in the middle of the 1950s and are currently equipped with a heavy duty snowplough in order to perform their task.

The harsh winter will mean that costs for the maintenance of roads and railways will soar.

According to the Transport Administration's preliminary estimates, costs for snow removal from roads will increase by approximately 100 million kronor ($14.63 million) compared to previous winters. The figure covers the whole of 2010 and thus part of last winter.

The administration also notes that the budget overrun has been the most extreme in southern areas of the country.

"It has been a busy Christmas period," said Thomas Anderson at the administration.

The record winter has created a slew of problems for the maintenance of roads and railways with low temperatures combined with heavy snowfalls.

"We have not been able to battle the snow with salt as it has been colder than minus eight degrees Celsius in most parts of the country," said Pär Gustafsson at the administration.

The administration's budget extends over the entire 2010 and thus means that a large proportion of the costs of both this and last winter are in the same budget.

The situation could lead to some savings in maintenance in the summer months with cut backs on clearing verges and holding off on relaying roads as a result.

"But we will not pinch on the winter - it will cost what it costs," Pär Gustafsson said.

Story continues below…

Dag Rosander at national rail operator SJ was unwilling to speculate as to how much extra cost the winter has incurred.

"We may be able to see a little further on, on the other side of the new year, how it looks."

He pointed out that SJ had strengthened its travel time warranty which may mean that winter will be somewhat more expensive for the company, although he was hopeful that it may attract more passengers to the railways.

SJ has also improved its rolling stock and set up a special department to take care of passengers hit by delays and cancellations.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:07 December 27, 2010 by Hamish
now that is the coolest news i have read for a while!! good to see them bring out the old engine´s for service again

no i am not a train nut btw :)
19:15 December 27, 2010 by Torkel Alvin
Accordning to a recent tv-programme Sweden up until recently had several (exactly how many, and where, is apparently still a defence secret) of these coal powered steam engines mothballed and waiting to be called into service should the power grid be bombed into oblivion by some belligerent power.
20:26 December 27, 2010 by Hamish
maybe they should get rid of the power ones and being back the old workhorses as the trains and system they have now are reliable tits on a bull lol
20:43 December 27, 2010 by Syftfel
What a delight it is to see an old steam locomotive proving that it can outdo even the most modern X2000. It sends chills through my sopine! The X2000 doesn't stand a chance, and appears to be frail, delicate and effeminate compared to this old hunk of muscle. More power to you. You're a lot more than a museum piece! Welcome back!
21:07 December 27, 2010 by dockmandock
They aren't using steam locomotives, so why The Local used such a misleading picture is totally beyond comprehension.

The locomotives look like this and such a picture would have been much more fitting:


Still very nice locos.
00:36 December 28, 2010 by maxbrando
I am curious if these were the same trains rescued from Northern Sweden 5-7 years ago. There were a group found in some sheds up there.
01:58 December 28, 2010 by sw_robi
what a vintage train!

hope it can serve 1000+ years more :)
03:43 December 28, 2010 by millionmileman
I suggested that this would be done last month. This kind of weather makes modern trains useless. good old steam rules and the increased carbon footprint will hopefully warm things up a bit!
05:13 December 28, 2010 by blursd
Oh my holy crapballs ... its the Polar Express!!!
07:09 December 28, 2010 by MarkinBoston
"The two locomotives were constructed in the middle of the 1950s and are currently equipped with a heavy duty snowplough in order to perform their task."

So steam locomotives were built in the 1950s? Silly. A commenter above linked a photo of the real locomotives being used - where did the Local get the idea they were using steam locomotives?
09:57 December 28, 2010 by jamtlandtom
They don't seem to make anything like they used to!!!!!
11:29 December 28, 2010 by johnny1939
Halleluja. goes to prove old things still have a place in modern society. I love it, I love it!
17:19 December 28, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
OK, Either the picture was changed or there are a lot more people taking hallucinogenic drugs than I would suspect in Sweden.

The picture shows an old ASEA built electric train. See the pantograph connecting to the overhead electrical wires?

Steam Engines? There is a real problem with running the old steam engines on the current track system. The engines are at least 2 times heavier than the newer ones. A friend of mine was driving one when it crushed the ties underneath and jumped the tracks. No one injured but it took a while to get the train back on the tracks and to test the rest of the rail system so it could continue.
19:10 December 28, 2010 by buckrogersday
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
21:50 December 28, 2010 by krattan
The picture for the article was changed. Sweden did indeed have some 150 steam and diesel engines, "beredskapslok", in store during the cold war though. These were abolished around 2002-2004 so the important tracks should still be able to carry them.

More on Wikipedia:

05:54 December 29, 2010 by JoeSwede
Very Interesting...

I'm glad that they could use the old trains. Of course they are not as efficient but they can move snow. One would think that snow would not be an issue in Sweden. Why has it become an issue? And why southern Sweden? What does Northern Sweden do differently?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
11:42 December 31, 2010 by nuke
To those of you who wonder why the Local mentioned steam engines, the word 'steam' is mentioned 9 times in the comments and 0 times in the main article.

Also, the picture link supplied in comment #5 shows an engine that is almost identical with the one in the picture in the article. Where is the steam in this?

What happened to you guys? Please read more carefully, because you just look stupid when you comment things that are not there.
01:46 January 3, 2011 by Patghnj
From what I remember the steam reserve was disposed of for several reasons neither relating to the track as the standard axle load of most of the reserve was somewhat less than most diesel locos.

The main issues for SJ was that they would need to train large numbers of staff to operate steam as the staff who were steam qualified retired, also the cost of maintaining special facilities that steam requires is not cheap.
04:18 January 4, 2011 by Bustednuckles
I raise a toast to the old gentlemen who still have the knowlege to pull these old machines out of moth balls and put them back to work.

The next time you hear someone complain about their mechanic, remember these fellows. I would also salute the politician who listened to whomever suggested this tactic and actually thought about using these resources who were still perfectly serviceable and languashing in a museum.

Good on ya all.
08:36 February 5, 2011 by Mad Mac
Isn't it great to see some real trains out and proving that their epoch worked better than the failed age into which we've been dragged?

Incidentally - to the people who mentioned steam - sorry, no steam locomotives were deployed - but wouldn't it have been nice if they had?
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