Ore trains resume service to Narvik after two-month interruption

Ore trains resume service to Narvik after two-month interruption

The ore traffic on Malmbanan resumed on Tuesday, February 20, following a stoppage exceeding two months.

The initial LKAB train destined for Narvik departed Kiruna in the morning. The halt in operations was due to a derailment incident that occurred on December 17, 2023, where a fully laden ore train went off the tracks within a snow gallery at Vassijaure station, close to the Norwegian border. This event led to significant damage over a 15-kilometre stretch of the railway.

In response to the derailment, the Swedish Transport Administration, alongside BDX Rail, undertook extensive repairs. The restoration efforts included the replacement of 25,000 sleepers and the repair of damaged rails and switches. The work was carried out under challenging conditions, including extreme cold and blizzard conditions, which complicated efforts with frozen machinery and very hard embankments.

The derailment's cause is currently under investigation by LKAB, the Swedish Transport Administration, and the Swedish Accident Investigation Board. The incident has highlighted concerns regarding the Malmbanan's capacity limitations, notably the absence of a double track which, according to logistics manager Linda Bjurholt, would have mitigated the disruption's severity.


As a consequence of the stoppage, approximately 3 million tons of pellets have accumulated in Kiruna and Svappavaara. This volume is equivalent to over 400 fully laden ore trains. LKAB typically operates an average of 10 daily trains to the port of Narvik. The resumed operations will prioritize addressing the daily output from the pellet plants in Kiruna and Svappavaara, without the capacity for additional trains.

Further challenges to the railway's capacity are anticipated due to planned maintenance work by the Swedish Transport Administration over the next ten years. The maintenance is necessary but will result in further capacity reductions.

The financial impact of the derailment on LKAB is substantial, with estimated daily revenue losses of almost 9 million euros. The total cost of the incident remains uncertain, as the delivery of stored products may span several years.

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