Onrail will take over North Rail Express for DB Schenker from December

Onrail will take over North Rail Express for DB Schenker from December
© Mona Johanne Samdahl / OnRail / ELP

The express freight train carrying fish from northern Norway will change traction from Green Cargo to Onrail Scandinavia.

Onrail Scandinavia, a Norwegian freight railway company, has been selected by logistics company DB Schenker to operate the North Rail Express. The express covers a 2,000-kilometer route from Narvik through Sweden to Oslo. The current operator, Swedish Green Cargo, will hand over the service to Onrail starting December, for a duration of three years.

The North Rail Express, significant for its lengthy route that extends from Narvik beyond the Arctic Circle to Oslo, is critical for transporting goods across Norway. This operation has historically been a crucial link for the movement of freight between the northern and southern parts of the country, as Norway has no other direct railway link from Narvik to Oslo.

The management at Onrail, led by founder Henning Aandal, anticipates that this new agreement will boost their revenue to half a billion crowns, Business Portal Norwegen reports. The contract with DB Schenker ensures fixed volumes of freight for the three-year period. Onrail, which primarily handles freight trains and terminal services, sees DB Schenker as a key partner, especially in southern Norway. The company has recently enhanced its capabilities by adding two Eurodual locomotives from Stadler, leased via European Loc Pool, to its fleet.

© Mona Johanne Samdahl / OnRail / ELP
© Mona Johanne Samdahl / OnRail / ELP

The North Rail Express has been operating since 1993 when it was initially launched as the “Flyvende Fisktog” (Flying Fishing Train) against initial skepticism. The service was established to transport seafood from Narvik to Oslo, a concept that quickly proved to be more successful than anticipated, showing the feasibility and efficiency of rail transport over extensive distances.

Currently, the main cargo hauled southward is predominantly fish and seafood, while a variety of food and everyday items are transported northward. Over the last decade, transportation volumes from Northern Norway have doubled, reaching approximately NOK 60 billion, largely fueled by the booming seafood industry, which is the largest sector in Northern Norway. Norway, along with China, ranks as one of the top global exporters of seafood.

The announcement comes amid recent challenges in Norway's railway sector, including infrastructure issues such as a collapsed bridge on the Dovrebanen, train derailment near Bergen and operational problems like the recent derailment of two ore trains, which underscore the importance of maintaining high standards of safety and punctuality in rail transport.

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