The “‘Stålvogntoget” is ready for departure from Åndalsnes. Photo: Mette Larsen
Saturday 7th October 2017 sees a very interesting railtour in Norway using classic diesel traction.
The Norsk Jernbanemuseum are taking their class Di3 loco, Di3.642 from Hamar to Åndalsnes and return. The timetable will be published on their website as soon as it is available, but the intention is to have a departure from Hamar at the very sociable time of 09:30, returning around 21:00.
Fares are 600 NOK (£59) for adults and 400 NOK (£39) for children – fantastic value for a return journey that is in the region of 420 miles. Tickets are available by sending an email to email@example.com, and are valid for entry to the museum itself (also at Hamar) on the Sunday.
Di3.642 is one of the 35-strong Di3 class of 1,750hp General Motors 567 series-engined diesel-electrics supplied by the Swedish firm of Nydqvist & Holm AB (NoHAB) to Norges Statsbaner (NSB; the Norwegian State Railways) between 1954 and 1969. This well-loved class were loyal servants to the Norwegians, being finally withdrawn at the turn of the century.
Di3.642, built in 1960 and withdrawn in July 2000, is one of the three members of the “Di3b” subclass which were built with an A1A-A1A wheel arrangement (as opposed to the Co-Co Di3a), and were longer, heavier and faster than their forebears. They were actually built for the Finnish market, but the Finns never took up the order. Di3.642 is unique, however, in being the only one of this subclass still to remain in Norway; the other two – Di3.641 and Di3.643 – now eking out their existence in Kosovo.
Di3.642 will have a good opportunity to sing as it will be hauling load five – carriage numbers BF14 21728, B5-2 26021, B3-2 25579, BC5 26029 and FR3 21265.
To those of us who live in areas where a scenic railway can often be defined by a single feature along its length, it is perhaps difficult to imagine a route which consists of 70 continual miles of such features! Indeed, the route from Dombås to Åndalsnes – the Raumabanen – has been named by Lonely Planet as the most scenic in Europe.
This is traditional Di3 territory, and the climb out of Åndalsnes – situated right at the edge of a fjord – is quite a steep one, soaring to 2000ft above sea level in little over 30 miles. Sadly, however, the route no longer has any loco-hauled passenger trains, so this is surely a perfect opportunity for locomotive enthusiasts to travel over it.
On our way to Åndalsnes. A short stop at Marstein station with the famous “Trollveggen” in the background. Photo: Kjetil Naess
It is the intention for this special train to have a number of photo stops along the way, to take full advantage of this.
Norway may seem like a far-off land to those of us in the UK, but it is actually less than an hour’s flight from these shores! Admittedly I am talking about the flights from Aberdeen to Bergen and Stavanger, but this route to Norway may interest you if you combine it with a northbound Caledonian Sleeper. There are, of course, direct flights from most other sizeable UK airports.
The projected times for this railtour are superb, in that it should be possible to reach it by train from Norway’s capital city of Oslo (on the 07:34 departure) and connects back into a train back there at night (22:07) – both with a journey time of about 80 minutes. However, if you intend to stay in the Hamar area, the museum recommend referring to this website: http://www.hamarregionen.no, which I echo.
This tour promises to be very popular – I am already aware of at least two British enthusiasts who have decided to go since I first put some information out about it! – so get your bookings in soon!
My sincere thanks to Mette Larsen and the Norsk Jernbanemuseum for the information on this event, and their assistance with this article.