Rail freight in Norway notes minor growth, Bane Nor wants to invest more
Rail freight traffic in Norway grew by two per cent in 2022 compared to the previous year. The growth is not too significant considering that in 2021 the year-on-year increase was twelve per cent. Bane Nor, the Norwegian state agency responsible for the railways, claimed that the network is reaching its limits and admitted that it needs to invest more to cover the demand that’s already there.
“We receive clear signals from the transport industry that increased use of rail is highly desirable. The main reason can be related to the environment and climate, energy savings and driver shortages”, commented Oskar Stenstrøm, freight director at Bane NOR, who maintains a positive stance despite the relatively stagnated growth.
According to him, Norway’s main issue is the congested network. “The demand is higher than the supply in several sections. If we are to succeed in meeting the transport industry’s needs for an energy-efficient and green transition, it is crucial that we increase our investment in freight on rail”, said Stenstrøm.
Breaking down the traffic numbers
The Norwegian railway network consists of three main rail freight axes: Nordlandsbanen, Dovrebanen and Østfoldbanen. Traffic on those axes grew by eight, seven and five per cent, respectively, in 2022. Bane Nor mentioned that a slight decrease was noted in the southern and western parts of the network, which, however, is considered normal since 2021 was a year of immense growth. As a result, it is not surprising that volumes stay the same or drop slightly.
Small success story
One of the challenges faced by Norwegian rail freight last year concerned the withdrawal of the company Green Cargo from rail operations. Green Cargo used to operate seven daily trips between Oslo-Trondheim and Bergen-Stavanger. The company’s decision to discontinue its train routes posed an immediate danger of a reverse modal shift for around 100,000 tonnes of cargo from rail to road.
However, in coordination with companies OnRail and CargoNet, Bane Nor managed to keep those volumes on rail. Green Cargo’s seven daily trips were distributed between these two companies, with OnRail operating five and CargoNet two of them. “The transport industry has made a strong contribution to this transition”, said Stenstrøm.