Train at dawn.
The first train bound for Narvik left Kiruna on Tuesday morning.

After more than two months of stoppage, the ore traffic could finally be resumed on the northern section of the Malmbanan on Tuesday, February 20.

– FINALLY! We are so grateful for the hard work that the Swedish Transport Administration and their contractors have done. With a double track on the line, the interruption would not have been this serious, says logistics manager Linda Bjurholt.

It was on the evening of December 17 that a fully loaded ore train derailed inside a snow gallery at the station in Vassijaure near the Norwegian border. Parts of the track were destroyed along a stretch of 15 kilometers before the derailment. The Swedish Transport Administration and BDX Rail have replaced 25,000 sleepers, repaired broken rails and switches.

– They have done a fantastic job in the toughest environment in Sweden. In severe cold and blizzards, they have struggled with frozen machines and concrete hard embankment. We send a heartfelt thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly along the line so that the trains can now run again, says logistics manager Linda Bjurholt.

The cause of the derailment is being investigated by LKAB as well as the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Accident Investigation Board.

– Regardless of what the cause was, we are now seeing the consequences of the limited capacity Malmbanan has, which we have been talking about for so long. If there had been double tracks, we would have been able to increase traffic south towards Luleå harbour, and the consequences would not have been so long-lasting. Now we have had to put products in stock that will be very difficult to deliver to the customers within a reasonable time, says Linda Bjurholt.

In total, there are now approximately 3 million tons of pellets in Kiruna and Svappavaara, which corresponds to over 400 fully loaded ore trains. LKAB runs an average of 10 trains a day to the port of Narvik, and when traffic resumes, those trains are taken up by the volumes that the pellet plants in Kiruna and Svappavaara produce daily.

– There is currently no extra capacity to run more trains. In addition, the Swedish Transport Administration is planning for extensive and by all means much-needed maintenance work over the coming ten-year period. This unfortunately means that the capacity drops even more, says Linda Bjurholt.

LKAB lost revenue of around SEK 100 million a day after the derailment. How big the costs will be in the end is still unclear, as it can take several years to deliver the stored products.


Originally published on 20 February by LKAB.

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