NORWEGIAN infrastructure manager Bane Nor has published its latest annual report on the status of the national network, which says that 21% of the railway system is now in need of renewal.

Although this is a slight improvement on the 26% requiring renewal the year before, Ms Kristina Picard, communications manager for operations and technology at Bane Nor, told local media: “We are not satisfied with the development. The need for maintenance on our old, single-track sections is increasing.”

Bane Nor’s InfraStatus 2022 report uses a grading methodology to rate the overall state of the rail network. If the infrastructure is in very good condition, it gets a grade of 1.0. If the condition is very poor, the rating is 5.0. In the 2022 report, the entire network has been rated at 2.0.

This is a slight improvement from 2021 (2.2) and 2020 (2.1), but the main improvement is due to a combination of changes in the grading model and bringing new lines into service. The report confirms that the condition of existing infrastructure is gradually moving in a negative direction.

In 2022, 79% of the Norwegian rail network received the designation of very good or good, an increase from 74% in 2021 and 76% in 2020. The remainder is described as satisfactory (12%), deficient (6%), poor (3%) or critical (1%), the latter requiring immediate attention.

In its report, Bane Nor says “renewal of the railway has been and continues to be underfunded.” The marginal reduction in the proportion of infrastructure graded below very good or was largely due to the commissioning of new lines such as the 22km Follo Line from Oslo to Ski.

Bane Nor also says that in 2022 its network was fortunate to experience “slightly fewer weather-related incidents, compared with previous years,” leading to a reduction in the amount of unplanned repair and renewal work.

Nevertheless, the infrastructure manager warns the Norwegian travelling public to expect more delays in future as rail traffic has increased and this is “straining the infrastructure with even more trains running on already heavily-used sections.”

Passenger train punctuality on the national network ended 2022 at 87.8%, down by 2.5 percentage points on the year before and below the target of 90%.

The replacement value of the entire Norwegian rail network was estimated at Nkr 525bn ($US 48.57bn) in the 2022 report. This was up from Nkr 434bn in 2021, due to new infrastructure being commissioned and strong price inflation running at an average of 14.2%.

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