MR Gorm Frimannslund has stepped down as CEO of Norwegian infrastructure manager Bane Nor by mutual consent with the board of Bane Nor.

Mr Henning Bråtebæk has been appointed acting CEO while Bane Nor looks for a permanent replacement for Frimannslund. Bråtebæk was managing director of the operation and maintenance company Spordrift, which has formally transferred to Bane Nor. He has 15 years’ experience with NSB Bane and the former Norwegian State Railways (NSB).

Bane Nor suffered a serious setback when it had to close the new 22km Oslo - Ski Follo Line only eight days after it opened to passengers on December 11 for checks to be carried out after a series of electrification overheating incidents. The 250km/h line runs through the 20km Blix Tunnel.

The Follo line was closed due to overheating in the return current cables between the Blix tunnel and a switching station at Ski. It took until March 5, when the line reopened, to rectify the faults and conduct tests.

In January, the board of Bane Nor appointed PwC to study the opening of the Follo line, “to map and verify the sequence of events that led to the Follo line being closed shortly after opening. PwC must identify the underlying reasons why this happened and clarify relevant responsibilities.” PwC will begin work this month and is expected to report in mid-June.

In December Bane Nor acknowledged that “2022 has been a bad year for eastern Norway’s train commuters. It has all come to a head in recent weeks.” The network suffered two incidents where the catenary came down, while a train derailed and closed the line temporarily between Ski and Kråkstad. A Bane Nor report says that 26% of the network is in a condition that requires maintenance and renewal in the next 12 years.

“After a demanding period at the railway, it is natural that the board evaluates the top manager,” Frimannslund said. “After six years as CEO, a change is not unnatural either. Given the situation that Bane Nor is in, this is a solution that is in the best interest of the company.

“The Follo line was probably the deciding factor, but there have been several cases over time that have been a burden for our owner. Operational stability is one of several other topics.

“For my part, I have a role until January 2024 as an adviser to the chairman of the board. Beyond that, it will be good to spend some time reflecting on what might be the right next step for me.”