Norwegian State Railways (1883–1996)

Last updated
Norwegian State Railways
Government agency
Industry Rail transport
Fate Demerger
Successors Norwegian National Rail Administration
Norwegian State Railways
Norwegian Railway Inspectorate
DefunctDecember 1, 1996 (1996-12-01)
Area served
Number of employees
12,000 (1996)
Parent Ministry of Transport and Communications

The Norwegian State Railways (Norwegian : Norges Statsbaner or NSB) was a state-owned railway company that operated most of the railway network in Norway. The government agency/directorate [1] was created in 1883 [2] to oversee the construction and operation of all state-owned railways in Norway. On 1 December 1996, it was demerged to create the infrastructure operator Norwegian National Rail Administration, the train operator Norwegian State Railways and the Norwegian Railway Inspectorate. The name was taken by the train operator, although the infrastructure operator remained a government agency and is the legal successor.

Norwegian language North Germanic language spoken in Norway

Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is the official language. Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional varieties; some Norwegian and Swedish dialects, in particular, are very close. These Scandinavian languages, together with Faroese and Icelandic as well as some extinct languages, constitute the North Germanic languages. Faroese and Icelandic are not mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form because continental Scandinavian has diverged from them. While the two Germanic languages with the greatest numbers of speakers, English and German, have close similarities with Norwegian, neither is mutually intelligible with it. Norwegian is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era.

A railway company or railroad company is an entity that operates a railroad track or trains. Such a company can either be private or public. Some railway companies operate both the trains and the track, while particularly in European Union (EU), ownership of track and train operation is separated in different companies.

Rail transport in Norway

The Norwegian railway system comprises 4,087 km of 1,435 mm track of which 2,622 km is electrified and 242 km double track. There are 696 tunnels and 2,760 bridges.



Norway's first railway, the Trunk Line, was opened in 1854. It was built and run as a private company, although with some government ownership. [2] This was followed by two wholly state-owned railways, the narrow-gauge Hamar–Grundset Line in 1861 and the standard-gauge Kongsvinger Line in 1862, with the latter branching from the Trunk Line at Lillestrøm. Several more where built over the next two decades. [2] In 1871 the national railway was connected to the Swedish rail infrastructure. [3]

Trunk Line railway line

The Trunk Line is a railway line in Norway which runs between Oslo and Eidsvoll. The line is owned by Bane NOR.

The Kongsvinger Line is a railway line between the towns of Lillestrøm and Kongsvinger in Norway and onwards to Charlottenberg in Sweden. The railway was opened on 3 October 1862 and is Norway's second standard gauge line. It was electrified in 1951. The line is owned by the Norwegian National Rail Administration.

Lillestrøm Town in Akershus, Norway

Lillestrøm is a town located some 18 km (11 mi) east-northeast of Oslo, the capital city of Norway. With a population of some 14,000 inhabitants, it is the administrative centre of Skedsmo Municipality in Akershus County, and lies within the traditional district of Romerike.

By the 1880s, the pace of railway construction ground to a halt due to economic and political problems. [2] In 1883, the Norwegian State Railways was established and railway construction started up again. The Norwegian State Railways also bought up many private railways to integrate them into the national railway network. In 1920 the Bratsberg Line was acquired [4] by the government. The Trunk Line was first formally acquired in 1926, despite having formed a central part of the network for half a century. [5]

Bratsberg Line

The Bratsberg Line is a 74-kilometre long (46 mi) railway line between Eidanger and Notodden in Telemark, Norway. It opened in 1917, connecting the Tinnos Line, the Sørland Line and the Vestfold Line; allowing Norsk Hydro to transport fertilizer from their plant at Rjukan to the port in Skien. Since 1991 only passenger trains are operated, using Y1 stock by Norges Statsbaner (NSB).

World War Two

In January 1942 NSB gave "green light for putting POWs into construction work of the Nordland Line. The POWs had to perform slave labor under conditions that were inhuman, and [Bjørn] Westlie [author or 2015 book, Fangene som forsvant ("the prisoners that disappeared")] shows that NSB was fully informed about the prisoners situation", according to a 2015 Klassekampen article. [6]

Nordland Line railway line in Norway

The Nordland Line is a 729-kilometer (453 mi) railway line between Trondheim and Bodø, Norway. It is the longest in Norway and lacks electrification. The route runs through the counties of Trøndelag and Nordland, carrying a combination of commuter, long-haul passenger and freight trains. From Trondheim Central Station to Steinkjer Station the line is most heavily used, with hourly services by the Trøndelag Commuter Rail. There are three branch lines—the Stavne–Leangen Line at Leangen Station, the Meråker Line at Hell Station and the Namsos Line at Grong Station.

Bjørn Westlie Norwegian writer

Bjørn Petter Westlie is a Norwegian journalist, historian, university college lecturer and non-fiction writer.

Klassekampen is a Norwegian daily newspaper, which styles itself as "the daily left-wing newspaper".

Of the 100 000 Soviet POWs that came to Norway, 13 000 were put to work on the Nordland Line. [7] Over 1000 died as a result of [the] cold, [7] starvation and exhaustion (out of a total of 13 700 dead "foreign POWs, political prisoners and forced laborers" in Norway between 1941 and 1945). [8]

"NSB transported Jews to the outward shipping from the Oslo harbor (...) the NSB employees did not know what fate awaited the Jews. Naturally they understood that the Jews would be shipped out of the country by force, because the train went to Oslo harbor". [9] Furthermore, Westlie points to "dilemmas [that] NSB's employees found themselves in when the NSB leadership cooperated with the Germans". [9]

The Holocaust in Norway

In 1941–1942 during the German occupation of Norway, there were at least 2,173 Jews in Norway. At least 775 of them were arrested, detained and/or deported. More than half of the Norwegians who died in camps in Germany were Jews. 742 Jews were murdered in the camps and 23 Jews died as a result of extrajudicial execution, murder and suicide during the war, bringing the total of Jewish Norwegian dead to at least 765 Jews, comprising 230 complete households. "Nearly two-thirds of the Jews in Norway fled from Norway". Of these, around 900 Jews were smuggled out of the country by the Norwegian resistance movement, mostly to Sweden but some also to the United Kingdom. Between 28 and 34 of those deported survived their continued imprisonment in camps —and around 25 returned to Norway after the war.

"[Bjarne] Vik was to be made the scapegoat for the cooperation with the Germans, writes Westlie, even though many of the darkest chapters are from the period before Vik" became the chief, according to Halvor Hegtun. [10]

There was no investigation of the agencies [or NSB] after the war. [11] However, the former chief Vik was not to be prosecuted if he "did not again work for NSB". [10]

After World War Two

In 1952 a plan of electrifying operations was adopted. [12] In 1970 the Dovre Line was electrified. [12] In 2002 the freight operations were split to the subsidiary CargoNet, and the maintenance department became[ citation needed ] Mantena.

Reactions to World War Two activities

"The transportation of Jews that were to be deported and the use of POWs on the Nordland Line is a dark chapter of NSB's history ", according to kommunikasjonssjef Åge-Christoffer Lundeby in NSB in 2015. [13] Later Bjørn Westlie said about the extermination of Norwegian Jews: "what else than co-responsible was NSB ? For me, NSB's use of POWs and this deportation of Jews must be viewed as one: namely, that NSB thereby became an agency that participated in Hitler's violence against these two groups, who were the nazism's main enemies. The fact that the pertinent NSB leaders received awards after the war, confirms NSB's and others' desire to conceal this". [9]

An "El 15" locomotive hauling ore on the Ofoten Line El15-20733.jpg
An "El 15" locomotive hauling ore on the Ofoten Line


The title was changed from director-general to chief executive officer in the late 1980s.

Preserved locomotives

Norwegian State railways class 21 2-6-0 No. 377 'King Haakon VII' is preserved at Bressingham Steam and Gardens.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Ofoten Line railway line in Narvik, Norway

The Ofoten Line is a 43-kilometre (27 mi) railway line in Narvik, Norway. It runs from the Port of Narvik to Riksgränsen on the Norway–Sweden border, where the line continues as the Ore Line via Kiruna and Gällivare to Luleå. The Ofoten Line is single track, electrified at 15 kV  16.7 Hz AC and has seven stations. The line only connects to the rest of the Norwegian railway network via Sweden. The main traffic is up to 12 daily freight trains operated by Malmtrafik that haul iron ore from Sweden to Narvik. In addition, CargoNet operates container trains, branded as the Arctic Rail Express (ARE), and SJ operates passenger trains, including a night train to Stockholm.

NSB Class 73

NSB Class 73 is a class of 22 electric multiple units built by Adtranz for the Norwegian State Railways. The four-car trains were modifications of Class 71, which was again based on the Swedish X2. The A-series consists of 16 intercity trains; they were delivered in 1999 and 2000 and are used on the Bergen, Dovre and Sørland Lines. The intercity service was branded as Signatur until 2003. The B-series consists of six regional trains delivered in 2002 and used on the Østfold Line. The regional trains were originally part of the Agenda concept. The trains have a power output of 2,646 kilowatts (3,548 hp) and a maximum speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). They have an overall length of 108 meters (354 ft) and have a capacity for 208 seated passengers in the A-series and 250 in the B-series. The trains have a tilting mechanism allowing for faster travel through curves.

Kirkenes–Bjørnevatn Line railway line

The Kirkenes–Bjørnevatn Line, or the Sydvaranger Line, is a 8.5-kilometer (5.3 mi) long railway line between Kirkenes and Bjørnevatn in Sør-Varanger, Norway. Owned by the private mining company Northern Iron, the single-track railway is solely used to haul 20 daily iron ore trains from Bjørnevatn Mine to the port at Kirkenes. It was the world's northern-most railway until 2010, when the Obskaya–Bovanenkovo Line in Russia went further north.

LKAB Malmtrafik

LKAB Malmtrafik, earlier Malmtrafik i Kiruna AB (MTAB), is a Swedish railway company which operates the iron ore freight trains on the Iron Ore Line and the Ofoten Line. MTAB is a wholly owned subsidiary of the mining company Luossavaara–Kiirunavaara (LKAB). In Norway, operations are handled by the subsidiary Malmtrafikk AS (MTAS). Malmtrafik hauls ore from LKAB's mines in Kiruna, Malmberget and Svappavaara to the ports of Luleå and Narvik, the latter located in Norway. The company owns 28 Iore locomotives and 750 hopper cars. Each train is 68 cars long and weighs 8,600 tonnes, allowing the company to transport 33 million tonnes per year.

Polar Line abandoned railway project in Nordland, Norway

The Polar Line is an incomplete and abandoned railway line from Fauske, Norway, to Narvik and, if finished, ultimately would have run 1,215 km (755 mi) to Kirkenes.

Hell–Sunnan Line

The Hell–Sunnan Line is a 105-kilometer-long (65 mi) railway line between Hell, Stjørdal and Sunnan, Steinkjer in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway. The name is no longer in official use and the line is now considered part of the Nordland Line. The Hell–Sunnan Line branches from the Meråker Line at Hell and runs on the east shore of the Trondheimsfjord passing through the municipalities of Stjørdal, Levanger, Verdal, Inderøy and Steinkjer.

Jewish deportees from Norway during World War II

Prior to the deportation of individuals of Jewish background to the concentration camps there were at least 2,173 Jews in Norway. During the Nazi occupation of Norway 772 of these were arrested, detained, and/or deported, most of them sent to Auschwitz. 742 were murdered in the camps, 23 died as a result of extrajudicial execution, murder, and suicide during the war. Between 28 and 34 of those deported survived their continued imprisonment. The Norwegian police and German authorities kept records of these victims, and so, researchers were able to compile information about the deportees.

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Jåttåvågen Station railway station in Stavanger, Norway

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Beisfjord massacre

The Beisfjord massacre was a massacre on 18 July 1942 at Lager I Beisfjord in Beisfjord, Norway of 288 political prisoners. The massacre had been ordered a few days earlier by the Reichskommissar for Norway Josef Terboven.

Fornebu Line

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Berg Station railway station in Halden, Norway

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  1. PolSys, Norwegian State Railways
  2. 1 2 3 4 Historisk oversikt, Norwegian National Rail Administration (in Norwegian)
  3. Kongsvingerbanen
  4. Store norske leksikon: Bratsbergbanen.
  5. Hovedbanen
  6. NSBs skammelige historie
  7. 1 2 Halvor Hegtun (2015-02-27). NSB sa ja til slavedrift - Disse russerfangene ble tvunget til å bygge Nordlandsbanen. Så skulle de glemmes. Aftenposten A-magasinet. p. 26. Archived from the original on 2015-03-01.
  8. "Fleire bøker viser korleis offentlege etatar og private selskap tente på den tyske okkupasjonen av Noreg: Slavane som bygde Noreg". Klassekampen. 2015-02-27. p. 20.
  9. 1 2 3 Bjørn Westlie (2015-03-06). "Å fortie historien". Klassekampen. p. 19.
  10. 1 2 Halvor Hegtun (2015-02-27). NSB sa ja til slavedrift - Disse russerfangene ble tvunget til å bygge Nordlandsbanen. Så skulle de glemmes. Aftenposten A-magasinet. p. 31. Archived from the original on 2015-03-01.
  11. Guri Kulås (2015-02-27). "Fleire bøker viser korleis offentlege etatar og private selskap tente på den tyske okkupasjonen av Noreg: Slavane som bygde Noreg". Klassekampen. p. 21.
  12. 1 2 jernbane
  13. Halvor Hegtun (2015-02-27). NSB sa ja til slavedrift - Disse russerfangene ble tvunget til å bygge Nordlandsbanen. Så skulle de glemmes. Aftenposten A-magasinet. p. 32. Archived from the original on 2015-03-01.