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Anders Linné, Performance in Cold AB, and Ulla Juntti, researcher at Luleå University. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

We don´t have winter capacity

Published: 9 October 2013

Ulla Juntti co-founded The Luleå Railway Research Center, JVTC, at Luleå University of Technology, a research center focusing on the development of operation and maintenance of railways. JVTC provides a platform for effective interdisciplinary collaborations between universities, companies and authorities.. We meet to discuss the recurrent problems with canceled and delayed trains in Sweden during the winter half years. The problem turns out to include more than just trains.

Together with Anders Linné, a former officer of I 19 in Boden, runs Ulla Juntti today the company Performance in Cold AB providing services in sectors including railway management, operation and maintenance. Recently, the couple participated in a meeting convened by the Minister for Infrastructure Catharina Elmsäter-Sword where representatives of the rail industry held a review of the preparations for the winter. So will this year's winter to be as large problems such as last winter?
    - There will be cancellations but some things will improve; Information to passengers. No one will even have to stand outside a locked station building when the train is delayed. The various players are getting better at collaboration and prioritization, it can improve the situation in winter, says Ulla.

Was it better in the past?

Many people feel that the train did better in the past and are very surprised that we were in 2013 forced to take the bus more often because of cancellations. There are many reasons that play into why it got worse: - a neglected maintenance work on the railways is one reason. With deregulation, we have more players which complicates coordination. We used to have one supplier who held in all parts, which made it possible to take a train out of service for repair without affecting traffic. It is a much more complex situation today, we also have many more departures today than we had before, says Ulla Juntti. Anders Linné continues:
    - In the past, there were more stops with the possibility of maintenance and adjustments. Moreover winters south become colder and that makes the former natural icing of trains that went to southern Sweden utblivit says Anders.
    However, it is a bit of a myth that these delays only affect Sweden. 2010 was the year when the problems began in earnest.
    - I remember that we at the Luleå Railway Research Center received a call from England where they had problems with icing on the trains trafficking the channel to France. They wondered how we were doing up here with our climate. But that year we also had major problems up here with the same thing, severe icing, says Ulla.

20 - 80 became 80 - 20

Interesting statistics drawn up by scientists at the Luleå Railway Research Center is that the relationship between technical and human errors become reversed since the beginning av1900 century. When the ratio was 80% technical failure and 20% human error, today the ratio is reversed. Although these figures is explained by the previously mentioned problems with more complex operations and maintenance organization, but also of a human problem:
    - We don´t have winter capabilities, like Anders Linné puts it. Many remember the rescue when it crashed Hercules plane on Kebnekajse where the police had to call shoes in the biting cold and people from across the country sent socks to help. This situation illustrates well what Anders Linné mean.
    A worrying scenario would be if a passenger loses electricity between Luleå and Kiruna in minus 28 C. In one hour they would poorly insulated train to be as cold as the outside environment. How would an evacuation be done effectively and safely in the middle of nowhere if rescuers do not have clothes that keep the cold away for an extended effort?

Equality and diversity creates new challenges

LTU Pressphoto -
A glorious autumn day in northern Sweden

- When women are taking more and more space in previously male-dominated occupations have shown that there is a problem on the material side. Often the women are wearing clothes designed for men with poor fit, which complicates the work. Only three years ago, work clothes for women was produced and work gloves as recently as this year. Today only the military who get winter training and learn how the body is affected by cold, how to dress and act to increase stamina and performance, without the risk of injury and illness. Today we have too many new citizens coming from other countries without winter climate and lack of experience and knowledge of the winter capabilities. They may also have other conditions to withstand the cold because of traditions and behavior.
    - To recruit people for work in cold climates requires an initial and possibly a certification to reduce the knowledge gap between those who have winter skills and those without it, says Anders Linné.

Trains designed for the Mediterranean climate

It has been some irony and sarcasm in the media about the train from the French train manufacturer Alstom and purchased by Norrtåg. The trains can not cope with the northern climate, frozen delectronics, frozen toilets, glaciated pantographs and damage to the wheels and bogies created chaos in traffic the first winter the trains would be running.
- A dream project would be if we could provide a test route for train manufacturers such as Alstom and Bombardier, like automotive testing business in Arvidsjaur, where you could identify and correct the deficiencies that obviously both buyers and suppliers want us to ship the real traffic, concludes Ulla Juntti Before we part of this glorious autumn day in northern Sweden. Now we are hoping for a mild winter.


Luleå Railway Research Center

Performance in cold