A piece of today's modern electrical system along the ore line, at the height of Vassijaure station

Electrification of railsystem important for LKAB's exports

Published: 7 June 2012

The electrification of "Malmbanan" is now an essential part of LKAB's export success. The electrification for more than 100 years ago was a pioneering work in the mountain terrain of subarctic climate and is now described in a dissertation from Luleå University of Technology. While LKAB will shortly be opening more mines, it is clear how important the electrification was launched at the national border track 1910.

- Never before had an electrified railway for so heavy transport as it was all about and never had an electrification project carried out under such difficult conditions, says Dr Roine Wiklund who recently submitted his thesis on the topic the history of technology at Luleå University of Technology

Picture: Raising of the pylons
Raising of power line poles along the national border line. Photo Borg Mesch, Kiruna

Electrification also meant that two large technical systems were connected - the nineteenth-century mature rail system with the twentieth century, electric power systems. It all started when the state became a half owner of the mining company LKAB in 1907. Board of Directors decided that the mining of iron ore would increase from 1.5 million tonnes in 1908 to 3.85 million tonnes 1918.

- To meet the new transportation requirements SJ chose to invest in new technology such as electric drives and hired Swedish ASEA and Siemens from Germany, that began their work during  the summer of 1910, Roine Wiklund says.

A series of problems appeared in tests conducted at an early stage but partners ASEA and Siemens solved this with SJ (National Swedish railroad company)

- There were some delays but the final judgment was positive and in 1919 one took the decision to electrify the rest of the ore line to Lulea, which was completed in 1923, he says.

The pioneering work in the northern mountain area to electrify the northernmost railway was thus completed.