Pining For The Fjords

This is not so much a project as a todo-list and collection of resources for the moment, but watch this space. Anyone who has information or wants to help with some models, feel free to volunteer!


The German tv station ard usually fills in the gap between the end of one day’s programmes and the beginning of the next by showing bits of rail videos, under the heading Die Schönsten Bahnstrecken Europas. In February-March 2006 they showed a driver’s-eye-view of the line from Oslo to Bergen. I’ve managed to record most of it, and it’s a splendid reminder of what railway joys there are in Scandinavia. Oslo to Bergen is maybe a bit ambitious for a Rail3D layout, but it would be fun to model at least a bit of this line.

Update: Norwegian tv station nrk have since made a high-definition cabview video of the entire route in the other direction (from Bergen to Oslo). It was broadcast in November 2009 as a 7.5 hr documentary. They have made the original recording (without the superimposed interviews, etc.) available for download via file-sharing services in hd (22GB!!) or sd (4GB): see the NRK Bergensbanen page for how to get it.


  • In the weekend of 18 and 19 March, I started work on a model of the section from Dale to Vaksdal, roughly midway between Voss and Bergen. I chose this section because it offers interesting terrain — descending a side-valley and then following the shore of a fjord — without too many long tunnels.

First attempt at a bit of the Bergen-Voss section
  • 23 March 2006: Basic track, terrain and signalling in place, test trains running, a lot of tidying up of details till to be done.


  • Norway’s Statens Kartverk has an excellent mapserver Norgesglasset with detailed maps of Norway at a variety of scales, down to 1:5000 (at that scale you can see the position of individual points and crossings).
    • The coordinates given in the Norgesglasset map browser at the smaller scales (up to 1:50k) are utm — no need to modify the R3D Coordinate tool, it works out of the box!
    • The 1:5k detail maps use a different projection (Gauss-Krüger, like German maps) and coordinate system. You can use the coordinate conversion tool built into Norgesglasset to find the utm equivalents. In the area I’m working on, there’s an angular offset of about 2.6 degrees between the two types of map — confusing at first.
  • Oslo and Bergen are roughly at the northern limit of srtm data (60 deg N), unfortunately, but there is some other dem data around, for example Jonathan de Ferranti has data derived from Russian 1:100 000 maps.

A rough overlay of the route on a dem image — the lower third is raw srtm, the rest by Jonathan de Ferranti


Norwegian entry signal
  • The Norwegian Railway Inspectorate publish the complete signal regs online as pdfs: see http://www.sjt.no/Hva_styrer/Signalforskriften.htm. My Norwegian is a bit limited, so I can’t guarantee that I’ve understood it all correctly, but I’ve worked most of it out with the help of a Swedish colleague(!). Norway is the only place I know of where a single green light doesn’t mean “line clear”, but it’s quite logical: one green light is more restrictive than two, so failure of a lamp can never lead to a less restrictive signal.
  • There is a reprint of some articles on modelling Norwegian signals by Sverre J. Dahl and Svein-Martin Holt on Signaler i Norge.
  • I’ve modelled a first basic set for Rail3D — see the illustration. They should be in the library soon (15.03.2006)
  • Still to do: level crossing signals, shunting signals, speed limit signs, whistle boards…

Quick summary:

Red or Flashing Red Stop [red entry and block signals flash, exit signals don’t]
Green + Green Proceed via normal route
Green Proceed via diverging route (“J”-state in R3D)
Flashing Yellow expect Stop
Flashing Green expect Green + Green
Flashing (Green + Yellow) expect Green


Wooden ohle mast
  • A distinctive feature of Norwegian railways is the use of wooden ohle masts — they seem to be replacing them steadily with ladder masts, but there are enough around to make it worth knocking up a quick model of one. (I’ve already had a certain amount of comment on the title of this page, so I’m certainly not going to drop in any references to Beatles songs, or ask rhetorically “Isn’t it good?”…)
  • I’ve made some ohle gantries for station areas based roughly on photographs of the real thing.
  • I couldn’t find any single-track tunnels big enough for full-size standard gauge stock, so I made a new “large-profile tunnel lining” and matching tunnel mouth.
  • Still to do: the distinctive yellow station buildings and goods sheds. Could do with some Nordic-type housing as well, and some jetties, dinghies and fishing boats.

Rolling stock

  • A bit more problematic, as we don’t have any Norwegian models at present — it’s tempting to take some red Furka-Oberalp stock and stretch it laterally to standard gauge, but I don’t think I can get away with that…
  • Some recent nsb electrics are very similar to Swiss locos, in particular the ubiquitous abb/slm Locomotive 2000 (Re460 in Switzerland, El 18 in Norway). The El16 looks a bit like an Re4/4iv, and the El14 like an Re6/6, too…
  • Detlev has run Uwe Keil’s eeec model of the El.18 (see Uwe’s Virtual Railway Model Factory Buxtehude site) through his converter for me (thanks Uwe and Detlev!) — still needs some tweaking, but it saves one major chore.

El.18 loco

Priorities for stock

  1. Build an El 18 — possibly using Henri Verpiot’s obsolete R3D Classic model of the Re460 as a starting point. Should be reskinnable for sbb, bls, etc. No longer necessary — Detlev has converted Uwe Keil’s eeec model for me!
  2. Make some simple coaches (à la Lo-cost Mk1)
  3. Build 2 and 3 car versions of the bm 69 emu.

That would give enough stock to run basic local and express passenger services — we’d still need at least a goods engine and a diesel tractor in the long term.


A version of the layout : http://www.markhodson.nl/rail3d/2kdlayouts/vaksdal03_notrains.trp

Mark Hodson March 20, 2006