Showing posts from January, 2017

Hey there, IORE

Between the Internet and the LKAB presentation at the Heavy Haul Conference in Calgary some five years ago, I've become no stranger to these iron ore trains of the Arctic Circle.

It has been a while since I last laid my eyes on some AAR 100-ton trucks, although they were surrounded by otherwise unfamiliar equipment. Photos don't do the IORE justice when it comes to their incredible might. In person, they, even with just a single section, almost in a weird way, look really long.

The City of Kiruna itself feels like a deja vu. Snow and mountains in the backdrop, fatally frigid temperatures, sizable, heavy freight trains, and a passenger depot that was moved out of the city centre (although for different reasons than we are used to in our neck of the woods), to the yard at the edge of town. Fortunately, Kiruna isn't very big. It takes less than half an hour to complete a leisurely walk downtown, and there is a bus that shuttles people in between.

The Arctic Circle Train

The night I was on the Arctic Circle Train, it felt more like an Asian tour bus than anything. I had no idea there would be so many Asian tourists in Stockholm and heading north all at the same time. Anyway.

The train itself, a locomotive hauled night train with aging long-distance cars, feels more familiar than the typical futuristic European multiple units. There are the relatively large seats (no leg rests, unfortunately) and the 100 mph top speed, which we are more accustomed to on our side of the Atlantic. I would go as far as calling the Arctic Circle Train the Canadian (of course, minus the Skyline and observation cars) from another dimension. It comes from a world that looks and feels similar but sounds completely different. Oh, did I mention that almost the entire network in Sweden is also electrified?

Oh the Arlanda Express

A glorious 22 minutes (plus an arm and a leg, or 540 SEK), that's what it took me to get between Stockholm Central Station and Arlanda Airport. Sweden is home to many trains I had blogged about (including this one) over the years. It wasn't, until now, had I seen any of them in real life.

In spite of being from North America, Swedish trains are wide. The 2+2 seating makes them look even wider on the inside (although it appears I had forgotten to take a picture of the train's interior). People would possibly have to shout across the row of seats in order to talk to their buddies on the other side of the aisle.

Oh, by the way (as a PSA for people who plan to ride the train from Arlanda to Stockholm), there are three train stations in the underbellies of Arlanda Airport. Arlanda Central serves regular SJ and SL trains (which completely slipped my mind as soon as I saw the sign for the Arlanda Express), while Arlanda North and South serve exclusively Arlanda Express trains.

I met my childhood hero, and it couldn't have been more awesome

I got to meet my childhood hero, and it's everything I dreamed it would be! Yes, by it, I mean a train, of course, given how weird and awkward I am as a human being, this shouldn't come as a surprise. It all happened when I still lived in Asia, more than half a lifetime ago. The Chinese Railways, whatever they called themselves back in the 1990s, bought (or "leased") a set of the X2 (a.k.a. X2000 or SJ 2000) from SJ for services on the KCR (Kowloon to Canton Railway) at 125 mph (the first ever regular service in China at that speed). Granted, being Chinese, they'd also conveniently and inadvertently copied its design, albeit not quite so successfully (see DJJ1).

慕尼黑啤酒 - 自己的作品,CC BY-SA 3.0链接 (the Chinese X2)
This time around, the X2 also brought me about my first impressions of the friendly Swedes. Judging from the sign of me taking pictures like a mad (or normal) Chinese tourist, not one, but two drivers invited me on a tour of the cab. Finally, not only did I …