Huge room for improvement – ​​E24

Huge room for improvement – ​​E24

Bane Nor hired the expertise they should have had, and they had reporting routines that weren’t good enough, as a new report on Follobanen being forced to close shows.

  • NTB-Steinar Schjetne and Anne Marjatta Gøystdal

Eight days after the start of high-speed trains on the Voluban River, the Plex Tunnel was forced to close due to a short circuit, high temperature and fires.  The tunnel was not able to be reopened until just under three months later.
This train travels at 200 kilometers per hour through the Blix Tunnel on the Voluban River shortly before the tunnel finally reopens after being closed due to power problems.
Transport Minister John Ivar Nygaard said there is much room for improvement in Bane Nor after receiving the second of three evaluation reports following the closure of Follobanen.
Dag Bjørnland of Implement Consulting Group and Erlend Holstrøm of Schjødt were not interested in finding scapegoats and those responsible for the mistakes that led to Follobanen having to tighten the policy for almost three months this winter.
Weak and faulty cable connections contributed to Follobanen's cable system overheating.  The error would have been discovered if Bane Nor had tested the facility as aggressively before opening on December 11 last year as it did before reopening this spring, the report on what went wrong shows.

– It was very unfortunate that Volopanin closed shortly after it opened last year. The external review we have received shows that there is significant improvement potential for how Bane Nor works with large projects,” Transport Minister John Ivar Nygaard (AFP) said after receiving a report on the closure of the Blixtunnel on Folloban this winter.

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The report has been prepared by Implement Consulting Group and will provide a comprehensive review of the issues related to the Follobanen area and the work on the mega railway project. A consistent feature of the key findings is that communication and reporting between Bane Nor and the Department of Transport, as well as from management to the Board, has significant room for improvement.

-We are already taking measures to reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring in other projects. This evaluation has several learning points that the Bane Nor board should address and follow up on, says Nygård.

In conversations with Bain Nour, the internal culture was highlighted, where information flow and collaboration between disciplines were not optimal, the report said.

Bane Nor also appears to have hired significant electricity expertise from external suppliers, which the report recommends that Bane Nor ensure it obtains itself.

The analysis report recommends the following:

* Reporting to the Ministry of Transport should be simplified.

* Reports from Bane Nor management should be reviewed at critical junctures to ensure that significant risks are communicated more clearly, so that the Board can more easily implement measures.

* Separate reports for group management and the board of directors should be considered for large projects.

* A separate risk assessment should be created that specifically targets the operational situation.

* Consideration should be given to whether operational and technology communities, especially in critical and specialized areas such as electricity, should be involved to a greater extent in risk management processes.

The Voluban project is Norway’s most expensive transport project ever, with a total cost of approximately NOK 37 billion. It took 13 years from the start of the project for the trains to be put into service.

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Problems this winter led to the resignation of CEO Jorm Fremanslund in March.

– I have called the Bane Nor Board of Directors to a meeting later today on how to follow up on the findings and recommendations in the evaluation in the best possible way, says the Minister of Transport.

The time pressure is great

The Blixtunnel in Follobanen was closed for 76 days between 19 December 2022 and 5 March 2023. Initial calculations show this has cost around NOK 80 million.

The review by Implement Consulting Group shows that there were a number of incidents that together constitute the reason for Blixtunnelen’s closure so soon after opening.

But nothing was found in the plans and documents for the mega project to support the trial of significant time pressure to start traffic on the Voluban River by December 11 last year. The report suggests that the importance of hitting the opening date has been overestimated.

Dag Bjornland, who is in charge of the investigation, said that official documents do not support practical experience.

On January 3 of this year, the Minister of Transport announced an external review of the suspension of operations on board the Voluban ship. The review was to include the process leading up to the closure shortly after opening in December 2022 and an assessment of measures to avoid something like this happening again.

“We were not looking for a scapegoat, but rather focused on finding learning points,” Bjornland said.

More errors

Monday’s report is one of three investigations released after the Flubanen district was closed. The first report was prepared by Bane Nor itself, while the third was prepared by PwC. It is expected within a few days.

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The direct reason for the closure of Follobanen is that the joints and final finishes were not done well enough. Alkaline water was dripped onto the insulator, ultimately creating thermal conductivity in the cable joints.

The findings of Bane Nor’s investigation also found other conditions not directly linked to the track closure.

* Time pressure.

* Not dividing responsibilities.

* Lack of training.

* Disagreement, lack of understanding, and internal interaction between those in charge of the project and those running the track.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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