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The Romerike Tunnel ( ) is a railway tunnel in Norway, that connects Oslomarker with Lillestrømmarker. It is the longest railway tunnel in Norway. The tunnel forms the first half of the Gardermo Line. It is double track and electrified throughout, permitting speeds of .

Construction started in 1994, with plans to open along with the rest of the Gardermoen Line and the airport on 8 October 1998. However, due to a major leak from several lakes, the tunnel could not open until 22 August 1999. The leakages increased the cost of the tunnel from by an additional NOK 1.3 billion. The main contractor was Scandinavian Rock Group. While the tunnel was originally owned by NSB Gardermobanen, it is now owned by the Norwegian National Rail Administration. The tunnel allows long-distance, regional and Airport Express Trains to bypass the old Hoved Line, reducing travel time from 29 to 12 minutes.

Background

The tunnel was constructed as part of the high-speed Gardermo Line, that goes from Oslo to Eidsvollmarker. The tunnel covers most of the 18 kilometer part between Oslo S and Lillestrøm, and needed to be built to bypass the old Hovedbanen, that was built in 1854. Despite it having double track, capacity had reached its limit due to a combination of some trains making many stops and others none until Lillestrøm. The Romerike Tunnel would also be straighter and allow higher through speeds, decreasing travel time from 29 to 12 minutes. The decision to build the Gardermoen Line and Romerike Tunnel was taken on by the Norwegian Parliamentmarker on 8 October 1992, with the opening planned to be six years later on 8 October 1998.

An alternative to the airport at Gardermoen was proposed at Hurummarker, south-west of Oslo. Had Hurum been chosen, the Gardermoen Line would not have needed to be built, but the planning documents stated that construction should still have been built, to ease traffic north of Oslo.

The tunnel is used by all trains on the Gardermoen Line, including the Airport Express Train and regional and express trains that continue to the Dovre Line. In addition, local trains north along the Hoved Line and on the Kongsvinger Line use the tunnel. The Hoved Line is limited to freight trains, and commuter trains that make stops along the route.

Construction

Construction started in August 1994, after a tender had been won by Scandinavian Rock Group (SRG), a cooperation between Målselv Anlegg, Nor Entreprenør and PEAB. The original contract price was NOK 541 million. In average 388 man years were employed during construction. Construction involved the removal of 1.62 million tonnes of rock. There were three points of attack (headings), located at Bryn , Starveien on the Oslo–Lørenskog border, and at Stalsberg outside Lillestrøm.

The tunnel is long, with a profile. It allows speeds of , with a slope of 0.2–0.4% slanting upwards towards Lillestrøm. This will give a natural draft towards Lillestrøm, and to be able to force the draft in the opposite direction, a horizontal ventalilation system in installed. This is supplemented with vertical ventilation shafts at Bryn and Starveien. The tunnel is located between and below ground, with the lowest being in the area around Bryn.

Trains using the tunnel must be capable of a minimum speed of 160 km/h to be permitted through. The tunnel is electrified with overhead wires at the Norwegian standard of .

Leakages

The tunnel needed to be built under Østmarkamarker, a recreational area to the east of Oslo. This area has quite unstable ground, and is not ideal for building tunnels. Time pressures to coincide with the opening of the new airport resulted in tunnel construction being done at maximum speed without adequate measures to keep out water, resulting in leaks. Houses in Hellerudmarker, over the course of the tunnel received damages and the water level in many lakes in Østmarka were reduced.

After the damage was discovered on 3 February 1997, sanctions were initiated by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate requiring leakage removal works in the tunnel. At the worst point, the was tunnel leaked 3,000 liters of water per minute. To plug the holes, a substance called Rhoca-Gil was during construction. After investigation it turned out that Rhoca-Gil contained the toxic chemical acrylamide, which caused health problems among the tunnel workers. Removal of Rhoca-Gil resulted in additional delays in the construction process, whilst a change to plugging leaks with concrete was made instead. In addition an extensive, permanent pumping system was installed to recreate and maintain lake levels in Østmarka. While the rest of the railway line was opened in time for the new airport, the tunnel was not opened until a year later.

The entire process of fixing the leaks and cleaning up the toxin delayed the process of building the tunnel for one year, the final opening being held on 22 August 1999. The entire process was complicated further due to conflicts between NSB Gardermobanen and the construction company. Retrospective surveys showed a lack of control- and reporting procedures during the incidents, which should have been addressed in 1995, but had never been taken seriously. Approximately 60 houses received damage and compensation, as a result of the tunnel construction works. An evaluation performed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications showed that NOK 500 million was spent on fixing the leaks; however the report claimed tht this was to a large extent a waste of money resulting from inefficient engineering procedures. The same report criticized the planning and organization of the entire construction of the railway. In total the extraordinary additional costs for the tunnel totalled NOK 1.3 billion

Delay

When the new airport opened on 8 October 1998 the Airport Express Trains started working immediately, however because the tunnel itself was not open, trains were required to use the old Hovedbanen from Oslo Central station to Lillestrøm. After taking the diversion, the express trains switched onto the remainder of the new Gardermo Line between Lillestrøm to Gardermoen. Regular operations using Romeriksporten started on 22 August 1999.

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