"I hope politicians will realise that railway is the future to solving our transportation challenges. When this is identified, more money needs to be allocated to creating new international standards to allow freight to be easily transported across Europe."
The Railway Directorate in Norway is Ståle Hagen. This role requires him to explore the future demands of rail traffic in the country. Ståle's work helps the Government make decisions to improve the nation’s railway sector and create an integrated transport system which is efficient, safe and environmentally friendly for both passengers and operators. In our latest 5 minutes with, Sarah Wright investigates into the daily life of a rail directorate and some of the key responsibilities headed by our interviewee Ståle Hagen.
Sarah Wright (SW): How did you get into the rail industry?
Ståle Hagen (SH): I was asked to start in the Norwegian National Rail Administration to work with a comprehensive reform initiated by the ministry of transport. I have always been interested in organisational and financial solutions of the transport sector and thought this would be an opportunity to influence change within the Norwegian rail sector. Previously I was working for a think tank which required me to write reports for the industry, and also worked with the infrastructure on a regional level. Therefore, I knew this role would compliment my interests. My career also holds a considerable political focus which really interests so I knew this was the right moment to begin working in the role.
SW: What do like most about your job?
SH: I enjoy the strategic thinking which is required in my role to find good solutions, deliver reports and advise directors and politicians. To operate in the exciting field between politics and administration in a sector with so many highly competent people with a long history that means so much for many people, is really rewarding. I also love discussing the range of solutions and areas of expertise within the industry with so many associates and partners in Norway and abroad.
I feel lucky to have the opportunity to participate in making new organisations and companies and contributing to how they should interact and collaborate to deliver a better train service.
SW: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
SH: The biggest challenge I find is that I always need to be up to date about what is happening within the ministry, Parliament and the industry both in Norway and abroad. It's also important for me to source the relevant information which can be a big challenge. It is demanding to compare international reports and decide what impact certain measures had in their country and how we can adapt this under Norwegian conditions.
SW: What will be some of the biggest differences between rail now and in 10 years’ time?
SH: I think we will see new energy efficient trains due to changing climate requirements. Secondly, all lines will become electrified with new trains operating using hydrogen, gas, or batteries. In addition, driverless trains will be inevitable in the coming years and all these factors will mean that rail has a higher market share for passenger transport and particularly for freight.
I hope politicians will realise that railway is the future to solving our transportation challenges. When this is identified, more money needs to be allocated to creating new international standards to allow freight to be easily transported across Europe.
SW: What’s your favourite rail journey?
SH: That must be the Rauma and the Flåmlines in the western part of Norway. The Rauma Line has impressive mountains on both sides with stunning views and horseshoe curves with more than a 650 metre elevation drop. The 114 km line has more than 100 bridges. You can see a lot of big waterfalls and wild rivers and nature, like the steep Trollveggen.
The Flåmline is just 20 km, but has a elevation difference of 863 meters with a maximum gradient of 5.5 percent which means that the steep gradient creates scenic and picturesque views making it one of the most visited tourist-attractions in Norway. If you are lucky, you can see the singing Huldra in one of the huge waterfalls!
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