|Opening||23 June 1862 - 13 October 1877|
|Owner||Norwegian National Rail Administration|
|Operator(s)||Norwegian State Railways|
|Rolling stock||Class 92, Class 93|
|Line length||383 km (238 mi)|
|No. of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Highest elevation||670 metres (2,198 ft)|
The Røros Line (Norwegian: Rørosbanen) is a 383 kilometres (238 mi) long railway line in Norway running between the towns of Hamar and Støren via Elverum and Røros. It connects to the Dovre Line at Hamar to Oslo and at Støren to Trondheim. The Røros Line is Norway's second longest stretch of unelectrified railway, the longest being the Nordland Line. The line is owned by the Norwegian National Rail Administration.
The Røros Line follows the Østerdalen valley, running alongside the river Glomma for much of the way. In terms of the Norwegian railway system the Røros Line is a secondary route between Oslo and Trondheim, the primary route between those two places being by way of the Dovre Line.
As well as being connected to the Dovre Line, the line also has connections to the Meråker Line (at Trondheim) and the Solør Line (at Elverum). The summit of the line, at Harborg, is 670 metres (2,200 ft) above sea level–a fairly low elevation for a Norwegian main line.
Rørosbanen was opened between 1862 and 1877 as a narrow gauge railway (see below for details.) The first part, between Hamar and Elverum (Grundset) opened as the Hamar–Grundset Line (38 kilometres or 24 miles) in 1862, and was later extended to Rena (Aamot) as Aamotbanen (26 kilometres or 16 miles) in 1871. The northern part was opened as Trondhjem–Støren Line (49 kilometres or 30 miles) in 1864. The Røros Line itself was built in sections from north and south, Rena–Koppang (56 kilometres or 35 miles) opened in 1875, Støren–Singsås (30 kilometres or 19 miles) in 1876, Singsås–Røros (79 kilometres or 49 miles), and Røros–Koppang (153 kilometres or 95 miles) in 1877.
On 14 August 1877, the lines from south and north was connected at the farm Skjøten in Alvdal, and the official opening of Rørosbanen took place at Røros on 13 October 1877. The route is Norway's oldest mainline railway, defined as one connecting two regions of the country: in this instance eastern and central Norway. The connection southwards from Hamar was with boat over the lake Mjøsa to Eidsvoll, and the Hoved Line to Oslo (Kristiania). The railway connection between Eidsvoll and Hamar opened as Eidsvold–Hamar Line in 1880.
When the line was opened in 1877 it was running between Hamar and Trondheim, a total of 431 kilometres (268 mi). With the opening of the Dovre Line in 1921, the northern section from Støren to Trondheim became a part of this line; consequently, the Røros Line was reduced to the 383 kilometres (238 mi) long section between Hamar and Støren via Elverum.
At the time of the construction of the Røros Line, there was a gauge controversy in Norway. While the Hoved Line already in 1854 had been built with standard gauge, it was argued, notably by railway director Carl Abraham Pihl, that narrow gauge was more suitable for Norwegian landscape and also less expensive. The 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge became the choice for the Røros Line, and all other lines constructed in Norway in the years to come, unless they connected to the Swedish railways.
The extension of Hoved Line to Hamar (1880) was built with standard gauge and caused an inconvenient break-of-gauge for transport at the Røros Line, and a change to standard gauge was debated repeatedly, however without any decision made. In 1910 the standard gauge Solør Line reached Elverum and by the opening of the Dovre Line in 1921, the Støren to Trondheim section was transferred to standard gauge, leaving the Røros Line with break-of-gauges at both terminals and at Elverum. Some parts was rebuilt to Dual gauge (Trondhjem-Støren 1917-1921, Elverum-Rena 1917-1931 and Hamar-Elverum 1919-1931 ), and eventually it was decided to convert the whole line as well. The Hamar to Koppang line was ready in 1931, but it would take another 10 years until the Koppang to Støren line was converted by the Germans during the war in 1941. During this transition, parts of the line had dual gauge
The Åsta accident occurred on 4 January 2000, a northbound Class 92 multiple unit and a southbound passenger train headed by a Di 3 locomotive collided on the line near Åsta Station, killing 19 people. The accident caused a temporary closure of the route while the line's safety was investigated. The Røros Line being a non-electrified line, the method of cutting the power to trains seen to be on a collision course was not available. Furthermore, the line was not equipped with automatic train control. When the train traffic controller became aware that the trains involved were heading for a collision he tried to send a warning to the train drivers by mobile phone, but the phone numbers were either wrong or did not work. There was controversy in the aftermath about whether the driver of the northbound train had ignored or overlooked a red danger signal or whether the signal system itself was faulty.
The Røros Line competes for traffic with a main road through the Østerdal and some people have called for the permanent closure of the line to save money, arguing that trucks and buses can handle the extra traffic if the line is closed. Other people have opposed such a closure.
There are plans for a completely new high speed railway net in Norway. In 2007, in an investigation ordered by Norwegian rail authorities, a German university suggested that the high speed Oslo–Trondheim railway should follow the Røros Line route. This would be cheaper than along the Dovre Line, as the terrain is easier in Østerdalen compared to Gudbrandsdalen, and the distance is shorter. The cities along the present main Dovre Line are rather small.
Media related to Rørosbanen at Wikimedia Commons