Freight traffic and goods handling through the Norges Statsbaner (NSB) national rail-freight hub at Alnabru in Oslo is expected to return to 100% capacity by next Tuesday, if not earlier, following a lightening strike that damaged power supply units and other key installations.

The damage to electricital systems shut-down large parts of the facility due to safety concerns on 1 July.

NSB, the Norwegian state rail company, confirmed that the freight terminal hub would be back to between 60% to 80% of capacity by today (6 July), achieving 80% capacity by 8 July. A return to full capacity is targeted for 10 July, although an NSB spokesman told Lloyd’s Loading that a normal service is possible as early as Sunday if outstanding repair work and all necessary system safety checks can be completed.

The lightning strike seriously disrupted the movement of freight both internally in Norway, as well as the flow of goods containers to ports and airports. Such was the degree of disruption that freight traffic only started to move through the Alnabru terminal again on Tuesday, with the hub reaching 20% of capacity on July 4.

An average of 50 freight trains, equivalent in tonnage to around 750 container trucks, pass through the Alnabru terminal daily. The disruption directly affected the 50 goods trains and over 1,500 containers which were en route through Alnabru at the time the lightening strike happened.

"This has been a significant disruption and caused major problems for us and our customers. One can never predict these type of events," said Bjarne Wist, CEO of the inter-modal cargo group CargoNet.

NSB’s emergency crews have worked around the clock to repair the damage to electrical supply units, signal boxes, and auxiliary systems to ensure a speedy return to normal service, said NSB spokesman Trude Isaksen.

"The situation is unfortunate, and we have had to re-route and reschedule a large number of freight trains. We are making steady progress, and a full service with full capacity will resume at the earliest possible time," said Isaksen.

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