The use of Norway’s Royal Train carriage has sparked a national debate as a result of the country’s railway reform. Due to a change in the way the railway system is run, a museum has taken over the ownership of the carriage, created a great debate in Norway.
Åge-Christoffer Lundeby, communications manager for Norway’s largest train-company VY, said: “It is stupid to have a carriage that cannot be used. The carriage must be a real offer to the royal family.”
The carriage has been replaced over the years. The one used today dates back to 1994 and was redecorated in 2001. It offers high comfort, with its own lounge, a dining room, a sleeping room and a workroom for The King. For a single trip, the wagon can be connected to its own locomotive or it can be connected to a regular train set in normal scheduled traffic. However, in 2015, the Norwegian railway was reformed. Responsibility for various parts of the railway was distributed amongst a large number of companies. This has made it more complicated to use the royal train carriage.
Labour parliamentarian Sverre Myrli has heavily criticised the complexity of handling the royal carriage. He has always believed that the railway reform has resulted in an unnecessarily complicated and responsibility-powdered train services. Last week, he asked the following question to the Minister of Transport: “Who owns the royal carriage? Who is responsible for operating the carriage after the train traffic has been put out to tender, to various operators? How is the operation of the trolley financed? And which of the many actors now on the railway must be involved when the carriage is to be used?”.
Knut Aril Hareide, Minister of Transport, answered: “It is the train-company ‘Vy’ who today owns the royal carriage. Operations and administration have until today partly been financed through traffic agreements between the state at the Norwegian Railway Directorate. But this only applies until further notice. According to the plan, the carriage will be transferred to the Railway Museum in Hamar during this year. In the future, the museum will be responsible for its operation. When the museum takes over ownership and operational responsibility, the use of the royal carriage will be agreed between the museum and the operator on the relevant section – on request from the Palace».
The debate has lately been heated as the opposition believes that this will make it difficult for the royals to use the train carriage when they need it. Hamar train museum, where the train car will be located, is one and a half hours by train away from the capital city of Oslo, where the royals are usually located. The Norwegian Royal Family has said they want to use the train more in the future to help limit emissions with their cars, something they have been strongly praised for. The Norwegian government has repeatedly specified that the royals will be allowed to use the carriage as often as they want at no extra cost, even though the carriage will now be owned by a museum.