During our stay in Kristiansand I found some time to visit the Setesdalbanen museum railway
1 In November 1896 the 78-km (48,5 miles) long Setesdalsbanen was opened up to ordinary service between Kristainsand and Byglandsfjord. The railway line was built to link the Setesdal to the coastal town of Kristiansand. With this town's port and connections to other Norwegian coastal towns and Europe, it opened up a valley, which up to that time had been very isolated.
The gauge chosen, 3'6", was commonly used at the time. During its heyday it extended over 1300-km (800 miles), mostly on single isolated lines.
The products of the valley were shipped out on the railway. This consisted mainly of timber, barrel staves (for wooden herring barrels), pit props, fire wood, feldspar (to the Belgian glass industry), paper and refined aluminium. The railway also played an important role to the Byglandsford Steam Sawmill, Evje Nickelmines, Evje Armycamp, Hunsfos Papermill and Vigeland Metal Refinery; all big enterprises by local standards.
When the standard gauge Sørlandsbanen (1435 mm or 4'8½") reached Kristiansand in 1938, the Setesdalsbanen was truncated at Grovane where the two lines met. Grovane, thus becoming a station for the transfer of goods and passengers. This was a labour intensive operation that, in the long end, could not win the battle against increased road transport after World War II. Even if railcars were introduced in 1928, the ever-increasing stud of private cars stole the passengers from the line. Eventually this led to the closure of the Setesdalsbanen in 1962, the last narrow gauge line to be operated by the Norwegian State Railways.
The story however did not end here. A society was formed, and the volunteers playing an important source of manpower staffing the railway on the days of operation and in maintaining the raliway in nearly all aspects. The line is open during the summer season (June, July and August) running trains with steam engines and old wooden bodied coaches offering a journey on a railway typical of its time with sharp curves, a bridge spanning the river, a tunnel and a snowshed. Most of the time running parallel to the river Otra.
2 I was able to spare some time an drive to Grovane, were the depot is. At Grovane's station (A) there was little to see, but at some distance I saw some shed and yes, the depot was actually there (B)
3 Outside lies a covered turntable
5 I was extremely happy to find this loco outside the shed. I've never seen a 2-4-2 loco before and I knew from the internet it was exceptionally cute. Although the paint job is a little run down but it actually is a lovely engine!!
Type XXII No. 6. NSB Class XXII is a steam locomotive class designed by the Norges Statsbaner (NSB) exclusively for use on the Setesdalsbanen. Built: 1902 by Thunes Kristiania. The locomotive is operational and restored to its 1920s appearance.