|Staff shortage hits commuter train service|
| [30.08.2007, 11:28pm, Thu. GMT]|
|Norway's state railway NSB was forced to cancel all extra rush-hour train departures on Tuesday, because of an acute shortage of qualified personnel to run them. Several routes were cancelled on Monday as well, and now NSB officials say they've had to cancel dozens of train departures through the end of this week. "We're canceling the extra train service, to minimize the consequences of this," information chief Åge-Christoffer Lundeby told Aftenposten.no. NSB needs as many as 20 persons qualified to operate the trains (lokførere) after an "unusually" large number of train engineers have quit in recent months."They often have to work nights and on weekends, and that's not so easy to combine with family life," said Lundeby. "We've been trying to schedule fewer weekend shifts per driver, but it's difficult since we have so few."|
The head of the local railway conductor's association, Stein Erik Olsen, said many have quit because of all the overtime and pressure to work, especially during the summer vacation period when staffing was short and demand was high. He also claimed too few train engineers and conductors are being trained.
Harald Storstrøm of NSB's training program said the school planned to take in 60 to 80 students but managed to attract 100. Capacity will increase next year to 120.
NSB has been offering scholarships to students who agree to commit to working for the railway for a certain period after graduation. That means they don't have to take on student loans.
It nonetheless takes two years from acceptance into the program until an engineer is ready to work. "And then we can lose them in a matter of months," said Lundeby.