By Stephen Rabone  

(This article appeared in a slightly different form in European Railways magazine in 2002)

Every so often, on my travels around Europe by train, I have looked at a railway system map and, even though I have no knowledge of a station, thought, "I bet that is an interesting place". Some years ago I travelled around Norway and found myself standing on the platform of just such a station, Dombås. Dombås is a junction station on the main Oslo to Trondheim line where a branch to the coastal town of Åndalsnes diverges. This relatively small station  cries out to be modelled. Both the main line and the branch are single track, whilst the station itself has a small half moon roundhouse and turntable and half a dozen or so loop lines for passenger and freight services. What makes the station really modellable, however, is the junction at the north end of the station. Here the two lines disappear into two single track tunnels side by side. Now, how many modellers have used that ruse to enable the tracks to exit the scenic part of a layout? To complete Dombås's model-railway like attributes, the main line to the south also disappears into a third tunnel immediately outside station limits. To the east of the station a dense forest provides an ideal scenic background, whilst to the west the line slopes down from the railway. It's almost as if the engineers had said, "Let's build a station model railway enthusiasts can copy"!

  Some background history

Dombås was joined to the Norwegian rail network in 1913 when the northern section of the Eidsvoll- Dombåsbanen was opened. The station is 343km north of Oslo and lies at the foot of the Dovrefiell. Eight years later the line was extended on to Støren where it met the narrow-gauge Rørosbanen line from there to Trondheim which was converted into standard-gauge in the same year, 1921. In 1924 Dombås became a junction on completion of the Raumabanen which descends 659 metres from Dombås down to the coast at Åndalsnes. Incidentally, one of the curiosities of Norwegian grammar is that words such as Åndalsnes, with an accented "Å" appear at the end of the alphabetical listing in indexes. It took me a long time to located Åndalsnes in the index of the Norwegian "Rutebok" timetable!

During World War II the original small station building was destroyed by fire and was replaced by a new building in 1941. Steam and, later, diesels continued to operate the line until electrification of the main line: The Dovrebanen was electrified from Eidsvoll-Hamar in 1953, followed by the section on to Dombås in 1968 and later in that year on to Hjerkinn. Finally electric traction took over the whole route to Trondheim in 1970. The line to Åndalsnes remains diesel operated.

   Motive Power

In steam days probably the most famous locomotive type to work over the line was the 4-cylinder Class 49 2-8-4 nicknamed the "Dovregubben", or "The Dovre Giant". These enormous locomotives were delivered from 1935 specifically for the Dovrebanen with its steep gradients and tight curves. An example of one of these monsters can be seen at the Hamar railway museum.

Since electrification the main line has seen most types of NSB (Norwegian State Railways) electric locomotives. During the 1990s the El. 13, El. 14, El. 16, El. 17 and El. 18 class all worked regularly through Dombås. On the Raumabanen the staple motive power for many years were the magnificent Di3a NOHAB Co-Cos which worked all passenger and freight trains on the line. Usually a single locomotive was used on passenger trains, whilst the freights were often double-headed. During the 1990s NSB had some of SJ's T44 BoBo diesels on hire and these were also seen on the Raumabanen. For a short period the Di4 lcomotives also worked over the line but the failure of the Di6 locomotives to operate satisfactorily on the line from Trondheim to Bodø saw them sent north again. The new Di8 diesels have now taken over freight operation on the Raumabanen . On the passenger services the Di3s  have been replaced by the BM93 "Talent" 2-car dmus. No doubt these are more efficent but lack the visual and aural appeal of the NOHABs!

  Passenger Services

During the 1990s passenger trains were composed of a wide variety of the standard NSB coaches. The earlier B3 and B5 types appeared on some of the Oslo-Trondheim trains and the through coaches (including overnight sleepers) to Åndalsnes from Oslo. In some years the Åndalsnes operated as a separate train to the Trondheim service, in others it was combined at Dombås. In addition, the then recently introduced air-conditioned B7 type operated on the principal Trondheim services. The morning service to Oslo was operated by a BM70 emu.

During the last few years the "Signatur" Type 73 intercity electric multiple units have taken over the principal services, whilst the El. 18s operate the remaining conventional services using the B7 type coaches. Sadly the through trains from Oslo to Åndalsnes, both day and night, have been withdrawn following the introduction of the BM93 dmus on the Raumabanen.

The Summer 2002 timetable shows three "Signatur" services from Oslo to Trondheim, one loco- hauled daytime "Expresstog" and one over-night "Nattog". In addition there is one local "Regiontog" from Trondheim terminating at Dombås. The branch service to Åndalsnes has four services in each direction all terminating at Dombås.

  Freight Services

  Freight traffic on the Dovrebanen is quite heavy with around 7 freights in each direction on weekdays (according to the 2000 working timetable) from the yards at Alnabru (in the Oslo district) to Trondheim. Four of these were container or intermodal services with the remaining three being wagonload services. Much of the container traffic originates in the far north of Norway at Bodø. In the recent past there were also double-headed ore-trains from Hjerkinn (north of Dombås) but this traffic has now ceased.

Freight traffic on the Raumabanen was, from observation at Åndalsnes in 1993, operated in the late evening southbound and early morning northbound. The through Åndalsnes to Oslo freight (usually double-headed by the Di3s in days gone-by) was scheduled to arrive in Dombås at about midnight and the northbound service left there in the early hours of the morning. During the 1990s there was extensive fish traffic using Interfrigo vans and on my visit in 1993 my photos shown several of these vans in Åndalsnes yard together with container, tanker and car-transporter wagons.

Modelling Dombås

It's obviously not possible to model Dombås exactly to scale, even given its relatively compact layout, but one can take the principle elements of the station and model it in quite a small area. It is certainly possible to compress the station into a space about 3 metres by 60cm and retain its operational and scenic possibilities. However, I feel that to do this would lose some of the character of the station. Ideally then, I'd like to see a length of about 5 metres for a more spacious representation of the station. If you haven't got that space then build it in compact form; you'll have just as much fun operating the layout. I haven't drawn a detailed scale plan to build the layout from, but rather a sketch plan which you will be able to adapt to your circumstances.

Model railway track plan (Click here to view )

  The plan follows pretty closely the actual layout, although I've reduced the number of freight loops and the size of the loco depot. The distinctive northern end of the station with its double tunnels and complex point and crossing work is reproduced correctly. Remember to build in a slight incline up to the Trondheim tunnel and a slight down grade to the Åndalsnes line ; a few millimetres on both will be quite sufficient. The locomotive depot, which does not have catenary over the turntable, has been slightly compressed on the plan by reducing the number of tracks. The turntable was in regular use by the Di3 locomotives so as to always have the cab windows that were fitted with reinforced glass facing the direction of travel. The crews did not like driving the end fitted with grills over the glass. Likewise locos were turned on the turntable at Åndalsnes. 

There are two platforms; track 1 has a platform on both sides and is used mainly for Åndalsnes services and those trains terminating at Dombås. The wide island platform has, on its other side, track two and is used principally by Oslo-Trondheim services. A number of freight loops adjoin the station and are used for changing the locomotives of freight trains from the Raumabanen, and holding trains whilst being passed by passenger services or during crew changes. At the south end the line is shown curving away into the tunnel. Depending on the available site you may wish the tracks to this tunnel to curve the opposite way. I've presumed that the layout's storage loops are behind the hillside. If you are building the layout around the walls of a room or loft you'll need to curve the line the opposite way.

Scenically the layout is quite simple; the station building should, if possible, be scratchbuilt. There are numerous suitable kits that could be used if you don't want to do build an accurate model. The natural scenery will require lots of trees on the hillside behind the station with a few timber buildings scattered. The locomotive depot can be adapted from any of the German style roundhouses that are designed to fit the Roco or Fleischmann turntable's geometry. The distinctive NSB catenary is probably best assembled from a mixture of Sommerfeldt components and brass profile strip.


Modelling Norwegian railways isn't quite as easy as modelling the more popular railway systems of Europe but, with a little effort, it can be done. Lima, Roco and Heljan all produce, or have produced recently, most of what you will need in the form of locomotives, carriages and wagons. It has to be said that many of these models are not generally available in the U.K. at the moment but they can be obtained by mail order from shops in Norway. Try searching the Internet and it is surprising what is available. Phone calls or emails to shops in Norway will invariably be conducted in fluent English!

Lima make the El. 13 and El. 14 in a variety of liveries. Whilst these models have the old "pancake" type motors SB-Modellbau produce ready to run replacement bogies for the El13 and a replacement motor and gear train for the El14. Lima also produce, in cooperation with the Norwegian firm NMJ a wide variety of B3 and B5 NSB carriages and freight stock. From Roco both the El. 16 and El. 18 are available. Heljan’s Di3 or  Roco' s new model will be an essential part of the layout. Roco also produce the Di.5 (the NSB had quite a few of these ex DBV60 type locos). They weren’t used regularly at Dombås as far as I know but I can see no reason why one shouldn’t be based there for use on engineering trains.

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