Branching Out

In English  · Published 07.03.2018

Eija Laukkanen and Elina Jormalainen, two iron ladies of railway track maintenance, lead an army of 70 railway mechanics. The maintenance team is responsible for making sure that railway traffic on Destia’s new branch, the KP6 area, is safe and stays on schedule. The central railway tracks on the KP6 area are the Kouvola–Lahti and Kotka–Pieksämäki tracks.

At Destia’s office in Savonsuontie in Kuopio, Work Supervisor Eija Laukkanen lets out a sigh of relief.

“I’m happy winter is ending soon,” she says.

“Even though weather conditions can be predicted pretty accurately these days, snow and ice still cause problems. The switches do not always switch, even if they are serviced according to a maintenance schedule. All that is needed to prevent a switch from switching is a block of ice falling from a train’s undercarriage, and that one random event can turn into a whole series of events. In these cases, the mechanic needs to really hurry and get to the site so that the railway can be brought to working order again.

“Crown snow-load seems to an annual problem too. This winter, it caused problems near the track in Kymenlaakso as well. That’s how climate change effects our work,” says Site Manager Elina Jormalainen.

As a railway crossing station, Kouvola is one of the most demanding areas for maintenance. All together, there are 222 railway switches on the coach yard that operates to all directions as well as a freight yard and a sorting yard for the maintenance to look after. The main node railway yard is heavily trafficked, which brings additional challenges to maintenance.

On the maintenance project of Savo’s track, maintenance must service 660 switches throughout the 540 kilometres of track. The area has about 250 level crossings and 173 bridges. Included in the project are also the portion of track from Lahti to Loviisa, mainly used by freight trains, and the tracks between Lahti and Heinola, and Mynttilä and Ristiina.

Destia is responsible for the maintenance of the superstructure, switches, equipment and gear for the track, as well as for bridges, substructure and formation levels, railroad areas, traffic areas, outdoor areas and the guidance and safety systems for railroad traffic. Maintenance of the railway electrification system is not included in the project.


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