Little Trains in Big Places

You may have noticed my posts have been a bit short recently, and not really about my normal 3D printing projects, and this one will be no exception.  This is not because I haven’t been doing anything; rather I have been very busy traveling.  In this post I will bring you a bit of steam railway history from Iceland.

Does Iceland have a railway?  Well not right now but did, in fact it has had three.  The first was built in 1913 and was used to construct the quay and breakwaters now shielding the Reykjavík harbour.  The railway was called the Reykjavík Harbor Railway and operated until 1928.  It was a 900 mm (2 ft 11 716 in) narrow gauge line and ran to two quarries around Reykjavík as well as along the water front.  You can see the extent of the railway on the map below which was created by By N. P. Kirk.Map_of_Reykjavík_Harbour_Railway

The railway had just two locomotives, Minør and Pioner, which were built by the Jung engine company of Germany in 1890.  From new, they did a sort stay in Denmark before being shipped to Iceland in 1913.  The engines both have 0-4-0 wheel configurations and have standard out side cylinders.   Although there is now nothing left of the railway, luckily both engines have been preserved. Minør sits proudly on Reykjavík dock side.

Reykjavík Harbor Railway 1 Reykjavík Harbor Railway 2 Reykjavík Harbor Railway 3 Reykjavík Harbor Railway 4 Naturally I had to have a go!

Reykjavík Harbor Railway 6

The only rolling stock used on the line were the open sided flat cars as you can see in the photo below.  None of these are believed to have survived.

Reykjavík Harbor Railway 5

The other locomotive, Pioner, is on display at the Icelandic Folk Museum at Arbær, Árbær Museum.  The photo below is courtesy of Timothy Titus.


The second railway in Iceland was built in the 1930s and was the Korpúlfsstaðir Farm Railway.  It ran around an industrial farm on a 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in) narrow gauge track.  It had no locomotives so all the four-wheel skip wagons were pushed by hand.  Nothing of this railway now exists.

The third Iceland railway was built just after 2000 to transport materials and workers to build the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant.  The Kárahnjúkar Light Railway was powered by three diesel locomotives which ran around the clock.  The railway was removed once the facility was completed and, as with the second railway, nothing now exists.

There have been plans to build a standard gauge railways in Iceland dating back to 1906 but the roads always won the battle.  The most recent was for a railway between Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport however a new dual carriage way road was built in 2008 allowing the trip to be done in fifty minutes by coach, but I am led to believe the scheme is still being considered.

And that is my brief history of the railways of Iceland.

Next week I will be at the Andover Model Railway exhibition so hopefully I will have something to share with you from there.