does not have a public railway
system and though there have been three small railways none has formed a part of the public transport network.
Reykjavík Harbour Railway
The track network
Probably the most well-known Icelandic rail project, the Reykjavík
Harbour Railway, of 900 mm gauge, operated from 1913 until 1928 for the construction of the harbour breakwaters. The railway operated from a quarry outside the city, at the site recognised by tourists tody as the Perlan
hot water storage plant and revolving restaurant, from which it ran a short distance to a junction, passing loop
, and sidings. This junction was located just south of a large field which became (and remains) the Reykjavík city airport
. From here one line ran to the west, around the edge of the western settlement before proceeding along the newly constructed western harbour pier to the island of Effersey. Here a headshunt
allowed trains to reverse along a further line, built out onto the outer harbour wall, and extended as that wall itself grew longer. From the first junction a second line ran east around farms to a locomotive depot just outside the city and on to a further junction where a short branch line led into a secondary quarrying site (now in the heart of the capital's residential district), whilst the main line continued to a further junction on the edge of the docks. From here one line ran along the quayside (where one of the locomotives is today preserved on display) whilst the other ran out along the eastern harbour wall.
The railway was operated by two steam locomotives built by the Jung engine company of Germany, both of which have been preserved. Built in the 1890s in Germany, they worked briefly in Denmark before being imported to Iceland in 1913 for the harbour railway project. Locomotive Pioner
is now a static exhibit at the Icelandic Folk Museum at Arbær, Árbær Museum
, whilst locomotive Minør
, after many years of storage in a Nissen hut
under piles of rubbish, is now an open-air static exhibit in Reykjavík. A scale model of part of this railway, showing one of the locomotives at work, is displayed in the Reykjavík Maritime Museum. (Please note, this museum is closed during 2007 due to reconstruction work in the adjoining building). Minør
was the first to be withdrawn, whilst Pioner
(which had received a replacement boiler in 1910 to extend its life) continued to operate until the railway closed in 1928.
The rolling stock
The mainstay vehicle of this railway was the 4-wheeled open wagon. A large number of these wagons operated, and they were built with fully opening sides for loading and unloading. It is not thought that any of these vehicles has survived.
Although the Kárahnjúkar Light Railway claims to have provided Iceland with its first ever railway accident in 2004 (see below) records at the Árbær Museum
show that both locomotives of the Reykjavík Harbour Railway were involved in accidents between the two world wars. Pioner
was deliberately derailed by vandals who placed a chain across the track and weighted down its two sides with rocks. They later claimed that they were testing the locomotive's performance as it had already survived their previous experiments of placing coins and planks on the track. Minør
was involved in a genuine accident when a section of track gave way beneath the engine. This was later found to be caused by rotten wooden sleepers supporting this section of track.
Kárahnjúkar Light Railway
A diesel-operated light railway built in the early years of the 21st century in connection with the construction of the Kárahnjúkar hydro-electric power project
, is erroneously claimed (in popular discussion) to have made history in 2004 when it witnessed Iceland's "first and only" railway accident. Two trains were involved in a minor collision, and three passengers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. In fact, there had been earlier accidents on the Reykjavik Harbour Railway, although the Kárahnjúkar Light Railway never actually claimed the "first railway accident" in Iceland, but rather "the first railway accident involving a collision of two trains", which does seem to be an accurate claim. The railway usually operated three trains simultaneously, and was very busy; nonetheless, its lifespan was limited to the construction period of this project, and it has now closed. Much of the equipment used was leased from Italy and has returned there.
Korpúlfsstaðir Farm Railway
Korpúlfsstaðir was one of the first industrial farms in Iceland. Built in 1930 by Icelandic industrialist Thor Jensen, it was located on the outskirts of Reykjavík, on the Þingvellir road. The farm was equipped with a 600mm gauge railway network, allowing the transportation of goods and materials around the farm site. The rolling stock consisted chiefly of four-wheel skip wagons. There were no operational locomotives during either documented visit to this railway (in 1984 and 1993), and trains were shunted by hand, by the farm's staff. It is not known whether the railway was originally equipped with locomotives. Korpúlfsstaðir Farm has now closed and the site has been developed as a golf course and an elementary school, incorporating most of the original farm buildings. There is no surviving part of this railway network.
Other proposed railways
In the 1920s a mainline railway from Reykjavík to Selfoss
was proposed, but the project eventually came to nothing. More recently there have been periodic proposals made to build a passenger railway from Reykjavík to Keflavík International Airport
. Recently 12 representatives from all parties in the Althing
, have put forth a proposal to explore the construction of a railway from Reykjavík to Keflavík airport and also a light rail
system within the capital area