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Monday, 1 January, 2001, 23:10 GMT
Bug derails Norwegian trains
Norwegian train
Older trains were drafted in to cover
Norway's rail network has suffered an unexpected outbreak of the millennium bug - a year later than expected.

According to officials, 16 brand new airport express trains and 13 long-distance trains failed to start on the morning of 31 December.


We have one month to find out what went wrong so we can fix the problem for good

Ronny Solberg
Train maker
A spokesman said onboard computers appeared not to recognise that date. He said that the problem was quickly solved by re-setting the computers.

In the run up to the year 2000, fears of the bug prompted some experts to issue prophecies of doom ranging from from planes plunging from the sky to food and power shortages as computer systems failed.

Governments worldwide spent billions of dollars making sure no problems occurred.

Technicians' oversight

Millennium bug logo
Governments spent huge sums publicising the problem
According to the rolling-stock manufacturers Adtranz, the problem on the Norwegian trains was not anticipated by technicians who carried out thorough testing of the system in 1999.

"We didn't think of trying out the date 31 December 2000," said Ronny Solberg from the company. The trains started immediately when the computers were put back one month.

"Now we have one month to find out what went wrong so we can fix the problem for good," added Mr Solberg.

Older trains on the state-owned NSB network escaped the problem and rail services were not widely disrupted.

Shortcut

The millennium bug was caused by decisions by computer developers decades ago to use two digits to represent the year.

Millennium bug crisis centre at the White House
Many crisis centres were set up in the run up to the year 2000
The shortcut saved money on memory and storage, but also caused some computers to wrongly interpret the year 2000 as 1900.

But the failure of the bug to materialise on the scale predicted prompted many people to question whether its threat had been exaggerated.

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See also:

05 Oct 00 | Business
The Millennium bug bites back
31 Dec 00 | World
Millennium madness
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