Y2K hits Norway

All of Norway’s modern high-speed Signatur trains ground to a halt Sunday, hit by a year 2000-type problem that surfaced one year late, the daily Dagbladet newspaper reported Monday.

The 13 long-distance Signatur trains – and 16 new airport express trains – refused to start on Sunday morning because the on-board electronics were unable to recognize the date Dec. 31, 2000, according to the newspaper.

Engineers temporarily fixed the problem by resetting the trains’ clocks to Dec. 1, which gives the national railway company Norges Statsbaner and the German manufacturer of the trains, Adtranz AG, one month to find a permanent solution, Dagbladet quoted officials of the two companies as saying.

Although normal year 2000 checks had been carried out, no one had thought of checking how the system would respond to the Dec. 31, 2000 date, officials told the newspaper.

The year 2000 problem – caused by many computers using just the last two digits to represent the year and thus failing as 1999 changed to 2000 – was expected to hit systems on Jan. 1, 2000, but few problems were reported after organizations worldwide spent billions of dollars on fixes. Another potentially dangerous date – Feb. 29, 2000 – a leap year anomaly, also passed quietly.