Steam locomotives in Iceland

There might not be any snakes in Iceland, but it did once have a railway, and two locomotives. Both are preserved, and Minör was on display in Reykjavik in August 2000.

[Steam locomotive in Reykjavik]
Picture by Paul Grantham.

The two sections of narrow-gauge railway totalling 12 km were built to transport building materials for a quay and breakwater between the mainland and Örfirisey Island. One section ran from Öskjuhlið, the other to Skólavörðuholt.

There were two locomotives, Pionér and Minör, bought from Denmark. Both were built in Germany in 1892 by Arnold Jung. They are 4·9 m long, 3 m high, and weigh 13 tons.

The locos made an average of 25 trips each day for between 1913 and 1917, and saw limited use until 1928. Pionér is now at Árbaer open-air museum, Minör is at the harbour museum in Reykjavik.


  • Some background information by Peter Bowyer.
  • A modern railway in Iceland, including Iceland’s first railway collision in July 2004. Used to transport workers, equipment and supplies for the three TBM machines involved in the project, the diesel-powered light railway system used in the Kárahnjúkar scheme has given Iceland its first working railway since 1913-15, when a narrow-gauge steam line was used to carry rock from a hillside quarry during the construction of Reykjavík’s first harbour.