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Millennium bug lives on

Norway's high-speed trains lose track of time

Norway's high-speed trains refused to work on Sunday, hit by a year 2000-type problem that surfaced one year late, the daily Dagbladet newspaper has reported.

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

Engineers temporarily fixed the problem by resetting the trains' clocks to 1 December, which gives the national railway company Norges Statsbaner and the German manufacturer of the trains, Adtranz, a 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 31 December 2000 date.

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 1 January 2000, but few problems were reported after organisations worldwide spent billions of dollars on fixes. Another potentially dangerous date, 29 February 2000, a leap year anomaly, also passed quietly.

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