Top image: The new belt wagon, a Mitsubishi, has been custom made for UNIS by Scandinavian Terrain Vehicles in Sweden. Photo: Eva Therese Jenssen/UNIS.
Last week the new UNIS belt wagon finally arrived in Longyearbyen after being “corona-stuck” for eight months in Sweden. It is custom made for UNIS but is also a contribution to the local emergency preparedness infrastructure.
23 November 2020
Text: Eva Therese Jenssen
“It is just like a field laboratory – students and staff can do real lab work onboard”, says UNIS staff engineer Kåre Johansen.
The new belt wagon, a Mitsubishi, has been custom made for UNIS by Scandinavian Terrain Vehicles in Sweden. It was ready for shipment north when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and borders were closed. Now the belt wagon is finally at its destination.
The rear cabin has 10 seats and foldable desk which means it is easy to set up a workstation there. In total, the belt wagon has place for 17 people, including the driver. The rear cabin has electrical outlets and heating, a generator in the front cab that can produce power to the rear cabin, storage space on the roof and a lot of more useful features for scientists and students going on fieldwork. With two separate heating systems in the back cabin is extra safety, in case one heating system breaks down there is back-up.
The engine runs on diesel, but it is the most environmentally friendly internal combustion engine to date, according to Johansen.
“The old belt wagon used 16 liters of diesel per mile, while this new one uses 5 liters of diesel per mile”, he explains.
Part of local emergency preparedness infrastructure
This is the first new belt wagon of this kind for UNIS, the plan is to get another such belt wagon at a later stage.
The idea is now to focus on belt wagons as a means of transport of staff and students into the field, as it is a more environmentally friendly means of transport.
“If you are going to have 16 students out in the field, you must have at least 10 snowmobiles, versus using just one belt wagon”, Johansen says.
In addition, the new belt wagon with all its features is a contribution to the total emergency preparedness in Longyearbyen and can be an important contribution to rescue operations in Svalbard.