RGI - News in Brief

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Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief

23 July 2011

Bangladesh has signed loan agreements for the planned 6·2 km Padma Multi-purpose Bridge, which is intended to cut Dhaka – Khulna road journeys from 12 h to 3 h and will include provision for a rail line. The World Bank is providing US$1·2bn, JICA US$425m and IDB US$140m towards the US$2·9bn project.

Rajasthan State Industrial Development & Investment Corp has agreed to acquire land for a 6 km Indian Railways branch to serve Ultratech’s Turkanui cement works, and for a 13 km line to a Hindustan Zinc plant near Bhilwara.

During the fourth session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korean Premier Choe Yong Rim announced plans to accelerate railway modernisation and introduce heavier rails to increase capacity.

Czech infrastructure manager SZDC has completed a KC13·1bn five-year renewal of track, structures, 25 kV electrification and signalling on the 102 km Plzen – Cheb line, raising speeds from 90 to 120 km/h.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief

31 July 2011

Construction of Namibia’s N$80m Ondangwa – Oshikango railway has restarted after a delay of more than a year, which the transport ministry blamed on non-delivery of rails. Earthworks are now complete, and 5000 tonnes of rail have been delivered from Austria.

Westfalen-Lippe transport authority NWL has awarded NordWestBahn the southern OWL-Dieselnetz passenger contract covering the operation of 3·3 million train-km a year, while Eurobahn has won the northern contract covering 2·2 million train-km. The contracts each cover four routes and run for 12 years from December 2013.

RegioJet used a Bombardier Talent DMU leased from Eurobahn to operate a demonstration service on the 95 km Bratislava – Komárno line on April 26-28. RegioJet will launch regular services from March 2012 under contract to the Ministry of Transport (RG 2.11 p11).

Azerbaijan’s state oil fund is providing a US$575m 25-year loan to fund construction and modernisation works for the Georgian section of the Kars – Tbilisi – Baku project.

Russian Railways completed the 28bn rouble electrification of the 148 km Karymskaya – Olovyannaya section of the Trans-Baikal Railway on June 8.

Transnet Freight Rail and Eskon have begun trials carrying coal to South African power stations in 3 m containers.

The EU TEN-T programme is providing €1·63m towards a study into a 6·5 km grade-separated line in the Alcântara neighbourhood of Lisboa.

Ircon completed the US$157m double-tracking and electrification of Malaysia’s Seremban – Saungai Gadut line for use by KTMB commuter trains from April 30. The next phase to Gemas will follow in August 2012.

Städtebahn Sachsen has become the first passenger operator to join the Netzwerk Privatbahnen association of independent German rail companies.

On June 17 Argentina’s Transport Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi launched a reinstated passenger service over 237 km of the former Sarmiento network from Lincoln to Realicó in La Pampa province. Weekly services are provided by government operating company Sofse using a Fepsa locomotive, while local authorities along the route are funding infrastructure work. Ferrobaires operates between Buenos Aires and Lincoln.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief

11 August 2011

Slovak operator ZSR is to build a €38m intermodal terminal at Zilina by September 2014 to serve local industry including the nearby Kia Motors car plant.

African Development Bank has approved a US$40m loan for Rift Valley Railways' US$246m five-year investment plan to develop rail freight in Kenya and Uganda.

A 1·6 km freight spur to Ocean Pier was opened on July 13 following a €1·5m investment by Dublin Port Co. Iarnród Éireann will operate five intermodal trains a week on behalf of logistics firm IWT.

Australian freight operator QR National has formed three business units, Iron Ore, Intermodal and Bulk, with the former CRT Group now within Intermodal.

Nigerian Railway Corp has commenced a passenger service on the 158 km Minna - Kaduna route.

ADB is providing Bangladesh with a US$23m loan to support work on roads and the Dohazari - Cox's Bazar, Ramu - Gundum and Dhaka - Mawa - Jessore rail projects.

On July 4 EIB and TCDD signed a €145m loan to fund resignalling of the 415 km Irmak - Zonguldak line linking Anatolia with Black Sea ports. The EU is providing a grant of €190m.

On July 20 EIB announced it had signed a €224m loan to finance PKP Intercity's €665m purchase of 20 Alstom Pendolino trains.

Westfalen-Lippe transport authority has awarded Keolis a 12-year contract to operate passenger services on the Ostwestfalen-Lippe network around Bielefeld from December 2013.

A $126m US federal American Recovery & Reinvestment Act grant has been released for the Englewood Flyover grade separation project in Chicago which will remove conflicts between Metra commuter trains and Amtrak trains using the Norfolk Southern corridor.

As part of a project to raise speeds from 80 to 100 km/h Iranian national railway RAI is planning to build concrete sheds along sections of the Bam - Zahedan line which are vulnerable to drifting sand.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief

13 August 2011

ÖBB Infrastruktur, the Slovak Ministry of Transport, ZSR and ZSSK have agreed a €9·25m study into the €200m Twin City Rail plan for extensive modernisation of the 66 km Wien – Marchegg – Bratislava route, including double-tracking, electrification and three new stations. Construction could start in 2013.

On July 8 EIB and Gruppo FS signed a €300m loan for high speed rail construction in Italy.

Iran’s President Ahmadinejad opened a line from Maragheh to Miandowab on July 11, the first 48 km of a planned 184 km line to Orumiyeh which is to be completed in three stages at a cost of 1100bn rials.

Stadsregio Arnhem-Nijmegen has selected Connexxion subsidiary Hermes for a contract to operate local bus and Arnhem – Doetinchem rail services for 10 years from December 9 2012. Nine Stadler GTW units will be ordered as an option on vehicles procured for use by Arriva, which will share the route.

Sri Lanka Railways ran an experimental container train to Colombo port last month, in co-operation with SG Logistics.

In June coal traffic began on the Weardale Railway, a line in northern England belonging to branch line owner British American Railway Services which is seeking to develop viable passenger and freight services. Running three times a week, the trains to Scunthorpe are operated by Colas Rail.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Industry News in Brief

03 September 2011

A further step in the privatisation of businesses owned by Polish railway holding company PKP SA has been taken with the 225m złoty sale of rail infrastructure contractor Przedsiebiorstwo Napraw Infrastruktury to road and infrastructure development company Budimex.

Having installed overhead electrification on the Al Mashaaer Al Mugadassah metro in Makkah, SRS Rail System Internationaland Siemens Mobility have signed a framework agreement to co-operate on future projects.

CH2M Hill has completed the acquisition of Booz Allen Hamilton’s transport consulting business with around 150 employees.

UAE-based Advance Rail Group and Saudi Arabia’s Al Rashid Trading & Contracting have formed a partnership to bid for railway construction work in Saudi Arabia.

JPM Parry & Associates has announced a UK government grant of £247 500 towards the £355 500 needed to build a prototype larger version of its Parry People Mover railcar.

Locon Service has held a topping-out ceremony for its 1600 m² locomotive and wagon repair facility, which is being built on the site of a small workshop at Pinnow in Brandenburg, Germany, by contractor Berger Bau Berlin.

Hitachi has signed a partnership agreement with local firm Iesa to produce metro and suburban rolling stock in São Paulo.

Telent has agreed to purchase Amey’s 40% stake in the Enhance joint venture which provides communications maintenance and upgrade services to London Underground’s Tube Lines business under a 13-year contract from 2005.

German power convertor manufacturer SMA is setting up local sales and support subsidiaries in Hong Kong and São Paulo.

Russian Rail Consultancy was relaunched in August. Set up to provide strategy, marketing and public relations services to companies in the CIS rail sector, it suspended activities for a year while founder Ulugbek Khodzhaev had conflicts of interest with other work.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
11 September 2011

Bayerische Eisenbahngesellschaft has awarded Gruppo FS subsidiary Netinera a contract to operate Teilnetze Waldbahnservices for 10 years from December 2013 and Naabtal and Oberpfalzbahn services for nine years from December 2014.

Russian Railways has unveiled a 193bn rouble investment programme for upgrading its main lines in the Far East during 2011-15, including improvements to track, signalling and power supplies on both the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amurroutes.

Arenaway’s Torino – Milano open access service was suspended from August 1.

Portuguese infrastructure manager Refer reopened the line from Lisboa to Bejaand Évora on July 24 following a €100m programme of infrastructure renewal and electrification to permit speeds up to 200 km/h.

Caminhos de Ferro do Moçambique has reintroduced passenger and freight services on the 75 km route between Maputo and Goba on the Swazi border.

Country Rail Infrastructure Authority and several other New South Wales agencies are to be abolished as part of a restructuring to create a single department known as Transport for NSW.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief
13 September 2011

A Chinese-led feasibility study has put the cost of building a 257 km line between Oudong in Cambodia and Loc Ninh inVietnam at US$686m. China has offered to contribute up toUS$500m towards the project, which would fill one of the gaps in the Trans-Asean Railway linking Singapore to China.

DB completed the 78 h commissioning of one of the largest electronic signalling centres in Germany at München-Pasing on August 16. Replacing five signalboxes, the €130m control centre uses Siemens Simis C technology to manage 415 signals and 230 turnouts.

The Québec government has suspended AMT’s Train de l’Est commuter project in Montréal pending a cost review.

Chicago commuter operator Metra is installing high-efficiency filters in its coaches to reduce the amount of exhaust particulates reaching passengers. Locos have been switched to low-sulphur diesel and automatic shut-off devices installed to reduce idling.

Transnet Rail Engineering has repossessed and sold to Angola 20 coaches that had been extensively upgraded for Kei Rail in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province.

Construction of the Nanping – Longyan line in eastern China’s Fujian province is to begin by the end of the year. Work is expected to take four years at a cost of 25bn yuan. The design speed has been lowered from 250 to 200 km/h.

Having purchased Western Australia’s rail infrastructure management concessionaire WestNetRail from Prime Infrastructure, Canadian asset group Brookfield Investments rebranded the business as Brookfield Rail with effect from August 17.

The first train reached Lijiang in China’s Yunnan province on August 17, marking completion of tracklaying on the Dali – Renhe – Lijiang line where construction began in 2009.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief

18 September 2011

The Indonesian government has asked state railway PT KAI to manage construction of the long-planned rail link from Manggerai to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatto International Airport, at an estimated cost of US$265m. The 33 km route would carry both airport express and commuter services; operations and property development may be offered as a PPP concession.

On August 23 the US Federal Railroad Administration issued proposed amendments to improve the ‘flexibility’ of its regulations governing the installation of Positive Train Control. These could reduce the length of route to be equipped by up to 23 000 km, saving the railroads up to $1bn over 20 years.

EIB has approved a further credit of €200m for work on the Unterinntalbahn four-tracking project in Austria, bringing its total contribution to €1bn.

Inter-American Development Bank approved a new country strategy for Uruguay on August 2. IADB believes Administración de Ferrocarriles del Estado ‘does not have a suitable business model for participating in the national logistics system’, but the government is analysing a restructuring proposal to enable AFE to increase its share of the freight market and IADB will support institutional strengthening.

On August 8 Skoda Transportation won a temporary injunction to prevent Czech Railways signing a contract to buy from Siemens the 16 Railjet trainsets no longer required by ÖBB (RG 8.11 p19).

Indian Railways and Indian Oil Corp have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the potential for converting diesel locomotives to LNG, offering cost and environmental benefits.

On July 27 Bangladesh Railway signed a 14bn taka contract with China Railway Group for double-tracking the 64 km Tongi – Bhairab Bazar section of its Dhaka – Chittagong line and resignalling the entire 320 km route by 2014; the bulk of the funding will come from ADB. Another contract for doubling the 61 km between Laksam and Chinki Astan will be let shortly, funded by JICA.

Kuwait Fund for Arab & Economic Development has approved a US$90m loan to help fund the first phase of Morocco’s planned high speed line between Tangier, Kenitra and Casablanca.

The US Department of Transportation has issued new rules on hours of work for train crew, which are intended to reduce the risk of accidents caused by fatigue; they will come into effect from October 15.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
By the end of the year Russian Railways is to sell stakes in the Roslavl, Saransk, Barnaul and Vladikavkaz SM Kirov coach repair plants, Petuhovsky Casting & Mechanical Plant, the Ishimsky and Alatyr mechanical plants, NIITKD, TransWoodService and UralTransBank.

Siemens’ fourth business sector, Infrastructure & Cities, came into being on October 1, sitting alongside the company’s Industry, Energy and Healthcare sectors. The Mobility division’s business units are now three divisions within the Infrastructure & Cities sector, with the Rail Systems Division covering rolling stock, the Mobility & Logistics Division including rail and other forms of transport automation and the Smart Grid Division including rail electrification and other types of power supply.

Indian steel maker SAIL is looking at entering the tracklaying market, possibly in conjunction with a European partner.

Electronic display company Messagemaker Displays has become part of Stocksigns. ‘The addition of specialist knowledge and a manufacturing capability in intelligent electronic displays will enhance our existing skills, enabling us to compete in new markets’, said Stocksigns Managing Director Bruce Main.

Thales has renamed its German business Thales Rail Signalling Solutions GmbH as Thales Transportation Systems GmbH.

Eight years after acquiring Van Dieren Maritime, Samskip has renamed the business as Samskip Van Dieren Multimodal with effect from September 19 to reflect its move into rail logistics.

US locomotive modernisation and repowering company Global Locomotive has been relaunched as Sygnet Rail Technologies.

Three International Railway Systems rolling stock plants have resumed production following a refinancing in which Romanian politician and businessman Verestóy Attila acquired a 50% stake.

Egis has gained a foothold in the Brazilian rail engineering market with the acquisition of a 51% stake in VEGA on September 13, and plans to increase its stake through to 2014. Founded in 1987 and based in Curitba, VEGA employs 270 people and recorded turnover of R$31m in 2012. Rail accounts for 86% of its activities, with current projects including studies for doubling the 900 km Carajás line.

Talgo has put plans for a stock market floatation on hold pending better market conditions.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia has inaugurated a N$50m concrete sleeper factory in Tsumeb which has been developed by a joint venture of TransNamib, GPT Infraprojects and Dorros Investments. It has an annual capacity of 120 000 sleepers, and is intended to supply neighbouring countries as well as the domestic market.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
An online wagon booking service which Freight One launched on the North Caucasus Railway in September will be expanded across Russia this month. Small and medium-sized customers can request up to 15 vans per month, with guaranteed arrival within 10 days.

East Japan Railway’s Advanced Train Administration & Communications System went into operation on October 10, commissioning having been postponed as a result of the March 11 earthquake (RG 3.11 p43).

The Rheinland, Rheinland-Pfalz Nord and Westfalen-Lippe transport authorities have formally confirmed the selection of DB Regio Rheinland to operate Kölner Dieselnetz regional services from December 15 2013. DB Regio beat one other bidder for the 20-year contract, which covers the operation of around 7·2 million train–km a year.

Danish national operator DSB and Better Place are to launch a pilot service enabling passengers to book a Citroën C-Zero electric hire car for onward travel when they buy their rail ticket.

Work has begun on a 54·4 km rail link from the Dongsheng district of Ordos in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to the city’s airport. The double-track line with one underground, two elevated and three surface stations is expected to be completed by 2015.

Planning to introduce yield management to the retailing of its high speed services next year, Spanish national operator RENFE was due this month to extend its Madrid – Barcelona pilot to include the Madrid – Sevilla route. Appia software supplied by Expretio of Canada is being rolled out under a programme managed by Accenture.

The German Land of Thüringen awarded DB Regio the Dieselnetz Nordthüringen passenger operating contract on October 7. Running for 12 years from December 2013, it covers 2·6 million train-km/year currently operated by Erfurter Bahn and DB Regio.

A ceremony on October 20 marked the start of work on the 4 km twin-bore tunnel at Saverne, one of the largest structures on the 105km second phase of LGV Est between Baudrecourt and Vendenheim on the outskirts of Strasbourg.

Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen has created the Erixx brand for Hannover – Buchholz and Bremen – Uelzen services it will operate under the eight-year Heidekreuzbahn contract from December.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief - November 2011

14 November 2011

A feasibility study has been completed for a second railway on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan. The US$2·5bn project is being led by Russian Railways, which hopes to attract other investors. The 300 km line would link the central region of the province to ports on the east coast. An initial 130 km coal line is being built by MEC Holdings for opening in 2013 (RG 11.10 p55).

DB Regio is to operate Reichenbach – Plauen – Gutenfürst passenger services in Sachsen for four years from December 2012 under a contract awarded directly by the Vogtland transport authority. Mittelsachsen transport authority has awarded a contract covering a line near Chemnitz for one year from December 2014 and three other lines from December 2012 to July 2016.

On November 1 Swiss rail and shipping accident investigation authority UUS will merge with aviation counterpart BFU to form an integrated Swiss Accident Investigation Authority, SUST.

Voters have approved SFr45·8m of local funding for the SFr75m Schaffhausen S-Bahn project. A half-hourly service is envisaged for the Swiss town.

The Dutch provinces of Groningen and Fryslân are developing a €577m proposal for 58 km of new and reinstated passenger railway to link Groningen, Leek, Drachten and Heerenveen.

October 1 saw the launch of Normandie Rail Services, an Opérateur Ferroviairie de Proximité or local freight operator owned by SNCF Geodis and Naviland Cargo. It has 100 staff, four electric locos and five shunters, and handes 20 trains/day in the port of Le Havre.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief

04 December 2011

Veolia took over from SJ as operator of the Berlin – Malmö Berlin Night Express service when it was suspended for the winter season on November 5. SJ said the April to November service faced high track access and electricity charges in Germany, while low demand for charter trains meant the stock was underutilised.

Chinese Railways has become the 50th signatory to the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Development & Transport, launched at the United Nations in May.

On November 3 CSX Corp completed the sale of a 98 km line through Orlando to the state of Florida which will use it to launch SunRail commuter rail services in 2014. CSX retains exclusive freight rights.

DB Netz and DB Energie are testing noise barriers with built-in photovoltaic cells in Duisburg and Nürnberg.

On October 29 the Council for Rail Transport of CIS States agreed to set up a unified system for the management of wagons, aiming to reduce empty running and ensure the rational and efficient use of vehicles belonging to different owners.

On November 6 tracklaying began on the 98·8 km Nanning – Qinzhou line, the first 250 km/h line in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Work on the Datong – Shouzhou line in Shanxi province began in October.

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett has announced approval for the 570 km heavy haul rail corridor proposed to link the future deepwater port at Oakajee with iron ore mining developments.

Georgian Railway’s Tbilisi rail bypass project has been restructured and will now proceed without previously agreed EBRD funding.

Electric operation of services on Ukraine’s Poltava – Kremenchuk route began on November 10.

China Eastern Airlines has begun issuing air-rail codeshares for travel by high speed train between Shanghai Hongqiao airport and Wuxi.

The new Slovak government has suspended plans to privatise state companies including ZSSK Cargo until after elections scheduled for March 2012.

Following a 53m złoty rehabilitation programme, passenger services on Poland’s ódz – owicz line were reinstated on October 1 after a four-year absence.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
News in Brief

08 December 2011

The Finnish government has awarded national passenger operator VR a four-year contract worth €170m to operate unprofitable but socially desirable rural and overnight services.  

Sahaviriya Steel Industries has awarded GB Railfreight a 10-year contract to operate and maintain the 70 km internal railway system at Lackenby steelworks in northeast England.

On October 25 the US Surface Transportation Board approved DesertXpress, a private-sector proposal for a 300 km Las Vegas – Victorville high speed line paralleling Interstate 15. DesertXpress has applied for a $4·9bn federal loan, and were the money to be forthcoming, work could start in late 2012 for completion in 2016.

Romanian State railway CFR has received bids for three of the seven four-year leases covering groups of secondary railways totalling 1600 km.

On October 31 Nigerian Railway Corp revived freight and weekly passenger train services on a 391 km route from Lagos via Ibadan to Ilorin following track rehabilitation by the China Civil Engineering & Construction Co.

BLG Logistics has taken over DB Netz’s Falkenberg marshalling yard in the German Land of Brandenburg which will be a hub for automotive traffic. The operator plans to invest €10m in modernisation and expansion of maintenance facilities.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
News in Brief
12 February 2012

The Rhein-Ruhr and Westfalen-Lippe transport authorities named DB Regio as the winner of the Haard-Achse operating contract on January 11. Covering routes from Münster to Düsseldorf and Mönchengladbach, the contract will run for 15 years from December 2014, with annual train-km increasing from 3·02 million to 3·87 million.

On December 20 Czech private regional train operator Viamont Regio was renamed GW Train Regio, following its acquisition by construction company IDS Holding in October.  

India’s Western Railway is setting up PPPs with three private sector firms to develop ‘deluxe’ toilets with showers and outside snack counters at Indore, Ratlam and Ujjain stations.  

SNCF Geodis has increased the maximum length of Autoroute Ferroviaire trains operating between Le Bouou near Perpignan and Bettembourg from 750 m to 850 m, with each train now comprising 24 twin-section Modalohr wagons.  

Polish railway holding company PKP SA has sold its 49% stake in CTL Pónoc to remaining shareholder CTL Logistics.  

SNCF has combined its Téoz, Lunéa, Corail and Intercités long-distance passenger service brands under the single name Intercités.  

Russian Railways is to allocate 700m roubles for the provision of station facilities for people with reduced mobility. Modifications will include escalators, lifts and accessible toilets.  

A ceremony on December 29 launched construction of a 27·3 km, nine station 100 km/h rail link between Xi’an North station and Xi’an Xianyang International Airport. Work is expected to take four years at a cost of 9bn yuan.  

On December 8 PCC Intermodal operated its first weekly intermodal train from Kutno in Poland to Moscow, with ITL Polska providing traction. Running via Kuznica Biaostockam, it was said to be the first private freight train to cross the Poland/Belarus border.  

KTMB launched the Malayan Tiger service between Tupat and Johor Bahru during December. Aimed at tourists, it uses 14 refurbished coaches acquired from JR West and JR Kyushu.  

On December 30 the German transport ministry and DB signed an agreement to eliminate a bottleneck on the Würzburg – Aschaffenburg route. A 7 km double-track bypass will replace the 925 m Schwarzkopf tunnel.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
News in Brief
18 February 2012

Electric services on the 38 km Kristinehamn – Nykroppa line in Sweden were officially launched on January 16, removing the need for freight trains to use diesel traction or make a significant detour.  

Saudi Railway Co has signed a memorandum of understanding to build a railway linking Sadara Chemical’s Jubail manufacturing complex to the King Fahd and Jubail Commercial ports from 2014.  

UIC and UNIFE have published a Technical Recommendation on Rail Reprofiling Management, providing a standard for infrastructure managers and other entities in charge of building and maintaining railway tracks.  

Region Traisen-Gölsental GmbH has been formed by 10 local authorities in the Austrian Land of Niederösterreich to take over responsibility for the 17 km Freiland – St Aegyd freight line from April 1. ÖBB has planned to close the line because of the cost of required upgrading.  

Poland’s Pomorskie voivodship has formally given the go-ahead for the Metropolitan Railway project to build 20 km of line to introduce a local service between Gdansk, Gdansk Airport and Gdynia by December 2014.  

California’s North County Transit District has extended Veolia’s contract to operate the Oceanside – Escondido Sprinter passenger service for a further two years to December 2014.  

On December 16 the Swiss Federal Council approved funding allowing BLS to begin work on a SFr200m project to build a new double-track alignment between Rosshäusern and Mauss by 2018. Replacing the existing winding line and single track tunnel which forms a bottleneck on the Bern – Neuchâtel route, the replacement alignment will include a 2 km twin-track tunnel. The current trackbed will be returned to nature.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

News in Brief - March 2012

11 March 2012



Ircon International and Rail Land Development Authority have agreed to establish Railway Station Development Corp to redevelop Indian Railways stations as ‘vibrant centres’ of city life with safe, modern and accessible commercial, entertainment and social facilities.

The Land of Schleswig-Holstein has selected DB Regio Nord for the Lot A contract to operate Netz Mitte services for 13 years from December 2014; operations on the 211 km network are expected to increase from 3·8 million train-km/year to 4·6 million. The Lot B contract will be announced this month.

Rhein-Ruhr transport authority VRR has selected DB Regio to operate local services S5 and S8 for 15 years from December 2014.

Aeroexpress inaugurated a passenger service on a new 2·8 km spur to Sochiairport on February 15. There are four return trips a day, with Transmash ED4M EMUs being used pending delivery of Siemens Desiro RUS units in 2014.

Taiwan’s Council for Economic Planning & Development has approved a revised NT$25·43bn budget for electrifying the 155 km Hualien – Taitung section of the east coast line. It also approved double tracking and electrification of the Pingtung – Chaojhou line by June 2015 at a cost of NT$25·4bn.

RailAmerica’s Providence & Worcester and New England Central short lines have formed the Great Eastern Route strategic alliance, a ‘co-ordinated commercial and operating platform’ to connect CN and CP with rail customers and ports in southern New England.

Ukrainian Railways is trialing ticket machines at Kyiv which passengers can use to print out tickets booked online.

Reconstruction of Sri Lanka Railway’s Colombo – Galle – Matera line by Ircon reached another milestone on January 19, when services resumed on the 50 km between Galle and Indurawa. The 42 km from Galle to Matera reopened in February 2011, and the 72 km from Induwara to Kaluthara is expected to be finished in Apri

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

News in Brief - March 2012

18 March 2012



A consortium led by OHL ŽS has begun construction of an an €18m intermodal terminal at Žilina in Slovakia, partly funded by the EU. It is scheduled to open in January 2015, and ŽSR expects to handle 500 000 tonnes in the first year. 

Taiwan Railway Administration moved its main rolling stock workshops from Taipei to Fugang near Taoyuan at the end of January. This will allow the old site to be cleared for an extension of Thsrc’s Taipei – Kaohsiung high speed line to Nankang. 

New South Wales Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian has announced plans to undertake ‘comprehensive reform’ of RailCorp, saying ‘costs are going up at about three times the rate of the increase in passenger-journeys’. Costs increased by 30% from 2006-07 to 2010-11, and reform ‘will put RailCorp in a more financially sustainable position’.

RailAmerica has agreed to acquire a 70% stake in the 60 km Wellsboro & Corning Railroad and freight handler Industrial Waste Group from Myles Group for $18m. It is also paying $40m to acquire Marquette Rail, which operates a 200 km short line in Michigan. 

The 27 km of single track connecting Flamboin on RFF’s Paris – Belfort route with Montereau on the Paris – Lyon main line was reopened for freight on January 29. Traffic on the line which has been closed to passenger traffic since 1939 is expected to include aggregates moving to Montereau for onward shipment by barge to Paris. 

On February 5 the Israeli government formally approved the plans for a rail link to Eilat presented by Transport Minister Yisrael Katz in January (RG 2.12 p27). 

Slovak freight operator ZSSK Cargo transferred 980 staff, 20 depots and other rolling stock maintenance assets it was allocated at restructuring in 2005 to its passenger counterpart ZSSK on February 1. The real estate is worth €57m, with €2m for shunting locos and €4m for other equipment. ZSSK estimates it will save up to 15% of overall costs following the transfer. 

The European Commission announced on January 26 it was taking legal action against Bulgaria for failing to implement parts of the First Railway Package. It has referred infringements of the track access charge regulations to the European Court of Justice. 

Approval has been granted for the merger of German inland port and rail operators Häfen und Güterverkehr Köln and Neuss-Düsseldorfer Häfen to form RheinCargo.


Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

News in Brief - April 2012

15 April 2012



In the light of the March 11 2011 earthquake, East Japan Railway has allocated ¥100bn to improving the earthquake resistance of its infrastructure over the next five years. 

China’s Exim Bank has approved a US$270m loan to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Transport for construction of the 27 km Matara – Beliatta section of the planned 115 km line to Kataragama.  

Poland’s Mazowieckie voivodship has dropped plans to privatise local rail operator KM, after a study by F5 Konsulting and Salans found that it would be required to repay EU subsidies which have been used to acquire modern rolling stock. 

Despite 10 expressions of interest from the private sector, Pakistan Railways received no formal bids for concessions to operate a further five passenger services (RG 3.12 p14). 

Amtrak and Texas Department of Transportation are to undertake a feasibility study for a twice-daily passenger service from Bossier City/Shreveport along the Interstate 20 corridor to Dallas and Fort Worth. Capacity modelling will be provided by UP, which owns much of the route. 

Berlin-Brandenburg transport authority VBB has awarded DB Regio the Netz Nord-Süd operating contract, which runs for 12 years from December 2014. It covers service RE3 from Stralsund and Schwedt to Berlin and Elsterwerda, and RE5 from Rostock and Stralsund to Berlin and Lutherstadt Wittenberg, totalling 9·5 million train-km a year. Around 90% of regional services in Brandenburg have now been tendered. 

The Atlantic City Express service taking gamblers from New York to Atlantic City was suspended on March 9. Launched in February 2009, ACES was backed by casinos, and though peak ridership was good it faced scheduling problems on busy routes and did not make money.


Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

News in Brief - May 2012

13 May 2012



The French government has created the €40m EMEF modernisation fund to take minority stakes in suppliers to encourage consolidation within the rail sector and create companies large enough to innovate and compete more effectively at home and abroad (RG 2.12 p25). Alstom, Bombardier, RATP and SNCF are all expected to contribute.

Nigeria’s federal government is planning legal reforms to permit states and the private sector to participate in railway development. 

Passengers with monthly tickets for services in northern Italy operated by Trenord can now renew monthly tickets stored on smartcards by making payments using cash machines. 

The German Land of Schleswig-Holstein has awarded Nordbahn the Netz Mitte passenger operating contract. 

On March 19 PKP Cargo was certified to become an independent train operator in Austria; it was already certified for Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and is undergoing the process for Belgium, the Netherlands and Hungary. 

Toronto public transport agency Metrolinx has paid C$310·5m to acquire two sections of Canadian National’s Bala and Oakville subdivisions in the Toronto area which are used by GO Transit commuter services. 

Ports de Paris has selected Colas Rail and Eurotunnel subsidiary Europorte to manage and operate the 60 km of railway within the ports of Gennevilliers, Bonneuil-sur-Marne and Limay. Europorte has similar contracts at Dunkerque, Saint-Nazaire, Le Havre and Rouen. 

The Canadian government has provided C$7·5m to match a provincial contribution which will enable track and bridges on the Vancouver Island railway to be upgraded to enable the suspended passenger service to be reinstated. 

The Wuhan – Guangzhou and Guangzhou – Shenzhen high speed lines have been linked, enabling through trains from Wuhan to Shenzhen to be introduced on April 1. 

ADIF has completed a project to lower the Barcelona – Portbou main line running through the centre of Montmeló, including the construction of a 13 km tunnel, a 232 m viaduct and a station for RENFE suburban sevices. Work continues on the parallel alignment for the high speed line between Barcelona and Figueres.


Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Salzburg AG has grouped all its rail services under the Salzburger Lokalbahnen brand, including the Salzburger Lokalbahn, Schafbergbahn and the Pinzgauer Lokalbahn, which has just taken delivery of a third Gmeinder diesel locomotive. ADB’s technical assistance special fund is to provide US$225000 to support the restructuring of State Railway of Thailand, including defining targets for reform, reviewing previous studies, preparing an outline restructuring programme and defining a loan policy. West Japan Railway is planning to spend ¥100bn to increase resilience against earthquakes and tsunamis. The German Land of Thüringen has directly awarded Erfurter Bahn a contract to operate Gera – Zeulenroda – Hof passenger services for 10 years from June 2012. The Paris Commercial Court has accepted Groupe Eurotunnel’s €65m bid to acquire SeaFrance assets including the ferries Berlioz, Rodin and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The acquisition will be made by financial vehicle Eurotransmanche, which will lease the vessels to an independent operating company. On June 12 the US Federal Railroad Administration announced regulations requiring railways to install signs at level crossings by July 2015 showing free telephone numbers the public can use to alert operators to unsafe conditions. The cost is estimated at $15·6m, off-set by an estimated accident and casualty reduction benefits of $57·8m over 15 years. The Georgian government postponed its plan to float a 15% stake in Georgian Railway on the London Stock Exchange (RG 5.12 p8), citing ‘challenging capital market conditions’. Due to a lack of serviceable locomotives, Uruguayan national operator AFE suspended passenger services between Montevideo and Sudriers on June 1. Services to San José and Florida now only operate as far as 25 de Agosto, with the number of Montevideo – 25 de Agosto services cut from five to two pairs of trains per day. On June 17 RENFE began operating Class 730 gauge-changing electro-diesel trainsets on services from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña and Vigo. Journey times have been cut by 30 min or more.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

EIB is lending €776m to Albali Señalización, the special-purpose vehicle formed to design, install and maintain signalling and telecommunications equipment on the Albacete – Alacant high speed line under a 20-year PPP contract. Albali is owned by investment funds CDC Infrastructure and Fond-ICOinfraestructuras, ADIF and suppliers Alstom, CAF, EMTE and Isolux. 

Australia’s states and territories have agreed to the creation of a National Rail Safety Regulator, replacing seven separate organisations from January 2013. 
On May 29 Russian Railways introduced REX Regional Express branded services from Moscow Belorusskaya to Mozhaysk and Zvenigorod, using ED4M EMUs modernised by TMH’s Demikhovo works. 
The final 5·9 km of the Gautrain line to Park station in Johannesburg opened on June 7, having been delayed from March 2011 because of problems with a leaking tunnel. 
Tenders have been invited for the final 70 km of Namibia’s Aus – Lüderitz railway rehabilitation. N$480m has been spent over 10 years but there has been no progress recently due to financial constraints and serious flooding in 2011. N$75m has been made available for the current financial year. 
Russian Railways is trialling a microcredit scheme offering passengers loans to buy tickets with a 55-day interest free repayment period. 
Austrian Federal Railways and Ferrovie Udine Cividale have launched MiCoTra, a cross-border passenger service between Villach and Udine 
On June 1 a joint funding grant accord for regional railway modernisation was signed by the East African Community, Indian Trust Fund and Nepad-Infrastructure Preparation Project Facility,. US$1·8m is allocated to regulatory and legal harmonisation, appraisals of proposed links and the creation of a Railway Co-ordination Unit. The Indian government has provided US$428000. 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Passenger services have been restored between Salta and General Güemes on the metre-gauge Belgrano network in northwest Argentina, operated by federal agency Sofse with ex-FEVE DMUs. Demand for the single service operating in each direction on weekdays has been such that an increase in frequency is now being contemplated.

A UIC working group is drafting recommendations to eliminate the need for passport stamps for railway staff regularly crossing the external borders of the Schengen area. An identity card was approved last December, and the next step will be the ratification by the European Parliament of an agreement similar to those covering sailors and air crew.

On June 29 Ferrobaires restored passenger services between Buenos Aires and Tandil after an absence of 15 years. Trains run twice a week in both directions, usually formed of one standard class car, two first class vehicles and a Pullman car equipped with air-conditioning.

Jindal Steel & Power Ltd of India has terminated its contract with the government of Bolivia to develop iron ore deposits at El Mutún, citing ‘non-fufillment’ of contractual obligations on the part of the government and an unwillingness to do so. The project would have involved what Jindal describes as the ‘largest foreign investment in Bolivia’, a US$2·1bn package including construction of a new railway to Puerto Busch (RG 4.07 p191). 

Paderborn district authority has bought the 26 km Paderborn – Büren railway for €1 to ensure its long-term future, and is hoping to reach an agreement for neighbouring authorities to contribute to the cost of maintenance. 

Los Angeles County MTA has selected Gruen Associates and Grimshaw Architects to develop a master plan for the long-term future of Union Station and its surroundings.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Seven companies became members of UIC at its 80th general assembly in Philadelphia: Californian High Speed Rail Authority; Bulgaria‘s BDZ PP; Hungarian national transport authority NKH; open access operators Westbahn and Student Agency; UK high speed promoter HS2 Ltd and Russian Railways’ Federal Passenger Co.

Airport rail service operator Aeroexpress has established its own rolling stock maintenance depot in Moscow.

In an effort to encourage the growth of leisure traffic, Lombardia regional operator Trenord has launched ‘Free Time’ tickets which offer combined rail and boat travel with discounted access to tourist attractions.

Plans have been announced to redevelop Poland’s Olsztyn Gówny station on a similar basis to Poznan Gówny by the end of 2014. Retail Provider is to invest €115m in the development of a rail, tram and bus interchange integrated with commercial, shopping and cinema facilities. 

Israel Railways has completed a US$800m project to modernise the Ramla – Be’er Shiva’ University line, including double-tracking and level crossing elimination.

EIB is lending Warszawa suburban operator WKD €39m to fund the purchase of 14 EMUs and track, power supply and passenger information upgrades.

The HZ Traction division of Croatia’s national railway group is to be split up, with all locos to be allocated to either the passenger or freight business units.

ADB and the government of India have signed a $150m loan to fund 840 km of double-tracking and 640 km of electrification, as well as new signalling and accounting reforms.

FleetConnect and Icomera have rolled out free wi-fi across Iarnród Éireann’s entire inter-city fleet, and Dublin commuter services are to follow by the end of the year.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

News in Brief - September 2012

15 September 2012



Germany’s federal Railway Authority has approved the regular operation of 835 m long freight trains between Padborg in Denmark and Maschen in Niedersachsen.

After 25 expressions of interest, the only bids for a $1bn contract to operate Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad services from July 2013 came from Keolis and the incumbent which is majority owned by Veolia.

As part of a €20m investment programme funded by the Spanish Ministry of Development, a new rail terminal has been opened to serve the Isla Verde Exterior container terminal within the Port of Algeciras Bay. A total of 3898 m of new track has been laid, including three terminal roads capable of accommodating 750 m trains.

The US Federal Railroad Administration is contributing $100 000 to study plans to reinstate Amtrak passenger services between Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile in Alabama.

UK passenger operator Greater Anglia has introduced tickets giving supporters of three football teams a 25% discount on travel to any 10 home games during the 2012-13 season; tickets for all home matches are also offered.

Mining company Anglo American is undertaking a R$38m programme of track renewals on 30 km of the Amapá Railway in Brazil, which runs for 194 km from iron deposits at Serra do Navio to the port of Santana on the Amazon.

Genesee & Wyoming Australia has bought a rail-served intermodal terminal in Alice Springs from Asciano Services for A$9m.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

News in Brief - September 2012

18 September 2012



The government of Ghana has proposed a US$303m public-private partnership to rehabilitate the 977 km rail network.

Amtrak, HOK, Parsons Brinckerhoff and developer Akridge have produced a 20-year master plan for a $7bn redevelopment of Washington Union station, which would triple passenger capacity.

The governments of Tanzania and Zambia are to set up a joint committee to review the 1975 agreement governing Tazara. Zambia has agreed to inject US$10m into the railway.

PwC, D&B and George Butunoiu Group have been appointed to recruit private-sector CEOs and board members for 10 companies owned by Romania’s transport ministry, including CFR Calatori and Metrorex.

The government of Mozambique has approved an agreement for the CLIN joint venture of Vale (80%) and CFM (20%) to lease rail infrastructure planned to link the Sena line to a new coal terminal on the coast at Nacala, transiting Malawi.

A 35 km metre-gauge line from the Bangabandhu Bridge to Tarakandi has been opened by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Built at cost of 2·1bn taka, it is the first new line since independence, other than the route across the bridge.

The government of Brazil has allocated railway construction company Valec an additional R$140m, including R$122m towards the cost of building the Anápolis – Uruaçu section of the North-South Railway (RG 7.12 p12). A further R$28m is expected to be provided for completing the Uruaçu – Palmas section.

The Tata Steel Minerals Canada JV has appointed Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary KeRail to build and operate a 21 km rail link from a 4·2 mtpa mine being developed near Schefferville, Québec.


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