Rail industry news - Archiv​

February 2023

DB introducing new display system to make travel more convenient for passengers

12.01.23 (grwr)

Alstom to modernise Eversholt Rail’s Class 334 fleet

DE: Deutsche Bahn (DB) are introducing real-time capacity utilisation displays to help passengers on their journeys. The display system, which will gradually go live over the next few months, will pass information on capacity directly to passengers on the platform, on the vehicle and via app. This means that customers can find a seat more quickly and rail operations become more efficient. If travellers deliberately board carriages that are not occupied, trains will be able to depart more punctually. This will, in turn, enable better use of the capacities in the rail network.

The display system

The occupancy display on the platform takes place in a three-stage traffic light logic or in person pictograms for the respective cars. In this way, customers can see where they can position themselves in order to better find a wagon with free seats.

“With the intelligent occupancy display, we are making our passengers’ everyday lives noticeably better,” Dr. Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, Board Member for Digitisation and Technology at DB, said. “We can only get more people excited about climate-friendly rail if local transport is convenient and reliable.”

Delays in boarding and disembarking are the main reasons for overruns and subsequent delays. With this new system, passengers are better distributed on the platform and trains can depart more punctually. In addition, the occupancy display via app helps travellers to choose less crowded trains for their journey. The new system also brings advantages for operations: the transparency of passenger flows and the utilisation of trains will enable dispatchers to better coordinate train traffic in the future.

Depending on the vehicle type, the number of passengers is measured using various technical approaches. For example, counters are used in the door area or light sensors that scan the load in the passing wagons. The system processes the data in a matter of seconds and then forwards it to travellers as occupancy information.

Rolling out the system

The displays will first be used on pilot routes of the Hamburg S-Bahn and the Stuttgart S-Bahn network. Regional traffic between Hamburg and Lübeck is scheduled to start in February 2023. In the Rhine-Main area, DB will introduce the system across the entire S-Bahn network from April. In Berlin, the rollout will begin in May on the Stadtbahn route between the Jannowitzbrücke and Zoologischer Garten stations and will then be gradually expanded. By the end of 2024, more than 1,500 DB Regio wagons, a quarter of all DB trains in regional transport, will be able to display the occupancy rate across Germany

Alstom awarded £12 million overhaul contract for ScotRail trains

11.01.23 (grwr)

Alstom to modernise Eversholt Rail’s Class 334 fleet

UK: Alstom has been awarded a £12 million contract to carry out mileage-based modernisation on ScotRail’s Class 334 fleet of 40 trains that serve the Edinburgh to Glasgow line. The contract was placed by Eversholt Rail who lease the trains to ScotRail. The Class 334 trains were originally built by Alstom for ScotRail and entered service in 2001.

The modernisation work

The scope of work under the new contract includes the overhaul of pneumatic and electrical components such as auto couplers, gangways, batteries, underframe air valves, toilets and heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) in the drivers’ cabs.

This work builds on the previous modernisation performed by Alstom from 2015 to upgrade the passenger experience for Scottish passengers, by retrofitting full air conditioning, at-seat charging points and wi-fi throughout the trains as well as adding CCTV for driver only trains to help with passenger security.

“Alstom has a proud history of supporting Scotland’s rail network,” Peter Broadley, Managing Director of Services at Alstom UK & Ireland, said. “We’re pleased to once again be able to overhaul the Class 334 fleet, providing ScotRail’s current and future passengers on the Edinburgh to Glasgow line with an improved rail experience.”

Alstom beginning the project

This new overhaul project is due to commence in January 2024 at Alstom’s Polmadie Depot in Glasgow. Alstom has 109 Scottish employees based at Polmadie where the company delivers maintenance and support to the iconic West Coast Mainline Pendolino’s Caledonian Sleeper, as well as day-to-day maintenance of the Class 334 trains.

Alstom is also working closely with Network Rail on the upgrading of Scotland’s signalling infrastructure.

Alstom to modernise Eversholt Rail’s Class 334 fleet

05.01.23 (rwt)

Alstom to modernise Eversholt Rail’s Class 334 fleet

FR: French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has received a £12m contract from Eversholt Rail to conduct mileage-based overhauls on its Class 334 fleet.

In January next year, Alstom will begin the modernisation of the Class 334 fleet at its Polmadie Depot.

Under the contract, the company will repair pneumatic and electrical components such as autocouplers, gangways, batteries, underframe air valves, cab HVAC and toilets.

At present, ScotRail operates 40 Class 334 trains on routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh, under a lease agreement.

Last year in October, Eversholt Rail reached a £27m agreement with Southeastern and Hitachi Rail for the modernisation of Class 395 Javelin trains.

Revamp of the first of the 29 trains will commence at Southeastern’s Ashford Depot in March this year.

The project will include interior renovation, LED lighting installation, among others.

During the same month, Eversholt Rail also signed an agreement with Varamis Rail for the leasing of a Class 321 Swift Express Freight train.

Varamis will operate services from Birmingham to Scotland five nights per week.

Eversholt Rail, a Eversholt UK Rails Group member, employs around 115 professional, technical and support staff.

The company’s rolling stock portfolio has 20 separate passenger fleets along with freight locomotives. Its passenger fleet has 2,899 vehicles, including 236 bi-mode and 2,182 electric vehicles.

Brightline opens two more Florida stations

05.01.23 (rwg)

Brightline opens two more Florida stations

USA: Private inter-city operator Brightline added two stations to its route in Florida on December 20.

The opening of stations at Aventura and Boca Raton means that Brightline now serves five stations in southern Florida on its route between Miami Central and West Palm Beach.

Both new stations are aimed at tapping into potential commuter traffic to and from Miami city centre. Aventura can be reached in approximately 20 min from Miami, with a Boca Raton – Miami journey taking approximately 1 h. The timetable for both is focused on providing trains at peak times, Brightline says; off-peak, they will be served at 2 h intervals.

The 3 160 m2 Aventura station has 240 car parking spaces and a bus interchange served by Miami-Dade Transit. A discount travel pass offer is available for MDT pass holders. Brightline is also running a temporary complimentary road shuttle between the station and Aventura Mall pending completion of a dedicated footbridge.

Boca Raton station sits on a 0·7 ha site adjacent to the city’s central library. It has a car park with capacity for 455 vehicles, and Brightline is to provide two on-demand electric vehicles for ‘last mile’ journeys with the downtown area. The station development has been supported by a $16·4m grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.

‘Brightline is on a mission to build a better way to get there. We’re connecting the state and economies making it easier to do business while expanding your backyard in so many ways’, said Brightline President Patrick Goddard. ‘Opening our stations in Aventura and Boca Raton is a community-wide effort that will alleviate congestion and regionalise south Florida.’

Jinhua opens second suburban rail line

05.01.23 (rwg)

Jinhua opens second suburban rail line

CN: The suburban rail network in the city of Jinhua expanded on December 28 with the opening of the first section of the Yidong Line in Yiwu.

The 48·4 km line is intended to augment the Jinyi Line, which opened on August 30 2022, as part of the Jinyidong Line network connecting the neighbouring towns of Jinhua and Yiwu with the Ming & Qing Dynasty Palaces at Hengdian.

The initial 27·2 km section of the Yidong Line runs through central Yiwu, from Lingyun to Sports Center; it serves 11 stations and connects with the Jinyi Line at Qintang. A short northern extension now under construction will take the line from Lingyun to Yiwu railway station, while an eastern branch will continue the route from Sports Center to the Ming & Qing Dynasty Palaces via Hengdian railway station.

When completed, the T-shaped Jinyidong Line network will total 107·2 km, serving 12 underground and 19 elevated stations. CRRC Changchun is supplying a fleet of 50 Type B trainsets which were ordered in two batches. Taking power at 1·5 kV DC from a third rail, these 120 km/h trainsets are formed of four powered and two trailer cars with interiors designed for suburban travel giving a capacity of 1 488 passengers.

All stations on the Jinyidong Line are equipped with facial recognition gates.

ŽSSK orders more RegioPanter EMUs

04.01.23 (rwg)

ŽSSK orders more RegioPanter EMUs

SK: National operator ŽSSK has ordered a further five four-car RegioPanter electric multiple-units from a consortium of Škoda Group and ŽOS Trnava.

The order announced on December 30 is the first which the Ministry of Transport & Construction has financed with funding from the national Recovery & Resilience Plan. It has been placed under a September 2021 agreement covering a firm order for nine EMUs and options for a further 11.

ŽSSK plans to deploy the EMUs in the Košice and Prešov regions; the five in the latest order will be delivered from 2025 and primarily used on the Čierna nad Tisou – Slovenské Nové Mesto – Košice – Prešov route. 

The 160 km/h dual-system EMUs will be equipped to use 3 kV DC and 25 kV 50 Hz electrification. They will have 343 seats, with air-conditioning, power sockets, wi-fi, audiovisual passenger information, LED lighting and multifunction areas for wheelchair users, prams and bicycles.

‘The Slovak railway is modernising significantly, and we are very happy to be part of it’, said Tomáš Ignačák, President of Czech and Slovak Region at Škoda Group. ‘It is very important to highlight the excellent co-operation with ŽOS Trnava, with whom we are also developing co-operation on other projects outside Slovakia.

Robel MMS provides a safe environment for DB Netz track maintenance

04.01.23 (rwg)

Robel MMS provides a safe environment for DB Netz track maintenance

DE: Infrastructure operator DB Netz has taken delivery of the country’s first Robel-built Mobile Maintenance System for use on specialist track maintenance work.

Branded by DB Netz as FIZ (Fahrbahninstandhaltungszug), the three-vehicle MMS is formed of a traction and supply unit with crew accommodation, toilet facilities and a workshop, an intermediate car for the storage, loading and unloading of material and tools, and an open-floor maintenance unit with two high-performance cranes and extending side walls where track work can be undertaken under cover and fully protected.

After the train has transported the crew, tools and materials to the worksite, the open-floored telescopic working module can be deployed at the push of a button, setting up a fully secured and illuminated worksite where all activities can take place inside the vehicle in a single pass.

The machine is similar to the MMS units which Robel has supplied to Austria, Norway and the Netherlands, as well as Network Rail in the UK and JR East in Japan.

DB Netz intends to trial FIZ in the Köln area, before extending the deployment to other parts of the country. It will be used for closure rail and switch inspection and replacement on turnouts, as well as build-up rail welding and the inspection of track-mounted antennae.

‘FIZ gives us the opportunity to provide a modern and safe working environment on the track’, said Dr Volker Hentschel, Head of Plant & Maintenance Management at DB Netz, when the machine was handed over in Duisburg on December 19. ‘This not only has a positive effect on productivity but also on the higher motivation of our staff.’

Robel Holding Head of Business Development Manuela Ruhland explained that ‘the maintenance train changes work processes, increases efficiency and saves costs. However, despite all the economic efficiency, one aspect is of particular importance to us: this train was built for people, for a safe and ergonomic working environment on the track.’

CRRC unveils hydrogen train

04.01.23 (rwg)

CRRC unveils hydrogen train

CN: CRRC has unveiled a hydrogen fuel cell powered train designed to enable suburban services to be extended onto non-electrified routes.

The four-car trainset based on CRRC’s Fuxing family of designs has been developed jointly by CRRC Changchun and Chengdu Rail Transit, and was rolled out at CRRC’s Chengdu factory on December 28.

It combines fuel cells with supercapacitor energy storage to give a maximum speed of 160 km/h and an operational range of 600 km. Onboard sensors and 5G data links enable GoA2 automated operation with a driver in the cab.


High speed line opening boosts international rail axis

DE: ‘Stuttgart and Ulm are moving closer together, but also Paris and Budapest’, said Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann at the official inauguration of the 59∙6 km Wendlingen – Ulm high speed line two days before revenue services started with the December 11 timetable change.

The importance of the 250 km/h line ‘extends far beyond the region’, added Deutsche Bahn CEO Richard Lutz. ‘It is the new pacesetter for our rail network. The benefits for people and for the economy are enormous today. And the benefits will be even bigger when Stuttgart 21 opens in three years.’

Michael Theurer, Federal Government Commissioner for Rail Transport, said the opening marked ‘a milestone for the implementation of the Deutschlandtakt and part of the international axis from Paris through Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Ulm, and München to Wien and Bratislava’. The new line would release capacity on the existing Filstal route ‘for local traffic, but above all for freight.’

Construction of the line has taken 10 years at a cost of €3∙98bn. The European Union has contributed €568m, reflecting the project’s European dimension.

Just over half of the Neubaustrecke through the Schwäbische Alb hills runs in tunnel, with major works including the 8 808 m Boßler and 8 174 m Albvorland tunnels. A 485 m long and 85 m high bridge over the Filstal and A8 motorway is now the third highest railway bridge in Germany. There is one station, at Merklingen.

Opening of the new line has enabled the number of long distance services between Stuttgart and München to be increased from about 70 to 90 trips each way per day, with the fastest journey times being cut by around 15 min.

The commissioning of the Stuttgart 21 remodelling project will bring further improvements, with Stuttgart – Ulm journey times being cut to around 30 min. Direct services will begin running from Ulm to Stuttgart Airport, the city’s exhibition centre and the Filder area in 2027.

DB is currently evaluating options for a high speed route from Ulm to Augsburg which would cut about 15 min off today’s 45 min journey time, and expects to define a preferred option by the end of 2024.

15.12.22 (rwg)

Stadler signs Kazakh rolling stock contracts

KZ: Stadler has signed three contracts totalling €2·3bn to supply national railway KTZ with 537 coaches in 2023-30, provide full-service maintenance for 20 years and acquire a local production facility.

The order includes 234 sleeping cars with 40 berths, 233 couchette cars with 58 seats, 35 cars with 18 seats for staff and people with reduced mobility and 35 generator cars.

The 1 520 mm gauge vehicles will be designed for 160 km/h operation at ambient temperatures ranging from -50 to +45°C.

The contract includes options for additional orders to continue the modernisation of the KTZ passenger fleet.

Strategic partnerships

The long-term contracts signed on December 13 follow from a strategic partnership agreement signed when Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev visited Switzerland in November 2021.

Stadler is to acquire the KTZ-owned Tulpar plant where coaches were previously produced in partnership with Talgo. 

The plant has around 100 employees. The contracts envisage a gradual transfer of technology from Switzerland, training of local personnel at other Stadler plants and co-operation with local suppliers and technical universities.

‘We are looking forward to this long-term co-operation with KTZ and delivering our state-of-the-art technologies and competences’, said Stadler Executive Chairman Peter Spuhler. ‘This project will see Stadler enter a new market and expand our geographical presence in the CIS.’

KTZ said the co-operation with Stadler would lead to ‘a significant improvement in the technical condition of the fleet, increasing the safety and comfort of passengers.’

14.12.22 (rwg)

Orange Phoenix EMU unveiled

CN: CRRC Nanjing Puzhen has unveiled its latest design of Type D electric multiple-unit intended to operate suburban and interurban services on routes with journey times of up to 1 h.

Branded as ‘Orange Phoenix’, the unit features styling inspired by paintings of the mythical bird. An orange stripe rises from the front of the train, and the headlights are inspired by a phoenix’s eyes. The interiors further highlight the cultural heritage of Chuzhou in the southeast of Anhui province.

The first trains are due to be deployed on the 54·4 km Chuzhou – Nanjing Intercity Railway, which is expected to open next year.

The four-car EMUs are each formed of two motor and two trailer cars and have been designed for rapid acceleration and braking and short dwell times. They have been approved for operation at a maximum speed of 140 km/h.

13.12.22 (rwg)

USDOT announce largest funding in over 50 years for U.S. intercity passenger rail

US: The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the availability of almost $2.3 billion in funding to expand and modernise intercity passenger rail.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) announcing the availability of almost $2.3 billion in funding to expand and modernise intercity passenger rail nationwide through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Programme (Partnership Programme). Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this announcement marks the strongest commitment to date for the expansion of the national network of intercity passenger and high-speed rail projects. Selected projects will improve existing rail corridors and create new ones, broadening access to intercity passenger rail services for communities across the country.

“This is one of the two most significant investments in the past 50 years to modernise passenger train service across the country,” Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Transportation Secretary, said. “Americans deserve excellent passenger rail services, and through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re working to deliver it.”

Using the funding

Administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Partnership Programme has long funded the revitalisation of rail assets, such as fixing track, structures, and grade crossings. Previous grants have funded rehabilitation type projects such as the Kalamazoo to Dearborn rail corridor in Michigan and the Piedmont Corridor in North Carolina. These routes and others are used by tens of millions of Americans each year, and new investments will increase the reliability and frequency of service and reduce delays.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law greatly expands the scope, funding, and vision of the Partnership Programme. Beginning with the FY 2022 NOFO being announced, eligible entities can apply to expand and establish new intercity passenger and high-speed rail services. In addition, projects that improve the safety, reliability, and performance of intercity passenger rail services and project planning elements, such as environmental review and final design, are also now eligible for funding under the Partnership Programme.

“This Partnership Programme NOFO offers exciting opportunities to expand federal support for intercity passenger and high-speed rail services to all parts of our nation,” Amit Bose, FRA Administrator, said. “FRA will work closely with States and stakeholders to provide sustained and dedicated investments in this vital mode of transportation, and together, we will reshape America’s passenger rail network for generations to come.”

This funding announcement comes after USDOT and FRA made available over $1.4 billion in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement funds in September for projects that improve America’s freight and passenger rail network and strengthen supply chains. Additional Partnership Programme funds for projects located on the Northeast Corridor will be made available later this year. In total, FRA has announced more than $607 million for 85 projects in 37 states and the District of Columbia in 2022, and made available more than $4.2 billion in funding, jumpstarting the implementation of $66 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments.

12.12.22 (grwr)

UG: The African Development Bank has approved a US$301m financing package to support the ongoing renovation of Uganda Railways Corp’s metre-gauge main line between Kampala and the Kenyan border at Malaba.

The mix of loans and grants was approved by AfDB Group’s board on November 30; the package has also been endorsed by Uganda’s cabinet and parliament.

As well as the 221 km line from the border to Mukono in the suburbs of the capital, the programme includes the refurbishment of the branches serving Jinja Pier and Port Bell on Lake Victoria, taking the total length to be rehabilitated to 265 route-km.

The project aims to increase the provision of rail services for international traffic and reduce high freight transport costs. Currently, more than 90% of the traffic along Uganda’s northern corridor is carried by road; only 7% moves by rail because of the poor condition of the infrastructure.

The AfDB funding will also support training and skills development to strengthen the URC workforce, as well as measures to encourage tree planting to enhance the climate resilience of the railway formation.

Renewal of the metre-gauge network in the region reflects a waning of enthusiasm for the development of new 1 435 mm gauge lines. In February 2017 the Kenyan and Ugandan governments agreed to develop a standard gauge link from Kampala to the Malaba and the railhead at Suswa south of Naivasha in Kenya’s Rift Valley, which is the current terminus of the Chinese-backed Standard Gauge Railway corridor running from inland from Mombasa.

However, with the two governments failing to raise the funding required to complete the planned SGR scheme, the Kenyan government announced in 2019 that it would instead invest in revitalising the existing metre gauge main line between Nairobi and the Ugandan border.

On December 8 Uganda’s Minister of State for Works & Transport Fred Byamukama reported that rehabilitation work on the Malaba – Mukono railway and the Jinja pier branch had reached 80% complete by the end of June. The current priority was turnout replacement and the reconstruction of level crossings, he added. URC anticipates that the work is on course for completion by the end of Deember.

08.12.22 (rwg)

MOB to launch gauge-changing Montreux – Interlaken GoldenPass Express

CH: December 11 will mark the start of a long-awaited through service by luxury train between Interlaken and Montreux. Operated by Montreux-Oberland Bahn and BLS Lötschbergbahn, the gauge-changing GoldenPass Express service is expected to become a major attraction between the two lakeside resorts that will help revive tourist travel in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Using a fleet of Stadler-built panoramic coaches with gauge-changing bogies, the first GoldenPass Express train in commercial service is scheduled to depart Interlaken Ost at 09.08; its eastbound counterpart will leave Montreux at 09.35. Journey time for the 115∙3 km trip through three cantons, including 11 intermediate stops and the change between 1 000 mm and 1 435 mm gauge at Zweisimmen, will be 3 h 15 min.

MOB and BLS will initially operate a daily single service in each direction, but this will increase to four return workings a day from June 2023. Departures from Montreux will be at 07.35, 09.35, 12.35 and 14.35; from Interlaken trains will leave at 09.08, 11.08, 14.08 and 16.08.


Rolling stock for the GoldenPass Express will consist of 23 aluminium-bodied panoramic cars assembled in Bussnang by Stadler Rail, 19 of which were delivered between September 2020 and the end of 2021. A further four cars featuring low floors and central entrance doors were ordered later, and these will be delivered in 2023 or early 2024. The fleet will be formed into four sets, three of which will be needed for the June 2023 timetable; the fourth set will be held in reserve or undergoing maintenance.

Each trainset will consist of one end car with ‘prestige’ and first class seats, one first class car, one second class car with low floor, one conventional second class vehicle and one end car with prestige and second class seats. The streamlined train end design was developed by PininFarina, and the car interiors were styled by Innova Design.

Until the low-floor cars are delivered, each set will be formed of four cars hauled by a Ge4/4III locomotive between Montreux and Zweisimmen, where a 1 435 mm gauge car interfacing with a BLS Class 465 locomotive will be attached for the journey to Spiez and Interlaken. The interface car has a standard UIC coupling and buffers at the locomotive end with MOB’s central autocoupler at the other.

On both railways the trains will operate in push-pull formation, with the locomotive always marshalled at the Zweisimmen end of the train.

Capacity will initially be 145 passengers, rising to 184 once the low-floor cars have been added to the formations. On the Zweisimmen – Interlaken Ost leg of the journey, a further 54 second class seats will be available in the interface car.

Nine rotatable and reclinable heated seats in prestige class in each end car will offer a forward or rear-facing view with at-seat service of meals and drinks. Seating in first class will be arranged 2+1 with an at-seat meal service, while second class has 2+2 seating and catering from a minibar trolley. Meal service in prestige or first class will require advance reservations, and products on offer will be locally produced where possible. Catering is to be provided by a subcontractor to MOB.

One-way adult fares for the Montreux – Interlaken trip have been set at SFr53 in second class plus SFr20 for a reservation. The first class fare is SFr93 plus the SFr20 reservation fee or SFr35 for a prestige class seat.

Gauge-changing bogies

The gauge-changing bogie design has been under development by MOB since 2007, with a prototype built the following year. Four EV09 bogies were built in 2010 for testing and demonstration purposes before further development work was awarded to Alstom, leading to the EV18 design chosen for production of 58 bogies at the company’s Villeneuve works; regular bogie maintenance will also be undertaken there by RailTech while other car maintenance work will be handled by MOB in its workshops at Montreux, Chernex and Zweisimmen.

The gauge-changing installations on two tracks at Zweisimmen required considerable remodelling of the station and trackwork; among the challenges to be overcome were different platform heights of 350 mm and 550 mm. This requires the height of the GoldenPass Express cars to be adjusted during the gauge transfer process, which entails lifting the car bodies off the bogies to allow the gauge adjustment to take place. Gauge-changing trials began in 2019, and during the tests the bogies passed through the gauge changers more than 1 000 times.

Zweisimmen also marks a change of power supply ― the MOB is wired at 900 V DC while BLS trains operate under 15 kV 16∙7 Hz catenary. Timetables allow for the entire gauge-changing process to take 8 min.


MOB puts the total cost of the project at SFr89m. The funds took the form of a loan on the financial market as the project is categorised as a formal regional transport scheme. This provided for the costs to be reflected in fares revenue under rules set by the cantons of Bern, Vaud and Fribourg and by federal government under Switzerland’s Regional Passenger Traffic Compensation regulations. Infrastructure costs were fully funded by the Swiss government under the FABI (Finanzierung und Ausbau der Bahninfrastruktur) railway investment programme.

The gauge-changing cars will all be owned by MOB, which uses a contractual leasing arrangement for BLS to haul them over the 52∙9 km of 1 435 mm gauge track between Zweisimmen and Interlaken Ost.

MOB had hoped to launch the through GoldenPass Express service at the end of 2018, but it was forced to delay the start because of difficulties in securing funding. Further delay was then caused by the collapse of tourist travel during the Covid pandemic.

08.12.22 (rwg)

China starts work on more high speed lines as ‘eight by eight’ network takes shape

CN: Construction has started on three more sections of high speed line totalling 923 km in central China, and on one 310 km line in the Shanghai area which includes a 29 km bridge across the Hangzhou Bay.

Construction of the 292 km long, 350 km/h Chengdu – Chongqing line started on November 28. Works include six stations between Chengdu and Chongqing Bei, and Chengdu station will also be expanded and refurbished. The line is scheduled to be completed within five years.

A day later, work began on the 449 km long Chongqing – Ankang Passenger-Dedicated Line, which is also designed for 350 km/h operation. This continuation of the corridor from Ankang to Xi’an has been under construction since June 2021. On the Chongqing – Ankang section, 10 stations are to be built. The scope includes various connecting lines that serve Fankuai, Kaizhou and Wanzhou, adding a further 89 km. The Ankang – Xi’an section is planned to open in 2026 and Chongqing – Ankang in 2028.

On November 30, construction started on a third new line segment in the same region, covering 93 km from Xi’an to Tongchuan. This forms part of a longer route; the 207 km from Tongchuan to Yan’an has been under construction since May 2021. Both the Xi’an – Tongchuan and Tongchuan – Yan’an sections are scheduled to open in November 2025. The PDL will bring down travel time from Xi’an to Yan’an from the current 2 h 30 min to around 1 h.

All three corridors form part of China’s ‘eight vertical and eight horizontal’ high-speed network development strategy.

Meanwhile, civil works have also started on the 310 km Nantong – Ningbo PDL. Designed for 350 km/h operation, this will bypass Shanghai to the west, serving Suzhou and Jiaxing instead.

One of the defining features will be a 29 km viaduct across Hangzhou Bay, complementing the 35 km long road bridge opened in 2007. According to design surveys conducted in early 2021, the wind speed around the site of the viaduct can reach up to 145 km/h, with waves up to 7 m high. Because of maritime traffic requirements, the main span of the bridge will be nearly 450 m; a cable stayed central structure with three piers is envisaged, and the main span will support two single-track running lines with ballastless track.

The Nantong – Ningbo line will serve 10 stations, of which five will be new; opening is envisaged by the end of 2027.

08.12.22 (rwg)

Irish Rail orders 18 additional battery-electric trains

IR: Irish Rail/Iarnród Éireann has signed an order with Alstom for 18 more five-car X’trapolis trains and an extension to the 15-year Technical Support and Spares Supply agreement under the 10-year framework agreement announced in December 2021.

This further order, valued at €162 million, will see 18 battery-electric multiple units (BEMUs) totalling 90 carriages added to the initial firm order of 19 five-car X’trapolis trains – 13 of which were battery-electric and six electric – made in 2021. This means, in total, Irish Rail has now ordered 37 five-car X’trapolis trains which are said to help deliver extra capacity and decarbonisation benefits in advance of the planned electrification of the extended DART+ network.

Alstom UK & Ireland Managing Director Nick Crossfield and Alstom Ireland Managing Director Piers Wood joined Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham and Irish Rail’s Chief Executive, Jim Meade at the operator’s Connolly Station headquarters on 2 December 2022 to formally sign the new order.

The X’trapolis trains will comprise the first modern battery fleet in Ireland, contributing to the widening of Ireland’s carbon reduction efforts through public transport.

Jim Meade said: “As this welcome acceleration of funding for our DART+ Fleet is confirmed, the benefits of the framework agreement with Alstom become ever more apparent. We can respond swiftly, with this further major order of units under the agreement, to deliver transformative change for our services and for our customers. These further 90 BEMU carriages, coupled with last year’s order of 95 units, will help us in Irish Rail to achieve our ambition of being the backbone of Ireland’s sustainable transport network. We’re excited to continue to work with Alstom to deliver expanded services in the Greater Dublin Area, enhanced facilities for our customers, and a cleaner environment for our country.”

Nick Crossfield said: “As the world’s leading innovator and supplier of green mobility solutions, Alstom is here for the long-term to support Ireland in delivering transformative change to its citizens through sustainable rail travel. This further order of X’trapolis trains signals Irish Rail’s intent to move quickly in greening the Greater Dublin commuter network, Ireland’s most populated commuter belt as a first step in that national transformation.”

Improving Ireland’s carbon reduction efforts through public transport.

The 10-year framework agreement allows for up to 750 electric and battery-electric rail cars to be procured for the DART+ network which is planned to open in 2025. In addition to the fleet, Alstom will provide a range of services solutions, including a Technical Support and Spares Supply agreement for the first 15 years of the fleet’s operation, deploying its HealthHub and TrainScanner technologies for predictive maintenance, and providing three train simulators to support driver training. The expansion of the DART fleet as part of the DART+ Programme is funded by the National Transport Authority under the National Development Plan 2021-2030.

Due to enter service in 2025, the 37 trains with 31 five-car battery-electric multiple units (BEMUs) and six five-car electric multiple units (EMUs) now ordered will be capable of journeys of more than 80km outside the electrified DART network under pure battery power, thereby taking older diesel rolling stock off those non-electrified lines. The X’trapolis trains will comprise the first modern battery fleet in Ireland, contributing to the widening of Ireland’s carbon reduction efforts through public transport.

According to Irish Rail, the 18 BEMUs order will benefit Maynooth/M3 Parkway and Kildare line services, delivering more capacity for commuters in advance of electrification.

Energy stored in the battery system will be replenished via fast charging stations at chosen terminus locations and by recovering braking energy while the new battery-electric trainsets are on the move. This will enable, for example, the new battery-electric fleet to deliver Dublin to Drogheda return services, with fast charging at Drogheda Station.

The DART+ programme

DART+ is the transformative programme that will ensure train travel is at the heart of Ireland’s sustainable transport network. Funded under the National Development Plan by the National Transport Authority, DART+ is an investment that will double the capacity and treble the electrification of the Greater Dublin Area network, facilitating sustainable mobility and development to enhance quality of life in the capital and its surrounding counties.

06.12.22 (grwr)

Alstom demonstrate fully autonomous driving of a shunting locomotive

FR: Alstom, in partnership with ProRail and Belgian rail freight operator Lineas, has demonstrated the deployment of Alstom’s Automatic Train Operation system (ATO) at Grade of Automation (GoA) 4 on a shunting locomotive for the first time near Breda, the Netherlands. This GoA4 means fully automated starting, driving, stopping, and the handling of unanticipated obstacles or events without the direct involvement of any on-train staff during shunting activities. This demonstration concludes a series of tests that are part of an ongoing partnership between Alstom, ProRail, and Lineas.

The ATO demonstration

The objective of the demonstration was to showcase how the intelligent obstacle detection and recognition system (ODS) works seamlessly with) Alstom’s ATO to allow the train to react autonomously to various obstacles. This paves the way for the broader usage of autonomous driving into shunting operations, with the goal of increasing the capacity of freight operations; an example of advanced digital technologies driving cost-effective and sustainable mobility in the face of growing demand for freight and passenger services.

“By integrating advanced obstacle detection into our autonomous driving systems, we have shown that it possible to make trains “see” ahead and cope safely with the unexpected,” Stéphane Féray-Beaumont, Vice-President of Innovation and Smart Mobility at Alstom, said. “The positive results prove that Alstom possesses the technology required to support operators with autonomous driving technologies that will ultimately improve the operational performance on freight lines. Through digitalisation, we will accelerate the transition towards more efficient, seamless, and sustainable transport systems.”

For the demonstration, a diesel-hydraulic shunting locomotive owned by Lineas was equipped with the Alstom ATO technology interfacing with an intelligent obstacle detection and recognition systems (ODS) developed by NIART by Elta.

The locomotive, running autonomously, was presented with various obstacles – a person, a car, a rail wagon, and an incorrectly-positioned switch – and reacted entirely autonomously and without the intervention of any active staff aboard. The ODS proved to be effective up to 500 metres away from obstacles in real-world conditions, providing a significant safety buffer in shunting yards.

NIART’s ODS is a perception system based on high resolution digital radar fused with multi-spectral electro-optics powered by classical and machine learning algorithms to detect and classify obstacles on the train route in all weather and visibility conditions. The system is a complete, self-contained on-board solution able to provide the ATO system with the information it needs to make autonomous driving decisions.

ATO systems

Alstom is leading the development of ATO systems in the railway sector. The Group has carried out successful ATO tests in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK. The current tests at GoA4 being carried out in the Netherlands are designed to prepare the terrain for a wide range of applications in commercial operation on main lines across all grades of automation.

Alstom has demonstrated the advantages of ATO in metro transport systems around the world. Experience shows that automation leads to network capacity increase, cost reduction, energy savings and flexibility of operations. Automatic trains can run closer together, effectively increasing network capacity. Trains also operate more uniformly, leading to more effective use of energy. Automation in rail is a way for operators to maximise the productivity of their networks without making expensive changes to the infrastructure.

02.12.22 (grwr)


Ireland and France work on single combined rail-ferry ticket

FR: To promote sustainable travel between the two countries, Ireland and France plan to launch a ticket that combines French and Irish trains with a ferry ticket. It will be available by the summer of 2023.

French president Emmanuel Macron and Micheál Martin, head of government (Taoiseach) of Ireland, have decided the two countries will work on a single ‘Franco-Irish ticket’ for the train and the ferry. The leaders spoke over a working lunch last week when Macron visited Dublin. The goal is to promote travel between Ireland and France in a sustainable and simple way, at a reasonable price, they said in a news release of the French presidency. Particularly young people would be targeted with the ticket. The precise details such as prices will yet have to be determined.

Franco-German ticket
In a similar initiative, France authorities are also working together with Germany for a “Franco-German” train ticket for young people with the goal of promoting travel between the two countries. French transport minister Clément Beaune and his German counterpart Volker Wissing announced this last November. More details will be outlined by the Franco-German Council of Ministers in January 2023, the transport ministers said in a joint statement.

“In order to achieve our climate targets for the transport sector, we must convince even more people to travel by train. To do this, we must provide attractive offers,” said Wissing, who was in Paris in November for a working visit at the invitation of his counterpart Clément Beaune. “I am convinced that with such a ticket, we will strengthen both the relationship between our two countries and the climate-friendly rail mode”, said Beaune.

01.12.22 (rt)

Renfe sees major increase in number of female staff

ES: Renfe has increased the number of female personnel by 65 per cent over the past four years. The Spanish operator now has 3,247 women on its payroll.

According to Renfe, the increase in the number of female employees since 2018 means that women now have a share of 20 percent in the total workforce. At management level, one the best performing area on this front, staff is split between 42.6 per cent female and 57.4 male. At Renfe’s commercial division, women account for one-third of all personnel.

There has been noticeable progress elsewhere too. While women are still underrepresented in the historically male-dominated group of train drivers, their share grew from 3.3 per cent in 2018 to 7.4 per cent at present. In the administrative jobs, women still hold the majority.

In its 2019-2028 strategic plan, Renfe adopted measures to ensure gender equality without discrimination based on sex. As part of a second packaged agreed upon with the unions, the operator has a special task force that highlights and amends issues with career paths. The Spanish operator occasionally shares stories of female employees on their blog Destino and hopes to inspire more women to join the railway business at Renfe.

Earlier this year, Renfe made headlines by opening a call for 30 female train drivers in Saudi Arabia. Around 28,000 women jumped on the opportunity to potentially drive a train.

29.11.22 (rt)


Alstom Demonstrates Fully Autonomous Shunting Locomotive

NL: In partnership with Dutch infrastructure manager, ProRail and Belgian rail freight operator, Lineas, Alstom has demonstrated the highest grade of automation on an autonomous shunting locomotive.

This demonstration was completed near Breda in the Netherlands to conclude a series of tests in an ongoing partnership between Alstom, ProRail and Lineas.

The project aimed to demonstrate how an intelligent obstacle detection and recognition system (ODS) can co-ordinate with Alstom’s automatic train operation (ATO) system to allow the train to operate autonomously.

The GoA4 grade of automation includes fully automated starting, driving and stopping, as well as the handling of unanticipated obstacles or events without the direct involvement of on-train staff.

This successful demonstration paves the way for the use of autonomous shunting to increase the capacity of freight operations.

Stéphane Féray-Beaumont, Vice-President of Innovation & Smart Mobility at Alstom said:“By integrating advanced obstacle detection into our autonomous driving systems, we have shown that it is possible to make trains “see” ahead and cope safely with the unexpected. The positive results prove that Alstom possesses the technology required to support operators with autonomous driving technologies that will ultimately improve the operational performance on freight lines. Through digitalisation, we will accelerate the transition towards more efficient, seamless, and sustainable transport systems.”
The demonstration used a diesel-hydraulic shunting locomotive owned by Lineas and equipped with Alstom’s ATO technology and ODS perception by NIART and Elta.

Throughout the locomotive’s autonomous operations, it was presented with various obstacles including a person, a car, a rail wagon and an incorrectly-positioned switch. The train then reacted entirely autonomously and without intervention.

The ODS perception proved to be effective up to 500 meters away from obstacles in real-world conditions.

NIART’s system is based on high-resolution digital radar and multi-spectral electro-optics powered by algorithms to detect and classify obstacles on the route in all weather and visibility conditions. This is a self-contained on-board solution that provides the ATO system with the necessary information to make autonomous driving decisions. 

29.11.22 (rn)


Nestlé Waters France to be first company in Europe to use hydrogen powered freight train

FR: An innovative hydrogen fuel cell system developed by Alstom and ENGIE is to be used by Nestlé Waters France for rail freight transport from 2025.

Nestlé Waters will be the first company in Europe to benefit from a hydrogen fuel cell solution for massified rail freight, including renewable hydrogen supply, developed by Alstom and ENGIE. It is estimated that this project will reduce emissions by 10,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, in the long term this will lead to the reduction of 90 per cent of Nestlé Waters current emissions. This is the equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 30,000 round trips from Paris to Nice by car..

Nestlé Waters and the new hydrogen solution
As a significant innovation, the new hydrogen solution will be developed from a high-powered fuel cell system that can power electric locomotives in non-electrified areas. This solution will be able to transport goods over long distances, on a national and European scale.

From 2025, this freight train powered by electricity from the rail network and from hydrogen in non-electrified sectors will aim to progressively ensure the transport of VITTEL® natural mineral water between the factory located in the Vosges and its various distribution centres in France. The dual-mode solution will be composed by a generator wagon incorporating a high-power fuel cell system powered by renewable hydrogen and a line-electric locomotive, all connected by an electrical power cable. The generating wagon will be able to supply the locomotive with electricity in the without the need for any catenary.

“At Nestlé Waters, we favour rail freight whenever possible and we are constantly looking for efficient solutions to reduce the carbon impact of our supply chain,” Sophie Dubois, Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Waters in France, said. “We are very proud of this project as it represents a significant investment by our railway team to find innovative solutions to answer to climate and environmental challenge. This collaboration with Alstom and ENGIE will accelerate the development of a decarbonised/carbon-free supply chain.”

Developing the hydrogen solution
The high-power hydrogen fuel cell system developed by Alstom will power electric locomotives in non-electrified areas and offer a 100 per cent electric solution for rail freight, end-to-end, including to the first and last kilometres, which are rarely electrified.

This innovative solution will make it possible to carry out all freight journeys with the same electric locomotive, powered by the catenary on electrified main lines and by the hydrogen generator wagon in non-electrified areas.

In terms of performance, the solution will provide all the power of a catenary-based mainline electric locomotive and enough power with hydrogen energy to pull a freight train over non-electrified line segments. ENGIE will supply the renewable hydrogen for this solution through the deployment of an innovative supply chain.

“Alstom has been a pioneer in hydrogen trains by developing the first hydrogen train in commercial operation worldwide.” Marc Granger, Chief Strategy Officer of Alstom, said. “Our ambition is to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen in the rail industry and to develop innovative solutions for the greening of mass mobility, including rail freight. Therefore, we are looking forward to the first circulation of a freight locomotive powered by renewable hydrogen in 2025. To go further, this solution, which is more environmentally friendly and generates less noise than diesel, will make it possible to develop the modal share of rail freight by offering an end-to-end electric solution, a real alternative to freight transport.”

“Following the announcement of our partnership with Alstom to supply hydrogen to this new European rail decarbonisation solution,” Sébastien Arbola, Executive Vice President in charge of Thermal Generation and Hydrogen & Energy Supply activities for ENGIE, said. “Nestlé Waters becomes the first prime contractors for our offer, and the first future user of our solution. This is a key step in the development of this project. Hydrogen plays an essential role in the transition of industrial companies towards reducing their emissions, a dynamic in which ENGIE is fully involved.”

24.11.22 (grwr)


Major ERTMS digital signalling contract awarded for Italy’s rail network

IT: Hitachi Rail have been awarded a contract worth €867 million to deliver ERTMS digital signalling on Italy’s rail network.

Hitachi Rail has been awarded a Framework Agreement worth €867 million, as the leader of a consortium of companies, to design and deliver European Rail Transport Management System (ERTMS) digital signalling on 1,885km of the Italian rail network.

The ERTMS contract
The new contract covers central and northern Italy – including the lines of Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Piedmont, Lombardy, Liguria, Veneto, and the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia regions. The contract, awarded by Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI), follows the award of a €500 million framework agreement to Hitachi Rail for the design and implementation of ERTMS digital signalling on 700km of rail lines across Italy in November 2021.

ERTMS is the most advanced system for the digital control of railways, allowing more trains to use the lines while improving speed and reliability. The technology will allow trains from neighbouring European countries to operate on Italian lines without interruption, with the aim of creating one seamless rail system throughout Europe. ERTMS is already in use on Italy’s high-speed rail lines, with the benefits now being extended to regional lines.

The technology includes a radio system enabling communication between the train and the track, as well as automatic activation of emergency brakes in case of danger or if trains exceed the track’s speed limit. By regulating speed, acceleration and braking, the technology enables trains to travel across the network in more efficiently and thereby reduces energy consumptions and reduces the railway’s carbon footprint.

Hitachi Rail and digital signalling
Hitachi Rail is a global industry leader in digital signalling and is the first provider to introduce ERTMS technology in Europe – in the UK, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and France – and in the highly competitive markets of China and India.

“We are delighted with this contract, which will allow us to implement digital signalling technology on an additional 1,885km of the Italian railway network,” Michele Fracchiolla, Executive Director of LoB Rail Control in Europe and Australia for Hitachi Rail, said. “ERTMS technology will bring huge benefits to passengers by enhancing train reliability, punctuality and frequency, with the aim of creating- an integrated European rail network.”

23.11.22 (grwr)


Changing to European track gauge? ‘Not just different width, a different philosophy’

EU: The EU is currently assessing the possibility of extending the standard gauge of the European railway network to Ukraine and Moldova, as part of its effort to better integrate the countries in the European transport area. This is not as straightforward as it sounds. The track gauge of the countries is not only different in width, it is a different philosophy, argues Oleksandr Zavgorodni, Chairman of the Expert Council at the All-Ukrainian Center for Transport Infrastructure Reforms.

Last month, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched a pre- feasibility study to assess how to better connect the Ukrainian and Moldovan railway networks with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The gauge extension is only one part of the assessment, but receives a lot of interest from the industry. The two countries currently have a broad gauge railway network, which is 1520 mm wide. In most European countries, the tracks are 1435 mm wide.

Different principles
“Railway infrastructure with a 1435mm-wide and 1520mm-wide gauge are built according to different basic principles”, explains Zavgorodnii. “Let’s start with the simplest: the weight and length of the train that is able to run on these tracks. On a 1435mm-wide track, trains are 600 meters long and have an axle load of 20 tons. On the wide gauge track, trains weigh up to 1800 tons and are 840 meters.

“This means that for the transportation of the same volume of cargo, more wagons and locomotives will be needed if the European gauge is used.” This is not only a challenge for Ukrainian Railways, but, even more so, for the many private railway companies in the country, he continues. “They are clearly not ready to move to another infrastructure.”

Nevertheless, a European gauge railway track in certain areas could be needed, such as near freight terminals close to the border, Zavgorodnii acknowledges. The same applies to terminals on the other side of the border, where wide gauge could facilitate efficiency. But, he says, projects that are being considered and discussed will only make sense when building a combined track of both 1435 and 1520 mm. This could be done by laying a parallel track. It is advisable to implement the project only when a compatible or second track is built.”

Not just the gauge
Indeed, a lot of details regarding infrastructure solutions will be determined during subsequent phases of the project development, says the European Investment Bank. “This applies to issues of specific project parameters relating to line length, location, extent of EU gauge and integration within the existing network.”

Thus, the gauge extension is not the only possibility assessed. “The broad objectives of the prefeasibility study are to develop and assess operational alternatives and associated requirements: infrastructure (gauge, siding requirements, power supply system, signalling, multimodal and transhipment terminals, logistic centres, etc.), rolling stock, maintenance requirements, customs operations, passport controls and other inspections”, the EIB clarifies.

Resilience to exceptional events
The subsequent infrastructure investments will ultimately contribute to integration of Ukraine and Moldova in the European transport area by improving connectivity with the EU and increasing the capacity of the new export corridors. The EU wants to see the transport system more resilient to exceptional events, such as the current blockade of Ukrainian ports.

The study is carried out by the EIB technical advisory service JASPERS, which should have its first findings ready by May 2023.

23.11.22 (rt)


ERA and EASA sign a Memorandum of Cooperation

EU: ERA and EASA have signed the Memorandum of Cooperation to promote inter-agency cooperation and establish a regular structured dialogue between the Agencies.

Josef Doppelbauer, Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), and Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to further develop exchange of know-how and find synergies in using similar systems, platforms, and methodologies.

The MoC promotes inter-agency cooperation and establishes a regular structured dialogue between the Agencies, enhancing sharing of information, knowledge, and experience in the domains of aviation and railway safety, environmental protection and related regulatory, as well as scientific or innovation developments.

22.11.22 (grwr)


Indigenous CBTC to support driverless metro and train operation in India

IN: Delhi Metro Rail Corp has signed memorandum of understanding with Bharat Electronics Ltd for the joint development of Indigenous Communication-based Train Control to support driverless train and metro operation.

i-CBTC is seen as ‘an important milestone in India’s journey towards self-reliance in rail and metro operations’, explained BEL. The company was originally established by the Ministry of Defence to support the needs of the armed forces and has since grown into a multi-product business developing, manufacturing and supporting a wide range of electronics for defence and other customers in India and abroad.

The i-CBTC project is being led by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs. The MoU signed on November 7 aims to leverage the complementary capabilities of BEL and DMRC, which has pioneered CBTC and driverless operation in the Indian metro sector.

18.11.22 (rwg)


Siemens Mobility and Alstom to develop concept for DB’s new ICE fleet

DE: Germany’s national railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) has commissioned Siemens Mobility, a separately managed company of Siemens, and Alstom Transport Germany, a unit of Alstom, to develop a vehicle concept for its new high-speed Ice rail fleet.

The firms will collaborate on developing the concept of a new-generation high-speed train in the first half of 2023.

In the second half of next year, following the concept’s development, tenders will be floated for the development, construction and certification of the new trains, which are expected to be operational from the early 2030s.

The tender will be open to other manufacturers as well.

This new fleet, which will take the place of older ICE 3 trains, will have a capacity to accommodate nearly 950 passengers.

With a maximum length of 400m, the single-deck trains will be able to run at a maximum speed of 300km/h.

In a statement, Siemens stated that the new vehicles will set new standards in technical availability as well as energy efficiency. 

Siemens Mobility Rolling Stock CEO Albrecht Neumann stated: “We are especially pleased that Siemens Mobility is one of two competing suppliers to be commissioned to develop a new concept for high-speed trains.

“This will give us the opportunity to continue our long-standing partnership with Deutsche Bahn. Even the form of cooperation is forward-looking: Rather than delivering a specific catalog of requirements, the most important features of the new generation of ICE trains will be developed in close cooperation with the customer.” 

In September this year, Siemens and DB conducted a trial of the Mireo Plus H hydrogen train, having a maximum speed of 160km/h and 1.7MW of traction power. 

16.11.22 (rwt)


Research project finds way to enable more freight by rail

UK: A research project by the Rail Safety and Standards Board has discovered a way for UK freight train operators to safely haul more goods wagons per train.

A research project by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has allowed freight train operators in Great Britain to safely haul more goods wagons per train than current practices allow, improving their environmental impact and financial efficiency.

The research has enabled existing couplers, which connect freight wagons, to safely connect more load. The evidence means a 34.5 tonne coupler rating can increase 16 per cent to 40 tonne, and some 56 tonne rated couplers increasing 13 per cent to a new 63 tonne rating. Crucially the uprated values can be applied to wagons in use today without the need to upgrade or undertake a detailed engineering assessment.

Case studies

As a result of the research, more than 12,000 rail freight wagons, over 50 per cent of Britain’s fleet, will receive an increase in traction rating (the amount of weight it is able to safely haul). RSSB’s real-world case studies found that increasing coupler strength ratings will provide huge environmental and financial benefits. On a typical Anglo-Scottish journey, over two tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions can be saved, as well as considerable amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions. Significant financial efficiencies are also delivered due to the train length increase.

Examples of a case study from the research include:

  • A 50-mile journey (each way) with 24 wagons. This increased to 27 wagons and provided environmental savings of 0.25 tonne CO2 (Carbon Dioxide). The projected annual financial savings were £291,000
  • A 235-mile journey (each way) with 14 wagons. This increased to 16 wagons and provided environmental savings of 1.4 tonne CO2. The projected annual financial savings were £245,000
  • A 235-mile journey (each way) with 19 wagons. This increased to 23 wagons and provided environmental savings of 2.1 tonne CO2. The projected annual financial savings were £364,000.

The rail industry is now implementing the improved freight coupler load ratings and identifying routes suitable for longer freight services.

Reactions to the research

“By enabling longer trains, more goods and materials can be hauled per journey, this will have a hugely positive impact on emissions and financial efficiency,” Aaron Barrett, Lead Research Analyst for RSSB, said. “This research project is the first in a series, funded by the Department of Transport, designed to help the rail freight sector in Great Britain. Our freight research programme is currently focusing on the safe operation of rail freight, raising the average speed of services, enabling the operation of longer trains and reducing emissions.”

“It’s great to see how we’re continuing to improve our freight network, so even more goods and materials can be moved with every journey, strengthening the UK supply chain,” Huw Merriman, Rail Minister, said. “Investment into new ideas and innovations is vital as we continue to strengthen the UK supply chain and strive towards greener freight and net zero by 2050.”

“Rail Freight Group members have been working hard to improve the efficiency and performance of their rail freight services and look forward to moving more goods and materials on the new capacity this research has identified,” Maggie Simpson, Director General of the Rail Freight Group, said. “RSSB’s research projects are bringing modern thinking and analysis to age old issues and will enable more goods to be hauled by train without needing investment in new infrastructure or rolling stock.”

16.11.22 (grwr)


Network Rail selects McLaren 5G tech for infrastructure monitoring trains

UK: UK-based Network Rail has chosen McLaren Applied for the provision of a 5G on-board connectivity solution for its infrastructure monitoring trains.

Under a five-year service contract, the company will deploy its patented F1-derived Fleet Connect software on the Active Antenna hardware.

Transport fleets around the world have already been installed with the patented Fleet Connect software, which provides seamless high-speed passenger WiFi connections and operator uplinks.

The data across the networks is split by the software in real time. Later, it is reassembled in the cloud as it travels to its destination.

This is said to help lower blackspots and deliver a consistent connectivity stream for any moving vehicle in any environment.

It is said that the first implementation of Active Antenna technology in the country will provide a new and simplified approach to on-train connectivity infrastructure.

All radio frequency cables and routers are replaced with a single ethernet connection that uses Huber+Suhner componentry with an edge compute module, modem and eSIM capability embedded within the antenna.

The combination of Fleet Connect software and Active Antenna hardware enables trains to continuously connect through various network providers, formats and strengths across the country.

McLaren Applied chief operating officer Samir Maha said: “The innovative solution proposed by McLaren Applied to secure this contract is the perfect illustration of how our work at the cutting-edge of motorsport can directly translate into game-changing solutions for transport. 

“By uniting our Formula One-derived Fleet Connect software and Active Antenna hardware, we have created a turn-key product that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

“We look forward to working with Network Rail to deliver fast, reliable connectivity for its hard-working fleet across Great Britain.” 

15.11.22 (rwt)


Rail Baltic Estonia reports construction procurement for Ülemiste terminal

EE: The construction procurement for the first stage of the Ülemiste terminal building in Tallinn, Estonia, has been announced by Rail Baltic Estonia.

The cost of the tender is estimated at around €66.5m.

Following the demolition of the existing railway, an underground level and other related railway facilities will be constructed.

The construction works to rebuild the existing Ülemiste railway infrastructure will be conducted to create room for the Rail Baltic 1,435mm gauge railway.

By the deadline for the construction tender, three bids had been submitted for the reconstruction works of the railway infrastructure related to the joint terminal.

The project will involve the demolition of around 16.3km of existing tracks followed by the construction of more than 8km of new 1,520mm gauge railways.

It will also cover the reconstruction of utility networks crossing the railway and the Kantsi viaduct. 

Construction permits have been granted for the execution of the works. Most of the railway works are expected to be completed during 2024, while the contractual works will be concluded in 2026.

OU Reaalprojekt and OU Allspark provided the design work for the Ülemiste railway infrastructure while Zaha Hadid Architects and Esplan OU served as the author and designer for the terminal.

Rail Baltic Estonia operations head Marko Kivila said: “We are procuring the construction of the Ülemiste joint terminal in stages, and now that the procurement for the reconstruction of the railway infrastructure has ended, we can move forward with the next stage, which is the construction procurement for the concrete structures under the railway. In essence, we are procuring the underground part of the terminal building.”

The deadline for bid submission for the procurement of construction works for railway facilities at the Ülemiste passenger terminal has been set for 5 January 2023.

Construction will start early next year if the procurement is concluded on time.

15.11.22 (rwt)


Three companies to manage Santos port network

BR: Santos Port Authority has chosen a consortium of Ferrovia Centro Atlântica, MRS Logística and Rumo to manage the port’s 100 km internal rail network. All three operators already run freight trains to and from the port.

The consortium was given 45 days from the announcement on October 17 to present an operational transition plan, which will in turn need to be implemented within 90 days. A formal contract with the authority is expected to be signed before the end of the year.

The port authority intends to award a 35-year concession to manage, operate, maintain and expand the network. The concessionaires will be required to invest R$891m over the next five years to more than double capacity from around 50 million tonnes a year to 115 million tonnes. According to SPA, the rail network is currently operating at 94% of its nominal capacity.

Modernisation and expansion work is expected to start as soon as the executive projects have been approved. Specific elements will include:

  • development of the yard between channel four and Ponta da Praia, and the aying of three tracks to serve the cellulose pulp terminals;
  • construction of viaducts to allow closure of the level crossing in the 4-Marinha channel region;
  • provision of pedestrian walkways between channel four and Ponta da Praia;
  • provision on the ‘Pera’ railway of two viaducts and a footbridge in the Outeirinhos region;
  • new access to the second port entrance on the right bank of the Santos estuary in Saboó.

The Santos port rail network is at present run by Portofer, whose concession is being terminated early.

11.11.22 (rwg)


DB IO signs Egyptian high speed operating contract

EG: A consortium led by Deutsche Bahn International Operations has been selected to operate and maintain the first phase of the country’s future high speed rail network, dubbed the ‘Suez Canal on Rails’.

Attending the contract signing ceremony on November 8 were (from left) DB ECO Group Chief Executive Niko Warbanoff, German Ambassador Frank Hartmann, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbuli, Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir, NAT Chairman General Sherif Hassan Lail and Ahmed Elsewedy, President & CEO of Elsewedy Electric.

Expected to cost more than €12bn, the 2 000 km three-line network will serve around 60 stations. The lines are being designed to carry passenger services at a maximum speed of 230 km/h and freight trains running at up to 120 km/h.

With Egypt’s population expected to grow from 105 to 160 million by 2050, the high capacity network is seen as a central pillar in a sustainable public transport network and a regional flagship for modal shift. It is being developed by a Siemens Mobility-led consortium under a contract signed on May 28, and the first line is scheduled to begin operation in 2025.

Under a 15-year contract valued in the single-digit billion euro range, the DB IO subsidiary of DB ECO Group and local partner Elsewedy Electric will be responsible for operating and maintaining the 660 km Green Line linking Mersa Matruh on the Mediterranean coast to Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea via Cairo and the New Administrative Capital. This includes the operation of high speed, regional passenger and freight services, plus maintenance of the infrastructure, stations and rolling stock.

Awarded by the National Authority for Tunnels on behalf of the Egyptian government, the contract was signed on November 8, on the fringes of the UN COP27 climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh. It is the company’s third major project to be awarded this year following contracts to operate and maintain the Delhi Regional Rapid Transit System and the expanded GO Transit network in Toronto.

10.11.22 (rwg)


Egis to design Kénitra – Marrakech high speed line

MA: ONCF has appointed Egis Group to act as general consultant for design work on the long-planned extension of the country’s high speed line from Kénitra to Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech.

A key element in the Rail Morocco 2040 plan, this second section is regarded as a strategically important link that will facilitate connections between the country’s major cities.

The contract announced on November 8 has been divided into three work packages: Kénitra – Ain Sebaa (150 km), Ain Sebaa – Nouaceur (assorted works totalling 130 km) and Nouaceur – Marrakech (212 km). The central section includes design of the route through the Casablanca area, where the existing busy main line is to be widened to four tracks over a distance of nearly 60 km in a restrictive urban setting.

According to Egis Rail, co-ordinating the design work for more than 430 km of new line in a relatively short timeframe will be a significant challenge. Each of the design packages must take account of functional and geographical constraints whilst optimising the design and ensuring consistency with the rest of the network. The consultants will work closely with the national railway’s own design office, as well as the engineering, operations, maintenance and commercial departments.

As project owner, ONCF will determine the preferred sequencing of the project phases, taking into account the need to eliminate network bottlenecks, maximise capacity and optimise its overall investment.

Between 2010 and 2018, Egis played a key role in the development of the Tanger – Kénitra high speed line, overseeing civil works on the northern section and undertaking integrated programme management for the track, overhead line and the construction depots.

Designed for 320 km/h operation, the first high speed line on the African continent was opened in November 2018. ONCF operates Al Boraq services between Tanger and Casablanca using a fleet of 12 TGV 2N2 double-deck trainsets supplied by Alstom.

10.11.22 (rwg)


Next-generation A’REX fleet design unveiled

SK: Incheon airport shuttle operator A’REX has unveiled the design of its next generation of 150 km/h express trains to be used on the 61 km route between the airport and Seoul Station.

Hyundai Rotem is supplying nine six-car 1 435 mm gauge trainsets under a 181bn won contract signed in January.

The operator will use the new rolling stock to augment its existing fleet, helping it to resolve customer complaints and safety concerns related to increasing congestion on trains and at stations.

A’REX selected Hyundai Rotem through a ‘technology evaluation-oriented bidding approach’; the operator specified that the EMUs had to have better acceleration and braking than those being supplied for Seoul’s GTX Line A.

The extra A’REX trainsets will enter service from 2025. When all are running, peak headways will be cut to 4 min from the current 6 min and the operator expects a 30% reduction in congestion.

09.11.22 (rwg)


Mercitalia to order 400 locos as part of fleet renewal strategy

IT: FS Group freight subsidiary Mercitalia has announced plans to order 400 electric and bi-mode locomotives, and 3 600 next-generation wagons.

The company says that 80% of the investment in what it calls the ‘FS Group Logistics Hub’ is to be used for the renewal of the fleet, within a budget of €2·5bn. A further €70m is to be spent on upgrading existing rolling stock. FS Group’s Industrial Plan has set a target of doubling rail freight volumes by 2030.

The investment programme is intended to bring down the average age of rolling stock to seven years from the current 30. The new locomotives and wagons together are expected to cut the operator’s energy consumption by 25% compared to the existing fleet; Mercitalia has recently ordered 20 Alstom Traxx DC3 electric locomotives for delivery in 2024. By the end of the year 160 new wagons for intermodal and international services are also to be put into traffic.

By 2031, Mercitalia Shunting & Terminal will also add 32 locomotives to its fleet for use in yards and at ports. The company is also in the process of overhauling around 240 Sgnss wagons.

09.11.22 (rwg)


SNCF fined over Brétigny derailment

FR: A court in Evry has found national operator SNCF guilty of homicide and involuntary injury following the derailment on July 12 2013 of a Paris Austerlitz – Limoges locomotive-hauled Intercités service at Brétigny-sur-Orge in the southern Paris suburbs.

The train was passing through Brétigny station when the rear four of seven Corail coaches derailed at 137 km/h, killing seven people and injuring or traumatising 428 others, some of whom were waiting on the station’s platforms.

In its ruling on October 26, the court issued SNCF with a €300 000 penalty but acquitted local maintenance inspector Laurent Waton, who had made the last inspection of the trackwork eight days before the accident. Infrastructure company SNCF Réseau, which in 2013 was functioning as Réseau Ferré de France, was also acquitted.

At the end of a trial that lasted from April 25 to June 17 this year, the public prosecutor had stated that SNCF had ‘created the context at the origin of the accident’ by ‘a failure in the maintenance chain’. The prosecutor had asked for a maximum penalty of €450 000, saying that the ‘whole concept of public service has collapsed’ and accusing SNCF of being ‘a company in denial’.

The derailment was caused by a loose fishplate obstructing the flangeway of an oblique crossing forming part of a double slip about 200 m north of the station. The fishplate had pivoted as a result of a crack spreading in the crossing which had first been detected in 2008.

The crack should have been monitored annually by SNCF, and ‘this negligence in monitoring the crossing is definitely linked to the derailment’, the judge said in the October 26 ruling. If SNCF had correctly checked the crossing it would have noted its damaged condition and proceeded to replace it, the judge concluded.

The court also found that SNCF had inadequate documentary checks in place to monitor the work carried out by its maintenance staff. In its defence, SNCF said that the accident was attributable to an undetectable defect in the steel used in the crossing, but the judge dismissed this argument.

03.11.22 (rwg)


Funding deal clears the way for Germany’s €49 monthly ticket

DE: The federal government reached agreement with the Länder on November 2 to launch a nationwide monthly public transport ticket priced at €49. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the ticket would be made available ‘as soon as possible’, with January 1 2023 being set as the target start date.

Agreement on the principle of launching a Deutschlandticket had been reached in mid-October, but it took until the start of November to hammer out a funding deal. Under the agreement, the federal government will share the €3bn annual cost equally with the Länder by providing an increase in the so-called regionalisation funds that are used by the Länder to pay operators for public transport services. The federal government will also provide a further €1bn a year towards the cost of expanding local public transport.

As with the €9 monthly ticket sold during in the summer, the €49 ticket will only be valid on local public transport and regional trains. It will be offered in digital format, although discussions about a paper version are understood to be still in progress.

Speaking after a meeting with the Land transport ministers, Federal Minister for Transport & Digital Dr Volker Wissing said the ticket formula was ‘attractive, digital and simple. With today’s decision the way is clear for Germany’s biggest public transport tariff reform. Never before has it been so easy for people in our country to use buses and trains. We are rethinking mobility and protecting the climate through attractive offers.’

 The €49 ticket will initially be made available for two years, but there is provision for a possible price increase after the first year. The price may also be linked to inflation from the second year. The federal government will discuss future pricing with the Länder at the end of 2024.

Managing Director of lobby group Allianz pro Schiene Dirk Flege welcomed the decision to launch the €49 ticket as ‘a really historic step towards a modern transport policy’. He described the move as ‘a giant step for the climate’ and noted the significance of ‘politicians wanting to make public transport more accessible, better value and more attractive’.

Transport Minister for Baden-Württemberg Winfried Hermann was not alone in voicing concerns about the January start date, pointing out that adjusting the Länder budgets would take time, as would adapting operators’ fares systems and equipment. He suggested that launch of the ticket could be delayed until March 1 or April 1.

The €9 local rail and public transport ticket offer in June, July and August to revitalise travel after the coronavirus pandemic is judged to have been very successful. Around 52 million tickets were sold over the three months, with the holders making around 1 billion trips a month. The German public transport association VDV estimates that use of the cut-price tickets avoided 1∙8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

03.11.22 (rwg)


Arriva enters the Dutch night train market

NL: Arriva has confirmed it will launch its first open access night train service from Maastricht to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport with the December timetable change.

The operator ran an initial trial service on the night of October 28-29, departing from Maastricht at 01.01 and returning from Schiphol at 05.40. The journey time was around 2 h each way.

Regular weekly services from Maastricht to Schiphol Airport are due to begin on December 16. A second service from Groningen to Schiphol Airport is expected to start in January, following the reopening of the Hanze Line between Zwolle and Lelystad. Operating on Friday nights, the trains are intended to provide connections into early flight departures from Schiphol on the Saturday morning.

All tickets for the night trains will cost €10 for a single trip, regardless of the length of the journey.

Arriva believes that this will be the first open-access overnight passenger service in the Netherlands, following the opening up of the market through implementation of the EU’s Fourth Railway Package. The DB subsidiary lodged an application with the competition authority Autoriteit Consument & Markt in May 2021 seeking rights to run three open access services on the core network, challenging the monopoly of incumbent NS.

02.11.22 (rwg)


Island Hopping for Battery Trains: DB Begins Construction of OLE Islands

DE: Deutsche Bahn (DB) has begun construction of electrified overhead contact line islands that will charge battery-powered trains in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

These islands will provide a future energy supply for battery-powered trains without the need for end-to-end electrification – something standard electric trains would require. Instead, the technology only requires short sections of track or individual stations to be electrified. Battery-powered trains are then able to use the overhead line to charge their batteries for journeys through non-electrified sections.

DB Infrastructure Board Member Berthold Huber said:“With innovative infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology, we are continuing to push ahead with the expansion of alternative drives. Our goal is clear: Deutsche Bahn will be climate-neutral by 2040. We are also helped by creative solutions such as the overhead contact line island for battery-powered trains.”
In the future, Deutsche Bahn estimates that this system will enable more than ten million kilometres of train traffic in Schleswig-Holstein to be be powered with electricity rather than diesel, with a potential reduction in diesel use of around ten million litres annually.

Schleswig-Holstein’s Economics Minister Claus Ruhe Madsen said:“Thanks to battery-powered trains, most of the diesel multiple units in Schleswig-Holstein will soon be obsolete. New infrastructure solutions are also needed for this innovative solution in the field of vehicles. The construction of the overhead line islands for the battery trains is an important step towards climate-neutral local transport for the country.”
The first catenary masts are currently being erected at Kiel and Büchen stations. The first substations and overhead line islands will then be constructed in the federal state by the end of 2023.

Deutsche Bahn wants to expand this approach to further federal states too, citing Rhineland-Palatinate and the Rhine-Ruhr region as areas where preparatory plans have been completed or initiated.

02.11.22 (rn)


Czech rolling stock manufacturer Škoda opens branch in Italy

IT: Škoda Transportation Group opened an office of its new subsidiary in Florence, Italy, on Friday 28 October in a bid to strengthen its position on the international market. The company sees similarities between the Czech and Italian operators, and aims to bring self-driving trams to Italian cities. 

In Italy, Škoda Group will focus its attention on train transport and rolling stock for urban transport. Olesea Lachi, who has long been responsible for sales of rolling stock in the Group, has become the managing director of the subsidiary. She sees many similarities between the Czech operators and its Italian counterparts. “The specifics, preferences and habits of Italian operators are like the Czech ones. Many cities in both countries are UNESCO heritage sites and offer stunning historic centres characterised by narrow streets, arches with small, curved radius, which place higher demands on vehicle manufacturers.”

The company plans to offer partners a comprehensive solution, from the manufacture of individual components to the delivery of complete vehicles and their subsequent maintenance. With a similar move, Škoda Group has successfully entered the German and Finnish markets. As one of the fifty countries where Škoda has delivered its products, the manufacturer has already worked on several orders for Italian customers in the past. Its trolleybuses run in Bologna and Cagliari, where Škoda has also supplied trams. Passengers can take electric units for a ride in Domodossola.

‘Tram revolution’
At the festive opening of the subsidiary’s office, Škoda Group organised an event called “Tram Revolution”, which was attended by representatives of Italian institutions and industry experts. During a roundtable, opinions, studies, experiences, and specific programmes on the future of mobility were gathered among needs, urban limits, combined strategies, and future projects.

Also, discussions were held on how to sustainably improve the vitality of historic cities such as those in Tuscany, which characterise Italy in a distinctive way. “The experience of Florence speaks for itself: the tram is essential for the daily life of cities, changing and improving them”, said Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella.

“The tram route appears to be a throwback to the past, but instead is a modern and efficient infrastructure and a symbolic example of virtual mobility”, according to Škoda.

In the city of the future, Škoda Group envisions a self-driving tram which runs completely safe thanks to the latest technology. Soon, battery-powered vehicles that are not only environmentally friendly and sustainable, but also able to move more quickly in historic centres with narrow streets, will be more common in cities, says Škoda. Florence has recently been shortlisted for the nine Italian capitals that are to be ‘zero-emission’ or climate neutral by 2030, meaning vehicles without emissions are a must.

Rolling stock and electrical systems
The Czech manufacturer is known for its low-floor trams, electric locomotives, suburban train units, metro sets, electric buses and trolleybuses. It also produces control and drive systems for transport systems. Orders for electrical systems and components ‘characterise this year’, according to the company. For example, Wabtec (formerly GE) is building a fleet of locomotives for Kazakhstan with components from Škoda, and the company produces complete drives including motors for locomotives for track maintenance of the Italian company Tesmec. Traction engine components will be used in locomotives or S-Bahn vehicles in Hamburg, Germany, which are produced by Alstom.

Formerly part of parent company parent Škoda Works, which also included the car manufacturing branch, the rolling stock branch Škoda Transportation is now separate, and owned by investment group PPF. It has several production sites in the Czech Republic, as well as one in Finland, and employs over six and half thousand people in its companies. The Group has a total of 15 subsidiaries or joint ventures in the Czech Republic as well as in Finland, Hungary and Germany. The company takes pride in their research and development efforts, saying it is “only thanks to high investments in R&D that Škoda Group can regularly come to market with new and modern products that successfully find their place on foreign markets”. It invested 81.1 million euros in research and development in 2021.

01.11.22 (rt)


Network Rail puts its laser on leaves on the line

UK: British infrastructure management agency Network Rail is hitting the age old problem of leaves on the line with a space age solution. It’s a death ray for detritus that might finally see railway technology win the annual battle of autumn. The wrong kind of leaves might just be beaten by the right kind of laser on the line.

 Never mind snow, sun and strikes. If there is one thing guaranteed to bring Britain’s railways to a standstill. It’s leaves. Come autumn, when this green and pleasant land turns ruby red, railway engineers turn an equal shade of exasperation as the rails are buried beneath a rusty carpet of friction free fallen leaves. Maybe just now they have the answer, in a technology that’s found a hundred and one uses to date – and now the trusty laser has found use number one hundred and two.

Thwarted by nature
Brake shoes once were the answer. The application of friction on the flange provided a self-cleaning mechanism that put leaves in their place – which wasn’t on the line. Trouble is, a trusty brake shoe might cut through the fallen leaves, but it hardly cuts the mustard when you’re trying to stop an 800 tonne train doing 125 miles per hour (200 kilometres per hour). To stop at Ashford you’d have to brake at Sevenoaks.

Super-stopping disc brakes do the job much more reliably, but are thwarted by nature, every time the line gets a carpet of fallen leaves. Pile on the brakes at Priory and you’ll be Dover and out as you fly over the White Cliffs at undiminished velocity. Something better is needed, and plenty has been tried.

The battle to rule the rails
Jets of water; jets of steam; sprays of sand and grit and all sorts of chemically complicated pastes have been tested and tried. They’ve all come up short on providing the ultimate answer to the relentless rustic crust of leaves on the line.

Until now. The technology that powers everything from printers to power stations could finally win the battle to rule the rails come autumn time. What Network Rail is calling space-age technologies, using lasers and plasma jets, are being trialled as a more sustainable way to vaporise autumn leaves from railway lines and minimise passenger delays in the future. We’ll overlook the fact that the technology pre-dates the space-age and doesn’t actually vaporise anything.

Throughout October, Network Rail has been carrying out comprehensive testing using its multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) on heritage railway lines at the East Lancashire Railway in England. Engineers have been testing if autumn treatment trains, fitted with the laser beams and superheated plasma jets, are as effective at cleaning rails as the current method using high pressure water systems. So far, so hi-tech.

A joke that’s no joke on the railway
During autumn train wheels compress leaves onto rails and form an almost friction-free residue which makes it harder for trains to brake or accelerate (pretty much the two fundamental things engineers would like a train to do). “Leaves on the line are often seen as a joke on the railway”, said Suhayb Manzoor, Network Rail’s project engineer, who doesn’t see the funny side of the matter. “They can cause serious problems and we’re always looking at new ways to tackle this age-old problem.”

The conundrum is not unique to Britain. Railways all over the world suffer issues when trees shed their leaves. “For that reason, it’s exciting to be putting some of the newest technology out there to the test”, adds Manzoor. “The hope [is] that one day it could help Network Rail keep passengers and freight moving safely at this operationally challenging time of year.”

Stars in this war on the rails
Network Rail is not putting all its autumn apples in one basket. They’re trying out two systems because … reasons. The first comes from Laser Precision Solutions, a company that’s pinned their hopes on their ‘LaserTrain’, which uses three high powered beams per railhead to treat the rails. They claim their sophisticated setup will ablate the contamination without melting the rails – which engineers agree would be a significant disadvantage.

Then there’s PlasmaTrack. Their boffins use direct current (DC) plasma technology “which uses heat and active electrons to split things apart. The high energy electrical plasma beam tears apart the leaf layer as well as heating and burning it off.” In other words – they zap the leaves with a zillion volts and try not to do the same to the train and everybody in it – which engineers agree would be a significant disadvantage.

Will it be lasers or plasma that defeats the all-powerful leaf? Currently a fleet of trains with high-pressure water jets clear Britain’s 20,000-mile railway network in the autumn. If a less wet solution, contraction not withstanding, should be found on the rebellious rails of the East Lancashire Railway, expect the empire of Network Rail to strike back soon. That, engineers agree, would be a very poplar outcome indeed.

01.11.22 (rt)

ÖBB introduced novel railway bridge support structure

AT: ÖBB has for the first time installed a pre-fabricated railway bridge support structure with much thinner and lighter concrete walls than usual. The solution was tested by the the Vienna University of Technology, a partner in the project.

“With the first application on the Pinkabach Bridge, ÖBB has made a decisive contribution to the further development of this innovation”, Johann Kollegger, Professor of Concrete Construction at Vienna University of Technology, said in a reaction on the news. The bridge was installed near the village of Haideggendorf.

The bridge structure consists of concrete box girders that have a wall thicknesses of some 15 centimetres, whereas this would normally be in the range of 25 to 30 centimetres. The pre-fabricated parts require less concrete as a result, thus lowering the CO2-footprint of the parts. Because they are also lighter and easier to install, the construction process is faster, too. One of the downsides is that the thinner pieces need to be handled with more care during installation.

The bridge slab consists of two precast parts, measuring 19.05 and 3.33 metres in length, respectively. The bigger piece tips the scale at 60 tonnes, the smaller weighs in at around 5.5 tonnes.

31.10.22 (rt)


France seems to welcome competition on the rails, yet new services keep getting postponed

FR: Only one competitor to the state-owned railways SNCF currently runs trains on the French network. This is Italy’s Trenitalia, which has been running on the Paris-Lyon-Milan axis since 2020. Although there are quite some plans for new services by new operators, many keep getting postponed. This raises the question of whether current conditions are suited to actually achieve a more broad offer of rail services in France.

For high-speed TGVs, SNCF’s monopoly ended in 2020, when open-access competition was authorised. International high-speed service Thalys has been running on the tracks for years, but now owned by Eurostar, it has always been largely in the hands of the SNCF, along with the Belgian SNCB and currently also two investment companies. As for the short- and medium distance TET services and the regional TER trains in France, the organising authorities (the French State and regions) have had the option of putting contracts up for bid or awarding lines to SNCF since December 2019. From December 2023, however, they will be required to put their contracts up for bid.

“Nearly 30 years after countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden, France is one of the last European countries to open up its domestic passenger rail transport services to competition”, the French Transport Authority (ART) said in a study published earlier this year about opening the railways up to competition.  “European experiences show that opening up to competition is a major lever for the development and revitalisation of passenger rail transport, from which all stakeholders, including the incumbent operator, can emerge as winners.”

The ART does not view the opening of the local market as new entrants simply substituting services previously offered by the incumbent rail operator. “On the contrary, it is the vector of a new breath for the railway system as a whole.” SNCF, in their own words on its website, also sees rail market liberalisation as a chance. “It’s a major opportunity for SNCF, because our rail expertise is unmatched anywhere in Europe”. However, new services entering the French railway network are still a rarity.

However, for the competition model to be a success, the right conditions need to be in place. However, barriers such as the high access charges of the French rail infrastructure and the difficulty for (new) operators to get their hands on rolling stock remain.

High infrastructure charges
Low-cost open-access operator FlixTrain had plans to operate trains in France from 2021, but this was postponed due to the high track access charges to run trains on the French tracks. Yvan Lefranc-Morin, FlixBus Director-General in France, told AFP in 2020: “With such high costs, it seems to us that it is simply not feasible for a new entrant to offer users an affordable rail service similar to that which Flixtrain provides in Germany.”

French Transport minister Clément Beaune said on French TV channel France Info this week that France has the “highest subsidy for rail in Europe”, but this seems quite an empty statement, and does not take spending per capita into account.

Lobby organisation ALLRAIL, which represents new entrants in the rail operator market, points out that France also has one of the highest track access charges in Europe. “SNCF’s TGVs are operated in open access. Where does all the money go? In Public Service Contracts directly awarded to SNCF?”, they ask in a LinkedIn post.

“Allocating the subsidy to the infrastructure manager to lower the track access charges and extending the practice of competitive tendering for Public Service Contracts to all Regions (instead of direct awards) is the most optimal way to use the the taxpayer’s funds in order to have lower ticket prices and a better service”, the organisation says.

The difficulty of acquiring rolling stock
New open-access operator Le Train postponed the launch of its first services from mid-2023 until early 2024. The three main reasons, Managing Director Alain Gétraud told Railway Gazette, were the difficulty of accessing second-hand rolling stock or buying new trains, the issue of still needing older signalling equipment with the limited deployment of ETCS in France, and assessing maintenance and stabling facilities. The high-access charges weren’t mentioned in this case.

ALLRAIL also says that the lack of availability of second-hand long-distance rolling-stock is one of the main barriers to new entrants and to competition in Europe. The organisation therefore calls on European policymakers to make it mandatory for state-owned incumbents to sell or lease their underutilised or unutilised rolling-stock on the market on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

New entrant Railcoop, which has a unique cooperative membership as a basis, also postponed its first passenger services twice. The launch of Railcoop’s first passenger line Bordeaux – Lyon was scheduled for 11 December 2022, but was postponed as the cooperative said it faces persistent barriers as a new rail company in cooperative form. The first freight services of the company are already running.

According to Railcoop, there is also a difficulty in the fact that the banking players don’t easily support the risk of traffic on a rail service which is not operated at a high level. This shows the need to provide more appropriate support for the opening of the market, says the operator. “In particular by setting up public guarantee mechanisms to facilitate access to loans.” The second reason was that their rolling stock is being renovated, and this was taking longer than depends on the ability of the industry to renovate the available second-hand trains within a reasonable timeframe.

‘Competition new opportunity for the regions’
In a speech, Clément Beaune, Minister Delegate in charge of Transport, talked about the future of rail at the annual Colloquium of AFRA, the French association for rail which brings together alternative operators to the SNCF, earlier this October.

“The number of trains in circulation for the benefit of all the gradual opening up to competition by the end of 2023 of services under contract is a new opportunity for the regions. The Southern region was the first to seize this opportunity, awarding public service contracts in October 2021 after the call for tenders, one to SNCF Voyageurs and the other to Transdev.” The first trains of the private operator should run in 2025.

“As the first private rail operator in Germany and present in four countries, we are well positioned to take a major place in the deregulation of the French market”, Transdev says on its website. “Our everyday transport priority: alternative offers that are more efficient and lucrative on regional lines”.

The movement of opening up the regional lines will only increase, as three other regions, Grand Est, Hauts-de-France and Pays de la Loire, will have also initiated service competition procedures by 2024 – 2025, said Beaune. “For my part, as Minister of Transport I launched a call for applications for the competition for the operation of the TET lines between Nantes and Lyon and between Nantes and Bordeaux several weeks ago”, he addressed AFRA and its members on their annual meeting.

He also thanked the French rail association and the role they played in advocating competition. “I salute the essential role that AFRA and its members were playing to best prepare for this opening. The positions you have expressed have largely fuelled our reflection on that of the State to define this balanced competitive framework, and have helped us to draft the new regulatory texts published since 2018 in the most balanced way possible”.

31.10.22 (rt)


Rhätische Bahn runs record passenger train

CH: On October 29 Rhätische Bahn successfully ran a special service formed of 25 four-car Capricorn electric multiple-units to claim a record for the world’s longest passenger train. The event was staged as part of a series of celebrations to mark 175 years of railways in Switzerland, and in a bid to boost tourist traffic following the coronavirus pandemic.

The 1 906 m long train was operated over a steeply graded section of the 89 km Albula line from St Moritz to Chur, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The special departed from Preda at 14.20, 20 min later than scheduled, and crossed the 65 m high Landwasser viaduct near Filisur before completing its 24∙93 km journey at Alvaneu at about 15.30. Actual running time was around 46 min. En route the train traversed 48 bridges and viaducts and passed through 22 tunnels on the 1 000 mm gauge route.

The 100-vehicle formation of Stadler-built trainsets grossed 2 990 tonnes. Regenerative braking was used to control the train on the downhill route ― the difference in height from the starting point to Alvaneu was nearly 790 m.

Speed was limited to 35 km/h, partly to avoid overloading the power supply system ― around 4 000 kWh were generated during the descent. Passage of the train was monitored from the RhB network control centre in Landquart.

On board the train were seven drivers, 21 technicians and 150 guests. Around 3 000 people watched the train from a dedicated festive viewing site near Bergün where the train halted for 10 min ― tickets for the event were sold out within a few days after they were offered for sale in early August.

Complex preparations
Before the departure, RhB organised a press visit to the new Albula tunnel which is currently under construction parallel to the existing bore dating from 1903. The operator’s Head of Infrastructure Christian Florin reported on progress with the new tunnel, which is scheduled to open in summer 2024, while Head of Rolling Stock Ivo Hutter provided more details of the preparations for the world record run.

Several months of preparatory work and testing were needed ahead of the event. With the final tests completed, RhB assembled the 25 Capricorn EMUs on the evening of Friday October 28 in Samedan. Here they were programmed for the special run on the following day and coupled in sets of four; a field telephone was installed along the length of the train for communications purposes. The complete train was then assembled and positioned in the Albula tunnel ready for departure. About 400 staff were involved in the project during the day.

As the Albula route had to be closed for about 12 hours, RhB arranged a special timetable for regular passengers to and from the Engadin with some trains diverted via the Vereina route and others replaced by buses.
Once the train had completed its run, RhB Director Renato Fasciati.was presented with a certificate from Guinness World Records, certifying the record trip as the world’s ‘longest narrow gauge passenger train’.

‘After intensive preparation, we are overjoyed to have achieved this world record’, he commented. ‘Not only did we have a wonderful railway festival here in Bergün, but we were able to present ourselves around the world as a fascinating and innovative mountain railway, thanks to our dedicated partners, sponsors and an incredibly dedicated team. Fasciati added that people had come from all over the world to see the ‘amazing spectacle’.
Sponsors for the event included Stadler Rail, track maintenance company Sersa, Siemens, Repower and ABB.

The previous record for the world’s longest passenger train was established on April 27 1991 when a 1 732 m long train formed of 70 coaches and a single Class 27 electric locomotive ran from Gent to Oostende in Belgium.

BHP Iron Ore set a world record for the longest freight train on June 21 2001 when it operated a 7∙3 km long train formed of 682 wagons between Yandi mine and Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of western Australia; hauled by eight General Electric AC6000CW diesel locomotives, that train had a gross weight of 99 734 tonnes.

31.10.22 (rwg)


Moscow suburban train order

RU: Moscow’s Central Suburban Passenger Co has awarded Transhmashholding’s Tver-based TMH-PTR subsidiary a contract to supply 23 11-car DC electric multiple-units between Q4 2022 and Q1 2023.

The contract awarded to the sole bidder is worth 20·5bn roubles including VAT. The EMUs will have a design speed of 120 km/h, acceleration of 0·7 m/s2 up to 60 km/h and 996 seats.

27.10.22 (rwg)

Australian National Rail Manufacturing Plan funded

AU: The 2022-23 federal budget includes A$14·2m over four years to establish a National Rail Manufacturing Plan ‘to ensure more trains are built in Australia, support skilled manufacturing and expand the local rail industry’.

An Office of National Rail Industry Co-ordination will be formed within the Department of Industry to work with state and territory governments, manufacturers, industry bodies, unions and research organisations.

The office will establish a Rail Industry Innovation Council to boost research and development, skills and capabilities. It will appoint a rail supplier advocate to help SMEs access export and government supply opportunities, and develop a National Rail Procurement & Manufacturing Strategy to increase productivity and facilitate opportunities for Australian manufacturers.

The announcement on October 25 was welcomed by Australasian Railway Association CEO Caroline Wilkie, who said ’a national focus for local manufacturing is essential to strengthen the Australian rail supply chain as the industry prepares for significant growth over the coming decade’.

28.10.22 (rwg)

€353m Rail Baltica grant agreement signed

EU: EUROPE: A grant agreement which will see the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility provide €353·9m for the Rail Baltica project has been signed by the European Climate, Infrastructure & Environment Executive Agency, ministries from the three countries and tri-national implementation agency RB Rail.

This will fund the completion of main line design work between the Polish border, Kaunas and Vilnius, as well as compensation for land expropriation; the start of construction on the priority section in Latvia near the Lithuania border and development of detailed technical design for the construction base in Skulte; construction in Estonia, including capercaillie mitigation measures; and activities to ensure technical interoperability.

It is the eighth CEF Action supporting implementation of Rail Baltica, and the first in the 2021-27 financing period.


‘We live in times of increased economic uncertainty resulting from geopolitical crisis, continuous price fluctuations and volatile construction material availability, and it is more important than ever to ensure tight cross-border cooperation between the partners in the three Baltic countries to deliver the Rail Baltica and maintain its position amongst the top priority high-speed infrastructure projects in the European Union’, said RB Rail CEO Agnis Driksna on October 21.

26.10.22 (rwg)


California high speed rail station design contract awarded

US: The California High-Speed Rail Authority has awarded Foster+Partners and Arup a $35m contract to provide design services for Merced, Fresno, Kings/Tulare and Bakersfield stations on the initial 275 route-km segment of the line.

The 30-month contract includes identifying right-of-way and utility relocation requirements.

A separately funded second phase would cover final design and documentation to support construction and commissioning.

‘The first four Central Valley high speed rail stations are one step closer to reality’, said CHSRA Chairman Tom Richards on October 20. ‘High speed rail stations will transform cities, spur economic development and create community hubs within the heart of our state.’

26.10.22 (rwg)


Cádiz Trambahía tram-train line opens

ES: The Trambahía tram-train line in Cádiz has opened as the country’s first 1 668 mm gauge tram-train line. It includes 13·7 km of new tramway between Pelagatos and Río Arillo, from where services run 10·3 km into Cádiz over RENFE main line tracks shared with suburban, high speed and freight trains.

Passengers services began on October 26. On weekdays tram-trains will operate between 05.20 and 00.30, with 37 services in each direction; 18 run through from Chiclana to Cádiz, while the remainder terminate at Río Arillo with a 3 to 7 min connection on to RENFE suburban trains. There are 19 services per day at weekends, with most running through to Cádiz.

Fares range from €0·89 to €2·18. The Junta de Andalucía has requested that the tramway form part of the national abono recurrente free travel scheme until the end of 2023.

There are 234 000 people within 1 km of the 21 stops. Annual ridership is predicted at around 3 million passengers, which is expected to remove car traffic from Cádiz and the suburbs.


Planning for the project began in 2003 and construction in 2006. The cost was estimated at €140m, excluding rolling stock, and opening was scheduled for 2012.

However, there were long periods when no work took place, and the final cost has come in at more than €267m.

CAF supplied a fleet of seven 750 V DC/3 kV DC tram-trains. The three-section Urbos LRVs are 38 m long and 2 600 mm wide, with enhanced crashworthiness for main line running and two door heights to accommodate high station platforms and low stops on street-running sections.

When the vehicles were ordered, the railway from Sevilla to Cádiz was being upgraded to form part of the high speed network under which a change of gauge was envisaged, so the tram-trains have provision for future conversion to run on 1 435 mm gauge tracks.

26.10.22 (rwg)


Pajares Base Tunnel freight locomotive unveiled

ES: Stadler and national freight operator RENFE Mercancías have unveiled the first four of 12 Class 256 Euro 6000 electric locomotives designed to be able to haul 1 800 tonne trains through the Pajares Base Tunnel which is now expected to open in spring 2023.

The locos are being supplied from Stadler‘s Valencia plant under a €70·7m contract awarded on July 28 2021. Six are now expected to be delivered this year.

The 6·2 MW six-axle locomotives are equipped to use 25 kV 50 Hz, 3 kV DC and 1·5 kV DC electrification systems.

The 1 668 mm gauge bogies have provision for modification to enable use on 1 435 mm gauge lines.
21.10.22 (rwg)


EMU-320 high speed train unveiled

SK: The first of two pre-series EMU-320 high speed trains being built for Korail by Hyundai Rotem has been unveiled at the manufacturer’s Changwon factory, with the second expected to follow in November.

Ordered in 2016 as part of a contract for 19 six-car KTX-EUM sets for 260 km/h operation, the 320 km/h trains are derived from the HEMU-430X prototype. They have distributed traction equipment, rather than separate power cars, which is expected to provide better acceleration and braking performance.

Following testing, the eight-car trains with 515 seats are expected to be deployed on the Gyeongbu high speed line between Seoul and Busan and the Honam line from the capital to Mokpo. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport announced in March that 25 production sets would be delivered to Korail from December 2023, with a further 19 being supplied to independent operator SR Corp.

Korail currently operates the 260 km/h KTX-EUM trainsets, which also have distributed traction, on the Gangneung and Yeongdong lines in the northeast, and on the Central Inland and Central lines.
20.10.22 (rwg)


European Commission closes ČD pricing investigation

CR: The European Commission has closed its investigation into alleged predatory conduct by national passenger operator ČD, after concluding that the evidence did not confirm its initial concerns.

On November 10 2016, the European Commission opened an investigation to assess whether ČD had charged prices below costs with the aim of shutting out competition, in breach of EU rules.

On October 30 2020 it adopted a statement of objections expressing its preliminary view that between 2011 and 2019, ČD engaged in predatory pricing on the Praha – Ostrava route.

However, following an assessment of the evidence, including information received from ČD, the EC concluded that the evidence did not confirm these concerns and it has therefore closed its investigation.

A separate investigation into ČD and Austrian Federal Railways over an alleged collective boycott in the market for used passenger coaches is still ongoing.

20.10.22 (rwg)


Alstom sign Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the Government of Hungary

CR: Alstom and the Government of Hungary have announced that they have signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement in Budapest, in the presence of Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO of Alstom, Balázs Gáspár, General Manager of Alstom Transport Hungary Zrt, and Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Hungarian Government.

The agreement reinforces Alstom’s engagement, which has been present in Hungary for decades, in enhancing the performance of the Hungarian economy and increasing its international competitiveness.

Both parties intent is to further strengthen cooperation with regards to the development of the transport industry, leveraging Alstom’s innovative world-class solutions and technological innovations, potential expansion of the Hungarian product range and increased manufacturing capacity; as well as creating new, stable jobs and professional training.

Signing the agreement

Péter Szijjártó underlined that in the current severe economic crisis, it is extremely important to maintain economic growth, to gain investors’ confidence and attract new investments from large international companies. He also highlighted Alstom’s role in innovation, and research and development, highlighting the company’s development of the world’s first hydrogen train, which could be an important element for the future of energy security. Therefore, cooperation in this field could lead to furthering this collaborative partnership.

“I am really pleased by the signature of this Strategic Cooperation Agreement between the Hungarian Government and Alstom,” Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO of Alstom, said. “It will strengthen the development of Hungary’s railway sector, economy and international competitiveness. I believe that with this Strategic Agreement, there is much more innovations coming to Hungary, with Alstom.”

“The Strategic Cooperation Agreement we have just signed will strengthen our relations, raise them to a higher level and open up new opportunities for partnership,” Gáspár Balázs, General Manager of Alstom Hungary, said. “We have been present in Hungary for more than 20 years. We can be proud that the bogies for the world’s first hydrogen train are produced in our Matranovak Site!”

18.10.22 (grwr)


DB to offer DAC for freight wagons on the go

DE: Deutsche Bahn (DB) are now offering to install digital automatic coupling (DAC) at pop-up workshops. With around 500,000 freight wagons needing to be equipped with DAC across Europe by 2030, DB are using mobile workshop tents where freight wagons can be equipped with the new technology quickly near where they are used, for example at industrial customers’ sites. These pop-up workshops will help create temporary additional retrofitting capacity and shorten the amount of time that wagons are unavailable to customers. DB Cargo, Europe’s leading freight operating company, has successfully completed the first test in practice in Bremen.

“Test runs through Europe have proven that digital automatic coupling works in practice,” Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, Board Member for Freight Transport at DB, said. “The next step is to find solutions for installing DAC in freight wagons quickly and efficiently. We have shown that it can be done with our innovative approach of using pop-up workshops. In just a few steps, we can convert an analogue freight wagon into a smart, digital one. The mobile workshops will allow us to make thousands of freight wagons fit for the digital future in a short span of time.”

When DAC is introduced, operations need to be ensured despite there being two incompatible coupling systems (screw coupler versus DAC). Freight wagons are first pre-equipped during normal visits to the maintenance depot. Once wagons are DAC-ready, it takes just a few steps to finish retrofitting them at a pop-up workshop. The conversion works similar to Plug & Play. Deutsche Bahn and its partner companies want to set up 150 pop-up locations throughout Europe.

DAC speeds up shunting, increases capacity at transhipment yards and boosts the capacity of the existing rail infrastructure. Retrofitting wagons with DAC means that wagons are also being equipped with continuous power and data lines for the first time. This strengthens single-wagon transport as a green alternative to lorries in particular.

Beginning in 2023, DB Cargo intends to make its freight wagons DAC-ready as part of normal maintenance depot stops.

18.10.22 (grwr)


‘By 2035, 20 percent of regional European trains will run on hydrogen’

EU: Twenty percent of regional trains in Europe will run on hydrogen by 2035, consultancy firm Roland Berger forecasts in the 2022 edition of the World Rail Market Study (2022-2027), an annual study of trends and developments in the rail sector.

According to Roland Berger’s World Rail Market Study, hydrogen trains offer the greatest opportunities to make routes without electrification more sustainable. Regarding main lines in Europe, around 60 percent of the European rail network is electrified and 80 percent of traffic is running on these lines, according to the report ‘Electrification of the Transport System’ of the European Union, dating from 2017. In the latest Rail Market Monitoring report from the EU from 2021, also no data more recent than 2018 for the Europe-wide electrification is published.

Diesel trains still largely run on the non-electrified routes today. Due to CO2 emissions and high fuel costs, ‘obsolete’ and ‘polluting’ diesel trains have increasingly lost popularity among rail operators. In Germany, the country with Europe’s largest railway network, there is still quite a lot of regional use of diesel trains, although electrification is increasingly spearheaded there too to make the railways more sustainable.

Near Hamburg, a fleet of 14 diesel trains was replaced by hydrogen trains on a 100-kilometre route near Bremerhaven, a world first as it was the first railway line to run entirely on hydrogen. The ambition of Alstom, the company that supplied the trains in Germany, is to replace some 3,000 more regional diesel trains with hydrogen trains in the coming years.

Price tag

Replacing diesel trains with hydrogen trains does come with a hefty price tag. Roland Berger’s study therefore indicates that hefty investments are needed. Germany already presented a plan in 2020 to become the world leader in hydrogen technologies within a decade. This involves a hefty investment of 7 billion euros. So far, the necessary hydrogen infrastructure is not yet in place, leaving it questionable whether Germany will meet their own goal within the target timeframe.

Also, Roland Berger reports, not all European countries have the financial capacity to invest in hydrogen trains. “This is why we do not foresee a 100 per cent replacement of diesel trains by hydrogen”, says Alexandre Charpentier, rail transport expert at Roland Berger.

How sustainable is hydrogen?

Although hydrogen, a chemical element, is more environmentally friendly than high-emission fossil fuels, it is not necessarily always environmentally friendly. Only green hydrogen, produced from renewable energy, is considered fully sustainable. French research institute IFP, which specialises in energy issues, says 95 per cent of hydrogen currently used comes from fossil fuels, half of which is natural gas. So switching from diesel to hydrogen is certainly no more sustainable than full electrification, but the latter is an expensive and often time-consuming process, which is why for regional lines with low use, use of green hydrogen is a viable option to lower emissions.

13.10.22 (rt)


LNER highlights carbon emission savings by switching to train travel

UK: LNER is encouraging Britons to ditch their cars for autumn leisure trips, highlighting that 186,200 tCO2e of carbon emissions could be saved if each took just one journey by train rather than car.

According to train operator London North Eastern Railway (LNER), leisure trips across Britain are set to peak this autumn, as 48 per cent of British adults plan to extend their holiday season longer. This will impact the environment as 6.1 million people intend to use the car instead of the train for their leisure trips.

LNER is therefore encouraging people planning last-minute leisure trips to take one less car journey this year by showing the collective ‘green good’ it will do. As 69 per cent of British adults planning to travel are expected to take a car journey this autumn, a total 186,200 tCO2e of carbon emissions could be saved if each took just one journey by train rather than car.

Analysing data

Working with experts from University College London (UCL) Energy Institute researchers, LNER has analysed the data on the impact that taking autumn excursions by car will have, with 25 per cent of people taking more than one leisure trip this autumn in an attempt to seek a final holiday before the winter sets in.

Switching just one leisure journey to train this autumn could result in a 28.4 per cent reduction on total journey carbon emissions, and across one year could result in a 16.6 per cent reduction of annual leisure travel emissions (1099.63 million kgC02e).

According to LNER, rather than make drastic lifestyle changes, British adults prefer to make more manageable changes, but 36 per cent feel they don’t have enough knowledge about the impact small changes can have on the environment. There is a large appetite to change, with 59 per cent of adults increasingly aware of the impact they have on climate change and almost one in three (30 per cent) feeling overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility to help support the environment by changing their lifestyle.

The collective impact

LNER is helping customers take climate change into their own hands by showing people the difference they could help to make this autumn, just by switching one leisure journey to train rather than car. On average, carbon emissions from cars are three times higher than that of a train, meaning the collective power of one small change could be a monumental shift. Whilst some travellers may feel that their single journey will not make a difference, the collective impact of everyone changing just one journey would be huge – comparable to filling the volume of the Elizabeth Tower which houses Big Ben over 22,000 times, or Wembley Stadium 25 times in carbon emissions. LNER is asking that rather than a huge lifestyle shift of throwing away the car keys and converting to trains forever, travellers should try one journey to do their small part to help.

The research shows that 70 per cent of adults are at least somewhat concerned about the environmental impact of travel and more than a third (34 per cent) would like to reduce their carbon footprint, but 28 per cent feel that changing their travel habits will not have a large enough impact on the environment.

LNER’s carbon calculator

LNER’s carbon calculator helps people to discover the difference that a journey made by rail could have. For example, the calculator shows that a one-way journey between York and London produces just 12.34 KG CO2e by train, whereas a journey by car would produces a shocking 41.36 KG CO2e. Using the LNER carbon calculator will help those looking to change one journey to better understand how their small change will make a big difference. As almost two thirds of adults (63 per cent) feel that there should be more assistance to help people understand and calculate their carbon footprint, the carbon calculator is just one thing LNER has introduced to assist customers in choosing a more environmentally friendly journey. Two-thirds (66 per cent) feel that those responsible for travel should make it easier for travellers to be more sustainable, something which the carbon calculator seeks to achieve.

Small changes can make a big difference

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: “We know that being greener is hugely important but many of us aren’t sure on our role and how our individual actions can make a difference. As cars emit three times more carbon emissions than rail and with so many people planning on using the car for a leisure trip this autumn, we’re asking people to consider travelling by train just once to do their bit to cut emissions. Collectively we could save enough carbon to fill Wembley Stadium 25 times, which is a huge amount of carbon we could prevent from being emitted into the atmosphere. Our research also showed that collectively Britons could save the time equivalent to over eight human lifetimes by using the train each year, meaning we’re giving back to ourselves as well as the environment with this change.”

Professor Paul Ekins, Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, said: “Often we talk about climate change in large scales such as icebergs melting and sea level rise, and this can make the issue feel overwhelming and unmanageable, and discourage people from making changes in their lives that can help. What our research has concluded is that small changes made by enough people really do make a difference. Just one journey switched from car or bus to train by everyone who takes a leisure trip in a year could reduce carbon emissions by over one million tonnes CO2, or 16.6 per cent of emissions from leisure trips, or nearly one per cent of all UK 2019 transport emissions. This is a really big contribution from just one small change in a year to people’s daily lives.”

There is progress, with adults being five per cent less likely to take a leisure trip by car before the end of the year (60 per cent) than in 2017 (65 per cent). The appetite to improve is there with 45 per cent already having committed to taking fewer car trips to help be more sustainable, with 21 per cent prepared to do this in the future.

13.10.22 (rt)


Athens Metro Line 3 Extension Now Fully Operational

GR: Alstom, as part of the Avax–Ghella–Alstom consortium, has completed infrastructure works across Attiko Metro’s Haidari-Piraeus Line 3 extension in Athens, Greece.

Now fully operational, Line 3 is expected to serve 130,000 passengers every day and will reduce travel time between Port of Piraeus and Venizelos International Airport by 15 minutes.

Alstom’s scope for this project included design, supply and installation of the traction power – including a third rail, the medium voltage supply and the distribution of low voltage.

The rail manufacturer installed its Iconis urban mobility solution of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) for power supply as part of the works. The 76 existing technical rooms on Lines 2 and 3 –already in operation – also received a software update.

The Haidari-Piraeus extension has a total of six stations, with the first three completed back in July 2020. With the opening of the three final stations, Alstom has extended the automatic train supervision (ATS) system, also based on the Iconis platform, to cover the whole of Lines 2 and 3.

This will enable online timetable management, automatic route setting and train identification across the network.

Stavros Vlachos, MD Alstom Greece, said:

“Alstom continues to provide modern mobility solutions for Greece, as we have done over the past 40 years.

“This Metro Line 3 extension is important as it offers passengers and tourists a seamless and faster transportation service travelling from Athens international airport to the Port of Piraeus.”

11.10.22 (rn)


Spain extends free local rail offer until the end of 2023

ES: The national government has announced that it is to extend its free travel pass offer covering local and regional trains from December 31 through to the end of 2023.

The government has been funding the offer of free period passes known as abonos or bonos for use on RENFE Cercanías (suburban) and Media Distancia (inter-regional) services since September 1, but the discount deal was due to lapse at the end of this year.

The announcement on October 4 was made by Finance Minister María Jesús Montero at a media round table prior to a cabinet meeting during which the national budget for 2023 was signed off. Its scope includes an allocation to the transport ministry of €700m, 41% more than in 2022, most of which is to be used to support the free local public transport strategy. This is expressly aimed at driving modal shift from road to rail.

During September, there was a 24% increase in Cercanías service usage, and growth of 40% for Media Distancia services compared with the same period a year before.

By early October around 1∙5 million people had acquired the abonos recurrentes passes for free travel, although these require payment of deposits of €10 for suburban passes and €20 for inter-regional travel. The government estimates that so far 118 million litres of petrol and diesel fuel have been saved, and CO2 emissions have been cut by around 360 000 tonnes as a result of people choosing rail over driving.

07.10.22 (rwg)


Electrification extended southeast of Paris

FR: Electrification of the 72 km Gretz – Longueville – Nogent-sur-Seine section of the Paris Est – Troyes main line and the 7 km single-track Longueville – Provins branch has been completed with the launch of electric services on October 3. Speeds and journey times are unchanged, but electrification is expected to improve reliability.

Work to electrify the 79 route-km at 25 kV 50 Hz began in 2018, with major works including the conversion of the Tunnel des Bouchots into a cutting as it impossible to modify to accommodate the overhead.

The €160m cost of electrification was funded by the state (43%), Île-de-France région (23%), Grand Est région (18%), Aube département (7%), Troyes Champagne municipality (6%), with contributions from SNCF Réseau, Seine et Marne département, Troyes municipalities and various local councils around Nogent and Romilly-sur-Seine.


Paris – Troyes services have been operated by Alstom Coradia Liner electro-diesel trainsets since 2018, and these will now use electric power from Paris to Nogent-sur-Seine.

The hourly Paris – Provins services operated as part of Transilien Line P have been operated by Bombardier Transportation AGC electro-diesel multiple-units since 2008. These have now been replaced by 22 Bombardier Francilien Z50000 EMUs which were funded by Île-de-France-Mobilités at cost of €220m. The introduction of the EMUs involved installing equipment to support selective automatic door opening and upgrading platforms for accessibility.

Following electrification of the Provins route, 11 of the AGC trainsets have been transferred to the 35 km Meaux – La Ferté-Milon branch of Line P, the last section of the Paris hinterland network which is not electrified, while the rest will be offered to other regional transport authorities.

Future electrification

Wiring of the 56 km from Nogent-sur-Seine to Troyes is planned by August 2028.

Île-de-France-Mobilités has begun studies for electrification from Meaux to La Ferté-Milon, with the authority’s President Valérie Pécresse saying the region has its share of the necessary funding and is awaiting a decision regarding contributions from the national government.

05.10.22 (rwg)


ABB receives $170m in orders from Stadler

CH: Swiss-Swedish multinational ABB has been awarded orders worth $170m from Stadler Valencia to power more than 300 new trains and locomotives.

The trains will be used across various different European railway networks, to modernise and reinforce train transportation in countries such as the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Austria, as well as in some European railway corridors.

The majority of these orders have been booked in Q3, 2022. The scope of supply includes ABB’s traction converters and motors to power the trains.

A large number of the models that will be powered by ABB technologies are based on Stadler’s tram-train Citylink model, a barrier-free light rail vehicle family specially designed to connect city centres with the surrounding metropolitan area without changing trains. Citylink models can be operated electrically on the tram network, as well as on mainline services, at speeds of up to 100 km/h.

“We are excited to be writing the future of sustainable mobility with these projects. Bringing our traction technologies to these new trains means bringing more energy efficiency, safety and availability for the train transportation system in Europe and the UK,” said Edgar Keller, President of ABB’s traction division.

“We greatly appreciate Stadler’s ongoing trust in our technologies and expertise in the traction industry. We look forward to working with Stadler to design the trains of the future.”

ABB is a leading provider of traction technologies for transportation, offering a full range of propulsion, auxiliary and battery energy storage solutions for new vehicles as well as for retrofits.

Germany-based HÜBNER Group has also secured a contract from rail vehicle manufacturer Stadler, for the delivery of up to 1,008 gangway systems for the VDV Tram-Train project.

05.10.22 (rwt)


$330 million Auckland rail network rebuild to begin in 2023

NZ: KiwiRail have announced major upgrades to rail lines across Auckland which will pave the way for more frequent commuter trains when the City Rail Link opens and will help future-proof the rail network for decades to come.

The $330 million rail network rebuild will see sections of rail lines across the city temporarily closed over the coming years, so that the rock foundations under the tracks can be removed and rebuilt. The work will move progressively across the Auckland passenger rail network, starting in early 2023 with the section of the Southern Line between Ōtāhuhu and Newmarket and the Onehunga Line.

“City Rail Link (CRL) will allow more commuter services, not just in Central Auckland but across the city, however, for that to happen we need to make sure the existing rail lines can physically handle that growth,” David Gordon, Chief Operating Officer for KiwiRail, said. “Like roads, rail lines wear out from use. We’ve been undertaking routine maintenance and replacing worn out track and sleepers and we’re now moving on to something more fundamental. The rail network rebuild involves replacing the rock foundations (formation and ballast) underneath the tracks, some of which haven’t been renewed since the Auckland network started being built in the 1870s. Given the scale of what we have to do, using our normal evening, weekend and holiday line closures could take decades to get it done. Even closing sections of line but allowing some peak services would push the completion date well beyond the start of CRL operations, which is unacceptable. Replacing the railway foundations will remove the growing number of speed restrictions that have been placed on the network in recent years and make it much more resilient. For Aucklanders it will mean more reliable trains, faster journey times, and is crucial to enabling the more frequent trains to come with CRL day one.”

“We appreciate that the extended closures of some of our lines will create some added uncertainty for our passengers, so we are working tirelessly to put in place the best possible alternative transport options for passengers affected by this work,” Darek Koper, Group Manager for Metro Services at Auckland Transport (AT), said. “After this work is complete and CRL opens, Auckland will have a faster, more reliable rail network which will serve our passengers for decades to come and help keep Aucklanders moving as our city continues to develop and grow.”

Following the usual Christmas/New Year network-wide closure, the Southern Line between Ōtāhuhu and Newmarket and the Onehunga Line will remain closed until late-March. Work will then move to the Eastern Line, which will be closed for most of 2023. KiwiRail and AT are currently working through the schedule for the next sections of work in 2024.

The majority of the rail network rebuild is expected to be finished before CRL construction is complete by the end of 2024. It is likely some lower patronage lines such as the Manukau–Puhinui Line, the Swanson–Henderson section of the Western Line, and the part of the rail network between Newmarket and Britomart (which will see a substantial drop in train frequency once CRL is running), will be completed after CRL is open.

“As we work on each stage of the rail network rebuild over the next few years, our teams will also be linking in with other rail improvement projects and doing proactive maintenance – dealing with issues that would otherwise need to be resolved later on – to avoid further disruption,” Gordon continued. “Once the rebuild is finished, the network will be up to a modern standard. We’ll need ongoing track maintenance to keep it that way, but this will be designed to avoid any major disruption.”

04.10.22 (grwr)


Planning application submitted for MetroLink rail project in Ireland

IE: Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has submitted a planning application for the MetroLink rail project to An Bord Pleanála.

MetroLink is a new fully segregated railway, mostly underground, between the Swords area and Charlemont in the south of Dublin City Centre.

The application has been submitted for the rail route, which will cover various residential communities such as Swords, Ballymun, and Glasnevin, Dublin Airport, the City Centre, and major employment, education, and other facilities.

Claimed to be the first of its kind project in Ireland, the MetroLink project will be 18.8km in length with 15 stations on opening and another opening later.

With trains every three minutes at peak time, MetroLink is expected to carry up to 20,000 passengers in each direction every hour in the initial years.

The project, which is estimated to have a €9.5bn central capital cost, is anticipated to deliver €13.7bn benefits to the economy and society over a period of 60 years.

It will be linked to over a million people in the Dublin area by interchanging with heavy rail, DART, Luas, and bus services.

Construction on MetroLink is anticipated to commence in 2025 based on the outcome of the planning and procurement processes. Plans are underway to make the project operational in the early 2030s.

MetroLink is a crucial national project that will improve accessibility and connectivity besides enhancing the quality of the urban environment in Dublin.

Ireland Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said: “In July I secured Cabinet agreement to progress the major MetroLink project. I am delighted that today we have met our commitment with the submission of a planning application for the route.

“Securing planning approval is vital for MetroLink and I am keen to see construction on the project start as soon as possible.”

03.10.22 (rwt)

Three companies nominated for 2nd tender round of Rail Baltica mainline in Latvia

EU: Three companies from Italy, France, and Spain have been nominated for the second round of engineering consultancy and construction supervision services for the Rail Baltica main line in Latvia.

The companies which met the legal and qualification requirements set out in the procurement were Italferr S.p.A. (Italy), SYSTRA S.A. (France) and the association of persons consisting of Tecnica y Proyectos S.A. and PROINTEC S .A.U. (Spain). Work on the preparation of the documentation for the second round of the procurement is currently underway, and the tenderers will be obliged to submit their financial and technical proposals in this round.

“The tender for construction supervision services is being held in parallel with the largest procurement for the construction of a railway line in Latvia,” Kaspars Vingris, Chairman of the Board of Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas, said. “Both tenders, construction of mainline and its supervision, are taking place with the aim to start the construction works of the main railway line outside Riga in 2023. For us as a client, it is essential to establish a competent and experienced construction and supervision team to carry out construction works in compliance with the highest Rail Baltica safety, operational, environmental accessibility, and sustainability requirements. We are happy to see that like our other tenders of Rail Baltica implementation, companies with world-class experience have applied for participation in this tender. The involvement of internationally experienced contractors and engineers gives growth and transfer of knowledge to the Latvian construction sector.”

The engineering consultant and construction supervision service provider of the Rail Baltica main line construction works in Latvia will be obliged to provide supervision of construction of Rail Baltica railway main line outside the Riga city limits – railway base and superstructure – spanning more than 200km, including site preparation, embankments, construction of railway bridges, roads and overpasses, utility relocation and track construction, as well as contract management and compliance control. Given the scale of the project and the complexity of works, and applying best practice of European countries, construction supervision and contract management will be carried out by the so-called FIDIC Engineer in accordance with the FIDIC White Book. The contract with the successful tenderer is expected to be concluded at the end of 2022.

Funding of this project in the amount of 81–85 per cent is provided by the Connecting Europe Facility, whereas the remaining part, by the budgets of the three Baltic States.

03.10.22 (grwr)


World rail industry returns to InnoTrans in a spirit of optimism

INNOTRANS: The four days of the InnoTrans 2022 trade fair attracted 2 834 exhibitors from 56 countries and 140 000 visitors from 131 countries, organiser Messe Berlin reports. The number of first-time visitors was particularly high at 56%, and 57% of visitors were from outside Germany.

‘After the pandemic-induced break, InnoTrans 2022 has made a phenomenal return. At last the industry family has come together again. After a long wait we were able to exchange ideas in person and look each other in the eye’, said InnoTrans Director Kerstin Schulz.

There were 250 world premieres at the event, and 128 vehicles and other exhibits were displayed in the outdoor areas.

‘InnoTrans has once again impressively demonstrated that it is the industry summit that shows today what will be on the rail and road tomorrow’, said Martin Ecknig, CEO of Messe Berlin.

The next InnoTrans event will take place from September 24 to 27 2024.

  • Railway Gazette is the only official international media partner for InnoTrans. For the latest news about the show, visit our dedicated InnoTrans page or follow @railwaygazette on Twitter, like the Railway Gazette Facebook page and join Railway Gazette’s dedicated InnoTrans news groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

‘It has been a huge emotion to see the industry gathered again after four years. It was the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and our call to modal shift.’ Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO & Chairman of Alstom

‘Our delegation of 180 people from across Australia had the opportunity to meet with an incredible range of industry representatives from around the globe throughout the week. The Australian pavilion also drew some sizeable crowds thanks to a range of networking events, giving delegation members the chance to showcase the significant rail capability that exists in the Australian market.’ Caroline Wilkie, CEO of the Australasian Railway Association

‘We can only shape the future of the railway together with strong partners. That is why the exchange within the industry at InnoTrans is so important.’ Dr Richard Lutz, Chief Executive of Deutsche Bahn

‘There is a spirit of optimism in the industry. Everyone is unanimous in the opinion that we are on the right path to a sustainable future — manufacturers, politicians, operators and customers. We have to take this momentum with us and now go into implementation.’ Dr Florian Eck, Managing Director of German transport forum DVF

‘InnoTrans is the most important meeting in the industry and we were delighted to finally meet our customers and partners in person again.’ Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility

‘The feedback from the visitors clearly confirmed to us how inspiring the personal exchange with our customers and partners is for the future of mobility.’ Peter Spuhler, CEO of Stadler Rail

’Although Chinese exhibitors were less present than four years ago and Russian exhibitors not at all, there were just as many participants as in 2018 — and even more high-quality business contacts were made, right up to the final day. This exudes optimism for the next two years.’ Axel Schuppe, General Manager of German railway industry association VDB

‘It’s incredible to see so many different companies that create rail around the world, and it’s great to visit so many organisations’ Fi Westcough, National Chair, Young Rail Professionals (UK).

29.09.22 (rwg)

Siemens and partners launch ‘safe.trAIn’ research project

DE: Along with 16 partners, Siemens has launched the ‘safe.trAIn’ research project, which will support advances in driverless operations for regional trains in Germany.

The €23m artificial intelligence (AI) based project, which is being subsidised by the German Government, will run until the end of 2024.

In Germany, part of the federal government’s climate-action programme includes attaining a 40% to 42% reduction of CO₂ emissions compared to 1990 levels, reaching 95 million to 98 million tons by 2030.

The project aims to ‘lay a foundation for safe use of AI for the driverless operation of rail vehicles and to thus address a key technological challenge hindering the adoption of driverless rail transportation’.

It will focus on the integrated development of testing standards, methods for applying AI to automate rail transportation, and using example applications to verify the suitability of test standards.

Other focal points will include AI-driven methods for driverless regional trains and approval-relevant validation of the product safety of the AI components, as well as testing processes and methods.

Safe.trAIn will build on results from the latest research and development activities, continuing the development of those activities in line with new requirements.

Shift2Rail, BerDiBa, ATO-Sense and ATO-Risk, and KI-Absicherungb are important projects in this area.

The participating project partners will use the outcomes of the project to roll out automation solutions in the market, facilitating the automated and driverless operation of rail vehicles.

Furthermore, the results from the project will be used for the standardisation of AI in rail transportation.

29.09.22 (rwt)


Oman Rail and Etihad Rail to establish $3bn cross-border rail network

UAE: Oman Rail and Etihad Rail have reached an agreement to build a railway network to connect Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The duo will jointly set up the Oman-Etihad Rail Company, a new entity equally owned by the two firms, to operate this network.

With an investment of $3bn, Oman-Etihad Rail will be involved in the design, development and operation of a railway network that will link Sohar Port in Oman to the UAE National Rail Network.

The newly established entity will engage in the preparation of groundwork and work plans for the project, including its financial mechanisms and schedule.

Oman-Etihad Rail will build the new rail network in line with the standards of both countries.

Featuring international safety, security and environmental standards, the 303km railway will primarily connect Sohar to Abu Dhabi.

With a maximum speed of 200km/h, the passenger trains on the line are anticipated to cut down travel time from Sohar to Abu Dhabi to one hour and 40 minutes, while journeys from Sohar to Al Ain will be reduced to 47 minutes.

The joint venture is part of Oman Rail and Etihad Rail’s strategy to create new prospects in the industries of infrastructure, transport and logistics by linking the two countries through rail.


Etihad Rail CEO Shadi Malak said: “In line with the vision and directives of our wise leadership, we are delighted to start this partnership with Oman Rail, which heralds a new chapter of collaboration and prosperity between both countries.

“The agreement outlines a strategic roadmap for a sustainable project, which will contribute to bolstering the solid relations between the UAE and Oman, and will play an instrumental role in facilitating national and regional trade by connecting the UAE National Rail Network with Sohar Port.”

28.09.22 (rwt)


Alstom sign locomotive maintenance contract with Ferromex

FR: Alstom have signed a contract renewal to carry out preventive and corrective maintenance on 186 locomotives of the Ferrocarril Mexicano (Ferromex) fleet for a period of five years, starting immediately.

Alstom’s commercial relationship with Ferromex began in 2004 and has allowed for a synergy in favour of rail mobility in Mexico. This service contract, implementing remote monitoring, consists of performing preventive and corrective maintenance on the locomotives, applying condition-based maintenance technologies, and performing predictive maintenance through vibration analysis and oil chemical analysis.

“The renewed confidence in Alstom with this additional maintenance contract reaffirms Alstom’s commitment to assisting Ferromex in the optimisation of their operations with increased fleet reliability and availability for a more efficient and sustainable transportation network,” Maite Ramos Gómez, General Director at Alstom Mexico, said. “Collaborating hand in hand with business partners such as Ferromex reinforces our work philosophy based on quality, which helps us to support the force that moves Mexico in transportation and sustainability.”

Ferromex operates the largest rail network in Mexico with 10,000km of track, which covers the country’s main industrial and consumer areas, and connects with the rest of the world through eight ports and six border crossings. Maintenance work will be carried out at the Ferromex centres located in Torreón, Chihuahua and Guadalajara.

26.09.22 (grwr)


Belden and Cylus partner to enhance cyber-security protection in rail

US: Belden, a leading global supplier of network infrastructure solutions, has announced its partnership with Cylus, the global leader in rail cyber-security, which will enable customers that use Belden’s Firewall to supplement it with an optimised version of CylusOne™ software available for license from Cylus. The combination of Belden and Cylus solutions that customers will be able to implement offers a tailored, enhanced cybersecurity platform for rail operators for both rolling stock and signaling systems.

As the rail industry continues to adopt automated, wireless, and connected technologies – both trackside and onboard – the attack surface of critical assets is greatly expanding, exposing them increasingly to malicious cyber-attacks. Rail operators must also contend with a shortage of physical space, legacy rail protocols without built-in security, and dynamic network topologies – all of which pose challenges to safeguarding onboard and wayside rail and metro systems. Without proper cyber-security, hacks have the potential to threaten rail safety, disrupt service, and cause severe economic and reputational damage.

The combined Belden and Cylus cyber-security solution is tailored specifically to signalling and rolling stock systems, combining Belden’s next-generation industrial firewall (NGFW), the EAGLE40-6M, with CylusOne, the leading cyber-security solution providing continuous monitoring and real-time protection for rolling stock and rail infrastructure. The combined solution leverages existing hardware to help ensure compliance with international rail safety and cyber-security standards.

Miki Shifman, Co-Founder and CTO of Cylus, explained: “At Cylus, our mission is to secure railways and metros throughout the world in order to protect them from increasingly complex cyber-threats. We are excited to partner with Belden, the world leader in ruggedized networking solutions and firewalls for rolling stock, to create a best-of-breed solution tailor-made for rail by enabling customers to run our CylusOne software optimized for Belden’s NGFW. This solution will provide another robust layer of protection against cyber-attacks, ensuring the safety and security of rail onboard and wayside systems.”

The added layer of CylusOne atop Belden’s NGFW provides automated and scalable security controls to enable compliance with the latest rail cyber-security standards, including CENELEC TS-50701. The combined solutions include deep packet inspection (DPI) of rail onboard and wayside protocols and provides contextual analysis, delivering both comprehensive threat detection and visibility. The platform is easily deployable in both new and existing rail technology environments.

Oliver Kleineberg, CTO of Industrial Automation and Vice President of Technology at Belden, said: “We take the safety and security of our transportation customers with the utmost seriousness, and look forward to supporting Cylus in its effort to adapt the CylusOne software so that it runs on our NGFW providing them with increased protection via this dedicated firewall developed specifically for the rail transportation market. We are thrilled to collaborate with Cylus to provide world-leading rail-specific threat detection and visibility solutions, creating a more secure future for rail by supporting Cylus’ adaptation of its CylusOne software to maximise its interoperability with Belden’s NGFW, and enabling our customers to supplement their Belden NGFW by licensing the CylusOne software from Cylus.”

26.09.22 (grwr)


EU: A trial Amber Train service between the Baltic States left the Estonian port of Muuga on September 13, arriving the following day at Kaunas in Lithuanian where its load of semi-trailers was transferred to 1 435 mm gauge wagons for onward transport to destinations including France and the Netherlands.

The 1 520 mm gauge wagons returned to Muuga with trailers for onward sea transport to Finland.

‘We are taking a test ride — we’ll see how the loading of goods, border operations and the exchanging of documents and data function’, said Raul Toomsalu, Chairman of Estonia’s Operail. ‘This time, we are moving from roads to rails some timber material, peat and construction foam, which we are transporting for our clients to Lithuania.’

Estonia’s Minister of Economic Affairs & Infrastructure Riina Sikkut said the Amber Train project is particularly important now as trade flows and transport corridors are being reshaped, as it ’provides an additional opportunity to develop freight transport that does not depend on Russia’.

A weekly service is planned for the near future. ‘This will happen as soon as possible, as customers are already expressing their interest’, said Toomsalu.

Once the 1 435 mm gauge Rail Baltica corridor is completed, the Amber Train service would transfer to the new line, eliminating the need to reload in Kaunas.

26.09.22 (rwg)


Transport cybersecurity collaboration

INTERNATIONAL: Alstom is to work with Waterfall Security Solutions to protect safety-critical and reliability-critical digital networks in the rail and public transport sectors.

Co-founder and CEO Lior Frenkel said Waterfall brings expertise and technologies which have been proven in the electric power, oil, gas and water treatment infrastructure sectors in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Eddy Thésée, Vice-President for Cybersecurity at Alstom, said ‘operational efficiency and enhanced passenger experience are two clear focuses for Alstom’, and ’the increased network integration that is needed to achieve these goals are exposing railway networks to new and evolving threats.


‘Our partner’s ability to provide physical protection of Operational Technology and control networks while seamlessly integrating those networks with business automation systems has become essential to efficient operation’, he added.

26.09.22 (rwg)


Battery Flirt answers Schleswig-Holstein’s decarbonisation question

InnoTrans: Having decided to replace the diesel multiple-units currently used on non-electrified routes in the far north of Germany, the Land of Schleswig-Holstein called tenders for the supply of a fleet of zero-emission trains, leaving the choice of technology to bidders.

Stadler proposed its Flirt Akku battery multiple-unit, which was first announced at InnoTrans 2018, and in July 2019 the company was awarded a €600m contract to supply 55 two-car trainsets and maintain them for 30 years, with an option for a further 50 units.

Stadler is to deliver five pre-series trains from November 2022, with the remainder to enter service from May 2023 to mid-2024.



The 46 m long Flirt BEMU has 124 seats and a total capacity of 198 passengers. There are two multifunctional zones for wheelchair users, pushchairs and bicycles and an accessible toilet.

Other features include air-conditioning, wi-fi, power sockets, CCTV and a passenger information system.

The lithium-ion traction power batteries have customised cooling systems from Technotrans.

They will have range of 150 km under optimal conditions, although the longest non-electrified route they will operate on is around 80 km.

The batteries will be recharged from the existing 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead electrification at Kiel, Neumünster, Flensburg, Lübeck and Lüneburg stations and on the Osterrönfeld – Jübek line. Charging facilities will also be provided in other locations, and there will be some extensions to the existing overhead power supply.

Financing and operations

The Land selected Paribus Holding for the SH-XMU II contract to finance the trains and lease them to the future operators, and provided a debt service guarantee to ensure favourable financing terms.


There are three operating contracts which run to December 2035 and cover the operation of 10·4 million train-km/year on 11 routes tendered in three lots.

Stadler will be responsible for fleet maintenance in Rendsburg and Neumünster, and the operators are required to take on staff from the current operators on their existing terms.

Netinera’s Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen is to succeed DB Regio from December 2022 on the Ost package of services RE83/84 Kiel – Lübeck, RB89 Lübeck – Lüneburg, RB87 Kiel – Preetz and RB76 Kiel – Schönberger Strand.

Nordbahn has retained the Ost-West contract covering RB63 Büsum – Heide – Neumünster and RB82 Neumünster – Bad Oldesloe, with the next contract starting in December 2023.


The last package to be awarded was the Nord contract, which starts December 2023 and covers services RE72 Flensburg – Kiel, RB73 Eckernförde – Kiel, RE74 Husum – Kiel, RB75 Rendsburg-Seemühlen – Kiel and RB64 Husum – Bad St Peter-Ording, currently operated by DB Regio.

When the contracts were finalised Land Transport Secretary Dr Thilo Rohlfs said the programme ‘shows how railway lines can be electrified without the tedious construction of overhead lines and how the energy transition is becoming very practical’.

23.09.22 (rwg)


DB accepts ‘Hulk’ hybrid 09 tamper

InnoTrans: DB Bahnbau Gruppe named its latest track maintenance machine ‘Hulk’ at a joint ceremony with supplier Plasser & Theurer in the outdoor arena at InnoTrans on September 20.

The 09-4×4/4S Dynamic E3 is a continuous action universal hybrid tamper and dynamic stabiliser ordered in 2019; Plasser had unveiled its first hybrid track machine in 2015. The machine is equipped for use on plain line or turnouts and has an expected lifespan of at least 30 years.

CEO of DB Bahnbau Gruppe Markus Egerer highlighted the machine’s environmental benefits. Its quiet electric drive would be beneficial for both lineside residents and for maintenance staff, he said, adding that during a visit he had made to see a similar machine operating in Switzerland there was more noise from a nearby road than from the tamper.

Johannes-Max Theurer, CEO of Plasser & Theurer, noted that this was the 57th machine supplied to DB Bahnbau Gruppe and DB’s first with a full electric drive. It offered a 20 dB(A) reduction in noise levels compared with conventional tampers, as well as a saving in running costs of €170/h. An option for DB to purchase a second machine of the same type is available until 2026.


The electrically powered tamping unit has 16 tines and the 215 tonne machine has a maximum axleload of 20 tonnes. The dynamic stabiliser is also electrically driven. While the machine would normally be powered from DB’s 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead line, it is also equipped with a diesel power pack meeting Euro Stage V standards for use when the overhead power is unavailable.

Maximum speed when moving between worksites is 100 km/h, whether towed or operating in self-propelled mode. Wear-free electric braking uses resistors or feeds power back into the supply. Control is via a SmartALC automatic guiding computer with a DRP electronic data recording processor.

The machine can operate with a trailer incorporating a 5 m3 ballast hopper, a sweeping unit and a dust-arresting atomiser.

Plasser & Theurer has so far supplied 15 similar machines to various companies, including four that are now operating in Italy.

23.09.22 (rwg)


Hitachi Rail reveals new battery hybrid train

InnoTrans: Italian rolling stock manufacturer Hitachi Rail has unveiled its new ‘Blues Train’ at the InnoTrans rail transport fair in Berlin, Germany.

The new battery hybrid train, which was developed for Trenitalia , will help cut down carbon emissions and fuel usage by 50% and can reach at and depart from stations completely under battery power.

Blues Train is claimed to be the first tri-mode fleet to begin passenger operations in Europe, later this year.

Hitachi has developed the new Blues train using its Masaccio platform.

Under the framework agreement, Hitachi will deliver up to 135 trains, valued at €1.2bn, to Trenitalia .

Designed to operate on electrified and non-electrified lines, the new train has a battery that can recharge while the train is in operation, both in diesel and electric mode.

With a maximum speed of 160km/h, the Blues train features European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) digital signalling that helps lower the railway’s energy and emissions footprint by controlling the speed, acceleration, and braking of trains.

Hitachi Rail Group CEO Andrew Barr said: “We’re thrilled to unveil this technology here in Berlin and to begin passenger service in Italy later this year.


“We know that decarbonising transport is a vital mission around Europe, so we’re delighted to provide our customer with effective solutions that lessen the impact on the planet.”

Hitachi Rail has manufactured the new four-carriage trains, which can accommodate up to 300 people, at its facilities in Pistoia and Naples.

Other features of the new train include platform-level door access, passenger information screens, passenger counting technology, and access for people with limited mobility.

In June this year, Hitachi Rail began static trial of Avanti West Coast ’s new fleet of trains at its facility in Newton Aycliffe, UK.

22.09.22 (rwt)


RENFE begins launch of Dōcō Mobility-as-a-Service platform

ES: RENFE Operadora has begun the launch of its multimodal Mobility-as-a-Service platform which aims to offer planning booking and payment facilities covering all public transport and shared mobility services in Spain.

The platform is branded Dōcō, an abbreviation of the phrase ‘ir donde quieras, ir como quieras’ — ‘go where you want, go how you want’. RENFE President Isaías Táboas said on September 6 that the national train operator would be the first provider of a door-to-door travel tool for use across Spain.

Potential users can now pre-register to use the service. Once the platform goes live, they will be able to sign up with an e-mail address, a means of payment and details of a passport, identity card or driving licence. Dōcō will then ask for their preferences in terms of the most sustainable or the fastest journey options.

Dōcō will initially be available for travel by train, motorbike, electric scooter and taxi, with bus, bike and metro to be added as part of RENFE’s ambitions to create an open and inclusive platform.


Dōcō has been developed under a five-year contract with Siemens Mobility which has provided the core technology through its Hacon, eos.uptrade, Bytemark and Padam Mobility subsidiaries Everis NTT DATA has supplied the design, branding, marketing, commercial and legal services.

The contract was awarded in 2021 as part of RENFE’s strategy to secure its role as Spain’s principal rail operator and become an integral part of customers’ door-to-door journeys by providing planning services, maps and information on alternative routes.

The operator’s aim is to ensure that it retains a direct relationship with its customers, and benefits from emerging business models within a liberalised passenger transport market, even if the passengers do not use its own trains.

RENFE hopes the platform will attract at least 650 000 new customers to rail and generate 1·8 million additional trips, bringing it €156m of additional income over five years and increasing ticket sales in the main corridors by between 3% and 4%.

08.09.22 (rwg)


DB Fernverkehr implements new train control system

DE: DB Fernverkehr has started working with IVU Traffic Technologies’ IVU.Rail system for its vehicle dispatch and train control system. The move comes as part of an ongoing digitalisation effort.

“IT systems such as IVU.rail make it possible for us to resolve challenges in the daily planning for our trains with the best possible solutions for travellers. This allows us to manage transport more efficiently and reduce delays”, Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB Board Member for Digitalisation and Technology, said in comment on the news announced this week.

DB Fernverkehr plans and dispatched 1,400 train journeys on a daily basis. IVU.Rail allows the company to immediately spot potential discrepancies in its vehicle deployment. It also helps in mitigating the disrupting effects of track works and other construction activities.

“The control centre immediately sees where they need to take action and are supported by the system as they adjust train trips. Modifications to the timetable caused by current construction work are processed in the software as the basis for optimum vehicle dispatch”, DB Fernverkehr writes.

08.09.22 (rt)

Ballard to Power First Hydrogen Trains in Indias

IN: Indian Railways is aiming to develop its own hydrogen-powered trains, a project for which it has hired rail systems integrator Medha Servo Drives.

Now, Medha Serva Drives has contracted Ballard Power Systems to deliver the fuel cells to power India’s first hydrogen trains.

Two retrofitted diesel-electric commuter trains will integrate eight units of 100kW FCmove -HD+, Ballard’s latest fuel cell technology. These fuel cells offer improved efficiency and power density compared to the company’s previous generations.

The fuel cell modules are expected to be shipped next year, with trains scheduled to go into service in 2024.

Indian Railways says that this investment will not only reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by over 11 metric tonnes, but will also have a payback of less than two years thanks to the cost of hydrogen currently being less than diesel.

David Mucciacciaro, Chief Commercial Officer at Ballard, said:“Our progress in decarbonising the rail market is just beginning, as we work with leading rolling stock manufacturers, integrators and operators globally.

“This announcement with Medha exemplifies the growing need and progress being made to decarbonise global mobility.

“We’re excited to grow our fuel cell business in India, and to power the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission passenger trains in the Indian market.”
Additional retrofits could potentially follow this initial deployment.

07.09.22 (rn)


DB to use electric car battery packs from KIA for energy storage

DE: Deutsche Bahn and KIA will cooperate on so-called second-life battery storage systems for green energy in a bid to save electricity. Encore, a corporate start-up of the DB Bahnbau Group, will take the lead in this new endeavour.

Second-life battery storage systems consist of bundled lithium-ion battery packs from used electric vehicles, in this case from South-Korean manufacturer KIA. After several years on the road, some battery packs lack sufficient remaining capacity for daily traffic. Yet at the same time they’re still in too good a condition to consider recycling. Those battery packs are then used for stationary purposes, such as energy storage.

Encore will be tasked with procuring lithium-ion battery packs from KIA electric vehicles. They will then be inspected and checked for residual capacity, before their inclusion in a second-life battery storage system. From 2023 onwards, Encore aims to ramp up production of these storage systems to several hundred. A pilot project with one-such system has been ongoing in Berlin since July 2022.

The second-life battery storage system will be built at the ICE manufacturing site in Leipzig, near the digital test center in Scheibenberg (Saxony) and at the Zorneding train station in Bavaria.

07.09.22 (rt)


ÖBB and Siemens Mobility unveil next-gen Nightjet interior

AT: ÖBB and Siemens Mobility presented the next generation of Nightjet sleeping and couchette cars on Tuesday. The new rolling stock will be entered into service towards the end of the summer of 2023. By year-end 2025, 33 next-generation ÖBB Nightjets will be in use.

The ÖBB Nightjets of the next generation will consist of two seating cars, three couchette cars and two sleeping cars for a total capacity of 254 passengers. The sleeping cars will host two persons per sleeping compartment while the compartments in the couchette cars will host four travellers. Research recently uncovered that if operators of night train services focus on increased levels of comfort and more privacy for travellers, people will be more inclined to use sleeper trains.

“For our travel guests, comfort, modern design and more privacy are becoming increasingly important, which is why ÖBB is investing in a total of 33 completely new Nightjet trains. The interior of the next-generation Nightjets will offer guests a new travel experience. With this train, we are entering a new age of nighttime travel”, ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä said on the matter.

Travellers to Italy first to benefit
The sleeping car compartments feature private showers and toilets. The fixed have been made even more comfortable, while a new seating area should enable travellers to work or read or simply kick back. The new couchette cars feature so-called mini cabins that come with a storage area and a folding breakfast table with an integrated mirror, reading light and coat hook.

Travellers will have an option to store a bicycle in the multifunction car, which now also have more room for luggage such as ski or snowboarding equipment. Other features on board include WiFi, an onboard entertainment and information system, and USB and inductive charging stations. To top it all off, all cars now feature new window panes to allow better cellular reception.

Travellers on routes from Austria and Germany to Italy will be the first to experience the new Nightjets. “With ÖBB’s new cutting-edge Nightjet, traveling to cities such as Rome, Venice and Milan will become even easier and more comfortable”, Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s Federal Minister of Climate Action, said about the new trains.

06.09.22 (rt)


DB has to replace around 137.000 concrete sleepers across Germany

DE: Deutsche Bahn has completed its inspection round of sleepers that are suspected to have a manufacturing error. The company has established that it will have to 137.000 concrete sleepers across the country.

The inspections happened in the wake of the June 3 derailment near Garmisch-Partenkirchen that left five people dead and dozens injured. DB was joined by independent testing institutes, who subsequently uncovered that there might be a manufacturing error with the sleepers used at the derailment site.

As a result, DB had to identify where else those concrete sleepers had been used. It soon put in place traffic restrictions at 165 locations across Germany, but mainly in Bavaria, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.

Replacement works still have to be carried out at 155 sites as of September 6. DB stresses that dates for the jobs have already been scheduled. The operator expects to have the majority of routes back to normal operations before the end of the year. However, sleeper replacement works are expected to continue well into the new year.
DB estimates the costs of the replacements and restrictions to be in the hundreds of millions. It is considering legal action against the manufacturer of the sleepers.

06.09.22 (rt)


1.4 Billion in Funding to Improve US Rail Infrastructure and Safety

US: The US Department of Transportation (DoT) has announced the availability of over 1.4 billion USD (1.39bn EUR) in consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvement (CRISI) grant funding.
This figure is more than triple the funding from previous years thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The CRISI programme is overseen by the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and supports projects that focus on the modernisation of the country’s freight and passenger rail infrastructure.
More than a quarter of the total funds are to go towards projects in rural areas.
This larger funding pot will enable the FRA to invest in a variety of projects that will improve and expand infrastructure. These projects will include the creation of new intercity passenger rail corridors, lessening rail congestion and enhancing multimodal connections.

Amit Bose, Administrator of the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said:“Projects funded by these CRISI grants will generate economic opportunities and improve the travel experience in communities across America, whether urban or rural, large or small.

“With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s massive boost to this programme, the funding made available will help launch our country’s new rail revolution and maintain our rail network’s unmatched standards for safety and efficiency.”

In addition, CRISI grants are an important source of funding for short line railroads that support local economies and are key to the supply chain resilience.
Grants will also be provided to support safety projects such as grade crossing enhancements and rail line relocations and improvements.

Furthermore, they can be used for workforce development and training, regional rail and corridor planning, environmental analyses, and research and deployment of railroad safety technology. Additional project types are also now open to apply for funding. These include those with a focus on measures to prevent trespassing and locomotive emission reduction projects.

02.09.22 (rn)


Legendary Orient Express returns to Istanbul

TR: Istanbul welcomed the legendary Orient Express on Thursday. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, offered by travel company Belmond, runs once a year between Istanbul and Paris.


The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express uses the original Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits carriages, thus fully recreating the extravagant experience that was the Orient Express. This is reflected in the ticket prices, which this year started at 17,500 pounds per person or more than 20,000 euros.

The train, comprising nine sleeping wagons, two lounge carriages and three wagons for dining, will leave Istanbul later on Friday to return to Paris via Bucharest, Budapest and Vienna.

The month of May marked 45 years since the arrival of the last Orient Express at Sirkeci Station in Istanbul. The city was first added as a destination in 1885, two years after the Orient Express’ first journey. It remained the quintessential terminus in the collective memory, even through it was scrapped as a destination in 1977. Trains continued to run under the same legendary name until well into 2009.

02.09.22 (rt)


Troubled start for night train service between Stockholm and Hamburg

SE: Swedish operator SJ ran its first night train between Stockholm and Hamburg on late Thursday afternoon, albeit not without difficulties. A delay in the approval of carriages by Danish Civil Aviation and Railway Authority resulted in a shorter train. “In order for trains to operate in more than one European country, all carriages must be approved for international traffic. SJ EuroNight has been approved in Sweden and Germany, but we are still awaiting approval in Denmark”, SJ wrote on Wednesday about its so-called EuroNight service.

As a result, the train only featured a number of couchette carriages; the sleeping compartment carriages had to be eliminated. SJ was forced to cancel booked tickets as a result. The constraints were also noticeable at a service level, with the operator only able to offer snacks and beverages. 
Travellers that have seen their journeys cancelled, are eligible for a refund. They have also been offered a free round trip on the night train to Hamburg.
The hiccups for the Stockholm-Hamburg service did not end there. Due to track works near the Swedish city of Lund, the night train won’t be calling there throughout September.
The EuroNight service is SJ’s first international sleeper train. It does, however, already offer domestic night train services.

02.09.22 (rt)


Stadler names next Group CEO

CH: The Stadler board has named Markus Bernsteiner as Group CEO with effect from January 1 2023.

He has worked for Stadler since 1999 and is currently Deputy Group CEO, Executive Vice-President of the Switzerland Division and manages the plants in Bussnang and St Margrethen as CEO.

The appointment, which was announced on August 31, means Executive Chairman Peter Spuhler will relinquish the additional position of Group CEO which he returned to on an interim basis in May 2020 when Dr Thomas Ahlburg left owing to different views on strategic and organisational development.

Spuhler will once again concentrate on the position of Executive Chairman, focusing on strategy, mergers & acquisitions, strategic localisation in joint ventures and enhancement of customer care.

01.09.22 (rwg)


Stadler Wins First Metro Tender in Asia

TW: Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City Mass Rapid Transit Bureau has chosen a consortium of ST Engineering, Stadler and Siemens Mobility to provide turnkey rail services for its new MRT Yellow Line.

The consortium will develop and build a completely new metro line in Taiwan’s third largest city. The line will reach more than 40% of the city’s residents and will be almost 23 kilometres in length.

The Yellow Line will have 23 underground stations with connections to the existing Red and Orange lines, as well as a light rail system and train stations connecting the city’s six main districts.

Consortium leader, ST Engineering is responsible for overall project management and system integration, while Stadler will develop and construct the new subways, and Siemens Mobility will supply the CBTC signalling system.

This project marks Stadler’s first metro order in Asia, as the manufacturer will provide 25 three-car medium-capacity driverless and fully automated (GoA4) metro trains as part of the contract.

The energy efficient lightweight aluminium trains will be specifically designed for Taiwan’s tropical and subtropical climate, which can reach 100% humidity and temperatures of up to 45°C.

The trains will be built at Stadler’s St. Margrethen plant in Switzerland.

Dr Ansgar Brockmeyer, Stadler’s Deputy Group CEO and Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, said:“We’re proud that our high-quality standards and our reliability, as well as our ability to tailor vehicle solutions specifically to customer requirements, were decisive criteria for the decision in favour of Stadler in this international tender.”
This is Stadler’s second major order for rolling stock in Taiwan.

In November 2019, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) signed a contract for the delivery of 34 six-axle narrow-gauge diesel locomotives.

The first of these are scheduled for delivery early next year.

01.09.22 (rn)


New funding announced to modernise America’s rail network

US: The USDOT FRA has announced it is making $1.4 billion in funds available that will advance projects to improve America’s passenger and freight network, strengthen supply chains and lay the groundwork for future growth.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) announcing the availability of over $1.4 billion in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) Grant funding.

The CRISI Program, which is administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), advances projects that modernise America’s rail freight and passenger infrastructure, allowing people and goods to move more safely and efficiently and helping make goods more affordable for American families.

This year, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law more than triples funding for the CRISI Program – a much-needed step to meet the heavy demand for rail funding from States and local communities. The programme allocates at least 25 per cent of total funds for projects in rural areas.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg., said: “Rail freight is a critical part of our supply chains, and when shipping costs come down, families pay less for goods. Today, because of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re thrilled to announce the biggest-round of funding ever to make both passenger and freight trains across America safer, faster, and more reliable.”

Accelerating progress for infrastructure resilience and stronger supply chains

Higher funding levels enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will also accelerate progress in building up infrastructure resilience and strengthening the supply chain, which in turns makes it less expensive to transport goods. The influx of new grant opportunities will allow FRA to invest in a wide range of projects that will mitigate rail freight and passenger congestion; enhance multi-modal connections; and improve and establish new intercity passenger rail corridors. Furthermore, CRISI grants are a major source of funding for short line railroads, whose operations bolster local economies and are crucial for supply chain fluidity. These nationwide investments will advance USDOT’s key goals of infrastructure safety, efficiency, economic vitality, equity, and resiliency.

FRA Administrator Amit Bose, commented: “Projects funded by these CRISI grants will generate economic opportunities and improve the travel experience in communities across America, whether urban or rural, large or small. With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s massive boost to the CRISI Program, the funding made available [today] will help launch our country’s new rail revolution and maintain our rail network’s unmatched standards for safety and efficiency.”

In addition to projects that improve and expand rail freight and passenger infrastructure, CRISI grants will focus on safety projects such as grade crossing enhancements and rail line relocations and improvements as well as other priorities, including workforce development and training, regional rail and corridor planning, environmental analyses, and research and deployment of railroad safety technology. New project eligibilities also include measures to prevent trespassing and to rehabilitate, remanufacture, procure, or overhaul locomotives for emissions reduction projects.

01.09.22 (grw)

New freight route established from Belgium to Romania and Turkey

BE: With the new connection it is now possible to shorten the previous transit times from Belgium to Turkey (and vice versa) by around one day.

Due to increasing demand, ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) has established a new non-stop connection as an attractive transport solution for containers (20 to 45 feet), swap bodies and craneable semi-trailers including dangerous goods between Genk (Belgium) and Curtici (Romania).

Curtici in particular is increasingly becoming a freight transport hub for local volumes from Romania and Turkey towards the Benelux and Ruhr regions. This sustainable freight transport operates three round trips per week with a lead time of around 40 hours.

Shortening the lead time from Belgium to Turkey (and vice versa)

By combining the new TransFER connection with the RCG TransFER Curtici–Istanbul, it is possible to shorten the previous transit times from Belgium to Turkey (and vice versa) by around one day. Turkey in particular plays an important role as an international logistics hub due to its size and strategic location between Europe and Asia. As the second largest rail freight operator in Europe, RCG connects ports, economic and industrial centres from Europe to Asia.

RCG expands its network – TransNET

With the new connection, RCG expands the digital TransNET, in which all network TransFER connections to and from all ports, economic and industrial centres are available at a glance. Under the motto ‘TransNET, let’s play!’, these routes, as well as combinations, can be explored and new routes created in 12 languages. After selecting the respective route, icons show which services are available at the selected locations.

RCG transports goods across the whole Eurasian continent with around 60 TransFER connections, more than 700 TransFER combinations and many customisable routes. The transport units vary from entire wagonloads and intermodal transport through to complete customisable solutions. Additional freight services such as transshipment, warehouse logistics and customs services can be booked according to the place of departure and the destination. The RCG takes care of all the details – from the first to the last mile.

31.08.22 (rwg)


Akiem orders 65 Vectron locomotives from Siemens Mobility

FR:The order of 65 Vectron AC and Vectron MS locomotives is part of an existing framework agreement.

Specialist leasing rolling stock company, Akiem, has ordered 65 Vectron AC and Vectron MS locomotives from Siemens Mobility. The order was placed as part of a framework agreement for the purchase of locomotives that was signed in December 2021. The first locomotives from this call are to be delivered in mid-2024. Akiem previously ordered 20 Vectron locomotives from Siemens Mobility last December.

The ordered locomotives have a maximum power of 6.4 megawatts and can be delivered with a top speed of either 200km/h or 230km/h. They can be used for cross-border freight transport as well as fast passenger service in many European countries.

Albrecht Neumann, CEO Rolling Stock at Siemens Mobility, said: “Following the signing of the framework contract with Akiem and a first order in December, this marks the first order for a large number of units. We are especially pleased that the Vectron, with its unique modular design, will be making a significant contribution in the Akiem fleet to cross-border European freight and passenger service. With this order, we have also reached the milestone of 1,500 sold Vectrons: clear proof of customer satisfaction.”

Fabien Rochefort, CEO of the Akiem Group, said: “We are delighted to be increasing our fleet of Vectron locomotives. We look forward to offering passenger and freight operators throughout Europe the fleet they need as a sustainable and reliable service. We are convinced that the 85 Vectrons ordered by Akiem since December will meet our customers’ expectations.”

31.08.22 (rwg)


New York MTA launches combined commuter rail app

US: New York MTA has launched the TrainTime one-stop journey planning, ticket purchasing and real-time train location app for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad commuter rail passengers.

This was developed in-house by MTA, and replaces the eTix app and the previously separate TrainTime apps for LIRR and Metro-North services. Nearly 50 000 people downloaded the app within 15 h of its launch.

Users can search for a train and then purchase a ticket in seconds by using a ‘Buy’ button on the screen and logging in with an Apple ID, Google account or their phone number. Once a ticket is purchased, passengers will see the button show ‘Activate’ as their departure time approaches, or ‘Wallet’ if their trip is in the future.

In preparation for the app’s rollout, GPS sensors were installed on the LIRR and Metro-North train fleets to provide real-time location data through the app. There is also a seat availability tracker, and an in-app chat with customer service representatives.

‘If we want more customers to return to the rails, the customer experience needs to be as frictionless as possible’, said Acting MTA Chief Customer Officer Shanifah Rieara on August 17. ‘The new TrainTime accomplishes just that, placing every travel tool a rider needs into one app, regardless of which railroad they are riding.’

25.08.22 (rwg)


Bane NOR awards close to 90 million euros in track maintenance contracts

NO: Norske Baneservice and Spanish company Azvi were awarded a major 5-year track maintenance contract each by Bane NOR recently. Work will commence in 2024.

Norske Baneservice’s contract is valued at 390,5 million Norwegian krone (40,5 million euros), while Azvi bagged a deal worth 423,2 million krone. The companies will be carrying out track alignment and stabilisation works, as well as install ballast.

The Spanish firm will get to work in parts of Bane NOR’s area East as wel as in area North. Major lines in the area include the Bergen Railway and the Randsfjord line. In 2019, Azvi installed a double-track railway between Bergen and Arna.

Norske Baneservice will mostly work in the South-West and East, including on the Nordlandsbanen and the Gardermobanen.

25.08.22 (rt)


CAF in poleposition for Dutch rolling stock contract

NL: Dutch Railways (NS) has tapped CAF as the preferred supplier of 60 new double-decker trains, the operator announced on Wednesday. Assuming there will no appeals by the manufacturers that lost out, NS and CAF will draw up a contract in the coming weeks. An agreement is expected before the end of the years.

The deal will be for thirty four-car double-deckers and another thirty six-car train sets for a total of 30.000 seats. The trains will be able to reach a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour. The news units will be put into service some time in 2028. CAF and NS are no strangers to one another. The operator uses 118 so-called Sprinters manufactured by CAF.

In other news, NS recorded a drop in revenue and earnings in the first six months. The operator is also struggling with staffing issues, necessitating a 10-percent cut in services in the 2023 timetable. NS told Dutch sister publication SpoorPro that 13 to 15 percent few trains are becoming increasingly likely.

On the upside, NS’ long-term energy contract for traction power has shielded it from a potential cost increase to the tune of 1 billion euros, the company said in its H1 report.

25.08.22 (rt)


Stadler to Supply 56 TINA Trams to HAVAG

DE: Hallesche Verkehrs-AG (HAVAG) has contracted Stadler to supply 56 TINA trams for use in Saale from 2025.

The order includes 39 MGT-M trams with space for 166 passengers and 17 MGT-XL trams that can carry 267 passengers.

All of the trams will be two-way vehicles and will provide comfortable, quieter and more environmentally friendly transport in Saale, Germany.

HAVAG board member Vinzenz Schwarz said:

“Today is a great day for the passengers of Hallesche Verkehrs-AG – after a multi-year tendering, decision-making and awarding process, we have signed a contract for the production and delivery of 56 state-of-the-art trams and look forward to offering our passengers even better service from 2025 , comfort, space and security.

“Our new trams will feature an air-conditioned passenger compartment that does not heat up in the hot season, quieter ride comfort, larger door widths, no steps throughout the vehicle, wider aisles, improved stopping options, modern information systems and innovative driver assistance systems, including for collision avoidance.”

HAVAG currently operates 102 trams on 14 lines in the city of Saale. The new TINA trams will be used throughout the HAVAG network.

The vehicles will each have cashless ticket machines and a video surveillance system. They will also leverage the BIOS system, which is a new technology developed in Saale to provide improved information and orientation for blind and visually impaired passengers.

Ansgar Brockmeyer, Executive Vice President Marketing & Sales at Stadler said:

“We are delighted that with TINA, the latest tram generation from Stadler will be used in Halle (Saale). This deal is now the fourth order and underpins the success of the innovative TINA vehicle concept. The new vehicles will reach a new dimension in terms of passenger comfort and user-friendliness. In terms of safety, a new type of collision protection system will further increase the safety of tram operations.”

This is Stadler’s fourth order for its newly developed TINA tram, which launched in 2020. The contract with HAVAG follows orders from HEAG Mobilo, Schweizerische Baselland Transport (BLT) and Rostocker Strassenbahn AG (RSAG).

Stadler will present its TINA tram at InnoTrans this year.

24.08.22 (rn)


Alstom’s Coradia iLint hydrogen train active on world’s first 100-percent hydrogen route

FR: Alstom will be entering into service 14 Coradia iLint hydrogen train on the world’s first 100-percent hydrogen route, the company announced on Wednesday. The trains are operated by local German transportation company Elbe-Weser railways on behalf of Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft  Niedersachsen (LNVG) for runs on the route between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehud.

In the mentioned area of the federal state of Lower Saxony, hydrogen trains will gradually replace the 15 diesel trains currently in use by Elbe-Weser railways. The new train sets have a range of around 1,000 kilometres and will be refuelled using an installation by project partner Linde.

In due course, Coradia iLint hydrogen trains will also be used in the Frankfurt metropolitan area, again in an effort to replace dieseltrains. Alstom estimates there are currently some 4,000 diesel train sets still in use in Germany.
Alstom has also bagged contracts for its hydrogen train in Italy and France, where it will deliver 6 and 12 units, respectively. The Italian contract includes an option for an additional 8 trains. Coradia iLint hydrogen train has also been showcased in Austria, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden during tests.

Developments at a glance
Across Europe, rolling stock manufacturers, railway operators, infrastructure managers and policy makers are working on shifting to sustainable propulsion for trains to phase out diesel operations. For an overview of these developments, an interactive map with the projects and descriptions was put together by RailTech. The developments in sustainable rolling stock and the associated infrastructure such as recharging and refuelling are the central theme of the Rail Infra Forum on 12 and 13 October in Berlin. From alternative fuels and batteries in passenger rail to on-track machines, and from recharging batteries under catenary to hydrogen refuelling. The programme and speakers can be found on the event website.

24.08.22 (rt)


New CEO Announced for Eurostar Group

FR: Gwendoline Cazenave has been named the incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eurostar Group.

She will take over the role on 1 October from Jacques Damas, who has been CEO of Eurostar since October 2020 and CEO of holding company, Eurostar Group since its creation in May.

Eurostar Group is an alliance between Eurostar and Thalys. Within the next decade, it aims to transport 30 million passengers a year under a single brand, Eurostar, up from 19 million in 2019.

It plans to offer the largest international high-speed network in Western Europe and has set an objective to deploy a new, ambitious environmental policy over the next few years.

Cazenave has 20 years’ experience working in the rail sector. For the last two years, she has worked as a partner at management consultancy, Oliver Wyman, where she focused on the French and European transport and services markets – in particular, rail sector strategy and transformation.

Before this, she spent time working at SNCF in a number of roles including Director of TGV Atlantique and Director of Finance, Strategy and Legal Affairs at SNCF Voyages.

Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs and Alain Krakovitch, Director of TGV-Intercités and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Eurostar Group, said:“We have complete confidence in Gwendoline Cazenave to lead the business, continuing the positive journey of recovery put in place by Jacques Damas.

“We warmly thank Jacques for his determined approach with all of his teams. He successfully led Eurostar out of an unprecedented situation, which saw 95% of its activity on hold for 15 months, and officially put in place our new business structure.

“We also thank Bertrand Gosselin, CEO of Thalys since 2019, for his work to manage the business during the crisis and for his significant contribution to the continued growth of the company.

“With her strong experience, Gwendoline Cazenave will continue to successfully bring together Eurostar and Thalys, promoting the development of rail transport in Europe and creating a business which will meet the growing demand for sustainable mobility.”

23.08.22 (rn)


SNCF orders additional high-speed trains

FR: Alstom has received an order for an additional 15 Avelia Horizon very high-speed trains from SNCF Voyageurs. The deal is valued at 590 million euros and brings the total number of units ordered to 100.

The train sets consist of two short-length, high-performance power cars, and articulated double-deck coaches. In their most efficient configuration, the trains can accommodate up to 740 passengers. The Avelia Horizon very high-speed trains can reach speeds of up to 350 kilometres per hour, yet because of their aerodynamic design are forecast to consume 20 percent less energy than current high-speed trains. The units, which will be known as TGV M, are expected to enter service in 2024.

Because special attention was paid to the maintainability of the trains, as evidenced by a remote diagnostic system and simplified construction to allow for longer service intervals, maintenance costs are projected to be 30 percent lower compared to other SNCF Voyageurs units.

“This solution meets the technological, economic and competitive challenges of SNCF, in an environment of strong passenger demand for low-carbon mobility solutions,” said Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, President of Alstom France.

23.08.22 (rt)


TUI launches new night trains to Austrian ski resorts

AT: Major German tourism business TUI on Tuesday announced the introduction of the TUI Ski Express in cooperation with GreenCityTrip. From December 23 onwards, new night train services will depart to Austrian ski resorts in Tirol and the Salzburgerland area.

The Ski Express will depart in Amsterdam on Friday night and will also call at Utrecht. The night train will cross the Austrian border near Wörgl, where it will be split into services to Tirol and the Salzburgerland with an arrival time on Saturday morning. Traveller will have the choice between couchette cars featuring non- or semi-private sleeping accommodations. Baggage will be free of charge.

With the announcement of the Ski Express, TUI deepens its cooperation with GreenCityTrip. In May, the two companies announced night trains to six European cities, including Prague, Vienna and Venice. It also means the TUI and GreenCity trip are keeping a close eye on the competition: Sunweb and European Sleeper in June announced winter night train services to the French Alps.

“After the successful start of our cooperation earlier this summer, we are very happy to bring a winter holiday product to the market with TUI. We are confident of its potential”, Hessel Winkelman and Maarten Bastian of GreenCityTrip said.

The Dutch branch of TUI says travellers are looking for comfort and easy of travel, which can be combined with the Ski Express. The company also points to the untapped potential of winter travel by train. According to TUI, only 8 percent of travellers takes the train at present. It also says that of the people interested in skiing holidays, some 87 percent would be inclined to take a night train. The Ski Express will run until March 31.

23.08.22 (rn)


First of Etihad Rail’s New Fleet Arrives in the UAE

AE: Once construction is completed, the new fleet will operate across the entire UAE National Rail Network, increasing its capacity to more than 60 million tonnes of goods per year.

The trains will also contribute towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70-80%.

The fleet has been designed specifically with the geography of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in mind. The vehicles can withstand the region’s high temperatures and humidity levels, ensuring the best levels of performance, efficiency and sustainability.

In order to support its expanding network, Etihad Rail is increasing its fleet of heavy freight locomotives to 45 heavy transport locomotives: equivalent to 6 times its current fleet.

Manufactured and supplied by Progress Rail, the EMD SD70 electro-motive diesel locomotives each provide 4,600 brake horsepower. With one of the most powerful engines in the Middle East, they can each pull 100 wagons – equivalent in capacity to 300 trucks.

The locomotives are equipped with a pulse sand filtering system to ensure they operate at high effectiveness and efficiency when passing through desert regions. They also feature advanced on-board technologies and systems such as ETCS Level 2.

In addition, Etihad Rail is tripling its fleet of multi-purpose wagons to over 1,000.

Manufactured and supplied by CRRC Group, these wagons are equipped with the latest braking, signalling, control, communication and safety systems.

The variety of wagons will enable greater flexibility and capability in transporting goods of various sizes, including petrochemicals, raw steel and its products, limestone, cement, building materials, industrial and household waste, aluminum, food and assorted goods.

This will help reduce transportation costs by 30% and increase logistic efficiency. It will also reduce road congestion caused by trucks.

The fleet’s arrival in the Emirates was announced at a special event in Al Mirfa , Abu Dhabi, attended by His Excellency Shadi Malak, Chief Executive Officer at Etihad Rail; Marty Haycraft, President and CEO at Progress Rail; and Henry Pang, Executive Director – MENA at CRRC.

The fleet will be stored in this location until construction of the network is completed.

Mohammed Al Marzouqi, Executive Director of Rail Relations Sector at Etihad Rail, said:

“The arrival of the new fleet of locomotives and wagons to the UAE on schedule reflects the level of the achievements that the Etihad Rail project is realising in the development of the UAE National Railway Network.

“We made sure that the company’s new fleet is among the most modern in the region and the world, providing the highest safety criteria in terms of design, ensuring the best specifications for sustainability and environmental protection, and integrating the latest technologies for train operation and monitoring.

“We also ensured that the fleet suits the local geography and climate in the UAE and the region and meets current and future needs of Etihad Rail’s clients, including industrial companies, shipping companies, building materials suppliers, quarriers and more.”

18.08.22 (rn)


Hessen updates list of railways for reopening

DE: The Land of Hessen has updated its list of closed railways which are considered potentially suitable for reopening, adding seven routes to take the total to 24.

Firm plans are being developed for three routes: the Horlofftalbahn between Wölfersheim-Södel and Hungen, where operations are to be resumed at the end of 2025; the Lumdatalbahn from Lollar to Londorf; and a connection from Neu-Isenburg station to the town centre.

Preliminary investigations and feasibility studies are being carried out for eight of the routes.

‘Rail is an environmentally and climate-friendly mode of transport’, said Hessen’s Economics & Transport Minister Tarek Al-Wazir on August 11. ‘The reactivation of closed routes contributes to offering attractive alternatives to the car away from metropolitan areas. The chances have improved significantly because the Federal Ministry of Transport now judges such projects based on what they do for rural areas. Hessen has been calling for this for a long time.’ 

Lines in Hessen considered suitable candidates for reopening

  • Hofgeismar-Hümme – Trendelburg (Carlsbahn)
  • Kassel – Herkules (Herkulesbahn)
  • Baunatal – Schauenburg-Elgershausen
  • Kassel – Lohfelden (Variant using part of the Söhrebahn)
  • Bad Wildungen-Wega – Hemfurth-Edersee (Staumauer)
  • Frankenberg – Battenberg (Eder)
  • Schwalmstadt-Treysa – Homberg (Efze)
  • Gerstungen – Heimboldshausen – Bad Salzungen (Werratalbahn)
  • Dillenburg – Ewersbach (Dietzhölztalbahn)
  • Bad Endbach (Hartenrod) – Niederwalgern (Salzbödebahn)
  • Kirchhain – Burg- u Nieder-Gemünden (Ohmtalbahn)
  • Bad Hersfeld – Niederaula (Knüllwaldbahn) and Niederaula – Alsfeld (Gründchenbahn)
  • Lollar – Mainzlar – Londorf (Lumdatalbahn)
  • Brandoberndorf – Albshausen (Solmsbachtalbahn)
  • Hungen – Laubach
  • Wölfersheim-Södel – Hungen (Horlofftalbahn)
  • Grävenwiesbach – Weilburg (Weiltalbahn)
  • Wächtersbach – Bad Orb
  • Wiesbaden – Bad Schwalbach –  Land border (– Diez) (Aartalbahn)
  • Hanau – Erlensee
  • Neu-Isenburg Bf – Neu-Isenburg Zentrum
  • Griesheim – Wolfskehlen
  • Darmstadt Ost – Roßdorf – Groß-Zimmern
  • Mörlenbach – Wald-Michelbach (Überwaldbahn)

17.08.22 (rwg)


Knorr-Bremse engaged for EMU subsystems order

DE: Evac has won its first major European contract to supply rolling stock toilet units since being acquired by Knorr-Bremse last year.

This forms part of a deal which will also see Knorr-Brense provide braking, door and HVAC systems for 130 electric multiple-units which Alstom is to supply to Baden-Württemberg rolling stock agency SFBW under a contract signed in May.

Three SanSys sanitary systems will be installed in each of the four-car Coradia Stream High Capacity EMUs, with customised cubicles, compact vacuum systems, tanks and electronic control.

The Knorr-Bremse braking equipment will include PistonSupply Eco compressors, FlexControl Modular controls, SysControl electronics and SandGrip sanding systems.

Knorr-Bremse’s IFE business will supply pressure-tight weight-optimised, low-maintenance door systems with sliding steps, and its Merak subsidiary will provide modular and scalable HVAC systems with R290 natural refrigerant.

The firm order announced on August 11 is the fourth to be placed under a framework agreement for Knorr-Bremse to supply subsystems for Alstom’s Coradia Stream family in 2021-25.

‘This new, high-profile, multi-system order further strengthens the partnership between Knorr-Bremse and Alstom as both companies seek to develop safe, sustainable, efficient rail mobility’, commented Dr Jürgen Wilder, Knorr-Bremse executive board member for the Rail Vehicle Systems division.

16.08.22 (rwg)


Finland responds to European Commission regauging proposal

FI: When Germany introduced its 9-euro ticket, train stations were packed and trains overflowing with passengers. Spain will offer free tickets, and local transport associations fear the worst. Can the trains actually handle the additional passengers? And what will be the consequences for public transport? “The Renfe trains in Catalonia are already crowded. There will be a problem in September“, says Jordi Porta of Public Transport Association for Catalonia PTP. Starting next month, Spain will introduce a four-month free ticket for Renfe commuter and medium-distance trains. It is one of the measures the Spanish government is taking in face of rising inflation and rising prices, similar to Germany’s 9-euro ticket.

According to Porta, the potential drawbacks of the government measure for public transport are not acknowledged. One of the issues is that buses run parallel to certain train lines to the same cities, he explains. “Some of these services can even be faster than the train, and thus many people take the bus. When the Renfe train on the same route will be free, however, people will opt for the train, which is already crowded.”

Renfe spokesperson Andrea López Del Puerto responded to RailTech saying that Renfe is “positive about the free tickets, because it encourages the use of public transport.” Bus operators, however, are not happy with government initiative and went to court over what they see as unfair competition, as they fear losing their passengers, noted Porta.

Handling extra passengers
With a free ticket for certain trains, additional passengers can be expected, as was the case in Germany following the introduction of the 9-euro ticket. “Currently at Renfe, we have are at 80 percent pre-Covid occupancy so we can take on travellers”, said López.

However, according to a Renfe employee involved in train schedules, the train fleet can normally shoulder only the current service with little increase of demand. For increases larger than the 20 percent there is room for, albeit in theory, more trains and drivers must be considered. “Also, the material and human resources have to be accompanied by signalling, track, depot and maintenance improvements and growth. All these needs can take years of planning and works.”

Deutsche Bahn reported a 10 to 15 percent increase in people taking regional trains this June. Berlin and Brandenburg recorded an even greater boost, with up to 25 percent more passengers on certain routes, a spokesperson of the Berlin-Brandenburg transport authority VBB told DW. On the public holidays, some regional trains bound for the popular Baltic and North Sea coast were so crowded that passengers had to be turned away, reported DW.

The Renfe employee believes the measure will bring more passengers, but only for the period when the free tickets are valid: the four months from September onwards. “We need regular investments improving the network instead, for increasing the capacity and reliability.”

Invested money
The PTP calculates that the measure will cost Renfe around 64 million euros in Catalonia alone. Nationwide, the bill could come out at some 140 million. Instead of compensating this, the government should rather be spend on improving public transport, says the PTP.

Public transport in the Barcelona area is based an integrated system, with flat rates for 10 trips, the most popular being the monthly ticket. “In Zone 1 for example, public transport is already relatively cheap: 40 euros for three months of travel for students, and already crowded. This situation calls for more vehicles and more drivers, not for free train tickets”, says Porta.

This is of course not the same across the country, especially outside metropolitan areas. In the zones outside of Barcelona’s integrated system, the prices are higher, especially to towns without a train connection. According to Porta, a bus ride can cost up to 20 euros per trip to some towns. Only making some train tickets free is a discriminatory measure to areas which do not have a train connection. Overall, the conditions for public transport should be improved, as well as a fair tariff model that is competitive to private cars use, for all zones whether close to a large city or not.

It is important to note that the measure for free tickets was taken first and foremost in face of inflation and to cushion rising fuel and living costs, and not necessarily to promote public transport. The Spanish government did also announce a policy in June for a 30-percent discount on public transport, including metros, buses and trams, but this only applies to subscriptions and multi-trip collective public transport tickets. This however excludes certain less populated regions, who are not part of an integrated public transport zones, notes the PTP.

15.08.22 (rwg)


The downside of Spain’s free train ticket

ES: When Germany introduced its 9-euro ticket, train stations were packed and trains overflowing with passengers. Spain will offer free tickets, and local transport associations fear the worst. Can the trains actually handle the additional passengers? And what will be the consequences for public transport? “The Renfe trains in Catalonia are already crowded. There will be a problem in September“, says Jordi Porta of Public Transport Association for Catalonia PTP. Starting next month, Spain will introduce a four-month free ticket for Renfe commuter and medium-distance trains. It is one of the measures the Spanish government is taking in face of rising inflation and rising prices, similar to Germany’s 9-euro ticket.

According to Porta, the potential drawbacks of the government measure for public transport are not acknowledged. One of the issues is that buses run parallel to certain train lines to the same cities, he explains. “Some of these services can even be faster than the train, and thus many people take the bus. When the Renfe train on the same route will be free, however, people will opt for the train, which is already crowded.”

Renfe spokesperson Andrea López Del Puerto responded to RailTech saying that Renfe is “positive about the free tickets, because it encourages the use of public transport.” Bus operators, however, are not happy with government initiative and went to court over what they see as unfair competition, as they fear losing their passengers, noted Porta.

Handling extra passengers
With a free ticket for certain trains, additional passengers can be expected, as was the case in Germany following the introduction of the 9-euro ticket. “Currently at Renfe, we have are at 80 percent pre-Covid occupancy so we can take on travellers”, said López.

However, according to a Renfe employee involved in train schedules, the train fleet can normally shoulder only the current service with little increase of demand. For increases larger than the 20 percent there is room for, albeit in theory, more trains and drivers must be considered. “Also, the material and human resources have to be accompanied by signalling, track, depot and maintenance improvements and growth. All these needs can take years of planning and works.”

Deutsche Bahn reported a 10 to 15 percent increase in people taking regional trains this June. Berlin and Brandenburg recorded an even greater boost, with up to 25 percent more passengers on certain routes, a spokesperson of the Berlin-Brandenburg transport authority VBB told DW. On the public holidays, some regional trains bound for the popular Baltic and North Sea coast were so crowded that passengers had to be turned away, reported DW.

The Renfe employee believes the measure will bring more passengers, but only for the period when the free tickets are valid: the four months from September onwards. “We need regular investments improving the network instead, for increasing the capacity and reliability.”

Invested money
The PTP calculates that the measure will cost Renfe around 64 million euros in Catalonia alone. Nationwide, the bill could come out at some 140 million. Instead of compensating this, the government should rather be spend on improving public transport, says the PTP.

Public transport in the Barcelona area is based an integrated system, with flat rates for 10 trips, the most popular being the monthly ticket. “In Zone 1 for example, public transport is already relatively cheap: 40 euros for three months of travel for students, and already crowded. This situation calls for more vehicles and more drivers, not for free train tickets”, says Porta.

This is of course not the same across the country, especially outside metropolitan areas. In the zones outside of Barcelona’s integrated system, the prices are higher, especially to towns without a train connection. According to Porta, a bus ride can cost up to 20 euros per trip to some towns. Only making some train tickets free is a discriminatory measure to areas which do not have a train connection. Overall, the conditions for public transport should be improved, as well as a fair tariff model that is competitive to private cars use, for all zones whether close to a large city or not.

It is important to note that the measure for free tickets was taken first and foremost in face of inflation and to cushion rising fuel and living costs, and not necessarily to promote public transport. The Spanish government did also announce a policy in June for a 30-percent discount on public transport, including metros, buses and trams, but this only applies to subscriptions and multi-trip collective public transport tickets. This however excludes certain less populated regions, who are not part of an integrated public transport zones, notes the PTP.

12.08.22 (rt)


Colas Rail enters German market with strategic acquisition

DE: Colas Rail has signed a share purchase agreement to acquire rail infrastructure contractor Hasselmann Group. Colas said this would give it a foothold in the German market as part of its strategy to target countries with stable economies and high potential for investment in rail infrastructure.

The family-owned group comprises Hasselmann GmbH (infrastructure), NTG GmbH (track construction) and LGM Logistik GmbH (operations). The three companies operate undertake work in central Germany, mainly for Deutsche Bahn, with nearly 300 employees and €70m of revenue in 2021.

‘This acquisition illustrates our growth strategy across the G20’, said Colas Rail CEO Hervé Le Joliff when the agreement was signed on August 9. ‘Once the Hasselmann Group has been integrated into the Colas Rail family, we intend to expand throughout Germany.’

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to regulatory approval.

‘Our aim is to increasingly contribute our competence and experience for the further modernisation and development of the German and European rail infrastructure’, said Peter Krauß, Managing Director of Hasselmann GmbH. ‘We are now looking forward to taking on this exciting challenge as part of the Colas Group. We are convinced that this step is the right decision for the future and further successful development of our group of companies.’

11.08.22 (rwg)


Patriot Rail to Acquire Pioneer Lines to Expand its Freight Network

US: Patriot Rail Company LLC has entered into an agreement to acquire Pioneer Lines, which operates 15 short line railroads across 12 states in the US.

This acquisition will support Patriot Rail’s growth strategy by increasing its operations to 31 railroads. It will also extend its business to new markets in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

The acquisition of the Pioneer portfolio will enable Patriot Rail to offer services such as railcar storage, transloading and railcar cleaning in additional US states.

John E. Fenton, Patriot Rail’s Chief Executive Officer said:“Pioneer Lines is a diverse rail company with talented professionals and deep customer relationships. Pioneer Lines’ safety culture and focus on operational excellence aligns directly with Patriot Rail’s vision and mission. These synergies position us to continue to exceed customer expectations as a best-in-class rail partner to meet their freight shipment and logistics needs.”
The acquisition is valued at approximately 250 million USD.

Patriot Rail anticipates that this expansion will help establish new freight connections between the US and global markets.

Patriot Rail board chair Deb Butler said:“Rail shippers will now have increased service options across a broader national footprint, and the integration of Patriot and Pioneer will further enhance our combined capability as a rail solutions partner dedicated to safety and customer growth.”

10.08.22 (rn)


Talgo Wins Night Train Contract in Egypt

ES: Spanish rolling stock manufacturer Talgo has won a contract in Egypt worth 280 million EUR (237 million GBP | 286 million USD).

Talgo will manufacture seven passenger trains trains for night services and provide 15 years of maintenance. The manufacturer estimates that delivery will begin in 2024.

Talgo is currently delivering on a contract it entered with Egyptian National Railways (ENR) in 2019 for passenger trains for daytime services and eight years of maintenance.

For the awarded contract to be enforced, certain precedent conditions to do with the financing of the project need to be met. This is expected to be finalised in the next few months.

Talgo will manufacture the trains at its Alava and Madrid sites and perform the maintenance services at existing sites in Egypt. The units will be based on the manufacturer’s intercity platform, which Talgo has also received contracts for in Germany and Denmark.

This contract comes as the six trains ENR ordered from Talgo in 2019 have completed their on-track testing. These units comprise a locomotive and up to 15 hauled passenger cars. They will run on the country’s key railway line that mirrors the Nile, connecting the Mediterranean port of Alexandria and Aswan, Egypt’s most southerly city.

10.08.22 (rn)


Green light for Northern Italy rail expansion

IT: The Lombardy Region has greenlit the project for the quadruplication of the rail route between Milano Rogoredo and Pavia, in the North of Italy. The route is part of the line connecting Milan to Genoa.

The project consists of two phases. First, over 260 million euros will be invested in the 11-kilometre section from Milano Rogoredo to Pieve Emanuele, which should be completed by 2026.

The second phase of the project, from Pieve Emanuele to Pavia, will implement the construction of two new rail tracks, resulting in an extension of 17 kilometres, which is expected to be ready by 2030. With this project, the total investment for the Milan-Pavia route will exceed 900 million euros.

Separating transport
The regional Infrastructure Department of Lombardy highlighted that the enhancement of the Milan-Pavia line is essential to increase the efficiency and regularity of the service, because it will make it possible to separate the different types of rail transport. Suburban and regional trains can be separated from inter-regional and long-distance trains and freight trains. Reducing interference between the different transport flows means making circulation more fluid and should increase the capacity of the line.

The rail freight industry can also benefit from the expansion, but not right away. Currently, the transit on the line amounts to 53 daily trains. It is estimated that there will not be a significant increase in rail freight traffic before at least 2030, when daily trains are expected to be 100.

What should also enable this is thh Giovi Third Pass, which is expected to be operative by 2024. The Giovi Third Pass is a project launched in 2013 to create a 53-kilometre-long high-speed connection between Genoa and Tortona, which will connect the Ligurian ports to Central Europe through the TEN-T Rhine-Alpine Corridor.

10.08.22 (rt)


World’s First Fully Automated Heavy-Haul Rail System Sees 10% Expansion

AU: The world’s first fully automated heavy-haul rail system, AutoHaul™, in Australia has been expanded by 166km to connect the Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri iron ore mine to the existing network.

The AutoHaul™ network has gone from 1,700km to 1,866km as part of the greenfield mine development in Western Australia. The AutoHaul™ network enables 220 trains to run autonomously between mines and ports while being monitored from an operations centre in Perth. There is no onboard drivers though there are some to perform tasks such as last mile driving.

Hitachi Rail was the technical and delivery lead for the development of the AutoHaul™ project and provided the systems and software to connect the new section to the Gudai-Darri mine. These include onboard and control centre technology, trackside equipment, radio base stations and automatic train operation (ATO) interface software for locomotive control, level crossing safety and location tracking.

The systems and software have been successfully commissioned and are now operational.

Roslyn Stuart, Hitachi Rail Australia Senior Director, said: “The Gudai-Darri AutoHaul™ network expansion project is a natural extension of Hitachi Rail’s long-term collaboration to deliver innovative rail transport solutions for Rio Tinto. The project has seen Hitachi Rail and the Rio Tinto AutoHaul™ team deliver another ‘first’, with back-to-back loading (high performing automated train loading) to be introduced on the Gudai-Darri mine rail loop.

The AutoHaul™ network is used exclusively by Rio Tinto trains. The Gudai-Darri mine will run autonomous haul trucks, fully autonomous water trucks and autonomous training solutions. Some of its power will come from a 34MW solar plant.

Hitachi Rail has contracts elsewhere in Australia, such as with the New Generation Rail (NGR) fleet in Queensland. It has been contracted to supply its ETCS Level 2 system for all the NGR rolling stock.

09.08.22 (rn)


New high-speed player to join Spanish network in November

ES: Private high-speed train operator Iryo will join Renfe and Ouigo on the Spanish high-speed rail network from November 25 onwards, Spanish media reported last week. Earlier this month, Iryo CEO Simone Gorini also said there would be some months to go before the start of operations.

Iryo, the brand of company Ilsa which is owned by regional Spanish airline Air Nostrum and Trenitalia, recently received approval from Spain’s competition authority CNMC for its planned services. Iryo is targeting up to 80 daily connections, the majority of which between Madrid and Barcelona. The operator will also serve Zaragoza, Valencia, Alicante, Sevilla, Córdoba and Malaga.

According to Gorini, Iryo is aiming for early morning arrival times in a bid to attract business travellers, as it does not want to compete with Renfe, Renfe’s Avlo label and SNCF subsidiary Ouigo on price. The new CEO, who joins Iryo from Trenitalia, also said a marketshare of 30 percent is feasible.

The start of operations was initially planned for earlier in the year, but a disagreement with infrastructure manager Adif over Iryo’s capacity requests on the section to Alicante caused a delay. Like Trenitalia, Iryo will be using the Frecciarossa 1000 high-speed trains. They will be classified as Series 109 in Spain. Drivers started their training earlier in the year and the first group of 30 drivers completed their programme last month.

09.08.22 (rt)

Knorr-Bremse and Hyundai Rotem Sign 5-Year Framework Agreement

DE: Brake and door systems manufacturer Knorr-Bremse has signed a five-year framework agreement with Korean rolling stock manufacturer Hyundai Rotem worth around 50 million euros.

Knorr-Bremse is to provide more than 200 hydraulic braking systems and entrance systems, along with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) for light rail vehicles manufactured by Hyundai Rotem.

These systems are not for a specific light rail contract Hyundai Rotem is delivering on. Instead, they will be fitted in LRVs that are to be deployed around the world.

Knorr-Bremse has not previously supplied all three of these types of subsystems for Hyundai Rotem LRVs. The runtime for this contract is 2023–28.

Jürgen Wilder, Member of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG with responsibility for the Rail Vehicle Systems division, said:“Knorr-Bremse is geared towards providing future-driven solutions for local mass transit services that address the global megatrends of urbanization and mobility. South Korea, with its reputation as an innovation hub and trendsetter in modern transportation, is a highly relevant market for Knorr-Bremse. We are delighted to have won HRC’s trust once again. Apart from the purely technical advantages, this framework agreement provides opportunities for further synergies that will benefit both companies in the long term.”
The braking systems will be electro-hydraulic and include sanding systems and magnetic track brakes. The entrance systems will come from the IFE Knorr-Bremse brand. Lastly, the HVAC systems will be delivered by Knorr-Bremse’s brand Merak.

Hyundai Rotem and Knorr-Bremse have worked together in the tram sector before. The current framework agreement includes options to extend.

Jonathan Paddison, Member of the Board of Directors at Knorr-Bremse Asia Pacific, said:“The ability to combine a technically standardized portfolio of subsystems that is, however, flexible enough to adapt to specific local customer and market requirements, as well as the great teamwork and coordination between our own teams, were crucial factors in achieving this agreement.

“Specifically, our multi-system strategy allows us to leverage our networks and solutions to identify synergies that directly benefit our customers. In the case of Hyundai Rotem, this has enabled us to come to a combined agreement spanning three major subsystems. Knorr-Bremse is a leader in providing this kind of portfolio for this vehicle segment.”
In addition to trams, Hyundai Rotem manufactures high-speed trains, locomotives, metro trains and maglev trains.

08.08.22 (rn)


National Train Control Systems framework aims to develop UK signalling market

UK: Network Rail is planning to establish a multi-supplier National Train Control Systems framework for the delivery of major enhancements and renewals, including ETCS and conventional signalling.

It is envisaged that the 10-year framework would cover five suppliers, and have an estimated overall value of £4bn. It would include design, build and maintenance support services for either or both ETCS and conventional signalling, and maintenance for ETCS.

NR has a strategic objective to support the development of the British signalling market and to encourage adoption of open interfaces. In order to facilitate this, it plans to provide minimum commitments to each supplier appointed to the framework, and to allocate projects through criteria set out in procurement documentation rather than mini-competitions.

To encouragement suppliers to offer ETCS for the British market, NR would make a contribution to development costs. Suppliers could also develop conventional signalling for the UK if they do not currently offer it, although NR would not provide funding.

05.08.22 (rwg)


MRS Logística to invest R$11bn under early concession renewal deal

BR: MRS Logística has signed an agreement to extend its concession to operate freight services on its 1 643 km broad and mixed gauge network in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and São Paulo.

The company’s concession will run for 30 years beyond the current expiry date of November 30 2026. The arrangement takes the form of an addendum to the existing agreement and was signed on July 29 in a ceremony involving the Ministry of Infrastructure, the National Land Transport Agency and the Federal Audit Court.

The concession extension provides for MRS Logística to invest R$11bn in a programme geared to three main objectives: capacity expansion and performance improvement, structural works ‘in the public interest’, and reduction of conflicts with road traffic.

MRS Logística will allocate around R$6∙2bn to capacity and performance improvement works, including track renewals, yard expansion and better support facilities.

Around R$3∙7bn will be spent on ‘works of public interest’ that include provision of separate tracks for passenger services operated by Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos, paving the way for the São Paulo – Campinas inter-city passenger project to go ahead.

The remaining R$1∙1bn will be used to segregate railway rights of way in urban areas to avoid conflicts with road traffic. This will entail construction of viaducts, underpasses, footbridges and fencing as well as installation of automated level crossings. During the first half of this year, MRS Logística trains were involved in 45 accidents involving road vehicles or pedestrians, although the figure was down by nearly 20% compared with the first half of 2021.

Specific investment projects include the development of intermodal hubs at Mooca in the São Paulo conurbation, at Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, at Queimados, about 50 km northwest of Rio de Janeiro, and at Igarapé to the west of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais state. Funds will also be allocated to double the capacity of access routes to the port of Santos with the work benefiting both MRS freight flows and those of other operators. Access to the port of Rio de Janeiro will also be improved.

Traffic handled by MRS Logística is expected to more than double to reach 109 million tonnes by 2056; in 2021 the railway handled 51 million tonnes. Much of the additional traffic is expected to be general cargo, but the volume of container traffic is expected to septuple. As traffic grows, MRS has undertaken to expand its locomotive and wagon fleets and it will also purchase a range of track maintenance equipment.

In addition to the investment programme, MRS will make 138 quarterly payments of R$14m for the rights to the concession. These will be in addition to quarterly payments made in return for existing concession rights until 2026.

MRS Logística President Guilherme Segalla de Mello said that ‘it was not easy to get here ― it took a lot of discussion and negotiation … now we have a great challenge and we will meet all our commitments.’

  • The São Paulo state government’s Metropolitan Transport Department expects to publish the terms of a 30-year concession for operation of the long-planned São Paulo – Campinas inter-city service later in August with a view to a bidding auction being held in November. This would be followed by contract signing in the first half of 2023, with ‘Intermetropolitano’ services between Francisco Morato and Campinas commencing in 2028 and ‘Expresso TIC’ trains on the TIC Eixo Norte route between São Paulo, Jundiaí and Campinas in 2030.

04.08.22 (rwg)


DB supports electrification in Uzbekistan

UZ: The German national railway’s DB Engineering & Consulting subsidiary has been awarded a contract to supervise electrification of the 452 km Bukhara – Miskin – Urgench – Khiva line.

This will enable national railway UTY to operate Talgo 250 Afrosiyob trainsets at up to 250 km/h on the route, cutting 2 h from the Bukhara – Khiva journey time to offer a 7 h trip from Toshkent to Khiva.

DB E&C said this would increase capacity, reduce emissions and boost the tourism potential of the country.

The project is scheduled for completion in June 2026. Ridership between Bukhara and Khiva is expected to increase from 280 000 to 1 000 000 passengers/year by 2026, and freight traffic is projected to reach 11·8 million tonnes/year.

The electrification work is being financed using a US$162m, 20-year loan signed by the government and the Asian Development Bank in December 2021.

DB E&C has already provided construction supervision services for the 19·2 km Qamchik tunnel on the Angren – Pap line which opened in June 2016, electrification of the 325 km Qarshi – Termez route which was completed in January 2018, and expansion of the Toshkent metro including an extension of the Chilonzor Line which opened in December 2020.

Under a co-operation programme launched in 2019, a joint working group formed with the transport ministry and UTY has produced recommendations on how to improve the structure and management of the national railway to increase financial stability, grow freight traffic including on transit corridors, digitalise and boost the competitiveness of rail.

04.08.22 (rwg)


Egyptian electric train equipment ordered

EG: Siemens Mobility has awarded Knorr-Bremse contracts to supply subsystems for the rolling stock to be delivered for the country’s electric railway programme.

The order announced on August 3 includes Knorr-Bremse braking systems and IFE-branded pressure-tight doors with boarding aids for 15 eight-car 230 km/h Velaro high speed trains. The equipment is to be delivered to Siemens Mobility from Q4 2023 to Q1 2026, and there is an option for another 26 trainsets.

Knorr-Bremse’s Evac brand will supply 136 toilet systems including a new type of bidet for 34 four-car Desiro High Capacity regional EMUs, with an option for another 60 EMUs.

‘Egypt has emerged as an ambitious, dynamic market for rail travel and transportation’, said Dr Jürgen Wilder, Knorr-Bremse board member for Rail Vehicle Systems. ‘The country has been investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure and railways for some time.’

04.08.22 (rwg)


Train-to-train data transmission over 4 km

KR: Korea Railroad Research Institute has successfully tested train-to-train data communications over distances of 2 km in the open air and 4 km in tunnels.

The communications use a directional antenna developed by KRRI, which said it was the first successful test over such distances.

A nine-year autonomous train development programme running to 2024 is being undertaken at the New Transport Science Technopolis in Osong, with backing from the National Science & Technology Research Council of the Ministry of Science & ICT.

The aim is to develop a distributed control method through which trains would share information such as routing, stopping patterns and speed. Each train would then determine its own performance profile.

‘Commercialisation of the autonomous train system is now one step closer’, said Jeong Rak-gyo, head of the Smart Electrical Signals Division at KRRI following the most recent tests.

04.08.22 (rwg)

CAF has begun dynamic track testing the hydrogen-powered demonstrator train developed for the FCH2Rail project.

ES: This comes less than two months since static tests began at CAF’s site in Zaragoza. FCH2RAIL is a consortium of CAF, DLR, Toyota, Renfe, ADIF, CNH2, IP and Stemmann-Technik.

The project has a budget of 14 million EUR (14.22m USD), 10m EUR (10.16m USD) of which is being funded by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership –  formerly the known as the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).

This is a European Commission agency dedicated to promoting the development of hydrogen and fuel cells.

The demonstrator vehicle is a RENFE Civia three-car commuter train that has had the new power generation system integrated into its existing traction system, making it the first bi-mode demonstrator train with hydrogen fuel cells.

During the dynamic tests, hybridisation of the fuel cells and the batteries will be optimised on routes specifically selected as representative of those that would be used for commercial services, with the train being extensively tested under a wide range of different power demand conditions.

As a result of these tests, the new system can be evaluated against the diesel trains currently in use on many routes.

CAF has been promoting the use of use of green hydrogen in the railway and passenger transport sectors for several years , with its subsidiary, Solaris, considered a leader in the hydrogen bus market.

Earlier this year the company signed a framework agreement with Iberdrola to partner on hydrogen-related projects.

Joint goals include improving the renewable hydrogen value chain with the highest safety, technology and competition standards in the railway and passenger transport sectors.

28.07.22 (rn)


Turkey breaks ground for new high-speed line

TK: A groundbreaking ceremony was held over the weekend for a new high-speed line between the Turkish capital Ankara and Kayseri, an important industrial city further east. Once completed, travel time between the two Anatolian cities will be reduced to around 2 hours.

The ceremony was attended by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said it was time for the people of Kayseri “to experience the comfort of high-speed trains”. The new line will also call at the town of Yerköy, as it is essentially a branch off of the recently inaugurated Ankara-Yerköy-Sivas high-speed line. As such, the construction effort for the Ankara-Yerköy-kayseri line will ‘only’ entail 142 kilometres of new tracks.

Major expansion plans underway

The expansion of the Turkish high-speed railway network continues unabated. Earlier this month, Turkish Transport minister Adil Karaismailoğlu celebrated the completion of tunnelling activities for the new high-speed line to Bursa over the weekend. The new line will effectively link Bursa to both Istanbul and the Turkish capitol, Ankara. It will branch off from the existing Istanbul-Ankara high-speed line at Osmaneli and continue all the way to Bandırma. Another branch will head south, towards Balıkesir.

In April, the Turkish Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure unveiled its transport and logistics master plan, which calls for almost 200 billion dollars (183,7 billion euros) in investment over the coming two decades. Among other things, Turkey wants to vastly increase the number of railway passengers.

25.07.22 (rt)


Dual Inventive and UNIFE join forces to digitally harmonise the European railways

EU: During the General Assembly in Paris, UNIFE (the European Rail Supply Industry Association) ratified Dual Inventive’s membership. The Oisterwijk-based company is the only Dutch member of this European organisation, which boasts more than a hundred member companies. Dual Inventive will work in collaboration with UNIFE to develop a single European standard for the digital harmonisation of the European railway systems.

“UNIFE is happy to have Dual Inventive joining the ranks”, Philippe Citroën, UNIFE Director General stated. “Their expertise in rail telecommunications will be essential to achieving the transformative shift to rail outlined by the European Commission in its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. Doubling passenger rail transport by 2030 and tripling it by 2050 as highlighted in the European Green Deal, will require next generation technology developed by Europe’s suppliers. This will help make our railways even more reliable and safer. Inspiring a pervasive alteration of passenger preferences can best be achieved through investing in research and innovation and introducing greater digital harmonisation.”

“Cooperation on a European level is more necessary than ever to make the best use of the potential of our rail infrastructure. We must not only make the modal shift from road to rail, but also the mental shift from a National to a European approach in the management of our infrastructure. Together with UNIFE, we want to help the industry on its way towards a single European standard for IoT and digital solutions for track worker safety,” says International Affairs Manager at Dual Inventive Marleen van de Kerkhof.

Out-of-date infrastructure stands in the way of progress

With the train being the most sustainable mode of transport, rail has the potential to make a significant contribution to the climate objectives as outlined in the European Green Deal. However, most rail networks in Europe are a combination of various systems and out-of-date infrastructure, making it difficult to support the necessary growth in rail transport. This is why the European Commission has initiated the Single European Railway Area.

With this initiative, the Commission wants to improve the connection between the Member States and cooperation at European level. This should lead, among other things, to the implementation of European standards for managing the railway infrastructure. Having an interoperable railway infrastructure ensures more efficient use of the current infrastructure as well as improving safety for both track workers and passengers. Dual Inventive aims to contribute to the realisation of the Single European Railway Area in collaboration with UNIFE.

UNIFE and Dual Inventive

Dual Inventive specialises in technology products to make the rail infrastructure safer and more efficient, whilst maximising the available rail capacity and improving the reliability of the rail infrastructure. The Oisterwijk-based technology company has many years of international experience in making the workplace safer and more efficiently by providing fast and safe track access with its own proprietary European SIL 4 cloud and systems.

UNIFE represents the European Rail Supply Industry. The association advocates on behalf of more than 100 of Europe’s leading rail supply companies – from SMEs to major industrial champions – active in the design, manufacture, maintenance and refurbishment of rail transport systems, subsystems and related equipment. UNIFE also brings together national rail industry associations from 12 European countries.

25.07.22 (rt)


Romania approves plan to purchase hydrogen trains

RO: The Romanian Transport Ministry endorsed the procurement of twelve hydrogen trains on Wednesday. The trains will be financed by the country’s recovery and resilience plan, with funding from the EU.

Secretary of State in the Romanian Ministry of Transport Irinel Scriosteanu announced the approval on social media. The pilot project, implemented by the Railway Reform Authority, calls for the purchase 12 vehicles with 160 seats each. The total cost of 973 million euros also includes the realisation by the future train supplier of the associated hydrogen fuelling facilities, plus 30 years’ worth of train maintenance.

The trains will run on non-electrified routes such as from Bucharest Central Station to Bucharest Airport (every half hour) and on routes from the north of Bucharest City and Ilfov County to the neighbouring counties of Argeș, Dâmbovița and Giurgiu. “Thanks to the reliability of the new vehicles”, the trains will also reach Olt and Dolj counties, Scriosteanu said.

The Transport Secretary included a picture of an Alstom hydrogen train running in Austria on his socials, but a supplier has not been announced yet. A market consultation for the hydrogen trains was launched in March this year. The Romanian Railway Authority did sign with Alstom for the delivery of 20 Coradia Stream trains for operations on electrified lines, which marked the rolling stock manufacturer’s first contract in Romania.

Rail recovery

The financing of the investment project is carried out using non-refundable external funds from the EU – through Romania’s National Recovery and Resilience Programme –  and from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure’s own budget. In addition to the hydrogen trains, Romania will also study a first high-speed railway and carry out works to improve bottlenecks in the rail infrastructure as part of the recovery plan. In total, 3.9 billion euros of the Recovery and Resilience Plan will go to rail.

By replacing diesel traction with electric traction based on hydrogen fuel cells, transport emissions are reduced by 18,348 tonnes of CO2  and 306 tonnes of NOx per year, the equivalent of more  600,000 euros per year

According to the Romanian ministry, some 18,348 tonnes of CO2  and 306 tonnes of NOx per year can be avoided by replacing diesel traction with electric traction based on hydrogen fuel cells. It should contribute to reaching net-zero pollution in 2050, the objectives of the European and national strategy.

22.07.22 (rt)


Russian Railways requests EU to lift sanctions

RU: The Russian Railways have proceeded with an official request to the European Union to lift sanctions against the company. RZD was among the first legal entities to enter EU sanction lists just days after the war in Ukraine erupted. Now six months later, the company requested their lift, facing a financial and operational dead end allegedly caused by “EU violations”.

RZD claimed in its Telegram channel that the European Union is violating fundamental rights and “several norms of international laws and acts of the EU itself.” For the record, the state-owned railway company entered the EU’s sanctions lists on 27 February 2022.

The sanctions applied were financial, not only referring to Russian Railways but to a group of different Russian companies. The official EU sanction document read: “it shall be prohibited to directly or indirectly purchase, sell, provide investment services for or assistance in the issuance of, or otherwise deal with transferable securities and money-market instruments, issued after 12 April 2022,” followed by a detailed description of where the restrictions apply to and a list of companies-including RZD-that they would impact.

Violating and contradicting sanctions

According to the company, the EU sanctions have a negative impact on passenger rights. “Sanctions aim at limiting the ability of Russian Railways to perform socially significant, humanitarian functions and are discriminatory in relation to the population of the Russian Federation. In addition, they contradict a significant number of norms of international law and acts of the EU itself,” claimed RZD.

On top of that, the company underlined that the EU is contradicting itself by classifying trains as luxury items for Russian citizens on the one hand and positioning rail transport as mass and carbon-neutral for itself on the other.

Concerning the sanctions’ financial character, RZD stressed that not being allowed to raise funds equals a violation of legal principles, which basically translates into a violation of “freely doing business and owning property postulated in the founding documents of the EU.”

An appeal would be futile

Nevertheless, RZD does not aim to pursue the alleged violations in court, considering that the EU is preoccupied. The company described that “ judicial appeal of the sanctions acts is futile based on numerous cases of biased consideration by the EU Court of Appeals from Russian citizens and organisations.”

However, it called the EU to carefully reconsider its decisions, also in line with its own legal and humanitarian principles, and lift the sanctions.

Impact on Russian rail business

In an extensive analysis last June, RailFreight.com explored the impact and the possible crisis the Russian railway industry faced after the sanctions were imposed. The segment hit the hardest was rail exports, with volumes decreasing rapidly. However, wagon building, purchasing equipment, and passenger traffic showed resilience and recovered quickly after the initial shock. These are still the main drivers for the market’s recovery.

Yet, the hardest hit came from the exodus of big Western players from the Russian rail market. One of them was Siemens. RZD mentioned that “export embargoes against railway equipment became the direct and only reason for the termination by Siemens of its contractual obligations for the supply and maintenance of Sapsan and Lastochka trains.” That could be the Achilles hill of the Russian railway business, creating most of the clouds for the future.

According to experts, even in the case of ensuring technical servicing for these trains in Russia, their provision with components will be a serious problem and, most likely, will be solved by disassembling part of the fleet for spare parts as it happened with aircraft.

21.07.22 (rt)


Network Rail launch new taskforce in wake of record-breaking heatwave

UK: Network Rail have launched a new taskforce led by independent experts to offer recommendations on how rail can develop its approach to resilience during hot weather.

Network Rail have announced the launch of a new taskforce led by independent experts to investigate and make recommendations on how the railway can develop its approach to resilience during hot weather following this week’s unprecedented heatwave.

The review will consider four key areas, each led by an independent expert in their field. Three of these areas will be focused on gathering insights from other countries and making comparisons with international rail networks that are more used to dealing with extreme heat and fluctuations in temperature.

“The weather we’ve experienced this week has put a huge amount of pressure on our infrastructure, our staff and our passengers, and with extreme weather events becoming more frequent as our climate continues to change, we’ve got to pull out all the stops to make our railway as resilient as possible,” Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said. “That’s why I’ve decided to commission this taskforce, spearheaded by leading global experts, whose considerable experience in their fields both in the UK and across the world will arm us with the guidance we need to make our railway resilient in the face of climate change for generations to come.”

Dame Julia Slingo FRS, former chief scientist at the Met Office and a world-renowned expert in climatology, will examine the likelihood of more frequent extreme hot weather events in the UK and how high-quality, detailed, and timely weather forecasting can be maximised by Network Rail to mitigate the impact of heat on its infrastructure. Dame Julia recently led a weather action task force focussed on equipping Network Rail with a better understanding of the risk of rainfall to its infrastructure.

Sir Douglas Oakervee will draw on his 60 years of experience in engineering to investigate options to ensure the railway infrastructure can continue to function safely and reliably during very hot weather. This work will particularly focus on the performance of track and overhead line equipment as they are the two most common causes of delays and disruption in hot weather. Sir Douglas has served as chair of Crossrail and HS2 and is a former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Simon Lane, former Managing Director and CEO of railways in Melbourne and New South Wales respectively, will explore operational standards, policies and practices which could allow services to continue to operate safely and without highly limiting speed restrictions in extreme heat. Mr Lane, who has experience in leadership roles in the UK and Singapore, has particular knowledge from his work in Australia not only of the challenges railways face in very high temperatures but also the challenge of running railways in a climate where there is a wide variation between the highest and coldest temperatures. Mr Lane previously led a review for the government of Victoria following a period of extreme weather in 2009.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent transport watchdog Transport Focus, will examine how Network Rail communicates with passengers in the run-up to and during periods of extreme weather, as well as in its planning for disruptive events. Mr Smith has more than 20 years’ experience leading Transport Focus as it took on representing bus and road users as well as rail passengers. He has contributed to recommendations to the rail industry and the government on how the pandemic affected rail passengers and the Williams-Shapps rail reform white paper amongst other topics.

20.07.22 (grw)


ÖBB RCG announces new connection from the Czech Republic to the German North Sea coast

AT: TÖBB RCG have announced a new TransFER connection from Melnik, Czech Republic to Wilhelmshaven, Germany, offering end-to-end connection every mile of the way.ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) will set new standards in the Czech rail freight transport market with its new Melnik–Wilhelmshaven TransFER connection. From July 2022, the TransFER service will run once a week on the Melnik–Děčín–Maschen–Hude–Wilhelmshaven route and vice versa, with antenna connections to other terminals in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The service leaves Germany for the Czech Republic every Monday and returns every Tuesday. The TransFER is particularly well suited for ISO containers, but hazardous goods can also be transported.

The new connection to the North Sea means that RCG has expanded its digital TransNET, where passengers can see the whole network of TransFER connections to and from all ports, business, and industry hubs at a glance. These can be discovered under the motto “TransNET, let’s play!”; the service is available in twelve languages and also lets passengers explore our combinations and create new routes. After selecting the respective route, icons show which services are offered at the chosen locations.

As a leading mobility and logistics service provider, ÖBB has transported a total of 323 million passengers and over 94 million tonnes of goods to their destinations in an environmentally friendly manner in 2021. This is thanks to the electricity for trains and stations being generated entirely from renewable energy sources. With a punctuality rate of around 97%, ÖBB is one of the most punctual railway operators in Europe. ÖBB is the backbone of the Austrian public transport system and, as Austria’s largest climate protection company, gets people and goods to their destinations safely and in an environmentally friendly manner. The group’s strategic holding company is ÖBB-Holding AG.

19.07.22 (grw)


Canada allocates $13.9m for rail projects in Regina and Saskatchewan

CA: The Government of Canada has granted $13.9m (C$18.3m) for four new projects to enhance the efficiency of rail networks in the Regina and southern Saskatchewan regions.

This financing has been earmarked as part of the National Trade Corridors Fund.

Out of the total $1.83m (C$2.4m) investment, the Canadian Government will provide $0.76m (C$1m) for the development of a preliminary design to relocate railroad crossings in Regina. The remainder will be offered by the City of Regina.

The government allocated $10.3m (C$13.5m) for a railway grade stabilisation project. It will involve extensive railway work on the Canadian Pacific Rail Interchange near Eston, Saskatchewan.

Last Mountain Railway will provide the remaining amount of $10.3m (C$13.5m) for this project.

The government will also offer $1.2m (C$1.6m) for a new pre-interchange yard on the Canadian Pacific Railway Interchange near the town of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan.

It will help enhance operating interchange capacity to boost traffic flow. Great Western Railway will offer an equal amount for the $2.4m (C$3.2m) project.

Furthermore, the government will provide $1.6m (C$2.2m) to construct a further 12,000ft of track to minimise congestion at the interchange between the Stewart Southern Railway and Canadian Pacific in Lajord, Saskatchewan.

The remaining funding for the project worth over $4.9m (C$6.5m) will be provided by Purely Canada Foods.

Canada Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said: “Our government is investing in projects that will strengthen the efficiency of supply chains from the southern Saskatchewan trade area by improving capacity to support growth in the volume of goods shipped to overseas markets, and eliminating bottlenecks between road and rail transportation.

“This will ensure Canada stays competitive in international markets and strengthen our economy for Canadians at home.”

Last month, the Canadian Government granted C$24m ($19m) for 147 projects across the country to improve railway safety.

15.07.22 (rwt)


SBB works with Cervello and Fincons on cybersecurity threats

CH: Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has collaborated with Cervello and Fincons Group to safeguard its railway command and control systems throughout Switzerland against cybersecurity risks.

As per the agreement, Cervello will enable SBB to have complete visibility and control of operational assets, procedures, and infrastructure. The aim is to offer comprehensive protection and coverage of railway networks.

The implementation of Cervello’s technology is part of SBBs’ plan to provide safe transportation for its travellers.

Fincons Group will serve as a system integrator and offer local technical support to SBB.

SBB is said to be one of the first railways across the globe to implement a ‘full-scale’ and ‘cross-country’ cybersecurity protection stategy for its complete rail command and controls network.

The Cervello Platform is said to easily integrate with any rail infrastructure to facilitate efficient monitoring of the fleet’s operational network.

This includes rolling stocks, telecommunications, signalling, as well as other control systems.

The company’s patented technology enables early detection of potential or existing cyber threats.

SBB Israel technology innovation outpost head Rama Marcus said: “Following the recent string of ever-evolving cyber threats worldwide, we see cybersecurity as an essential part of our commitment to the safety of our passengers.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to benefit from Cervello expertise. We consider the Cervello Platform to be an effective, comprehensive and advanced railway cybersecurity solution available today.”

Last year in April, SBB placed a $1.42bn order with Stadler for a further 60 InterRegio (IR) double-deck trains.

14.07.22 (rwt)


Alstom wins contract for traction systems in China

CN: Shanghai Alstom Transport Electrical Equipment has received a new contract from Nanjing metro and CRRC Puzhen for the supply of advanced traction systems for metro cars in China.

Under the contract, Alstom’s Chinese joint venture will deliver train traction and auxiliary systems for 258 metro cars, which will operate on Nanjing Metro Line 6 in Jiangsu province.

As per the agreement, Alstom will deliver the Opt-ONIX traction system. It has been particularly designed and developed for the Chinese market.

The delivery will consist of traction inverters, motors, and auxiliary converters.

With its lightweight and compact design that uses regenerative electrical braking, the Opt-ONIX system will help enhance operational performance and cut down life cycle costs.

Alongside the support of Alstom sites in Belgium, France, and India, Alstom’s joint venture SATEE will manufacture all traction systems in China.

Xi’an Alstom Yongji Electric Equipment, Alstom’s joint venture in Xi’an, will deliver the traction motors.

Alstom is anticipated to supply the first train traction equipment this year.

The 32km long Nanjing Line 6 will include 19 stations that will connect to the airport link (S1).

Alstom China managing director Henry Wang said: “We are proud to further extend the presence of Alstom China in Nanjing and contribute to its city rail transport network.

“This is another clear demonstration of the customer’s trust and high recognition in Alstom’s expertise and competency.”

Furthermore, Alstom secured a contract for the expansion of the VLT (tramway) system in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It will serve as an integrated terminal connection to a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and interconnection with the bus station in the city.

As part of the contract, Alstom will extend the VLT system by around 700 metres in double track, and supply a terminal station with four platforms.

Besides, the firm will be responsible for providing the APS system for the complete stretch (1.4km), as well as a rectifier substation and adaptation of an existing one.

The contract will also cover supply for all the signalling along the stretch.

13.07.22 (rwt)


Webuild starts work on Brenner Base Tunnel’s new lot in Austria

AT: Construction company Webuild has commenced excavation works on a new lot of Brenner Base Tunnel in Austria.

Brenner Base Tunnel is claimed to be the world’s longest railway tunnel at 64km and is currently under construction.

Webuild and its Swiss arm CSC Costruzioni will construct the lot H41 Gola del Sill-Pfons, along with joint-venture partner Implenia.  It is one of the largest sections of the Brenner Base Tunnel.

BBT SE, which is overseeing the project, will be responsible for the commissioning of the project.

The project, which will link Italy and Austria under the Alps upon completion, will form part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

Scope of the contract includes the building of the railway from Gola del Sill near the city of Innsbruck in the north to the town of Pfons further south.

The project will cover 22.5km of the two main parallel tunnels, with 38 cross passages. It also includes the construction of an underground emergency stop at Innsbruck, access tunnels, exploratory tunnels and parts of other secondary tunnels.

Furthermore, it will include the building of a bridge over the Brennero A13 highway.

The Gola del Sill-Pfons lot is expected to generate up to 400 direct jobs as well as over 1,000 jobs for third parties.

Webuild is also involved in works of Brenner Base Tunnel’s other lots, including the Isarco River Underpass and Mules 2-3 in Italy.

Besides, the company is constructing the railway between Fortezza and Ponte Gardena south of the tunnel.

This year in February, Webuild deployed the Buttaceto Viaduct to enable the movement of future trains over the river across the Bicocca-Catenanuova section of Italy’s Palermo-Catania railway line.

13.07.22 (rwt)


Rail Vision begins heavy haul rail network pilot

AU: Technology firm Rail Vision, along with Rio Tinto Iron Ore, has commenced a long-term pilot programme for the AutoHaul project.

The project is claimed to be the first automated and long-distance heavy haul rail network across the globe.

Under the firm’s contract with Hitachi Rails STS, the Rail Vision Main Line System will be trialled in Pilbara Western Australia for three months.

The company also has the option to extend the programme for a further six months in different use-cases.

Hitachi will serve as the lead project technology partner as well as integrator.

The project includes the remote monitoring of 2.4km long-trains from an operations centre in Perth.

These trains operate across a network of 1,700km of track for the delivery of iron ore from 16 mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert.

After the first deployment in 2018, the trains already safely travelled over 4.5 million kilometres autonomously.

Rio Tinto plans to add a ‘forward-looking capability’ to its autonomous trains to identify hurdles on and along the tracks as part of the programme.

The miner along with Hitachi will assess different types of obstacles with the system to check its detection capability at various ranges during the test phase of the Rail Vision Main Line System pilot.

Rail Vision CEO and co-founder Shahar Hania said: “The long-term pilot is an extension of the AutoHaul® project, which is at the forefront of the future of autonomous train operations.

“Through advanced, long-range artificial intelligence detection systems, our technology provides unparalleled obstacle identification on and near tracks, making it a key enabling technology for autonomous trains and an ideal solution for the world-first AutoHaul project.”

Last year in May, Rail Vision struck an agreement with Hitachi Rail STS Australia to provide equipment, services, and workers to Rio Tinto Railway Network.

07.07.22 (rwt)


Alstom secures €387m contract for Indian metro projects

IN: French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has received a €387m contract from India’s Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MPMRCL) for the supply of 156 Movia metro cars.

The contract will also cover 15 years of comprehensive maintenance for the metro trains, which will be used for the Bhopal and Indore metro projects in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The scope of the contract also includes the installation of next-generation Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling system and train control and telecommunication system.

Alstom will also be responsible for seven years of comprehensive maintenance for each system.

Under the contract, Alstom will design, manufacture, supply, install, test, and commission 52 standard gauge Movia metro passenger trainsets of three-car configuration each.

The company will deliver 27 trainsets for the Bhopal metro project while the remaining 25 trainsets will serve the Indore project.

These trains will operate across the 31km line in Bhopal with 30 stations, as well as the 31.5km line in Indore with 29 stations.

Designed to operate at a top speed of 80km/h, the ultramodern and lightweight trains will be manufactured at Alstom’s rolling stock manufacturing facility in Savli of Gujarat state.

Earlier, the company also secured similar combined order in India for the Agra-Kanpur metro projects.

Alstom India cluster managing director Olivier Loison said: “We are delighted to be awarded this significant contract from MPMRCL and this collaboration will lay a strong foundation for an efficient and sustainable mass transport system for the cities of Bhopal & Indore.

“As India moves towards its vision of using green and clean energy for public mobility, Alstom takes pride in being its long-standing partner in this journey and help write the country’s growth story.”

In May this year, Alstom delivered the first RRTS train to National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) in India.

07.07.22 (rwt)


Europe is seeing a hiring boom in railway industry data analytics roles

EU: Europe was the fastest growing region for data analytics hiring among railway industry companies in the three months ending May.

The number of roles in Europe made up 16.8% of total data analytics jobs – up from 10.3% in the same quarter last year.

That was followed by Asia-Pacific, which saw a -1.8 year-on-year percentage point change in data analytics roles.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track the number of new job postings from key companies in various sectors over time. Using textual analysis, these job advertisements are then classified thematically.

GlobalData’s thematic approach to sector activity seeks to group key company information by topic to see which companies are best placed to weather the disruptions coming to their industries.

These key themes, which include data analytics, are chosen to cover “any issue that keeps a CEO awake at night”.

By tracking them across job advertisements it allows us to see which companies are leading the way on specific issues and which are dragging their heels – and importantly where the market is expanding and contracting.

Which countries are seeing the most growth for data analytics job ads in the railway industry?

The fastest growing country was Hungary, which saw 0% of all data analytics job adverts in the three months ending May 2021, increasing to 6.6% in the three months ending May this year.

That was followed by France (up 1.8 percentage points), Poland (1.3), and the Netherlands (1).

The top country for data analytics roles in the railway industry is the United States which saw 60.3% of all roles advertised in the three months ending May.

Which cities and locations are the biggest hubs for data analytics workers in the railway industry?

Some 6.6% of all railway industry data analytics roles were advertised in Budapest (Hungary) in the three months ending May.

That was followed by Chicago (United States) with 5.3%, Atlanta (United States) with 4.8%, and Bengaluru (India) with 2.8%.

06.07.22 (rwt)


DB becomes intermodal partner of the Star Alliance

DE: It has been announced that Deutsche Bahn (DB) will be the world’s first intermodal partner of the Star Alliance from 1 August 2022. Thanks to the new cooperation, DB customers and passengers of Star Alliance member airlines will be able to start or end their journey comfortably on the climate-friendly train. For the first time in international air travel, the Star Alliance intermodal partnership model will intelligently connect air, rail, and other modes of transport. Star Alliance intends to further expand intermodal partnerships in the future. Germany is the first market and DB is the world’s first partner in the new Star Alliance programme.

“With attractive inner-German connections and simultaneous links to international travel chains, Deutsche Bahn and Star Alliance make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector,” Michael Peterson, Board Member for Long-Distance Passenger Transport, said. “This complements our successful cooperation with Lufthansa Express Rail, where the number of bookings has more than doubled since 2010. This is how we get more people off the plane and onto the environmentally friendly rail. In close cooperation with the airlines, we are now tackling the mobility turnaround. We network our offers in such a way that we can optimally use the respective strengths of our modes of transport.”

“This joins the forces of two different transport providers, opening the doors of Star Alliance beyond the airline world,” Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance, said. “Our new model for intermodal partnerships creates the conditions for coordinated cooperation between different modes of transport in all Star Alliance markets.”

“Mobility of the future means mastering challenges together,” Harry Hohmeister, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said. “The successful Lufthansa Express Rail cooperation is an excellent example of this, based on this we are now taking the next step. Our customers have never benefited more from this partnership.

The new partnership between DB and Star Alliance builds on the Lufthansa Express Rail programme. This means that Lufthansa customers have been able to buy a combined ticket for train and flight in one booking step for more than 20 years. In future, in addition to Lufthansa, all 25 other member airlines of the Star Alliance will be able to include DB’s environmentally friendly ICE trains with flight numbers in their booking systems.

Customers will benefit from many advantages, such as:

  • With just one booking process, airline customers receive a combined ticket for the outward and return flight and the respective train journeys including seat reservation. At check-in travellers receive their boarding passes for both the flight and the train journey
  • With the integrated ICE journeys, air travellers will have even more choice in terms of preferred travel time, travel duration and the prices offered
  • Customers can also enjoy accelerated baggage handling and other services in the AiRail check-in area at Frankfurt Airport
  • For all bookings of combined train-air travel via Lufthansa Express Rail or with the member airlines of the Star Alliance, customers can collect points or miles for the train journeys in the airlines’ respective frequent flyer programmes
  • In addition, business and first-class customers of Star Alliance member airlines receive additional benefits such as access to the DB lounges with an LH Express Rail ticket.

05.07.22 (grw)


CN allocates funds for rail upgrades in Michigan, Iowa

CN: Canadian National Railway (CN) has announced plans to invest around C$55m ($38.7m) and C$20m ($15.5m) in the US states of Michigan and Iowa, respectively, this year.

The funding has been allocated for technology, capacity, and rolling stock units besides company-wide decarbonisation initiatives and network enhancements.

In Michigan, the funds will be used for the replacement of over 6.43km and the installation of around 50,000 new railroad ties.

The investment will also help undertake maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems, and other track infrastructure, in addition to rebuilding 19 road crossing surfaces in the state.

In Iowa, the funds will be used to replace more than 22.5km of rail and install around 9,000 new railroad ties.

Besides, it will support maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems, and other track infrastructure, as well as rebuild 14 road crossing surfaces.

CN corporate services executive vice president and chief legal officer Sean Finn said: “We continue to make significant investments in our network, technology, and capacity.

“We are building the premier railroad of the 21st century to do even more for our customers, railroaders, shareholders, and the communities in which we operate.”

Recently, CN announced an investment of nearly C$365m ($281m) and C$430m ($331m) in Alberta and Ontario, respectively, for 2022.

The funding will help replace 72.4km of rail in Alberta and 69.2km in Ontario.

01.07.22 (rwt)

Rail Baltica project receives over €350m from CINEA

EU: The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) has granted over €350m to Rail Baltica in the first call of the new financial period 2021-2027.

Rail Baltica is an ongoing greenfield railway infrastructure project designed to connect Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with Poland.

Along with the national co-financing from the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the sum crosses €400m.

Rail Baltica joint venture RB Rail has announced the grant agreement, which is expected to be signed in the third quarter of this year.

The funds will be used for the remaining Rail Baltica mainline designs in Lithuania, including for the section between the “Polish and Lithuanian state border.”

They will also be used for the Kaunas urban node, Kaunas urban node, design of mainline and regional connections in the section between the Kaunas urban node and Vilnius urban node as well as the design of the Vilnius urban node.

Supported funding will be used for part of land expropriation compensations.

The financing will also be used for construction works in Rail Baltica mainline on the priority section in Latvia near the Latvian / Lithuanian border, in addition to the detailed technical design for the Construction base in the Skulte infrastructure maintenance facility.

Besides, the funds will help construct substructure and associated elements on the Rail Baltica mainline in Estonia, including Ülemiste operational point and design works for capercaillie mitigation measures from Pärnu to the Estonia/Latvia border.

Other activities include cross-border dimension and technical interoperability, including Notified Body (NoBo) and Assessment Body (AsBo) assessment services for Design and Construction works.

Besides, funds will enable to cover design author supervision of detailed technical design implementation during construction, supervision of construction works by Resident Engineer (FIDIC), and analysis of relevant models for the cross-border section construction procurement.

RB Rail CEO and management board chairman Agnis Driksna said: “Over the last years the Baltic states have proven the commitment for delivery and progress – design works are progressing in 640 km of the 870 km Rail Baltica line, prioritising completion of works in sections chosen for construction, and the design and design supervision procurements for Kaunas – Vilnius and Kaunas – Lithuania/Poland border have been launched.”

Earlier this month, RB Rail announced electrification procurement for the project.

30.06.22 (rwt)


MoU on Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union signed

EU: A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe (ALLRAIL), the European Rail Supply Industry (UNIFE) and the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (EU-RAIL), taking place in presence of Walter Goetz, Head of Cabinet of the European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean.

The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding is a study on ‘Smart and Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union’. The study will demonstrate the most significant benefits deriving from the completion of a European high-speed rail network connecting the capitals and major cities of Europe, as well as the clear sustainability merits. It will also demonstrate how and by when the accelerated investment in the transformation of rail and, in particular, of the European high-speed rail network and services is a key element towards zero-emission, sustainable and equitable mobility. The study also aims at fostering a radical transformation of the rail system and delivering on European Green Deal objectives, including the achievement of a fully operational, multimodal, sustainable, and smart Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), with high-speed rail connectivity by 2050.

 “Our Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy aims to double high speed rail traffic by 2030 and triple it by 2050,” Walter Goetz, Head of Cabinet of the European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, said. “I see a central role for rail in our future sustainable transport system, but rail must also fulfil its part in becoming a more attractive choice by getting more efficient, cost-effective and innovative. Development of high-speed rail can certainly help us to get more people to consider rail as their means of transport and as their place of work. I therefore welcome the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between Europe’s Rail, CER, ALLRAIL and UNIFE to launch a study on ‘Smart and affordable High-Speed services in the EU’.”

“CER fully supports this important study which will show High Speed rail’s potential to connect all continental EU capitals and major cities, as symbolised by the Connecting Europe Express in 2021, in a convenient and comfortable way, and the positive socio-economic benefits this will bring,” Alberto Mazzola, Executive Director at CER, said. “While a lot has been achieved so far with national success stories connecting among others Paris-Lyon, Milan-Rome, Barcelona-Madrid, and Berlin-Munich, much more is needed if the ambitious objectives of the European Green deal and Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy are to be met, doubling high-speed rail traffic by 2030 and tripling it by 2050.”

“We want to see high speed trains with large capacities, 1000 seats each, connecting places around Europe on a frequent basis,” Nick Brooks, Secretary General at ALLRAIL, said. “This will lead to low fares and high revenue. While other competing long distance transport modes are setting themselves net zero emission targets, Rail can do it bigger and better. The outcomes of this study must enable high speed rail to become the backbone of long-distance travel in Europe.”

“High-speed rail has an essential role to play in the decarbonisation and digital transformation of the entire European transport system,” Philippe Citroën, Director General at UNIFE, said. “By demonstrating the major benefits of a European high-speed rail network, the study will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and of its ambitious objective to double traffic on high-speed rail by 2030 and to triple it by 2050, in full coherence with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).”

“I am looking forward to joining forces with CER, ALLRAIL and UNIFE, bringing together the rail community in this important study,” Carlo Borghini, Executive Director at Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, said. “We are looking forward to starting our first research activities and presenting the first outcomes by the end of this year, that will contribute to achieve such integrated high-speed network!”

All parties look forward to working together and are confident that the study will help us achieve our joint goals that will result in a more attractive, user-friendly, competitive, affordable, easy to maintain, efficient and sustainable European rail system.

30.06.22 (grw)


World first as GWR high-speed trains’ wheelsets now digitally-monitored live

VAE: Wireless sensors are being attached to Great Western Railway (GWR) high-speed passenger trains, to live monitor the entire wheelsets and bogies, allowing real-time data of gearboxes, traction motors, bearings and wheels. This will deliver significant benefits to passengers and train operators, including boosted train availability, improved safety, and reduced maintenance costs.

This is the first time Hitachi’s ‘Perpetuum Onboard’ wireless technology will monitor the full-suite of wheelset and bogie parts on high-speed passenger trains.

At present, bogie overhaul accounts for approximately a third of maintenance costs, with trains requiring an average of seven days to carry out manual inspection or component replacement in a depot.

Digital monitoring of bogies and wheelsets can replace periodic inspections, reducing bogie overhaul downtime by up to 50 per cent. On the GWR fleet of 93 trains, this will deliver over 100 extra days of train availability every year. Across the lifetime of the fleet, this will deliver in excess of 3,100 days of train availability. This ensures trains spend more time carrying passengers, and less time in the depot.

Improved data and knowledge of critical components optimises maintenance to ensure train availability remains high as the fleet matures. Overall, this boost in train availability and usage increases reliability for passengers, while helping with additional flexibility in timetabling or fleet management.

Real time monitoring enables immediate and precise identification of parts that require either inspection or maintenance. Crucially, this work takes place before it can affect passenger service. All of this further reduces the time a train spends in a depot and increases its time on the tracks.

The ability to pinpoint faults further reduces the time required by maintenance staff the conduct their work. The additional workforce days and hours gained are re-allocated to other maintenance tasks, maximising the skills at Hitachi depots.

Improved understanding of bogies and wheelset condition means parts are only replaced when necessary, therefore eliminating the wasteful discarding of good-condition components – saving time and money, and improving sustainability.

The digital monitoring technology has been installed on some initial GWR units, with rollout across the rest of the fleet taking place over the coming year.

The monitoring sensors also have the additional capability of monitoring the condition of the track and train axles. The future application of these wireless monitors’ means there are future-proofed to deliver even greater value for money, and digitally integrate track and train together.

Simon Green, Engineering Director at GWR, said: “We welcome the introduction of this wireless monitoring solution, which will help to improve the maintenance and reliability of our high-speed fleet, enabling us to deliver an even more robust timetable and higher quality journeys for the benefit of our customers. At GWR we are committed to reviewing emerging technologies and we look forward to working with our partners to assist in the rollout of this digital maintenance solution.”

Angus Thom, Group Service and Maintenance Operations Director at Hitachi Rail, said: “As the rail sector adapts to new challenges, I strongly believe that digital maintenance is a solution that benefits everyone. Through collaboration, and Hitachi’s digital solutions, we can deliver real value for money, improve safety, and create new digital skills at our depots. What we are doing with GWR, Agility Trains West and Eversholt is an important step towards the UK being a pioneer in digital railways.”

Paul Sutherland, Client Services Director at Eversholt Rail, said: “It’s great to be working on this project with Hitachi and Great Western and see this fleet added to the list of Eversholt Rail’s fleets already fitted with Perpetuum. The system has a proven track record of improving safety, reliability and being an enabler for maintenance optimisation. We look forward to working with Hitachi and Great Western to realise these benefits.”

James Le Couilliard, Chief Executive Officer for Agility Trains West, said: “The implementation of Hitachi’s Perpetuum Onboard equipment reflects the collaborative endeavours of Hitachi, GWR and Agility Trains to drive innovation and harness cutting-edge technology to deliver long-term passenger benefits, operational resilience and industry success.”

28.06.22 (grw)


Etihad Rail and CAF sign 1.2 billion AED agreement for passenger trains

VAE: Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE national railway network, has signed a 1.2 billion AED ($327 million) agreement with Spain’s CAF Group for designing, manufacturing, supplying, and maintaining passenger trains for the Etihad Rail project.

The agreement serves as a major step forward in the development of the UAE’s passenger transport services, in line with company’s commitment to completing the national and strategic project on schedule, and according to the best criteria and practices.

The agreement, which emerged as a result of Etihad Rail’s success at the Middle East Rail 2022, was signed by Shadi Malak, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Rail, and Josu Imaz, Chief Executive Officer Rolling Stock of CAF, in the presence of Iñigo de Palacio, Ambassador of Spain to the UAE, and officials from both sides.

Under the terms of the agreement, CAF will design, manufacture, supply, and provide maintenance for passenger trains as per the European standards. Each train will have a seating capacity of over 400 passengers, and will run up to 200km/h. The trains, which will offer a variety of seating segments, will serve as a major addition to the public transport system in the UAE.

The development of the passenger railway services, one of the three strategic projects of the National Railways Programme, seeks to enhance the public transportation system in the UAE and improve living standards of the UAE’s citizens and residents, while adhering to the best international security and safety standards. The passenger trains will facilitate transport across the cities of the UAE, providing passengers with a quick, efficient, safe, comfortable, and cost-saving travel experience.

Through its partnership with CAF, a global leader in the railway industry, Etihad Rail will benefit from CAF’s long-standing experience for more than 100 years, in providing advanced solutions for improving the rail commuter’s experience and providing passengers with high levels of safety, efficiency and quality.

The passenger train will connect 11 cities and regions in the UAE from Al Sila to Fujairah, including Al Ruwais, Al Mirfa, Dubai, Sharjah, Al Dhaid, and Abu Dhabi. Passenger services will allow travellers to plan their journeys between the Emirates and cities of the UAE more efficiently, from booking their tickets until they reach their final destination. They will reduce commute time by 30-40 per cent compared to other modes of transport, where travelling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, and from Dubai to Fujairah, will take only 50 minutes only, travelling from Abu Dhabi to Al Ruwais will take 70 minutes only, while travelling from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah will take 100 minutes only.

The passenger trains will be equipped with the latest cutting-edge technologies that suit the topography and climate of the UAE, which is key for ensuring high performance, efficiency, and reliability. The trains will provide various amenities, entertainment, and comfortable seating at high levels of security, efficiency, and quality, allowing passengers to enjoy exceptional journeys. The trains will be equipped with modern amenities, including infotainment systems, charging stations, and more, along with food and beverages, and ample legroom, in addition to an advanced air-conditioning system, to meet the needs of all citizens, residents, and visitors. There will also be different seating segments, including first class, business-class, and economy.

28.06.22 (grw)


CAF wins €250m contract for passenger trains in UAE

VAE: Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) has secured a contract worth more than €250m from UAE’s state-owned company Etihad Rail.

Scope of the contract includes the delivery of push-pull passenger trains.

CAF stated that “the contract, along with other recent successes, achieved by the firm as a supplier of better transport solutions stands it in good stead to take part in the numerous plans already underway to build the infrastructure network that will connect the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council over the next few years, thereby further consolidating their common goals for economic and social development.”

Etihad Rail is engaged in the construction of the railway network in the country besides managing and operating the network.

This year in March, CAF won a $260m service contract from state-owned Saudi Arabia Railway (SAR).

Under the agreement, the company will maintain the operator’s train fleet, which also covers technical support as well as other associated services.

Earlier this month, CAF began static tests on a hydrogen-powered demonstrator train at its plant in Zaragoza, Spain.

This train is being developed for the FCH2Rail (Fuel Cell Hybrid Power Pack for Rail Applications) project, which is being executed by a consortium of firms, comprising DLR, Toyota, Renfe, Adif, CNH2, IP, CAF, and FAIVELEY StemmannTechnik.

Meanwhile, last month, CAF was selected by Stadtwerke Bonn Verkehrs SWBV) and Elektrische Bahnen der Stadt Bonn to supply light rail vehicles in Germany.

24.06.22 (rwt)


Van Elle secures contract for TRU project in UK

UK: Ground engineering contractor Van Elle has secured a contract under the £3bn Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) programme in the UK.

The contract covers a piling framework for the West of Leeds section of the TRU programme.

TRU has been launched for the improvement of rail services between Manchester and York through Huddersfield and Leeds.

The West of Leeds Alliance (TRU West) will upgrade the section between Manchester and Leeds. This alliance comprises Amey OWR, Bam, Siemens, Network Rail, and Arup.

TRU West will carry out the electrification and re-signalling of 67.5km of railway, which links Manchester and Leeds through Huddersfield.

Works will be conducted on over a dozen stations across the line.

Van Elle CEO Mark Cutler said: “We are very excited to be supporting the TRU West upgrade, which represents a complex array of projects that suit our breadth of expertise in the rail sector while working in a collaborative environment which allows us to provide early engineering advice and cost effective solutions for this transformative infrastructure programme.”

The full TRU programme intends to revamp the 113km Transpennine railway, which covers 23 stations, 9.7km of tunnels and more than 29 level crossings.

Funded by the Department for Transport, the TRU programme is being carried out by Network Rail with the support of alliances and project teams.

The programme is also part of the UK Government’s £96bn Integrated Rail Plan.

22.06.22 (rwt)


Thales wins Greater Cairo Metro contract in Egypt

EG: French company Thales, along with Orascom Construction and Colas Rail, has secured a contract from the Egyptian National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) for the Greater Cairo Metro project.

Under the contract, the companies will design and construct the telecommunications, centralised control, and ticketing systems for the Cairo Metro Line 4 Phase 1.

This will link the centre of Greater Cairo to the Giza Pyramid Complex in Southwest Greater Cairo.

Thales will deliver and deploy the complete integrated communication and supervision systems for the project.

These systems include radio, multi service network, wayside telephone, and wireless LAN systems, wayside equipment for security systems, passenger information and public address, as well as operations control centre.

Additionally, the company will supply revenue collection solutions for the project.

The Line 4 project will include the construction of a 42km line as well as 35 stations under two development phases.

As part of the first phase, a 19km line, 16 stations, a depot, and an operations control centre will be developed in six years.

An additional 23.5 km and 19 stations will be built under phase 2 of the Cairo Metro Line 4 project. It will include the addition of 92 trains.

Earlier, Thales delivered the first ticketing system for Cairo Line 1 project and the integrated communication, supervision, and ticketing solutions for Line 2 and 3 projects.

Thales integrated communications and supervision activities vice president Benoît COUTURE said: “We are proud to have been selected, together with our partners, to help grow Greater Cairo Metro.

“This new Line 4 will significantly improve the density of people in one of the most congested city of Egypt.”

Recently, Thales won a contract for the deployment of the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 and PZB vehicle equipment on five LEMA electric locomotives of Romania’s Softronic.

22.06.22 (rwt)


Why don’t we have driverless trains on the tube yet?

GB: Driverless trains on the London Underground are in the news again. With union strikes threatening to make traveling within the Smoke a nightmare this week, it was only a matter of time before the question of axing drivers in favour of automation would pop up again. As always, it’s bound to get messy.

The Tories have championed full-on automation of the tube for decades. Boris Johnson made the case for driverless trains when he campaigned for his second term as London mayor back in 2012. The now-prime minister pledged the tube would be fully automated by 2022. It has since proven another broken promise on his ever-expanding list of unrealised vanity projects. Despite failing to deliver, Johnson has continued to argue that driverless trains would free the sector from being the “prisoners of the unions”.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps echoed that sentiment when he made driverless trains a conditions for bailing out TfL earlier this year during another week of industrial action. The minister told the transport operator it would have to make looking into the feasibility of driverless trains a priority if it wanted the £200m bailout, Shapps told them. Shapps had made driverless trains a previous condition in a £1bn bailout in 2021.

Conservatives claim the benefits an automated metro would far outweigh any cost. It would bring efficiencies and boost security just like similar projects in places like Paris have. As a bonus, they say self-driving metro cars would limit unions’ power to wreak havoc on commuters’ everyday lives. Drivers can’t strike if they don’t exist, right?

However, the reality is that introducing driverless on the London Underground could prove a costly endeavour with few financial benefits. That’s according to a Transport for London (TfL) document that was leaked in 2020. The document acknowledged that driverless trains could be introduced, but it would cost over £7bn to do so. The authors of the TfL report added that introducing unmanned vehicles presented “no additional benefits for the level of investment.”

“Driverless trains on the London Underground area politically-driven fantasy”

The unions loved it. The drivers’ union Aslef claimed it proved “that driverless trains on London Underground are a politically-driven fantasy.”

Labour London mayor Sadiq Khan has labelled the introduction of driverless trains as a “gross misuse of taxpayers’ money”. Khan has not backed down from that sentiment after the government renewed its push to automate the metro.

“The government continues to relentlessly pursue the introduction of driverless trains, including requiring TfL to explore it as a condition of emergency government funding needed as a result of the pandemic,” a spokesperson for the Mayor of London told Verdict. “This is despite evidence showing the enormous scale of investment – tens of billions – that would be required to convert the network and the many years it would take to implement.

“The government’s insistence on pursuing this is a time-consuming distraction from our priorities to keep the network operating, safe, and reliable. It is absolutely imperative that securing a fair, long-term funding deal that will protect London’s transport network is prioritised by this Government – not just for the sake of the capital but for the economic wellbeing of the whole country.”

London tube is already kinda automated

Despite the schadenfreude from the left, there are already autonomous lines in the Smoke. Kinda. The Docklands Light Railway has operated driverless trains since 1987. Although, it still has a trained human operator on board the train to handle customer service, ticket checking and to take control in the event of an emergency.

The Victoria, Jubilee, Central, Northern, District, Circle, Hammersmith and City, and the Metropolitan are partly automated. This means an operator is still required to open and close doors and to assist in the event of an emergency. TfL plans to extend this system to other lines by 2023.

The debate around driverless trains in the tube will sound familiar to anyone who’s looked into self-driving cars. The arguments are basically the same. The proponents of the technology say it will make commuting smoother, safer, cleaner and cheaper. Detractors counter that leaving commuting to an artificial intelligence is recklessly dangerous, costly and entirely unnecessary.

Still, automating the tube would have some tangible benefits. For starters, it would make the Night Tube run more frequently. Unions have fought tooth and nail against its members working more night hours. The unions demanded more money on top of the average £49,000 annual salary for drivers, fewer hours and a four day week when the Night Tube was introduced on some of the services in 2016, according to TfL. The unions instigated a six-month Night Tube strike in January 2022, claiming changes imposed on staff would hurt their work-life balance. The introduction of driverless trains would limit service disruptions like that.

Mind the gap

Johnson and his acolytes argue that sacking drivers and automating their jobs would enable London to level up to the standard of its international peers. Cities like Paris, Tokyo, Barcelona and Dubai have already embraced driverless trains. Why can’t London follow suit? The answer is that it can, but that it will be costly. The hefty price tag is a result of the metro’s age.

“The London Underground is the oldest public transport network in the world,” Gideon Richheimer, CEO and co-founder of deeptech company AutoFill Technologies, tells Verdict. “Its infrastructure is in parts over 130 years old.”

The tube is built deep in the ground where it could be up to two kilometres between stations. The London Underground is also single-bore with no space for side walkways.

The Paris metro, on the other hand, is twin-tracked, constructed with shallow depth and with short inter-station distances. Some lines also have side walkways to allow ease of customer evacuations. The Paris Metro Line 1 could swap manned trains for driverless ones because the levels of each platform was pretty much the same.

That is not the case in London. The tube has grown since the 1860s. The expansion has resulted in varied typographies across the network. Essentially, the height and distance between the train and the platform are not the same on each station. This is one of the key issues holding back the automation of the tube, according to the TfL document. In order to have driverless trains, the operator would have to adjust the platforms and the tracks to make them the same level.

TfL would also have to introduce platform-edge doors in order to make on- and offboarding driverless trains easier and safer. These prerequisite barriers would ensure that fewer people would jump or fall onto the rack. This would reduce the risk of casualties as well as the trauma of the personnel having to live through those incidents. Platform-edge doors would decrease the need of vigilant train operators.

Similarly, TfL must also invest heavily in control and communications systems to protect commuters in case of emergencies and to avoid incidents.

Notably all those investments – the height adjustments, platform-edge doors and scaled surveillance – could all be introduced without having to introduce driverless trains. In fact, some of these upgrades are already planned across the network.

Are £7bn driverless trains worth it?

Buying driverless vehicles and disposing of the obsolete ones is another expense that together with everything else would cost north of £7bn. When TfL took revenues and operation cost savings into account, that figure shrunk to £5.6bn, which is still a negative net financial effect. Upgrading the network would only cut staff costs by between 10% and 20%. Whatever savings can be made by sacking union members would be offset by increased maintenance costs of the new driverless systems.

“Overall network-wide [driverless] conversion represents poor value for money,” TfL wrote. “Its implementation network-wide will present a considerable affordability challenge which will further exacerbate TfL’s current financial and longer term funding position.”

If those estimates aren’t eye-watering enough, it’s worth remembering TfL’s blemished track record of failing to keep to its own timetables. The Elizabeth Line opened in June 2022. It was originally slotted to open in 2017. Gordon Brown’s government signed off on it in 2007, estimating that it would cost £15.9bn to complete. In the end, it cost almost £19bn to complete.

Nevertheless, conservative mouthpieces have rejected and branded TfL’s estimates as exaggerated. They maintain that slashing the risk of human error, easing the “stranglehold of militant unions” and levelling up the tube to that of London’s international peers are worth it.

Some non-politically affiliated experts remain undeterred in the face of the TfL’s own assessment. They maintain automating the London Underground have more benefits, making it worth the investment.

“Automating inspection of the underground’s entire infrastructure – whether it’s the trains themselves, the tunnels or tracks – will enhance safety for both those working on the network and for passengers,” says Richheimer. “Inspections are currently carried out manually, which can lead to costly errors and take far longer. By automating inspection, we will get to a stage whereby using datasets collected, and enabled by advanced algorithms, we can predict when and where an error or fault is likely to occur and become far more proactive.

“Safety will be heightened given the always-on nature of the systems and huge pools of data will mean systems are constantly learning, growing and becoming even more intelligent. Driverless trains, and autonomous vehicles more broadly, aren’t prone to human error and are therefore inherently safer.”

Let’s talk about safety

Unsurprisingly, the unions don’t buy that argument. They argue that driverless trains would make journeys more dangerous, especially in case of emergencies. It would be easy to dismiss those concerns as technophobia. It is natural to fear ceding control to an autonomous system. However, that would be an onerous assumption to make. No only is it comforting to have a human in control, but there are also real-life examples of when driverless trains have almost caused severe accidents.

A driverless engineer train ran out of control on the Northern Line for nearly four miles in August 2010. The driver of a passenger train in front had to be instructed to increase his train’s speed to avoid a collision.

An incident in 2012 contrast that one. The semi-automatic train operation technology in use on the Jubilee line had incorrectly given the all-clear for the train to start moving, not noticing that a a child had slipped between the train and the platform edge. Luckily, the driver spotted a “tiny hand reaching up from the track” and stopped the train.

Another cautionary incident occurred in 2019, in Yokohama, south of Tokyo. More than a dozen people were injured when an autonomous train suddenly started to travel in the wrong direction before crashing into a station buffer.

Anecdotal evidence like those stories may dissuade people from accepting driverless trains. However, given the infrastructural investments needed to introduce an automated underground, it is unclear whether or not those comparisons are fare.

Discussing driverless trains in the London Underground is messy. The debate is fraught with political petulance and grandstanding that obfuscates the core question: is automating the metro good or bad? No matter on what side of the fence you land on, it’s clear that we still have a lot of road to cover until it’s settled once and for all. In the meantime, millions of people will be caught in the middle as the unions and TfL duke it out once again.

21.06.22 (rwt)


Indian Railways to install anti-collision technology on key routes

IN:  Indian Railways (IR) is set to implement a new anti-collision system called Kavach across key routes to improve safety.

According to a PTI report, IR aims to ‘armour’ around 3,000km of its network that encompasses the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah rail corridors. Kavach is an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system that can stop a train in case of manual lapses or other malfunctions. The technology will also help in increasing operational safety during foggy weather.

IR has issued 11 tenders to install the system across 3,000km of the network and in 760 locomotives.

These tenders were issued by IR zones Northern Railways, North Central Railway, West Central Railway, East Central Railway, Eastern Railway, and Western Railway, officials told the news agency. These zones cover the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes.

The tasks will include installing transmitters inside the locomotives and receivers along the tracks to enable continuous interaction. The ultra-high radio transmission will help in alerting the loco pilots and triggering the brake system in case of emergencies. The works inside the locomotives are expected to cost around $76,882 (Rs6m) per unit while system installation along the track will amount to Rs2m per kilometre.

During the current fiscal year 2022-23, IR aims to install Kavach across 2,000 rail route networks. Recently, IR introduced a new innovation policy to encourage start-ups to participate in addressing key railway issues. The first phase of the programme will address 11 problem statements.

16.06.22 (grw)


Network Rail to use hi-tech weather stations to monitor heat on railway

US: A network of new hi-tech weather stations are in action for this first time during hot weather to reduce rail delays on the West Coast main line, and rail routes in the West Midlands and North West (an more in depth exploration of the issues caused by hot weather can be found in the video below). In 2021, a system of 60 solar-powered weather stations were installed to monitor extreme conditions in real-time so railway staff can keep more trains moving instead of imposing region-wide speed limits. In 2022, across Network Rail’s North West and Central region they’re being used to predict where the railway could be at risk of damage with temperatures forecast to be above 30°C in places.

The hot weather, particularly direct sunlight, can cause track temperatures to reach more than 50°C. Steel rails absorb heat easily and tend to hover around 20 degrees above the surrounding air temperature. When steel becomes very hot it expands and rails can bend, flex and, in serious cases, buckle. By using the new technology, Network Rail teams are ready to respond to any issues caused by the heatwave and impose speed limits in local areas if they are needed.

The network of 25,000 volt overhead electric cables which power cables is also susceptible to the hot weather. It can cause the steel wires to overheat and expand causing them to sag. They can then hang too low and get caught on passing trains causing them to come down. Railway staff are ready for this challenge on the West Coast main line south of Crewe, in the West Midlands and on the Chiltern line.

“Keeping passengers moving is always our top priority but we want people to be prepared,” Denise Wetton, Central Route Director for Network Rail, said. “If the soaring temperatures do lead to us having to put in place slower speeds for safety reasons, our engineers will work to fix the problem.”

“With high temperatures forecast on Friday, we are encouraging passengers to plan ahead, check their journeys and carry water to help keep cool,” Lucy Wootton, Head of the Grand Railway Collaboration, said. “The latest travel information is always available from National Rail Enquiries or from individual train operators.”

16.06.22 (grw)


Indian Railways turns to start-ups to improve operational efficiency

IN: Indian Railways (IR) has introduced a new innovation policy to leverage new technologies developed by local entrepreneurs in a bid to improve operational efficiency and safety.

The new initiative, called StartUps for Railways, is aimed to facilitate the participation of untapped start-up ecosystem to address the issues the IR is currently facing.

Launching the policy, India’s Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the programme will provide the start-ups with ‘a good opportunity’ to connect with railways.

The move comes after IR tasked field units last month to identify key problems in railways.

IR received around 160 problem statements but shortlisted 11 of them for the first phase of the programme. These issues will be presented before the start-ups for solutions. Under the innovation policy, the start-ups can receive a grant of up to $192,306 (Rs15m) on equal sharing basis with provision of milestone-wise payment.

The prototype solutions developed by the innovators will be tested by IR. Additional funding will be allocated to scale up deployment after successful trials.

The innovator will continue to hold developed intellectual property rights (IPR). Some of the problems statements identified for first phase include Broken Rail Detection System, Rail Stress Monitoring System, Automation of Track Inspection Activities, development of Light-weight wagon and Track Cleaning Machine among others.

Several other problem statements are currently under scrutiny and will be added in subsequent phases.

India’s Ministry of Coal recently undertook 13 railway projects for development.

14.06.22 (rwt)


Alstom participates in Germany’s automated train trial

DE: French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom, along with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and TU Berlin, is developing technical solutions to support the digitalisation of passenger rail services in Germany.

The move is part of the research project ‘Automated regional trains in Lower Saxony, Germany.’ which is evaluating the possibilities of automation in regional transport through the European Train Control System (ETCS).

Under the project, automated driving is being trialled on routes in Northern Germany.

As part of phase one, new systems for driverless operation are being developed for the trials.

The systems feature signal recognition to facilitate the recognition and interpretation of railway traffic signals set up along the track. The train will also have the ability to detect hurdles. Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG) is delivering two regional trains for the tests.

The automation research project is also supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Economics is providing €5.5m to purchase the required equipment for the two test vehicles. Automated driving has to be carried out as a “living lab” under real conditions in phase two. The new system will be deployed in the two LNVG multiple units pre-equipped with ETCS and tested in operation. Observations from development and operation will enable the preparation for the later approval of fully automated trains.

Alstom DACH region president Müslüm Yakisan said: “With our joint pilot project, we are creating the basis for the use of this technology in German regional transport and are significantly driving forward the implementation of corresponding technical solutions.” Last month, Alstom, along with Electra, and Dan Transportation, received a contract for the Tel Aviv Metropolitan LRT Green Line project in Israel.

13.06.22 (rwt)


FRA announce over $368 Million in grants to Improve rail infrastructure

US: The FRA grant funds are for 46 projects in 32 states and will be vital in modernising rail infrastructure and strengthening supply chains.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced over $368 million in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant programme funds to 46 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia. These investments will play a crucial role in modernising rail infrastructure and strengthening supply chains throughout the United States, helping to reduce congestion and get people and goods where they need to go quickly and more affordably. The programme will create good-paying jobs and benefit urban and rural communities across the country.

The selected projects announced will not only improve and expand passenger rail and fund conventional and high-speed rail, but they will also increase supply chain resilience and fluidity, support short line railroads, invest in new technology and safety advancements, and benefit rail industry workforce development and training activities, helping to create jobs and increase economic growth.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has nearly tripled funding for this critical rail infrastructure programme, to $1 billion a year for the next five years. Strengthening supply chains and increasing the productive capacity of the economy are key tenets of President Biden’s plans to get goods from ships to shelves more quickly and lower costs for American families.

“Americans deserve a world-class rail system that allows people and goods to get where they need to go more quickly and affordably, while reducing traffic and pollution on our roads,” Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Transportation Secretary, said. “We’re proud to award these grants to improve passenger rail for riders and strengthen the freight rail that makes our supply chains and our economy work.”

“This round of CRISI grants, one of the largest ever, is a major step forward for the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to revitalise and rebuild the country’s infrastructure,” Amit Bose, FRA Administrator, said. “These awards will allow FRA to support rail projects that lay the groundwork for future economic growth.”

CRISI aims to advance intercity passenger and freight rail projects that promote FRA’s key goals of safety, economic growth, transportation equity, and sustainable and resilient infrastructure. CRISI-funded projects will enhance multi-modal connections, address slow orders, and fix up 100-year-old track to speed up the movement of goods from ports to rail to trucks to shelves. As the U.S. continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, these upgrades and expansions will help state and local governments and rail carriers meet renewed travel demand and strengthen supply chains.

Some examples of the projects being funded this year are the Heart of Georgia Americus Sub Upgrade Project (Up to $6,190,137), the Port of Baltimore Rail Capacity Modernisation Project (Up to $15,680,000), the Raleigh to Richmond Corridor Infrastructure Engineering & Safety Programme (Up to $57,900,000), the Southwest Kansas Infrastructure Upgrade Project (Up to $10,991,971), the Florida Panhandle Rural Capacity Expansion Project (Up to $8,300,000), the Great Lakes Corridor Improvement (Up to $21,340,300) and the Development and Implementation of HBCU Based Railroad Engineering Programme for Underrepresented Communities (Up to $4,592,637)

By statute, a minimum of 25 per cent of this funding must be awarded to rural projects, and this announcement includes nearly double the required investment in rural communities, which underscores the Biden Administration’s commitment to addressing the needs of rural communities. In addition, $87.6 million is for projects that support the development of new intercity passenger rail service, and $25.7 million is for capital projects or engineering solutions targeting trespassing, exceeding the required statutory minimums. Historically, CRISI has funded projects that improve safety and railroad infrastructure, reduce congestion, relocate rail lines, conduct rail-related research, and enhance multi-modal connections between rail and other modes such as ports or intermodal facilities. Workforce development projects are also eligible to support the education and training needs of rail workers.

The CRISI programme has drawn significant interest from states, local communities, and rail stakeholders since its inception, and this year FRA received more than $1.1 billion in CRISI requests, which far exceeds the available funding. FRA applied rigorous selection criteria to ensure that eligible projects would serve communities by enhancing safety, creating economic opportunities, providing energy efficient transportation options, and helping the country’s world-class freight network meet growing demand.

09.06.22 (grw)


Train instead of plane as Welsh government ends Anglesey – Cardiff flights

UK:  Publicly-supported flights between Cardiff and Anglesey will not resume, the Welsh government has announced, with rail offering a viable alternative and the funding to be used to improve public transport in North Wales.

The twice-daily flights operated by Eastern Airways under a Public Service Obligation contract were suspended in March 2020 because of the pandemic.

Announcing on June 8 the flights would not restart, the Welsh government said a carbon impact analysis had concluded that 28 out of the 29 seats would have to be filled to bring emissions down to the same as a single-occupancy car, and this loading is now seen as unlikely in the light of changes to business travel.

Analysis also found that the air service was not always the fastest link to Cardiff from north Wales, especially east of Bangor where rail travel is faster door-to-door, and investment in rolling stock, wi-fi, workspaces and onboard catering means the Holyhead – Cardiff train service now offers a more attractive proposition.

The £2·9m earmarked for the air service will instead be used to accelerate work on north-south connectivity within the North Wales Metro programme, including faster progress on the Holyhead Masterplan, Bangor Gateway and Wrexham Gateway, and plans for new stations at Broughton and Greenfield.

Work to improve rail journey times and services and improve integration with other modes will be brought forward, to meet the Welsh government’s ambitions for four trains per hour on the North Wales Main Line and easier, faster rail access to South Wales. Options will be assessed for doubling the bus service between Caernarfon and Porthmadog to improve connectivity to rail links to south and mid-Wales.

‘The pandemic has driven huge change to the way people work, with a reduction in business travel over the past few years’, said Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for transport. ‘We don’t think passenger levels will return to a level that makes this service viable economically or environmentally. Instead we will invest the money saved from running the service into improving public transport in north Wales. This will benefit more people and help us reach our Net Zero target by 2050.’

09.06.22 (rwg)


CN to deploy Wabtec dispatching software

CA: Canadian National is to become the launch customer for Wabtec’s Precision Dispatch System, in a move which the supplier says represents ‘a major step toward network automation for CN and the entire rail industry.’

PDS is designed to control the movements of trains safely and efficiently in both signalled and dark territory, providing full visibility of network conditions and monitoring all devices and assets interacting with the railway.

It analyses data transmitted from rolling stock and lineside equipment, and combines this with information provided by Positive Train Control. The software then delivers mandatory traffic directives and automatically implements movement authorities in dark territory.

Wabtec says that this will help to eliminate human error, reduce maintenance and operating costs, and improve safety and operating efficiency.

Wabtec expects the software to be operational at CN from late 2023. After a phased rollout, there will be a total of 37 desks equipped with it in CN’s control centre.

‘CN is leading the industry in rail network optimisation as the launch customer for the Precision Dispatch System’, said Nalin Jain, President of Wabtec’s Digital Electronics business, on June 6. ‘This system is the first-of-its-kind and acts as a command-and-control system at the heart of railroad operations. CN will be able to increase capacity and improve efficiency and safety across its network.’

‘Our focus is running a safe and efficient railroad, and constantly improving our infrastructure’, added Dominique Malenfant, Chief Information & Technology Officer at CN. ‘The Precision Dispatch System represents an important step forward in our network optimisation.’

07.06.22 (rwg)


Rail training facility expanded

US: Short line and regional railway group Watco has completed a $3m expansion of its Safe Performance Center in Fairfield, Alabama to meet its training needs for the next decade.

A new building features classrooms, a conference room and a large space for a locomotive simulator, more than doubling the facility’s previous size and enabling the number of on-site trainees to be increased from 40 to 150 per day.

Outside the building is a tank wagon modified to be used by staff and first responders for confined-space rescue training.

‘This expansion is more than just a building; it is an investment in the future of Watco and the Fairfield community’, said Watco CEO Dan Smith on May 19. ’It represents Watco’s commitment to our customers, to our own people, to the communities we serve and, most importantly, to our never-ending mission to be the safest company in our industry.’

04.06.22 (rwg)


Hitachi Energy to supply 120 MW converter station

DE: The national railway’s traction power business DB Energie has awarded Hitachi Energy a contract to install a 120 MW converter station to convert electricity from the 50 Hz three-phase public distribution network to the 16·7 Hz single-phase used by the traction network.

The converter station at Thyrow southwest of Berlin will have three compact 40 MW static frequency converter modules using Hitachi Energy’s integrated gate-commutated thyristors to provide a steady and reliable supply.

The contract announced on May 31 includes 30 years of servicing, and a digitalisation package to provide DB with condition-based and reactive maintenance and insights into the status of the station over its life cycle.

Last year Hitachi Energy was awarded a contract for the 160 MW Delitz converter station in the Halle/Leipzig area, which the supplier said will be one of the most powerful for rail power worldwide.

03.06.22 (rwg)


Cando sells Quasar rail software platform

CA: Short line and freight services group Cando Rail & Terminals has sold its Quasar rail logistics software platform to Trinity Industries.

Cando started Quasar in 2017 with the aim of developing a cloud-based yard management application, and said the sale would allow the platform to grow further and also enhance Trinity’s digital portfolio.

Trinity is to retain all Quasar employees.

‘We are extremely proud of what we have achieved with Quasar’, said Cando President & CEO Brian Cornick on May 31. ‘With its experience and knowledge of digital products for rail, Trinity is a fantastic home for Quasar and we are very excited for its future.’

PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance acted as financial adviser to Quasar.

02.06.22 (rwg)



Knorr-Bremse invests in ‘internet of trains’ company Nexxiot

CH: Knorr-Bremse has announced a €60m investment to become the largest shareholder in Nexxiot, which specialises in fitting wagons and containers with ‘internet of trains’ data connectivity technology.

Investment firm QVIDTVM, led by Burak Alici, and existing shareholders have also increased their investment.

Knorr-Bremse said the acquisition of the strategic minority stake in Nexxiot would enable it to use the Swiss company’s data-driven business models including subscription-based services to support increased vehicle availability, optimised lifecycle costs and greater efficiency.

In the first phase of the partnership, Knorr-Bremse will offer to retrofit Nexxiot’s data-gathering sensor technology to existing rolling stock braking, door, HVAC and other subsystems, and connect them to Nexxiot’s cloud-based ecosystem.

During the second phase Knorr-Bremse would natively integrate its original equipment into the digital ecosystem.

‘We’re using digitalisation to leverage our already strong position in safety- and mission-critical rail vehicle systems, and to generate further growth and strong profitability’, said Dr Jürgen Wilder, Knorr-Bremse executive board member responsible for the Rail Vehicle Systems division, on May 31. ‘By combining our systems technology with Nexxiot’s digital ecosystem, we’re creating a win-win scenario that will boost vehicle availability and lower the total cost of fleet ownership by leveraging a new generation of data-based services.’

Nexxiot CEO Stefan Kalmund said ‘together, we aim to accelerate the digitalisation of key areas like rail freight and automation services. At the same time, we’ll also be able to speed up our own expansion in the rail industry and continue our strong growth.’

01.06.22 (rwg)


CSX complete acquisition of Pan Am Railways

US: The CSX Corp. (CSX) has announced that it has completed the acquisition of Pan Am Railways, Inc. (Pan Am), expanding its reach into the rapidly growing North East region of the United States.

“We are excited to welcome Pan Am’s experienced railroaders into the CSX family and look forward to the improvements we will make together to this important rail network in New England, bringing benefits to all users of rail transportation in the Northeast region,” James M. Foote, President and Chief Executive Officer of CSX, said. “This acquisition demonstrates CSX’s growth strategy through efficient and reliable freight service and will provide sustainable and competitive transportation solutions to New England and beyond.”

Completion of this transaction comes six weeks after CSX received regulatory approval from the Surface Transportation Board. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as financial advisor, Steptoe & Johnson LLP acted as regulatory counsel, and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP acted as transactional counsel.

CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is a premier transportation company. It provides rail, intermodal, and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions to customers across a broad array of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural and consumer products. For nearly 200 years, CSX has played a critical role in the nation’s economic expansion and industrial development. Its network connects every major metropolitan area in the eastern United States, where nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population resides. It also links over 240 short-line railroads and more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports with major population centres and farming towns alike.

Pan Am Railways parent, Pan Am Systems, was put up for sale in July 2020. Pan Am Railways was an American holding company which owned and operated Class II regional railroads covering northern New England from Mattawamkeag, Maine, to Rotterdam Junction, New York.

01.06.22 (grw)

Austrian double-track project to improve punctuality begins

A: ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG (ÖBB) have initiated planning for the Bludenz-Klosterbogen project, with the aim of increasing timetable stability and punctuality in long-distance traffic on the Arlbergbahn line.

The Arlbergbahn line is one of the main lines on the approximately 5,000km-long Austrian rail network and also a challenging and impressive mountain railway that connects Vorarlberg with the rest of Austria.

To ensure that the railway network is prepared for future challenges, ÖBB will be investing heavily in the expansion of the railway infrastructure in Vorarlberg. An important part of this is the double-track expansion of the so-called ‘monastery arch’, starting from the eastern entrance to Bludenz station in the direction of Arlberg.

The double-track expansion of the approximately 1.4km-long section is the next important step in the ÖBB infrastructure quality offensive in Vorarlberg. For long-distance trains, this will improve the crossing situation in the Bludenz area, which will result in the further stabilisation of punctuality and thus increase quality. Measures accompanying the project, such as new noise protection walls, will offer even better protection for residents living close to the network.  The crossing area of the two state roads L190 and L97 will also be converted and made more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

The ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG project team has already started planning the double-track expansion. The first stage envisages surveying work and boundary determinations on the adjacent properties. The surveying office commissioned by ÖBB will contact property owners and carry out the boundary determinations. This preparatory work forms the basis for further planning and the subsequent official approval processes. In addition, there will be further investigations and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the section over the coming years.

31.05.22 (grw)


Stadler and Medha Servo to build rail coach manufacturing unit in India

IN: India-based Medha Servo Drives has signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with Swiss railway rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail for a new rail coach manufacturing factory in the Indian state of Telangana.

The new facility will be built with an investment of INR10bn ($129m) over two years, reported The Times of India.

Stadler Rail will own the majority interest in the JV, which is anticipated to employ more than 2,500 people from the state.

According to the Telangana government, the new facility will be used to make exports to customers across the Asia Pacific region, besides meeting the requirements of the Indian market.

Telangana IT Minister Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao was quoted by the publication as saying: “I am extremely delighted that Stadler chose Hyderabad as their primary location for rail coach manufacturing for the complete APAC region in partnership with Medha Servo.

“This will show the world the potential that Hyderabad has, to match global investment destinations in terms of quality of talent and output.”

Last year in January, Medha Servo received an INR22.11bn ($285.2bn) contract to design, develop, manufacture, supply, integrate, test, and commission several types of equipment for Vande Bharat type train sets for 44 rakes of 16 cars each.

Separately, Stadler confirmed a framework agreement with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Thurbo, and RegionAlps for up to 510 single-decker FLIRT trains.

Last year in October, the company secured a framework agreement to manufacture and supply the units but an unsuccessful bidder had filed an appeal against the award. Now the appeal has been dismissed by the Federal Administrative Court.

26.05.22 (rwt)


CHSRA apply for over $1 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail project

US: The California High-Speed Rail Authority has submitted two applications totalling nearly $1.3 billion in federal grant funding for the nation’s first high-speed rail project. The applications are the first major push for a continued federal partnership under the newly enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden in November 2021.

“With the state’s continued commitment and the Biden Administration’s leadership and support, we are confident we will deliver a project the country will be proud of,” said Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, said. “California is the home of innovation, and we are committed to advancing this very innovative project to improve our economy, advance clean mobility and expand economic opportunity for all.”

More than 40 letters of support from up and down the state of California accompanied the Authority’s grant applications, including letters from United States Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, members of the Legislature, mayors, and other elected officials, along with national and state-wide business, transportation and labour leaders.

The Authority’s two applications include funding for:

  • constructing the second track for the initial operating segment between Merced and Bakersfield, beginning with the two tracks on the first 119 miles currently being built in the Central Valley
  • Advancing design work for the extensions to Merced and Bakersfield
  • Station development in Fresno and Kings/Tulare
  • Purchasing six fully electric train sets capable of speeds in excess of 200mph
  • Advancing the next phase of design for two segments into the Bay Area (Merced to San Jose and San Jose to San Francisco) and into Southern California (Bakersfield to Palmdale and Burbank to Los Angeles).

If awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, these grants will help California accelerate progress toward the opening of the nation’s first 220mph, electrified high-speed train system. They will also advance design on crucial segments in both Northern and Southern California that cleared the environmental process in the past year.

25.05.22 (grw)


Thales equips three stations for Egyptian National Railways

EG: French company Thales has helped deliver three crucial stations for the Egyptian National Railways (ENR), the second-largest railway operator in Africa.

The stations include Tanta, Sedfa, and Al Ousayrat, which come under the rail corridor that spans from Alexandria to Aswan through Cairo.

Sedfa and Al Ousayrat are built to connect the towns of Asyut and Nagh Hammadi, while Tanta is located on the Cairo-Alexandria line.

Alexandria station is situated in the north of the Quesna-Alexandria section, while Farz Waborat and Cairo North are in the south of the Cairo-Benha section. The total length of the line is 207km.

For Tanta station, Thales built one main technical building and one secondary technical building.

The company also deployed 132 signals, 124 switch motors, 267 track circuits, and eight-level crossings at the station.

Thales constructed a new technical building as well as signalling and telecommunications systems for the Al Ousayrat station.

It also built three level crossings and 10km of track for the station. The line already has 63km of track.

For the Sedfa station, Thales constructed an additional 11km besides technical building, 44 signals, 74 track circuits, and two-level crossings.

Thales Spain transport director Fernando Ortega said: “We are very pleased to deliver three new stations to ENR. It is a source of pride for the entire Thales team who have been working for years on the modernisation of this line”

Thales’ electronic interlocking system (EIS) was used as a replacement for the existing mechanical signalling systems on three crucial lines of the Egyptian railway network.

Earlier this month, Thales won a contract to offer its technology for one of the sections of the Mediterranean Corridor.

25.05.22 (rwt)


Elizabeth line in London opens for passengers

UK: Crossrail and Transport for London in the UK have opened the £19bn Elizabeth line, following a 3.5-year delay and cost overruns.

Originally expected to entail an investment of £14.8bn, the project will reduce travel times between key underground stations.

The first trains departed from the new section of the railway, with services having commenced between Paddington and Abbey Wood.

With nine brand new stations in central London, the Elizabeth line services are available every five minutes.

The new railway line will ‘provide new journey options and support wider regeneration and recovery from the pandemic – creating jobs, business opportunities, and a huge economic boost for the country’.

Designed to connect London’s major employment centres, the line is expected to help enhance London’s rail capacity by 10%.

Alstom’s Class 345 Aventra trains operating on the Elizabeth line were constructed in Derby while roundels and signage for the line were delivered by a family-run business on the Isle of Wight.

Under the rolling stock and services provision contract, Alstom will also maintain the trains for the coming 32 years.

The Leeds-based company protected London’s Victorian sewer networks during construction.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This brand new line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades. It will add billions to our economy and is set to serve up to 200 million passengers each year.

“I’m sure passengers will enjoy the modern trains, beautiful step-free stations and the reduced journey times across the capital and the South East.”

The Elizabeth line was opened after receiving clearance from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the economic and safety watchdog of the UK’s railways.

24.05.22 (rwt)


Siemens Mobility and DB gear up for transition to hydrogen trains

DE: Earlier this month, Siemens Mobility rolled out its Mireo plus H hyrdrogen train, throwing its hat into the ring of an increasingly crowded market for trains with alternative traction systems. Together with Deutsche Bahn it is also developing a dedicated hydrogen system for rail. Here’s where things stand.

Hydrogen trains, like mixed-operation pantograph plus battery units, are born from the desire and need to replace diesel-powered vehicles on lines across Europe that are not electrified.

“Electrification requires investment and time. Furthermore, sometimes is it simply not possible – either for practical or economical reasons – to build overhead lines, even in the long-term, Jochen Steinbauer, Platform Director H2 Technologies for Regional Trains at Siemens Mobility recently told RailTech.com. This means there are still around 15,000 diesel trains in operation in Europe today.

All about packaging

Speaking on the train itself, Steinbauer explained that the hydrogen unit rides on the proven Mireo platform, designed to accommodate different traction systems. Siemens Mobility also has a Mireo Plus B(attery). And while the Mireo H(ydrogen) might look conventional, it is anything but.

“In terms of innovation, the train features the HD8 next-generation fuel cell system with a higher power density and an increased efficiency rate”, Steinbauer says. “Our train is ‘only’ about 47 metres long yet we’ve been able to package everything. Also, all subsystems on the train have been harmonised, which should result in lower energy costs and lifecycle costs.”

On top of that, Siemens paid particular attention to the design of the pressure tanks, the piping and the gas handling-unit (GHU), among other things.

The result is a two-car train set that can cover a distance of at least 800 kilometres, which, according to Steinbauer is the typical daily distance covered by regional trains. “This range was a requirement from the market. It means that the trains can be used for an entire day without refuelling.” The three-car version has a range of 1,000 kilometres.

Optimised for operational purposes

However, a hydrogen train is only as green as the hydrogen you put in. For that reason, Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn are working together as part of the H2goesRail project. The goal of this endeavour is to not only supply green hydrogen but also set up a fast refuelling system and maintenance infrastructure.

“DB wants to be climate neutral in 2040 and hydrogen trains as replacements for diesel-powered units fit with that target. H2goesRail prepares us for this transition”, Marc-Andre Sahba, lead project manager at Deutsche Bahn, says. “These three elements – trains, infrastructure and maintenance – are joined together in a system and that needs to be optimised for operational purposes.”

In a nutshell, DB is using its renewable power for electrolysis to produce green hydrogen directly on site, where it will also be compressed and stored. The storage unit and tank unit are designed in such a way that they can be transported by train or truck, as they have the size and shape of a regular twenty-foot equivalent unit.

Fast refuelling achieved

The centrepiece of it all, arguably, is the fast refuelling system. Siemens Mobility and DB claim refuelling can now be done at a rate similar to that of regular diesel trains. That is no small feat, as hydrogen has certain unusual properties. For example, hydrogen heats up as pressure drops. This means that the faster you refuel, the more it heats up.

“The rapid refuelling is achieved by an intelligent control and communications interface that keeps temperature and pressures within parameters to get an optimum refuelling process”, Sahba explains, adding that there needs to be some kind of standardisation for refuelling and a common language in terms of communication. After all, DB wants to open its refuelling infrastructure to train sets from other manufacturers as well.

Savings in operational costs to be had

Steinbauer, too, applauds the holistic approach of H2goesRail. “This represents an enormous step in reducing emission-free transportation. Over the lifetime of a Mireo plus H, using green hydrogen, it can result in savings of 45,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to dieseltrains. With CO2 pricing at around 55 euros per ton from 2025 onwards, this means that operators will save a lot of money in operational costs the course of the lifetime of the train.

Two separate testing programmes with the Mireo Plus H are planned for next year, one in Bavaria, the other in the state of Baden-Württemberg. DB will be involved as well in the latter programme. “We need to be ready from day one and that is why we want to be involved in testing of the train from day one”, Sahba explained.

From January 2024 onwards, the two trains will be entered into regular service. In Baden-Württemberg, the hydrogen train will scheduled to run for 120,000 kilometres.

18.05.22 (rt)


DB wants home away from home on board future ICE trains

DE: Deutsche Bahn has unveiled the interior of the upcoming ICE 3neo long-distance trains. The new interiors are designed to be a home a way from home, ceo Richard Lutz said on Wednesday.

“Travel, work, relax and feel as comfortable as you would in your own living room at 300 kilometres per hour”, Lutz remarked. He hopes the new look and feel of the trains’ interiors will convince more people to switch to rail.

The first-class section will feature warm grey colours, whereas the interior the second-class cars will be mostly blue. Wood trimmings complement the interiors in both sections. The restaurant car sets itself apart through the use of burgundy.

Not all ICE 3neo long-distance trains will feature the newly designed interior. The first 16 trains sets to come off the assembly line still have the ‘old’ interior. Train number 17, scheduled for debut in December 2023, will be the first to gain the new look.

18.05.22 (rt)


Alstom to design and build Israeli light rail system

IL: Israel’s Metropolitan Mass Transit System (NTA) has awarded Alstom and its partners the contract for the design, construction and maintenance of the Tel Aviv Metropolitan LRT Green Line.

Alstom’s contract scope, announced on Tuesday and valued at 858 million euros, also includes engineering work, the supply of the railway system including tracks and electrification, as well as signalling and communication. The company will also be supplying 98 two-car Citadis XO5 trams.

The so-called Green Line is one of two new light rail lines planned for Tel Aviv. It will have a length of more than 39 kilometres and will run partially underground. Of the 62 stations, four will be underground as well.

The Green Line project as a whole is valued at 2,6 billion euros. It is intended to reducing north-south commuting times by 14 percent on average. By 2030, the line is expected to move 76 million passengers on an annual basis.

19.05.22 (rt)


Siemens Mobility CBTC technology used for Hong Kong’s East Rail Line extension

HK: The East Rail Line Cross-Harbour Extension in Hong Kong has successfully commenced passenger service with Siemens Mobility’s Communications-Based Train Control system (CBTC). This completes the automation of the 46km long East Rail Line connecting the Chinese Mainland border to the central business areas on Hong Kong Island and becomes the fourth railway line crossing Victoria Harbour. The Siemens Mobility digitalised signalling system helps provide passengers with the ability to reach the commercial, convention and financial hubs in the Wan Chai North and Admiralty areas in a faster, safer, and more seamless way.

“The opening of the East Rail Line Cross-Harbour Extension is a significant milestone for public transportation in Hong Kong, which provides the people of Hong Kong with a fourth cross-harbour rail connection,” Andre Rodenbeck, CEO of Rail Infrastructure at Siemens Mobility, said. “Our state-of-the-art signalling solutions will increase the reliability, availability, and efficiency of the entire 46km and 16 station East Rail Line. We have successfully implemented more than 40 CBTC systems across the world. This important project further underscores our leading position in the field of urban mobility.”

Siemens Mobility equipped CBTC at 16 stations on the East Rail Line, while also modernising and expanding the railway network by 6km and three additional stations. The radio-based technology enables real-time data to be captured on vehicle position and speed conditions. This allows the East Rail Line to safely accommodate an increased number of vehicles on the line at a greater frequency. Additionally, the upgraded digitalised system provides the ability to continuously receive updates on system status which improves operational efficiency, resulting in fewer delays and more up-to-date travel information.

Along the East Rail Line and its Cross-Harbour Extension, the Siemens Mobility solution Airlink has been installed for radio transmission, and automatic train supervision is realised through the operations control system. Electronic interlockings and Trainguard MT (TGMT) Wayside Control Units have been installed for efficient train control. Eventually, a total of 37 passenger trains and 22 locomotives will be equipped with Siemens TGMT On-Board Computer Units (OBCU).

The Siemens Mobility CBTC solution, Trainguard MT, is the most extensively deployed automatic train control system in the world and is used by many operators, including Paris, Beijing, New York, London, and Copenhagen.

18.05.22 (grw)


Eighty trams for Gothenburg in Sweden will be modernized by the Skoda Group at its Ostrava plant

SE: Škoda Group has been awarded a major contract to repair 80 trams currently in service in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Swedish operator Västtrafik AB, which operates the trams, has awarded Škoda a contract for the revision and repair of trams of type designation M31. The work will take place at the Škoda Group’s production facility in Ostrava from this year until 2027. The total volume of the contract is almost € 80 million.

“The success in Sweden confirms our ability to succeed even in the most demanding markets, of which Scandinavia is certainly one. I believe that the renewed trams we will deliver to Gothenburg will serve to the satisfaction of both passenger and operators,” said Miroslav Mareš, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Škoda Ekova. “As a traditional repair and modernisation company for transport companies, we are able to offer our customers a high standard of quality. In recent years, we have also been expanding our competences and producing new trams and other products for the Group’s current and future customers,” added Miroslav Mareš.

“The modernization of the existing M31 tram fleet in Gothenburg, Sweden is of great importance for the entire Škoda Group. This project sets the ground for our future success as we aim to provide sustainable, long-lasting vehicle and service solutions to the Swedish market,” says Juha Vierros, President of Škoda Group North Region.

The current contract is following an earlier contract under which the Ostrava company worked on the same type of trams in the past. Between 2011 and 2017, it carried out the repair of 79 M31 trams for the operator in Gothenburg as Ekova Electric; at that time, it was mainly about revisions of tram carbodies and replacement of electrical equipment. In 2021, the company was integrated into the Škoda Group and subsequently changed its name to Škoda Ekova.

The current contract for the overhaul and modernization of eighty trams includes a wide range of modifications, such as a new door system, a ramp for one of the tram cars, a new braking system, as well as an air conditioning unit for the driver’s cab. Other tasks will include painting the cars, repairing the laminates, maintaining the carbody, refurbishing the electrical system, replacing the floors, modifying the interiors and driver’s cabs, adding new lighting, and revising the heating system.

Centre for rolling stock and digitalisation in Ostrava

Škoda Group, a member of the PPF Group, has been operating in the Moravian-Silesian Region as Škoda Ekova for a long time. The company’s major enterprise, which focuses primarily on the development and production of railway vehicles and tramways for customers all over the world, is based in Ostrava. This base has recently undergone major modernisation and expansion, which included the construction of a new modern paint shop, the establishment of the largest gantry machining centre in Europe, and the installation of automatic welding machines. The investments have increased the company’s capacity to produce and maintain significantly, while creating hundreds of new jobs. Also, the development center for SMART and digital technologies is located in Ostrava, which through its industry leading diagnostic tools and processes will be highly beneficial for the overhaul activities of the M31 tramway.
12.05.22 (Source Publisher: ŠKODA TRANSPORTATION a.s.)


Alstom to supply 130 double-deck regional trains

DE: The state of Baden-Württemberg has awarded Alstom a major contract for 130 double-deck trains for regional rail services. The value of the contract for the purchase and maintenance over 30 years is around EUR2.5 billion. The award procedure has been completed and the contract has been awarded to Alstom. Commissioning is scheduled to take place in December 2025 with the start of operation of “Stuttgart 21”. The Coradia Stream HCs are designed for 200 km/h. They are to be gradually deployed in the Stuttgart metropolitan area on the lines to Karlsruhe, Pforzheim, Heilbronn, Schwäbisch-Hall, Aalen, Friedrichshafen/Lindau and Tübingen, as well as Horb/Rottweil and the high-speed line from Stuttgart to Ulm. The four-unit vehicles each consist of two double-deck control cars and two single-deck railcars with a total of 380 seats. They have a length of 106 meters and can operate in quadruple traction. As part of the “Digital Stuttgart Node” project, the vehicles will be equipped with the then current version of ETCS L2. 10.05.22 (rwt)


Fornebubanen metro more expensive – financing unclear

NO: The construction of Oslo’s new metro line “Fornebubanen” will be even more expensive than was feared after the dramatic cost increases announced in February. Construction costs of NOK 26.8 billion (EUR 2.68 billion) are now considered possible. On top of that, the opening date planned for 2027 can no longer be met. The earliest date currently mentioned is June 2029. Oslo is therefore currently discussing several alternatives for financing the metro. These include an increase in the city toll, a slimming down of the project and greater involvement of the municipalities of Oslo and Bærum/Viken. There, commercial property owners along the route are to contribute to the construction costs with a levy. For example, the municipality of Akershus has already collected NOK 2 billion (EUR 200 million), while Oslo has collected only NOK 88 million (EUR 8.8 million). There is no legal basis for further revenue from these municipalities. Oslo City Councilor Sirin Stav (Green Party), who is responsible for the environment and public transport, is hoping for voluntary funding from the companies, especially since the revenue from the congestion charge is lower than expected. So far, NOK 2.9 billion (EUR 290 million) has already been invested in construction and contractual commitments for another NOK 1.4 billion (EUR 40 million) have been made. 11.05.22 (rb)


Systra-consortium secures certification contract in Singapore and Malaysia

SG: A consortium, including Systra, Minconsult, and Bureau Veritas Singapore, has received a ‘major’ independent certification contract in Singapore and Malaysia.

The Ministry of Transport, Malaysia (MY MOT) and the Land Transport Authority, Singapore (LTA) have selected the consortium as the Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) agent.

The consortium will work to ensure that the cross-border Johor Bahru – Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link is in line with safety regulations of both Johor and Singapore.

Designed to connect the city-state of Singapore to the Malaysian peninsula in the form of a cross-border metro-type shuttle, the Johor Bahru – Singapore RTS is expected to carry its first passengers by the end of 2026.

The consortium will evaluate and verify the design of testing, technical inspections, as well as all certification services to ensure the operational and technical safety of the Johor Bahru – Singapore RTS Link.

The audit is said to cover all phases ranging from design to commissioning, operation and maintenance, and all urban railway systems including automatic signalling, traction energy, rolling stock, and control centre.

With a total length of 4km, the Johor Bahru – Singapore RTS Link will have two terminal stations, including Bukit Chagar to Johor Bahru on the Malaysia side and Woodlands North on the Singapore side.

Singapore Railway System Engineering Centre head and RTS IV&V project director Frédéric Rouquette said: “Systra’s approach is part of a group-wide approach extending from Systra France to Asia-Pacific, combining in-depth technical expertise with mastery of the transversal disciplines essential to performance and operational safety, including Operation & Maintenance and Human Factors.”

Separately, Systra secured a £2m design contract for the Ebbw Vale Frequency Enhancement (EVFE) rail project in Wales, UK.

Under the one-year contract, Systra will provide civil and structural engineering, geotechnical, environmental and architectural services for the project. 11.05.22 (rwt)


Alstom hands over first semi high-speed train for India’s RRTS project

IN: French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has delivered India’s first semi high-speed regional train for National Capital Region Transport Corporation’s (NCRTC) Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS Phase 1 project.

These aerodynamic fully air conditioned trains are anticipated to result in a 40% decrease in journey times between the 82.5km Delhi and Meerut route.

Among its features include 2×2 transverse seating, door status indicators, grab handles, and ergonomically designed areas to support specially abled people.

The trains are also equipped with CCTV cameras, intercom, fire extinguisher, exterior camera, fire and smoke detector, Wi-Fi, laptop/mobile/USB charging stations, dynamic route display maps, and auto controlled ambient lighting system.

This RRTS route is India’s first to incorporate the European Train Control System (ETCS) hybrid Level signalling system.

The trains were 100% made in Alstom’s factory in Savli, Gujarat, with the manufacturing process starting in July last year. This aligns with the Indian Government’s Make-in-India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat objectives.

The propulsion systems and electricals were made at Alstom’s Maneja factory in Gujarat.

In 2020, Alstom received a €436m contract to design, construct, and deliver 210 regional commuter and transit train cars. The contract also covered maintenance services for a 15-year period.

Besides, the company was tasked with designing, installing, delivering, trialling and commissioning signalling and train control, supervision, platform screen doors and telecommunication systems.

Alstom India managing director Alain SPOHR said: “The RRTS project is one of the most ambitious ventures in India’s mobility sector and will prove to be a game-changer in India’s regional rail segment.

“Our trains and ETCS Signalling systems will ensure safer and seamless intercity commute, benefitting millions of people and contributing towards socio-economic development. Delivering the first train within a year of commencing production reinstates Alstom’s commitment to revolutionise India’s rail networks.” 09.05.22 (rwt)


Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn present new hydrogen train

DE: Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Siemens Mobility have premiered the newly developed Mireo Plus H, the next-generation hydrogen-powered train, and a newly designed mobile hydrogen storage trailer. The train and its new infrastructure are intended to replace diesel multiple-unit trains in commuter and regional transport and reduce rail-related CO2 emissions to zero.

The joint funding project is officially called “H2goesRail” and it is being funded as part of the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW GmbH) with €13.74 million by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV). The funding guideline is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by project lead Jülich.

“In its coalition agreement, the federal government agreed to electrify 75 per cent of the country’s rail network by 2030,” Michael Theurer, Parliamentary State Secretary in the BMDV, said. “Here, alternative drives can help reduce emissions from diesel rail transport. This way, we’ll be able to operate virtually climate-neutral on rail routes where full electrification is not possible. The H2goesRail project will not only test the use of hydrogen for rail, but substantially advance the technology.”

“Only with a strong rail system and alternative types of drives will we be able to make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change, the Mireo Plus H enables climate-friendly and emission-free passenger transport,” Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility, said. “With the Mireo Plus H, we have developed the next generation of hydrogen-powered trains that offers a particularly long operating range and faster acceleration. Each delivered train can save up to 45,000 tonnes of CO2 over its service life of 30 years compared to corresponding travel with cars.” 

“For Deutsche Bahn, hydrogen trains are an important component on our way to achieving climate neutrality,” Dr. Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, Member of the Management Board for Digitalisation and Technology at Deutsche Bahn, said. “Together with Siemens and the newly developed hydrogen train, we are creating an overall system which will take us another step towards phasing out diesel and enable the greening of the fleet.”

As a two-car train, the Mireo Plus H for the H2goesRail project has an operating range of up to 800 kilometres, is as powerful as its electric multiple-unit counterpart, has 1.7MW of traction power providing up to 1.1 m/s2 acceleration, and a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour. A three-car version has a range of up to 1,000 kilometres.

One key element needed to make hydrogen technology competitive with diesel fuel in daily operation is a fast-refuelling process. To provide this, DB has developed a new method that, for the first time, enables a hydrogen train to be refuelled as fast as a diesel-powered train. This is an especially important factor considering the closely timed scheduling of DB’s regional passenger service. The fast refuelling of hydrogen trains will make the technology competitive in daily operations.

Hydrogen trains have a particularly climate-friendly drive technology, since it operates emission-free with green hydrogen and emits only water vapor. In the H2goesRail project, for example, the hydrogen train will save around 330 tonnes of CO2 in one year on the Tübingen-Pforzheim route, compared to a diesel-powered train. In general, the Mireo Plus H can save 520 tonnes a year depending on the route profile (calculated on mileage of 200,000 kilometres).   

The Mireo Plus H will start testing in Baden-Württemberg in 2023. During its planned passenger service in 2024, the hydrogen train for the H2goesRail project with Deutsche Bahn will provide regular passenger service between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim and replace a diesel train. 05.05.22 (grw)


New signalling system commissioned for Great Northern’s route to London

UK: A brand new, state-of-the-art signalling system has been commissioned which promises to bring Great Northern rail passengers much more reliable journeys on the route to Moorgate in the City of London. The digital equipment replaces outdated and ageing components dating back to the 1970s, including some that ran on compressed air, on the Northern City Line between Finsbury Park and Moorgate stations. After a bedding-in period, it is expected to significantly reduce the amount of delays a year caused by signal failures that have disrupted commuters and leisure travellers.

The work, part of the Government-funded East Coast Digital Programme, will ultimately see traditional signals removed from the tracks along this route. Drivers will instead be digitally signalled through screens inside their train cabs once the system testing and driver training period is complete. This change will further boost reliability and reduce delays, creating a more modern and reliable railway for passengers. The Northern City Line is expected to operate solely using digital signalling by 2024.

“The signalling on the Northern Line was a tried and tested, safe system but it had reached the end of its life and often failed, causing regular disruption,” Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said. “Our customers would often find their services cancelled, delayed, or diverted into King’s Cross, a long way from where they wanted to go. This work by Network Rail, as part of the Government-funded East Coast Digital Programme, has brought the route firmly into the 21st century and should, after a bedding in period, greatly improve reliability.”

“This commissioning will deliver improved reliability for passengers and marks an important step forward in the wider East Coast Digital Programme that will transform the capability of a major intercity route,” Toufic Machnouk, Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway at Network Rail, said. “The deep partnership we have forged for the Northern City Line project is breaking the traditional boundaries in the way we work as an industry to deliver greater benefits for passengers.”

“This commissioning marks the start of a roll-out of modern train control technology that provides a far more efficient and reliable railway,” Mark Ferrer, Rail Infrastructure Operations Director for Siemens Mobility, said. “The partnership on the programme has enabled the train control partner to collaborate with other industry partners to efficiently define and develop the agreed scope and design to be able to deliver the engineering that led to the successful commissioning of this digital system.” 03.05.22 (grw)


Siemens Mobility to supply battery powered Mireo Plus B trains in Denmark

DK: Siemens Mobility has been awarded a contract to supply seven battery powered Mireo Plus B trains to the Midtjyske Jernbaner in Denmark. This is the first contract for battery powered rail in Denmark and is part of a pilot project to replace all diesel trainsets throughout the country. The Mireo Plus B combines all the benefits of the Mireo platform with a high-performance battery system that enables trains to operate on routes with or without overhead power lines thanks to their battery hybrid drive. The seven two-car electric trainsets will be delivered by the end of 2024 and are scheduled to operate on two lines in the Midtjylland region of Denmark.

“The battery trains are expected to enter service at the end of 2024,” Martha Vrist CEO of Midtjyske Jernbaner Drift A/S, said. “This is a crucial step in our own green transition, but also a significant step towards the goal of CO2-neutral train traffic throughout Denmark.”

“With the acquisition of the Mireo Plus B trains, Midtjyske Jernbaner replaces conventional diesel vehicles with state-of-the-art, and locally, completely emission-free trains,” Albrecht Neumann, CEO Rolling Stock at Siemens Mobility, said. “This will significantly contribute to the local area by offering a sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility option. We are delighted that Midtjyske Jernbaner has chosen the energy efficient Mireo Plus B trains from Siemens Mobility, which will also offer a high level of driving comfort and an improved passenger experience.”

The Mireo Plus B two-car trainsets can accommodate 120 seated passengers, travel up to 140 km/h and has a range of around 80 kilometres when in battery operation. The batteries can be charged via the 25kV overhead line in electrified sections and by recuperating the train’s braking energy. The battery system is mounted underfloor and is installed in two battery containers. Lithium-ion batteries with a long service life are used in this system.

This is the third order Siemens Mobility has received for the Mireo Plus B and the first outside of Germany. The Landesanstalt Schienenfahrzeuge Baden-Württemberg (SFBW) ordered 20 Mireo Plus B trains in 2020 and Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB) ordered 31 in 2021. This technology has been extensively tested for over one year through a preliminary version on a prototype train, the Desiro ML ÖBB Cityjet eco in Austria. 04.05.22 (grw)


Russian forces attack six railway stations in Ukraine

UA: Russian troops have attacked six railway stations in the Central and Western parts of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian Railways head Oleksandr Kamyshin.

Missile shelling by Russian forces has delayed 14 trains.

In a statement on his Telegram channel, Kamyshin stated: “According to operational information, there are no casualties among the railway workers and passengers.

“The damage to the infrastructure is severe, we will clarify the details after the end of the air raid.”

The Russian forces shelled various Ukrainian regions, including Kyiv, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Transcarpathian, and Kirovohrad.

According to Russia’s defence ministry, these railway stations are used for the supply of Western-made weapons for Ukrainian forces in the eastern part of the country.

The ministry did not specify which weapons the stations supplied to Ukrainian troops.

High-precision air and sea-based weapons were used to disable the railway stations.

Financial Times quoted Ukraine’s centre for strategic communications on a Facebook as saying: “Russia is hitting at our railways to disrupt military assistance supplies.”

The railway infrastructure in Ukraine has faced multiple attacks since Russia’s Ukraine offensive.

Last month, a missile strike on an eastern Ukrainian railway station led to a death toll of at least 39 and wounded 87 people, as per Ukrainian authorities.

During the same month, Ukrainian Railways reported many casualties in a rockets strike on an eastern Ukrainian railway station. 03.05.22 (grw)


Western Australia allocates $141.9m for rail freight infrastructure

AU: Western Australia has secured A$200m ($141.9m) in government funding for its regional rail freight network.

The financing includes A$160m ($113.5m) from Commonwealth as well as $40m from the State for four projects.

It has been made under the first package of the Agricultural Supply Chain Improvement (ASCI) programme.

An amount of A$22m ($15.6m) will be used for four rail siding extensions for CBH grain bins at Moora, Brookton, and Cranbrook as well as Broomehill.

With an investment of A$46m ($32.6m), seven additional grain rail siding upgrades will be carried out at Avon, Kellerberrin, Dowerin, Konnongorring, Ballidu, Mingenew, and Perenjori North.

Midland Line Main Line up-gradation from 16 Tonne Axle Loading (TAL) to 19 TAL between Carnamah and Mingenew will be conducted with an investment of A$60m (42.5m).

Around 400,000 tonnes of grain per annum are expected to be carried through this section. The upgrade will help improve operational efficiency and reduce freight cost savings for all grain growers delivering to bins on selected line sections.

To serve grain and other potential customers in the Narrogin-Wickepin area through a tier three line, the recommissioning of the Narrogin-Kulin rail line and associated works in the Southern Wheatbelt region with an investment of A$72m (51.1m).

This rail freight service is also expected to be beneficial for the new Western Australian Kaolin clay mine, located near Wickepin, which aims to boost production in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the planning and design phase of the projects will begin now, with their completion expected in 2025.

Western Australia transport minister Rita Saffioti said: “The recent record harvest of 24 million tonnes shows that we need to continue to invest in road and rail to provide an increasingly efficient transport network.

“The ASCI rail project funding, closely aligned with CBH’s train loading investments, will deliver freight cost savings and grain price benefits each year to grain growers throughout the agricultural region.” 02.05.22 (grw)

Alstom partners with SACE to strengthen link with Italy

IT: Alstom and SACE have signed a partnership agreement to increase Alstom’s exports from Italy, and thus strengthen the company’s ties with the Italian supply chain. SACE will support the Alstom Group’s export activities, strengthening its link with the Italian supply chain within the Export Boost Framework Agreement.

As part of the Export Boost Framework Agreement, SACE is willing to assess the issuance of guarantees on export credit operations for the benefit of Alstom. The aim is to encourage Alstom’s procurement from Italian exporting companies. Furthermore, in order to increase the procurement of Italian companies, Alstom is committed to participating in business matching meetings organised together with SACE, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) interested in becoming suppliers of the Group.

The agreement includes two main areas of collaboration, these are direct export support for Alstom Italy and strategic partnership to support Alstom’s international projects and Group exports commensurate with the overall procurement that Alstom Group will carry out in Italy

“The partnership with SACE makes us very proud and consolidates Alstom’s role in the Italian industrial and railway domain,” Michele Viale, General Manager of Alstom Italia and President and CEO of Alstom Ferroviaria, said. “A sector that, with the investments of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, is preparing for the energy transition that will give rise to sustainable, green and zero environmental impact mobility.”

Deeply rooted in the Italian railway tradition, Alstom in Italy has been manufacturing trains for 160 years, signalling equipment for 90 years and traction systems for 60 years. It now has 10 sites throughout Italy and more than 3,500 employees, Alstom is a strong local employer recognised as one of the leaders in the Italian market. Alstom in Italy has two centres of excellence in high-speed trains, the Avelia Pendolino, based on tilting technology and regional single-decker trains such as the Coradia Stream, but also in railway signalling equipment and systems. The Group also uses several Italian suppliers to carry out its projects abroad, with a total procurement in the last 12 months of around €350 million.

“Alstom has global excellence in the transport and rail infrastructure sector, which represents one of the pillars for the global transition to a more sustainable transport model,” Pierfrancesco Latini, CEO of SACE, said. “This agreement represents an important strategic element in support of export and internationalisation, facilitating access to financing by the Alstom Group, and thus supporting, directly and indirectly, supplies from Italian companies, particularly SMEs.” 


RIA publish a new rail innovation strategy

UK: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has published a new rail innovation strategy calling for the sector to be more radical and overcome barriers to innovation, ahead of the transition to Great British Railways (GBR).

The paper, A Railway Innovation Strategy, looks at the state of innovation and R&D in the sector, and the barriers to getting new products and services into the railways. It stresses that further collaboration to help businesses get new ideas to market more rapidly, and a culture of innovation, will be key under GBR to make the industry more cost-efficient, sustainable, and accessible to passengers. This paper comes after RIA previously published a survey of industry professionals which found that, whilst there is support for R&D, procurement processes remain the biggest barrier to innovation.

The strategy sets out six ‘asks’ for industry and Government decision makers to maximise the benefits from R&D and innovation. These asks include:

  1. Increase Government investment in rail research, development, and innovation
  2. Strengthen support during the innovation rollout phase
  3. Lead a concerted cross-industry effort to identify and overcome barriers to successful adoption
  4. Provide a pathway and funding for radical innovation
  5. The railway must adopt a whole-system and long-term view to enable the right innovation
  6. Support skills development and the creation of an innovation culture.

The RIA emphasises the cost benefits that investments in innovation can have, pointing to estimates that Network Rail’s £245 million of R&D funding from 2019 to 2024 is expected to create a gross value add of £1.6 billion over 20 years. The report also makes five recommendations to those responsible for crafting the shape of Great British Railways and highlights a number of case studies and current projects which will help drive innovation.

“The RIA Railway Innovation Strategy sets out how the industry can harness innovation, to make a real difference to everyone who uses, builds, operates and maintains the railway, opportunities which should be seized by the Government as it establishes Great British Railways,” Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the RIA, said. “Central to this will be the willingness of decision-makers to embrace radical innovation, for example, a technology, outcome, or approach, which can completely transform or replace existing ways of doing things, and help get new ideas to market or in procurements. We cannot keep letting good innovations fall at the last hurdle, instead we need to ensure there is support as they are delivered.

“Enabling innovation really is a win-win for everyone. It is now up the Government and GBR to work closely with the railway industry and unleash the full potential of the supply chain, to help build a greener and more reliable railway system, at better value to the taxpayer.”


The CHSRA launches an interactive carbon footprint calculator

US: The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) has announced the launch of an interactive carbon footprint calculator online to show the environmental benefits of the nation’s first electrified high-speed rail project.

Visitors on the Authority’s website can use the calculator to see their potential carbon emissions savings from traveling by electrified high-speed rail compared to car and plane on four roundtrips along the planned high-speed rail system. These are San Francisco to Los Angeles, San Francisco to Anaheim, San José to Burbank and San Francisco to Bakersfield, with more project segments planned to be added in the future. The savings of climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions for each roundtrip are converted into tangible equivalents, like gallons of gas and pounds of coal saved.

“High-speed rail is delivering a system interconnected with local and regional transit to bring benefits within disadvantaged communities, reduce vehicle travel and pollution, protect resources, and serve in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Meg Cederoth, Director of Planning and Sustainability for the Authority, said. “We are launching the carbon footprint calculator to help future riders visualise the environmental benefits high-speed rail trips will provide to California.”

This new online tool highlights the Authority’s longstanding commitment to sustainability. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, many large cities along the Authority’s Phase one system, including Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Fresno, rank among the highest in terms of amount of ozone pollution in the state. Clean, electrified high-speed rail, while helping to reduce local pollution, is also one of the most energy-efficient mobility options.

The Authority requires 100 per cent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) fleets in future infrastructure and construction contracts. Through its Voluntary Emissions Reduction Agreements (VERA) programme, the Authority has offset each tonne of air pollutant emitted during construction within local air quality districts. To date, the programme has resulted in more than 7,100 trees planted in disadvantaged California communities near the future high-speed rail corridor and 2,320 acres preserved for natural habitat and restoration.

An example of the carbon footprint calculator tool using the San Francisco to Los Angeles roundtrip can be found below.


Toronto and Province of Ontario award billion-dollar contract to Deutsche Bahn

US: Deutsche Bahn International Operations to plan, operate and maintain a 450-kilometer mass transit network in Canada – Valuable experience and profits generated for projects in Germany – Global climate targets only achievable through strong partnerships

Deutsche Bahn’s international subsidiary Deutsche Bahn International Operations (DB IO) has won a multi-billion euro contract in Canada. As the leading partner in a joint venture, DB IO will be responsible for the planning, operation and maintenance of regional passenger rail services in the megacity of Toronto and the surrounding province in Ontario. The contract, which runs for 25 years, is worth tens of billions of euros. The 450-kilometer network is to be completely modernized and expanded.

DB Board Member for Infrastructure Ronald Pofalla: “This transport project is considered the most important in Canada’s history. Rail traffic around the megacity of Toronto is being redesigned from the ground up. This contract is unique. There is nothing comparable in Germany or Europe. The enormous transfer of technology and knowledge and the experience we are gaining in Canada will directly benefit the railroads in Germany. The profits also flow into our German network. With this international contract, we are strengthening rail transport in Germany.” The project will start immediately after the signing of the contract with preparations for the operation and expansion of the rail network. State-of-the-art technology for digitization and automation will be used. Significantly more capacity and performance will be available on the network as early as the planned takeover of operations after the two-year development phase.

At the same time, DB is making a contribution to global climate protection: “We can only achieve our climate targets as a global community if we work together. Especially if we build partnerships, learn from each other and support each other in the transformation. This is the greatest success in the corporate history of the DB E.C.O. Group. We are successfully exporting German rail and climate protection know-how,” says Niko Warbanoff, CEO of the DB E.C.O. Group, to which DB IO belongs.

As a specialist in the operation and maintenance of rail transport systems, DB IO is responsible for international operator projects outside Europe.

(Source Publisher: Deutsche Bahn AG)

HS1 complete UK’s first 5G-enabled augmented reality digital twin trial

UK: HS1 Ltd has completed the first 5G-enabled ‘augmented reality digital twin’ trial on UK railways, showcasing how the technology can be used to reduce emissions, cut train delays, and make the experience of passengers using the iconic St Pancras International station even more hassle free.

HS1, which owns and operates the UK’s only high-speed railway, developed a digital representation of the high-speed network including rail track, lifts, elevators and other parts of the line and stations during the 9-month project funded by Innovate UK.

Rail staff used ‘Hololens 2’ headsets to examine every facet of the railway in close detail, gaining a real-time understanding of how all elements were operating at any given time. This remote condition monitoring system enabled them to predict more effectively what maintenance work was needed on HS1’s physical infrastructure, including at St. Pancras International.

The trial clearly showed how the technology can be used to reduce emissions and to improve customers’ experience on the line and in stations. By being able to monitor the track remotely, HS1 saw a reduction in the number of in-person track inspections, which in turn increased safety and reduced the resources needed for inspections and helped cut emissions on the railway.

The monitoring of track also showcased the potential to improve journeys, as potential maintenance or repairs work can be spotted well before they impact services. This highlighted how the digital twin system could be used to potentially reduce the number of delays trains face due to faulty or failing assets in the future.


Metrolink switches to 100 per cent renewable fuel

US: Metrolink has publicly shared its switch to renewable fuel, making the passenger rail agency the first in the United States to completely power all its locomotives by the cleaner burning alternative.

“It is a proud achievement to be the first rail agency in the nation to use renewable fuel to move people around southern California,” Ara Najarian, Board Chair of Metrolink, said. “We are committed to continue working toward better air quality in our region and lessening our effect on climate change for the planet.”

To meet its aggressive climate targets, Metrolink launched a pilot program of renewable fuel in its locomotives in early 2021. The renewable product is made of recycled natural fats and vegetable oils. It contains no petroleum fossil fuels and thus burns cleaner reducing harmful pollutants and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide by up to 80 per cent.

“This transition by Metrolink to using renewable fuel will help further reduce the air pollutants from our locomotives and improve the air quality for all the communities along our 538 miles of track,” Larry McCallon, Board Vice Chair for Metrolink, said. “It is certainly the right thing that we needed to do for the health of our children and our quality of life.”

Metrolink began powering a hundred per cent of all its locomotives with renewable fuel in February 2022. Metrolink shares this cleaner emissions milestone, as it continues to pursue zero-emissions technologies of hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric and regards renewable fuel as a bridge to zero-emissions. By reducing locomotive emissions, Metrolink is easing environmental impacts on climate change and improving air quality for all.

“Metrolink is committed to protecting the environment, embracing social responsibility and creating economic vitality for our region,” Darren Kettle, CEO of Metrolink, said. “Our board-approved Climate Action Plan paved the way to this moment, and it is the first step toward our zero-emissions future.”

ÖBB order 41 new KISS-type double-decker multiple units from Stadler

AT: Österreichische Bundesbahnen (Austrian Federal railways – ÖBB) have ordered 41 new KISS-type double-decker multiple units from Stadler. The order is being placed as part of the framework agreement signed in 2022 for up to 186 double-decker multiple units which recently has been cleared in the last instance by the higher administrative court in Vienna, thus ending legal proceedings. The order value in the first request amounts to around €600 million. The trains are intended for use in the eastern region from 2026.

The renewal of the ÖBB local and regional transport fleet continues. ÖBB is ordering 41 new KISS-type double-decker multiple units from Stadler for the eastern region, thus guaranteeing even greater passenger capacity and comfort in the future. The framework agreement with Stadler allows ordering of up to 186 trains, for a total value of up to €3 billion. In the current request, ÖBB is ordering 20 six-car and 21 four-car vehicles, with an order value of €600 million. The first vehicles are expected to enter passenger operation on routes in the eastern region at the start of 2026.

“With these 41 new Cityjet double-decker trains, we continue to modernise our local transport fleet in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland,” Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB, said. “From 2026 on, we offer even more capacity and comfort to our passengers, making the switch from individual transport by car to rail transport more attractive to commuters. This is good for our climate and both comfortable and practical for our ÖBB-travellers.”

“We are proud to deliver the next generation of double-decker multiple units to Austria. In many countries, our KISS is already successfully on the move,” Peter Spuhler, Administrative Board President and Group CEO at Stadler, said. “Thanks to its high level of innovation, the KISS is a key solution for the environmentally friendly rail transport of tomorrow. We thank ÖBB for this order and look forward to a long-term, successful collaboration.”

The new double-decker electric multiple unit is designed for a top speed of 160 km/h; it offers 610 seats in the six-car or 380 seats in the four-car configuration. With improved acceleration behaviour and consequently shorter journey times, it is ideally suited to busy routes.

The design of the new train particularly considers the wishes and requirements of passengers for everyday work and leisure trips. Every individual carriage has a low-floor entrance as well as an optimised multi-purpose area with more space and accessibility for passengers with bicycles, pushchairs, or luggage. This generously designed multi-purpose area is connected directly to the entrance/exit area and facilitates quick passenger changes.

In the new KISS, passengers will also find a modern interior design, comfortable seats, climate control and sockets in every row of seats. Moreover, the new trains are fitted with a modern passenger information system (monitors with real-time information) as well as video surveillance. For passengers with limited mobility, the middle carriage of the composition also has a number wheelchair spaces with new, height-adjustable side-wall tables.

ORR publish safety report for Hitachi Rail’s Class 800 series

IT: The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has made several recommendations from its review of how the rail industry responded to the potential safety issues leading to the withdrawal of Hitachi Rail’s Class 800 series trains in May 2021.

When cracks were found on the bodyshell (yaw damper bracket and anti-roll bar fixing points) of some trains, rigorous safety checks by Hitachi Rail and the train operators impacted were carried out, with oversight from ORR. Stringent mitigation measures were put in place to allow the trains to re-enter service without passenger safety being compromised, which have assured no safety failures and trains have performed as specified while in service.

ORR immediately launched a review of both the passenger and safety impact after trains were withdrawn from service for safety checks on Great Western Railway, London North Eastern Railway, TransPennine Express and Hull Trains, along with cracks being separately discovered after examination on ScotRail’s Class 385 and Southeastern’s Class 395 trains. Rail engineers from the manufacturer, Hitachi Rail, and independent experts have also completed rigorous analysis to gain a clearer understanding of the issue.

ORR’s review concluded that on the vehicle body in the area above the wheels close to the yaw damper bracket and anti-roll bar fixing points, fatigue cracking was caused by the trains experiencing greater loads from train movement than allowed for in the original design. It is not yet known for certain why this happened, although potential factors include wheel wear and track design.

Additional cracks found in the area where the lifting plates attach to the vehicle body were the result of stress corrosion cracking (SCC), resulting from the use of the particular type of 7000 series aluminium in various areas of the Hitachi Rail Class 800 series.

The characteristics of the specific aluminium alloy in combination with built-in stresses from being welded to the body and exposure to air containing chloride resulted in cracking.

Hitachi Rail and its industry partners are about to start the major programme of work to repair 1,247 Class 800 series vehicles and a further 487 Class 385 and 395 vehicles. Hitachi Rail plans to replace the affected part of the original body structure, including the longitudinal welds where the fatigue cracks have occurred, and the mounting brackets. Hitachi Rail has also proposed to modify the addition of bolts to retain the plate in the unlikely event that the welds fail completely as a result of the stress corrosion cracking.

It is proposed that this programme is expected to take place over the next six years in order to minimise disruption to passengers while ensuring safety, with the minimum number of units out of service at any one time.

ORR will continue its oversight and follow the industry’s actions as well as promote the lessons learned in operators’ safety management systems to continue to deliver improvements. The industry has established processes for improving standards and ORR expects that these will be followed promptly. The regulator praised the rapid industry response and subsequent work to safely reintroduce trains to service.

“With our oversight, Hitachi Rail and operators have put in place robust plans to make sure the right safety issues are being managed following the initial discovery of cracks on the trains, which have allowed trains to re-enter service,” Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways for ORR, said. “Safety remains the number one priority. Our review provides a clearer picture of the issue and we will continue our oversight to ensure work moves forward to agree the permanent solution and our recommendations are acted on.”


Wabtec awarded predictive maintenance contract from Indian Railways

IN: Wabtec Corporation has announced that it was awarded a contract from Central Organisation For Modernisation Of Workshops (COFMOW), Indian Railways for its Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS) project.  The new automated OMRS system is part of Indian Railways’ SMART Yard initiative and will improve the availability of the railway’s fleet of coaches, wagons, and locomotives by detecting and addressing defects, preventing in-service failures. 

“Indian Railways is at the forefront of deploying digital solutions to modernise their operations and drive efficiency across its rail network,” Nalin Jain, Digital Electronics Group President for Wabtec Corporation, said. “This order supports their Smart Yard initiative, which will showcase the next generation of condition-based predictive maintenance technologies. The OMRS systems will streamline Indian Railways’ operations by automating the inspections of bearings and wheels and pinpointing customised maintenance to maximise the utilisation of its rolling stock.”

The OMRS is a wayside solution comprising Rail Bearing Acoustic Monitor (RailBAM) and Wheel Condition Monitor (WCM/ WILD) to detect faults in the axle–journal bearings and wheels of rolling stock. The RailBAM technology uses acoustic signatures from bearings to identify bearing defects in advance before they would be identified through human inspection. The WCM technology uses impact forces exerted by wheels on to the rail to identify wheel defects. The OMRS systems enable operators to optimally plan the inspection and removal of defective bearings and wheels based on condition instead of fixed time-based inspection schedules, resulting in a healthier and reliable fleet.

“Wabtec and Indian Railways have partnered for decades to continually provide the country with rail technology solutions that enable an efficient, reliable and safe rail network,” Sujatha Narayan, Senior Vice President and India Region Leader of Wabtec Corporation, said. “This project will bring in state-of-the-art global digital high-tech solutions to the substantial portfolio of the India business enabling Indian Railways in their journey of modernisation and digitalisation.” 

COFMOW is managing the deployment of Indian Railways’ Smart Yards across the country. As part of the contract with COFMOW, Wabtec’s teams in Australia and India will lead the design, development, supply, installation, and commissioning of 97 OMRS equipment sets in various zonal railway locations across the country. The data from all the wayside OMRS systems will be fed into a state-of-the-art Central Data Control Centre to be established in Delhi through the Wabtec Fleet ONE software.

Wabtec is a leading technology provider to the Indian Rail Transportation sector for both Indian Railways and metros. Its portfolio includes locomotives to critical sub-systems such as brakes, couplers, doors, air-conditions, pantographs to the smallest of brake pads and power relays, which are used in a variety of rolling stock. With a one-million-square-foot operational footprint and 2,800 employees in India, Wabtec has increased its presence in the country over the past few years. The company has a strong engineering presence with more than 1,200 employees, which includes over 500 Digital Electronics technologists. 

Queensland rail projects given state funding in federal budget

AU: The Australian Government has allocated A$2.7bn ($2.02bn) to rail projects in the state of Queensland under the 2022–2023 Federal Budget.

A total of A$1.6bn has been earmarked for the Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast (Beerwah-Maroochydore) rail extension project, which is expected to reduce travel times between Beerwah and Maroochydore by almost 20 minutes.

The government has also committed A$1.1bn to the Brisbane to the Gold Coast (Kuraby – Beenleigh) Faster Rail Upgrade project.

Part of a strategic 200km North-South rail corridor, the Kuraby – Beenleigh project aims to improve connectivity between Brisbane and major regional centres to the state’s north and south regions.

It is also expected to help to double both express and all stop services on the corridor.

In addition, the Australian Government has allocated A$150m to the Brisbane Metro – Woolloongabba Station project in Queensland.

The executive has committed more than A$3.9bn to the state’s infrastructure pipeline as part of the budget.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “Continuing to provide record future funding for road and rail projects is a key part of our economic plan for the long term to keep our economy strong.

“By investing in these projects, we are delivering the infrastructure that the Australian economy needs to grow, to get Australians home sooner and safer, and generate thousands of jobs and new opportunities for small businesses right across the State.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “By enhancing transport connectivity, we’re strengthening our supply chains against challenges such as Covid-related disruptions and the impact of natural disasters.

“This gives businesses and consumers the confidence and certainty they need in uncertain times.”

In October last year, the Queensland government unveiled plans to invest A$7.1bn to build and run 65 six-car passenger trains and support the state’s train manufacturing industry.

The programme is intended to convert Queensland into a rail manufacturing hub of Australia.

US DOT commits $100m to Hudson Tunnel rail project in budget

US: The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has recommended $100m in funding for the Hudson Tunnel commuter rail project under President Joe Biden’s budget for the fiscal year 2023.

As part of the budget, DOT has allocated $4.45bn in funding to expedite 15 ‘major’ transit projects in seven states.

Part of the Gateway Programme, the $12.3bn Hudson Tunnel project aims to enhance the current functionality of the Hudson River rail crossing between New Jersey and New York in the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

Gateway is a comprehensive rail investment programme designed to increase the capacity of a ‘critical’ section of the NEC.

The project will include building a rail tunnel below the Hudson River, as well as developing tracks and other railroad infrastructure to link the tunnel to the existing NEC.

The rehabilitation of the existing NEC tunnel below the Hudson River is known as the North River Tunnel.

Amtrak will use the North River Tunnel for its intercity passenger rail service, while NJ TRANSIT will use it for a commuter rail service.

DOT has also recommended $17.9bn in funding for the Federal Railroad Administration.

This will include funding for Amtrak to improve intercity passenger rail and conduct work to lower the repair backlog, as well as modernise American passenger rail.

The funds will also be used for the newly authorised Grade Crossing Elimination programme to address complex grade separation projects in a bid to improve driver and passenger safety.

US Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said: “The investments in the President’s Budget make travelling safer, easier, cleaner and more affordable for the American people.

“From roads, tunnels and bridges to airport and port improvements, electric vehicle chargers, safe bike lanes and more, we are building a first-rate transportation system for all Americans.”

In September last year, the USDOT awarded a $99.9m construction grant to the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet).

Alstom wins contract for Coradia Stream trains in Romania

FR: French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has secured a €270m ($296m) contract from the Romanian Railway Reform Authority (ARF) to provide Coradia Stream interregional trains and associated maintenance services.

The company will provide 20 Coradia Stream interregional trains under the terms of the contract, as well as service them for a period of 15 years.

Alstom will also have an option to extend the contract to cover another 20 trains, including maintenance. The contract value is expected to exceed €750m if the project is extended.

The Coradia Stream trains feature European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 traffic control systems and are developed for the European market.

Each train is designed to comply with both European standards and Technical Interoperability Specifications.

The trains will have a maximum speed of 160km/h and have the capacity to run on all major European power supply systems.

Each train features six cars and 350 seats, as well as two entry doors on each side of the middle cars and one door for each side of the end cars.

Other features of the Coradia trains are a passenger information system with a sound system, display system, large-size luggage racks, and a digital system for passenger counting with high-precision sensors.

Alstom Europe president Gian Luca Erbacci said: “The new interregional electric trains for Romania will contribute to more modern and sustainable transportation in Romania – in line with our ambition to lead the way towards greener and smarter mobility worldwide.

“I am delighted that our Coradia trains, highly appreciated in so many European countries, will run in Romania as well.”

Alstom has sold 3,300 Coradia trains to date worldwide.

Earlier this month, Greek railway firm Ergose selected the company to deliver digital signalling solutions in partnership with Avax.

Wabtec agree to modernise 330 Norfolk Southern Locomotives

USA: The Wabtec Corporation has announced an additional multi-year order from Norfolk Southern to modernise 330 locomotives as part of its continued partnership. This deal is part of Norfolk Southern’s ongoing efforts to further improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from its fleet. With each modernised locomotive, Norfolk Southern’s carbon emissions are reduced by more than 500 tonnes per year.

“Modernising locomotives in our fleet will improve operational performance and reliability,” Tom Schnautz, Vice President of Advanced Train Control for Norfolk Southern, said. “Importantly, it will also help us achieve our science-based target of a 42 per cent reduction in emissions intensity by 2034.”

Wabtec will modernise D9-44CW locomotives that are more than 20 years old and transform them into AC44C6Ms, which will add another 20 years of incremental life to each locomotive. The modernisations will yield significant dividends per locomotive, including fuel efficiency improved by as much as 25 per cent; a more than 40 per cent increase in reliability; haulage ability increased by up to 55 per cent; and a reduction of maintenance, repair, and overhaul expenses by 20 per cent.

“Our modernisation programme allows Norfolk Southern to enhance its existing fleet by bringing the aging locomotives’ performance to the latest standards,” said Pascal Schweitzer, President of Wabtec Freight Services. “Norfolk Southern are realising outcomes including increased tractive effort, fuel efficiency, reliability and adhesion, which reduce maintenance costs.”

Wabtec’s modernisation programme is a key component of Wabtec’s sustainability efforts. It updates aging locomotives with customised solutions that range from simple changes like control system upgrades to complex restorations, such as the comprehensive transformation of an aged DC locomotive into an AC locomotive outfitted with state-of-the-art digital technology.

HS2 unveils designs of noise-cancelling Chiltern Tunnel portal in UK

UK: UK’s High Speed 2 (HS2) has unveiled the designs of the noise-cancelling north portal of the Chiltern Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the route between London and Crewe.

The twin-bore 16km long tunnel has been designed to reduce noise from trains that enter and exit at up to 320km/h speeds.

The track will be covered by two perforated concrete hoods, helping to extend the tunnel into the open air.

Sudden changes in air pressure and subsequent noise due to trains entering and exiting the tunnels will be avoided by the porous portals.

The portals, which will be set below the landscape between Great Missenden and South Heath in Buckinghamshire, can be seen from a footbridge over the railway to the north.

One portal will be 220m long for trains entering the tunnel and another will be 135m long for the trains exiting the tunnel to enable the different levels of air pressure.

HS2 project client David Emms said: “Once construction is complete, the Chiltern tunnel will take HS2 trains deep under the Chiltern hills, linking London with Birmingham and the North and releasing space for more freight and local services on the existing mainline.”

HS2’s main works contractor Align joint venture (JV), including Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick, has designed the structures and will also build them.

Towards the tunnel north, the new high-speed line will be set into a cutting for 3km on its approach to the Wendover Dean Viaduct.

Turkey to receive funding from UK for new electric railway project

TR: Turkey is set to obtain €2.1bn in green financing from the UK Government for a new high-speed electric railway project in the country.

Through its Buyer Credit Scheme, the UK Export Finance (UKEF) will provide the funding for the new 503km electric-powered railway line between Turkey’s capital city Ankara and the port-side city of Izmir.

For arranging the funding, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered will organise and coordinate with the banks.

Designed as a reduced-carbon alternative to current air and road routes, the new line will facilitate faster transport from Ankara to Izmir.

The project is also expected to play a significant role to fulfil climate change commitments of Turkey announced at COP26.

UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Turkey is a vital trading partner for the UK. Our shared global outlook on free trade and the environment is the driving force behind economic growth in our two nations.”

Companies in the UK will receive major contracts for the project.

They are expected to deliver turnouts, point machines, railway lines, and fasteners for the project.

Additionally, the companies will supply material and equipment for signaling, telecommunication, and electrification systems, freight services and insurance for the new rail line.

India’s NCRTC unveils the first rapid rail in the country

IN: India-based National Capital Regional Transport Corporation (NCRTC) has unveiled the regional rapid transit system (RRTS) train, which will operate between Delhi and Meerut.

Said to be the country’s first rapid rail, the RRTS will be able to reach a distance of 82km within 55 minutes.

Featuring a business or premium coach, the rapid rail will operate on the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor.

Phase I of train manufacturing commenced last year and is currently advancing to the testing phase, reported The Indian Express.

The trial of the RRTS is anticipated to be concluded by the end of this year.

NCRTC managing director Vinay Kumar said: “Since the inception of the RRTS project, commuter convenience has been our priority. The entire infrastructure, be it trains or stations, has been designed to ensure safety, ease of access, and comfort for commuters so that it will become the people’s first choice.”

The manufacturing facility at Savli in Gujarat will deliver 210 cars for the first RRTS corridor, according to Republic World.

With a capacity to accommodate up to 1,500 passengers, the new train will consist of six coaches with 407 seats.

It will have the capacity to run at a top speed of 160km/hr and an average speed of 100km/hr.

Swiss Federal Railways – Weak demand and losses in the Corona year 2021

CH: The Corona pandemic also left its mark on SBB’s 2021 financial year. The consolidated result closed with a loss of CHF 325 million (previous year: CHF -617 million). Thanks to public-sector support of CHF 330 million (previous year: CHF 277 million), but also to higher revenue and cost-cutting measures, the loss was 47.3% lower than in 2020. Both own-account long-distance passenger services and compensated regional services again posted high losses. A total of 885,000 passengers traveled daily on SBB trains, 4.9% more than in 2020 but 33.1% less than before the 2019 pandemic. SBB Passenger Traffic posted a loss of CHF 495 million (previous year: CHF -669 million). Leisure traffic recovered better than commuter traffic. International passenger traffic was also around a third below 2019. At SBB Cargo Switzerland, transport performance stagnated at a low level (2021: 5256 million net tonne-kilometers, -0.2% year-on-year) and was significantly below 2019 (5979 million tkm). Freight Rail held customer revenue stable, but this was 10.3% below pre-crisis levels.

UZ launches nationalization of Russian railroad wagons

UA: About 15,000 Russian wagons of 250 companies are currently on Ukraine’s tracks, the state railroad UZ (Ukrzaliznycya) informs. Their nationalization has now become possible after the Ukrainian president signed a law to that effect. The process has begun, but will take some time, UZ head Oleksandr Kamišin said. He added that it was not easy to find out in which of the vehicle owners the Russian Federation had an equity stake. Conversely, there are said to be only 482 Ukrainian vehicles in Russia at the moment.

Stadler reports “best year” since IPO

DE: “Despite a still pandemic economy – characterized by supply chain issues – we can proudly look back on the best year since the IPO,” Peter Spuhler, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Group CEO, commented today (March 15, 2022) on Stadler’s past fiscal year. The Swiss rail vehicle manufacturer achieved record sales, EBIT and order intake and backlog in 2021 since its IPO in 2019, with sales up 18% to CHF 3.6 billion (2020: CHF 3.1 billion) and EBIT operating profit up 43% to CHF 223.7 million (2020: CHF 156.1 million). Order intake grew by 28% to CHF 5.6 billion (2020: CHF 4.3 billion) despite delays in the award of major projects by SBB and ÖBB, bringing the order backlog to CHF 17.9 billion. However, net income of CHF 134.5 million (2020: CHF 138.4 million) was negatively impacted primarily by reporting-date-related exchange rate losses of CHF 37.7 million (previous year: CHF 16 million exchange rate gains).

German VDV presents plan for faster electrification of railway lines

To realise a significant shift of traffic to the railways to achieve the climate protection targets in the transport sector, the German rail network must be further electrified in the coming years, says the German industry association VDV. This could however be done at a faster pace by doing away with a preliminary environmental impact assessment and the planning approval requirement.

“The most efficient and cost-effective form of electrification is still the overhead line”, says Ingo Wortmann, President of the VDV. However, the construction of overhead lines fails in practice due to excessively lengthy and complicated planning and approval processes, he adds.

In Germany, currently around 60 percent of the of the railway lines are electrified. The VDV advocates a degree of electrification of 75 percent of the network. In a position paper, the industry experts underline why electrification is still the best form of railway operation and propose changes to be able to electrify the German network faster

No more planning approval requirements
In December 2020, a new act named the ‘Investment Accelaration Act’ came into force in Germany, which is intended to facilitate the implementation of certain projects by waiving the need for planning approval. Related to railway, these include the installation of digital signalling and safety technology, the (barrier-free) reconstruction of platforms and the construction of noise barriers for noise abatement.

Also, the environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are made easier in several cases. Now, to equip an existing railway line with an overhead line of a length less than 15 kilometres, a so-called site-specific preliminary assessment must be carried out. Should the result of this assessment be that the project does not trigger an EIA obligation, no plan approval or plan authorisation is required anymore.

This change is a step into the right direction, says the VDV, but the limitation to 15 kilometres of railway is not a value that can be justified without further ado. In their position paper, the VDV concludes that the obligation to carry out an EIA preliminary assessment and the planning approval requirement for all electrification projects must therefore be dropped, irrespective of the length of the line. Catenary systems for railway lines should therefore be classified as accessories.

Modular systems for overhead lines
The VDV also sees further potential for improvement in the fundamental design of overhead contact lines. As an example, they name the Danish overhead contact line system. Developed since the mid-1980s, it is based on a modular system. Its special feature is that both the masts and the gantries, in order to span several tracks, are based on standardised square tubes that are bolted together for the portals.

Also, overhead line constructions of tramways or light railways should be considered for the electrification of regional railway lines, if the train speeds are very similar. “Lines with a speed of 80 kilometers per hour do not necessarily have to be electrified with overhead contact lines that are also suitable for 200 kilometres per hour”, says Wortmann. The VDV is currently developing a set of rules for economical overhead contact line systems of regional railway lines, for example with maximum speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour.

Advantages over battery and fuel cell trains
Electrification of lines is not the only way to achieve a more sustainable railway system powered by electricity. Trains powered by batteries or fuel cells can also be used as a more sustainable alternative to diesel for non-electrified lines. However, the experts of the VDV consider the overhead line to have the advantage here because vehicles with battery or fuel cell are always heavier and technically more complex than those that are directly fed by electricity from the overhead line. They require an energy storage system, such as a battery or hydrogen tank, which requires both installation space and a not inconsiderable weight.

The energy also has to be converted several times to storage and back, which means energy loss. On top of that, these trains require a special charging or hydrogen infrastructure in the depots or stations, which will largely still have to be built. “However, trains with alternative propulsion can also make sense depending on the circumstances of the line”, says VDV President Wortmann.

The efficiency and thus the total energy demand with electricity from the overhead line is usually significantly more favourable, says the VDV. Electric traction enables significantly higher top speeds, and heavy goods trains with fewer locomotives and at higher speeds can run on electrified tracks.

Survey shows that smart tickets are enticing Gen Z back to the railway

GTR survey shows that 84 per cent of young people say they would be more likely to travel by train thanks to smart ticket tech.

Smart tickets are the future of rail according to a new survey commissioned by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), with 58 per cent of consumers saying they would travel by train using smart tickets after learning more about them.

Younger generations were the most interested in switching to smart tickets, with 84 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds agreeing that they would consider travelling by train more often after learning about the benefits of smart tickets. The research, from the rail operator which runs Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern services, revealed that nearly six in 10 passengers (59 per cent) were previously unaware of smart tickets, and therefore were not familiar with the many benefits of their use.

“Smart ticketing options are now available across the UK,” Ian McLaren, Head of innovation and Chief Finance Officer at GTR, said. “GTR’s Key Smartcard and eTickets offer an easier and faster way to buy, renew and use train tickets, compared to paper tickets. It is now even quicker to load tickets to your Key Smartcard with our app, cutting time spent at the station.”

Following an introduction to smart tickets, consumers agreed they would make travelling easier (35 per cent), remove the stress of losing paper tickets (35 per cent) and, for GTR’s Pay-As-You-Go option KeyGo, guarantee the best value walk-up fare for all the different journeys taken on one day (28 per cent).

It also isn’t just young people who are keen to trade paper tickets for smart tickets; many survey respondents (66 per cent) from the ages of 35 stated nothing would prevent them from using a smart ticket.

“GTR’s durable Key Smartcards provide clear benefits to consumers, such as the best value walk-up fare for the day on KeyGo and automatically prompting passengers to claim compensation for late-running trains,” McLaren continued. “For Govia Thameslink Railway, it’s a major boost for our ambition to reduce dependence on the less-sustainable and less-reliable paper tickets.”

Australian ‘Infinity Train’ uses gravity to recharge batteries

A train on batteries that regenerate automatically sounds futuristic, but is exactly what Australian mining company Fortescue and UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) are currently developing. The gravitational energy from the heavy iron ore load will be used to regenerate the batteries while the train is running.

Fortescue completed the acquisition of UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) this week, and with it announced the ‘Infinity Train’ plans. As one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore, Fortescue’s mining infrastructure is connected to several ports in Australia via heavy haul railways. The Infinity Train will use gravitational energy to fully recharge its battery electric systems without any additional charging requirements for the return trip to reload.

As Fortescue explains it: There is a lot of energy behind a train travelling downhill with 34,000 tonnes of iron ore. So why not capture all that energy and use it to power the uphill journey? For the project, the battery technology division of WAE will be closely coordinated with Fortescue. Both will be managed by Fortescue’s green energy, technology and development company Fortescue Future Industries.

Eliminating diesel
“The Infinity Train has the capacity to be the world’s most efficient battery electric locomotive”, says Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines. “The regeneration of electricity on the downhill loaded sections will remove the need for the installation of renewable energy generation and recharging infrastructure, making it a capital efficient solution for eliminating diesel and emissions from our rail operations.”

Fortescue’s current rail operations include 54 operating locomotives that haul 16 train sets, together with other on-track mobile equipment. Each train set is about 2.8 kilometres in length and has the capacity to haul 34,404 tonnes of iron ore in 244 ore cars. The company’s rail operations consumed 82 million litres of diesel in financial year 2021, accounting for around 11 per cent of their emissions, says Fortescue. The goal is to be diesel-free by 2030.

Fortescue’s studies and development costs for the Infinity Train are expected to be 45 million euros over the next two years. The technology, to be jointly developed by Fortescue and WAE, will address the reduction in emissions in the hard to abate heavy industry sector, and the companies also see opportunities for the technology to be commercialised on a global basis.

Train with Digital Automatic Coupling to be tested next in Switzerland

After an extensive test program at five Austrian stations from the beginning of February to the beginning of March 2022, a freight train with Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) will be tested in Switzerland next. The DAC replaces the current screw coupling, a manual process. The Coupling prototypes were presented in Vienna on Monday. 

In Europe, freight wagons are currently connected manually to the screw coupling. With each coupling process, a screw weighing more than 20 kilos has to be lifted and the air line connected. This accident-prone activity has to be carried out around 300 times per shift, regardless of the weather. Digital Automatic Coupling automates this process. Also, as ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä puts it, “it turns a formerly “dumb” train into an intelligent, digitised freight train”. DAC is also expected to make a decisive contribution in shifting traffic of goods to rail.

The European consortium DAC4EU is testing digital automatic couplings for rail freight transport as part of a research project commissioned and financed by the German Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport. The consortium, which started in June 2020, consists of DB AG, the freight railways ÖBB Rail Cargo Group, DB Cargo and SBB Cargo as well as the wagon keepers Ermewa, GATX Rail Europe and VTG. The aim of the DAC4EU research project is to develop essential bases for the selection of a standard DAC in the EU. After tests in Germany and recently Austria, the testing continues in Switzerland this year.

Research and development work is currently underway at both European and national level in order to get the DAC ready for series production. Last year, the ‘Schafenberg’ design was chosen out of three options to go forward with for a standard DAC. From 2026 to 2030, it will gradually replace the conventional screw coupling in Europe. This concerns around 450,000 freight cars and 17,000 traction units.

Roman Hebenstreit, chairman of the Austrian trade union Vida: “With the same enthusiasm, concrete measures and their financing are now needed to ensure social security for railway employees and to get them (in good time) into the involve in the transformation process. That means investing in the technical skills of our colleagues so that they can also meet the new requirements in the course of digitisation.”

The European DAC Delivery Program (EDDP), enabled by Shift2Rail, brings together a wide range of institutions  to realise a European DAC solution through an integrated joint programme that builds on research results and pilot projects and includes the necessary measures for a fast and technically and economically feasible Europe-wide introduction of the technology by 2030.

Network Rail turns to Hitachi Rail for digital sensors

Perpetuum remote sensors are easy to fit as they feature energy-harvesting technology to self power.

Network Rail has contracted Hitachi Rail and its subsidiary Perpetuum to develop a real-time digital solution that can detect faults in tracks. This is said to be the first such solution to oversee and predict sections of track needing maintenance and affecting ride quality. At present, the monitoring equipment is deployed on trains operating across Scotland’s networks such as the North Clyde Line, The Borders, and Fife Circle.

The installation of digital sensors onboard trains provides several benefits. It minimises disruption to passengers and offer more safety, as well as enhances the performance of the network and trains’ ride quality. It also reduces the risk to track workers and lowers maintenance expenses.

Furthermore, it will pave way for the development of ‘intelligent’ rail infrastructure that will be able to forecast and plan preventative maintenance. Network Rail introduced a half million-pound competition for the development of a new technology for better track maintenance in the next control period in mid-2024. Under this programme, Network Rail signed a contract with Perpetuum to expand its ride quality trial to Scotland.

This comes after the completion of trials of Perpetuum’s ride quality monitoring technology with Network Rail on the West Coast main line in 2019.

Perpetuum, in collaboration with Network Rail, ScotRail and Porterbrook, is utilising its self-powered monitoring technology for assessing data in real-time between the train and the track. This is realised by fitting sensors with gyroscopes and accelerometers, either in the carriages or on the wheels, of operating trains. Perpetuum remote sensors are easy to install as they use energy-harvesting technology to self power. They also do not need extra wiring or power sources.

Hitachi Rail UK and Ireland Jim Brewin said: “Introducing in-service monitoring technology to improve ride quality demonstrates how Hitachi Rail can utilise digital solutions that support track maintenance. This ability to bring train and track together can solve issues for both passengers and train operators. Hitachi Rail is committed to constantly pioneering and championing new technology to make our railways safer and more reliable.” Last month, Hitachi Rail won a contract to deploy new digital signalling systems on board Infranord’s two yellow maintenance trains in Scandinavia.

Alpha Trains’ locomotive fleet continues to grow

Alpha Trains has signed a framework agreement for additional Siemens Vectron locomotives, growing their diverse locomotive fleet.

Alpha Trains have signed a framework agreement with Siemens Mobility for the purchase of further Vectron locomotives. The Siemens Vectron locomotives have been part of the Alpha Trains portfolio for over five years, this agreement means that the number of vehicles will increase to more than 50. The different country configurations of the locomotives will permit reaching customers in 18 different European countries from Central and Eastern Europe to the Northern part of Europe.

Under this framework agreement, Alpha Trains has already ordered Vectron AC as well as Vectron Dual Mode locomotives and thus has completed its portfolio of Vectron locomotives. In addition to the Vectron MS locomotives, which have a maximum power of 6.4 megawatts and a top speed of 200 km/h, Alpha Train is now equally able to offer its customers Vectron AC locomotives that can reach Scandinavia and the Vectron Dual Mode locomotive designed for freight operations in Germany using 15 kV AC lines. Under electric traction, the locomotive has a maximum power of two MW and under diesel traction, the locomotive has a power output of 2,400 kW.

“We are delighted to have entered into a framework agreement with Siemens Mobility and to continue incorporating additional Vectron locomotives in the near future,” Fernando Pérez, Managing Director of the Locomotives Division of Alpha Trains, said. “This will enable us to expand our footprint in Eastern and Northern Europe while targeting a new market segment in Germany with the environmentally friendly Vectron Dual Mode locomotives.”

Alpha Trains is the leading rolling stock lessor in Europe, owning more than 900 locomotives and passenger trains and offers tailor-made leasing solutions, comprehensive know-how in maintenance and vehicle repairs as well as long-term experience in the financing of new-build projects. The Luxembourg-based lessor’s locomotive fleet has shown considerable growth in recent years, with more than 440 locomotives from a wide range of manufacturers, series and homologations covering a total of 22 European countries.

European Rail Action Plan – Not yet on Track

EU: In late 2021 the European Commission presented their „Rail Action Plan“.

As follow-up to the first informal EU transport ministers meeting under the French EU presidency, which took place on February 21st, a range of railway related followed in due course.

The “European Railway Summit” taking place parallel to the ministers meeting brought together CEOs from most European Railway companies and marked the official closure of the European Year of Rail. The European Railways’ Pledge for a more attractive, sustainable inclusive and innovative mobility was also signed at this occasion.

A Symposium on the Revitalisation of Night Trains on the 22nd and a Symposium on the Best Practices in Support of Freight Services on 23rd were supposed to further stimulate discussions and measures, reflecting the importance of rail.

While almost all actors vocally agreed on the necessity to simplify cross-border rail traffic, a lack of concrete actions has to be stated.

The pledge mostly consists of self praise and a comprehensive list of what has to be done. But the signatories failed to answer the question of how they would achieve the goals of their pledge.

The same accounts for the conferences on night trains and rail cargo. Operators and politicians essentially summarised the problems such as the (un-)availability of night train carriages or the insufficient implementation of ERTMS. But again when it comes to drawing practical conclusions, the relapse to national solutions seems to be dominating across almost all member states.

While the European Parliament, represented by its rapporteur on the European Year of Rail (Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg) and the Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (Karima Delli) has been trying to persuade the aforementioned actors to commit to more concrete actions, their calls have remained unanswered.

Commentators gave credit to the french presidency for convening relevant actors, yet were disappointed about the outcome of the different meetings.

Stadler expand market leadership of alternative drive technologies

DE: DB Regio has ordered trains of the FLIRT Akku type from Stadler, helping Stadler to expand its market leadership considerably in the field of alternative drives in Germany with a third supply contract for battery-operated vehicles. Stadler will be delivering at least 113 vehicles with alternative drive technologies over the next five years. The two-part vehicles for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will go into passenger service from December 2026.

Starting at the end of 2026, Deutsche Bahn will use the innovative battery-operated vehicles from Stadler on a route that was previously serviced by diesel-operated vehicles in the so-called H-network in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The H-network stands for the use of electrical battery-hybrid vehicles. This means that these routes can be serviced locally and completely emission-free, without having to install catenaries throughout the entire network.

The two-part vehicles of the FLIRT Akku type will be used for typical transport period of 13 years and are tailored to the needs of the network that runs along part of the Baltic Sea coast. The H-network Warnow has a service scope of 1.5 million train kilometres a year and covers the routes of the RB11 between Wismar, Rostock, Tessin and the RB12 between Bad Doberan, Rostock, Graal and Müritz. 

The FLIRT Akkus provide space on 99 seats. Two spacious and accessible multi-purpose areas are provided for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bicycles. The air conditioned and step free vehicles also have a wheelchair accessible toilet. All trains are equipped with WLAN, power sockets as well as video surveillance of the passenger areas and a modern passenger information system and ensure contemporary ride comfort.

“With the battery-electric multiple units, which will replace diesel vehicles, we are taking an important step towards climate neutrality with the state,” Carsten Moll, Chairman of DB Regio Northeast, said. “As DB Regio, we are proud to put the first environmentally friendly network of this type into operation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.”

The FLIRT Akku is the battery-operated version of the FLIRT type series by Stadler. The vehicle is highly versatile thanks to that fact that it is designed for non-electrified and partially electrified tracks. The operational reach of the vehicle is about 100km, which means that 80 per cent of the non-electrified routes in Germany can be used by regional trains in battery mode. With 224 driven kilometres in pure battery mode, the FLIRT Akku holds the world record for the longest journey by a regional train in pure battery mode without additional charging.

“Since 2019, Stadler has sold 113 vehicles with alternative drive technologies in Germany,” Jure Mikolčić, CEO of Stadler in Germany, said. “It makes us very proud that our FLIRT Akku not only makes an ecological and innovative contribution to climate friendly traffic policies, but also significantly boosts efficiency. If we consider the average life of a rail vehicle of around 30 years, battery-operated vehicles are more cost-effective than diesel-operated trains.”

Network Rail award Alstom major Cambridge re-signalling contract

UK: Network Rail has awarded a major design and delivery contract to Alstom as part of a £194 million investment for the renewal of the signalling systems in the Cambridge area. The Cambridge re-signalling project aims to replace the existing systems with a modern, state-of-the-art signalling technology, this means better reliability for passengers and reduced maintenance. It will also provide a platform ready for digital technologies such as the European Train Control System (ETCS).

The £130 million contract awarded to Alstom is the largest single contract to be awarded by Network Rail under the Major Signalling Framework Agreement (MSFA) during the current five-year investment cycle. As part of the project, Alstom will deliver the complete renewal of the signalling system for the Cambridge area to replace the existing equipment which was installed in the early 1980s.

The contract includes the replacement of almost 700 items of life expired signalling equipment with a modern signalling system and the upgrading of the signalling control equipment at Cambridge power signal box with Alstom’s control systems and workstation, the upgrading of the signalling safety interlocking equipment in the Cambridge area with a modern signalling technology using the Alstom Smart Lock 400GP Computer- Based Interlocking (CBI) system, upgrading of seven level crossings from half barrier to full barrier to improve safety for all crossing users, the renewal of the telecommunications and power supplies to support the new systems and relocating control of signalling to the Cambridge power signal box and decommissioning of three mechanical signal boxes.

This signalling renewal project covers 125 miles of track, stretching from Meldreth and Elsenham to the south, through central Cambridge, up to Ely and Thurston to the east. The project also enables the delivery of wider re-signalling works within the Anglia region, including future integration with the proposed new Cambridge South station, as well as the potential future integration with East West Rail.

“A project that will deliver significant benefits to rail users in Cambridge and across the Anglia region,” Jason Baldock, Managing Director of Digital and Integrated Solutions for Alstom, said. “We are very excited to have been awarded the largest single contract to be awarded by Network Rail under the Major Signalling Framework Agreement during this control period.”

Design work has commenced, with the work on the ground expected to be delivered during four key commissioning stages to minimise disruption of the operational railway. The final commissioning of the new signalling system is scheduled for winter 2024.

“Signalling systems are crucial to operate a safe and efficient railway for passengers, freight and everyone that uses or interacts with the railway,” Ellie Burrows, Route Director for Network Rail Anglia, said. “This project will provide a signalling system fit for a modern 21st century railway in the Cambridge area and working with Alstom we will improve the reliability and performance of the railway now, and for future passengers in the decades to come.”

Stadler secures new order for FLIRT Akku trains from DB Regio

DE: Stadler has received a new order for its FLIRT Akku trains from DB Regio, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn that operates regional and commuter train services in Germany.

The FLIRT Akku is a battery-operated version of the FLIRT type series and has the capacity to run on non-electrified and partially electrified tracks.

Stadler is establishing its presence in alternative drive technologies in Germany with the latest order, which is said to be the third received by the company for its battery-operated vehicles.

Over the next five years, Stadler plans to deliver at least 113 vehicles of this kind.

From December 2026, the two-part vehicles for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will enter passenger service, and 14 trains will also be used in the north-east of Germany.

DB Regio Northeast chairman Carsten Moll said: “With the battery-electric multiple units, which will replace diesel vehicles, we are taking an important step towards climate neutrality with the state.

“As DB Regio, we are proud to put the first environmentally friendly network of this type into operation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.”

By the end of 2026, Deutsche Bahn will start using these battery-operated vehicles on the H-network in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region, which was earlier served by diesel-operated vehicles.

The word ‘H-network’ refers to the use of electrical battery-hybrid vehicles, which are claimed to be emission-free and can be used without catenaries throughout the entire network.

Brightline complete first construction zone for Florida extension

US: Brightline has completed the first major construction zone (Zone 2) on its 170-mile extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport (OIA). One of four zones along this extension, Zone 2 is a 3.5-mile-long section on Brightline’s corridor leading into OIA and represents one of the most complex and challenging areas for construction in the entire project.

Zone 2 is an engineered double track that travels under active airport taxiways and over tug roads running through the heart of OIA. Brightline’s construction of this zone includes six bridges, two underpasses and several airport improvements, including a new traffic interchange configuration at Cargo Road, located north of the airport, and the airport’s first roundabout designed to assist with traffic flow. Additionally, the steel used throughout Zone 2 and throughout Brightline’s Orlando corridor extension is 100 per cent recycled, American-made steel sourced from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Beginning in 2023, Brightline trains will travel through the airport corridor at 35mph before heading east along SR 528 towards Cocoa where they will reach top speeds of 125mph. Trains traveling along Zone 2 will have access to the airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility and the Beachline Expressway/SR 528.

£500 million worth of work on HS2 Euston station offered to contractors

UK: HS2’s Station Construction Partner for Euston station, a joint venture between Mace and Dragados (MD JV), is ramping up procurement as it starts to offer packages worth over £500 million to help deliver HS2’s brand-new station at Euston. This represents the start of a multi-year programme of procurement to support development and delivery of the HS2 scheme.

The contracts include the procurement for the construction of the main substructure at the station, which will involve packages for pilling, earthworks and reinforced concrete.  In addition, MD JV is also looking to secure a subcontractor to deliver the main systems and mechanical and electrical and plumbing (MEP) packages for the station.

These Tier 2 contract packages will result in many other contracts flowing through the supply chain, giving opportunities to businesses large and small to participate in delivering HS2. This just one of the areas in which the HS2 project will be providing long-term work for businesses, providing stability and opportunities for growth.

CER results reveal €50 billion COVID-related losses for EU railway sector

EU: The 2021 results of the CER COVID Impact Tracker, carried out by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), have been released. It found that there were €50 billion COVID-related revenue losses of the rail sector in the European Union (EU27) over 2020-2021, around €27 billion for 2020 and around €23 billion for 2021.

Overall, no less than 33 per cent of turnover was lost over the past two years because of COVID. There was a more than €46 billion loss on passenger services (-41 per cent in 2020 and -36 per cent in 2021) and an almost €4 billion loss on freight services (-12 per cent in 2020 and -10 per cent in 2021).

The various parts of the rail system have been affected in very different ways. Passenger services suffered most with an extremely low winter season (from November 2020 to April 2021) at about -50 per cent in revenues (€) and -60 per cent in volumes (p.km). There was a relatively better summer season (May 2021 to October 2021) at around -25 per cent in revenues (€) and -30 per cent in volumes (p.km). The new winter season starts again with a downturn in November-December 2021, however it was less severe than in 2020 (December 2021, -28 per cent revenues / -35 per cent volumes).

After a collapse in January 2021, freight revenue losses stagnated at around -10 per cent (compared to 2019) until October 2021. As in 2020, an upswing appears towards end 2021, with almost back to normal figures. In its last data request, CER managed to collect volume data along with revenue data for the whole period of the pandemic. In freight, volume and revenue variations highly correlate. Average volume losses are around -10 per cent (-12 per cent in 2020 / -9 per cent in 2021).

While passenger volumes (in p.km) and freight volumes (in t.km) have dropped, train volumes (in train-km) seem to have returned to normal. However, infrastructure revenues remain in the red and consistently lag behind volumes. The figures also hide significant differences between countries, linked to insufficient compensation received for COVID-related reductions of Track Access Charges (TAC). If not addressed, insufficient compensation for TAC reductions and inadequate support to operations may jeopardise infrastructure managers’ maintenance capacity as well as the investment capability of all rail stakeholders in the medium and long term.

“The COVID crisis continued to have a heavy impact on railways last year, with commercial revenue down by 33 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019,” Alberto Mazzola, Executive Director for CER, said. “At the end of 2021, CER members resumed the same number of trains as in 2019, but with a reduced ridership (down by 35 per cent).  This shows that CER members continued to provide services in 2020 and 2021 proving the resilience of the rail system, keeping people and goods on the move across Europe. However, the amount of rail revenue losses in EU27 reached the alarming level of €50 billion. Left uncorrected, this will have a long-lasting effect.”

European Railway Award 2022

EU: Political prize for DiscoverEU youth program

The European Railway Award was presented twice this year. Once as a technical “Rail Trailblazer Award” to Bane NOR and then as a political honorary prize “Rail Champion Award”. The latter was awarded to Manfred Weber (CSU), Group Chairman of the Christian Democratic European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament. He was honored for the “DiscoverEU” initiative, which he helped launch and which gives young EU citizens who have just turned 18 a free rail ticket to travel across Europe and get to know the EU.

ABB supplies drive technology for Stadler vehicles

SPAIN: ABB has received orders worth approximately $80 million from Stadler for energy-efficient propulsion technologies and high-performance battery systems for the future high-capacity commuter trains of Spain’s Renfe. The orders were booked in the fourth quarter of 2021. ABB will supply compact traction converters and energy storage systems that will be mounted on the roof. The lithium-ion batteries will enable the four-car railcars to operate away from overhead lines.

NY Governor announces $76.4 million rail freight infrastructure investments

US: Governor Kathy Hochul has announced $76.4 million in funding for 38 projects to renew and modernise New York’s rail freight infrastructure. These investments in rail freight improvements are essential for maintaining and enhancing market access for manufacturing and agricultural businesses across the State, including Alcoa in the North Country Region, Corning in the Southern Tier Region, and Lackawanna Products in the Western New York Region.
The Passenger and Freight Rail Assistance Program, administered by the New York State Department of Transportation, supports investments that enhance the safe movement of freight goods, improves service reliability to retain and grow manufacturing jobs, and supports economic development, especially upstate. This announcement provides funding for track and bridge rehabilitation, capacity expansion, procurement of cleaner rail equipment, and the modernisation and expansion of rail infrastructure in freight yards and at seaport facilities.
The strategic investments in rail freight also serve to support New York’s nation leading climate goals. Rail freight has proven to be one the most fuel-efficient methods for moving commerce and is more than three-times more efficient compared to goods movement by truck. A single rail freight train removes several hundred trucks from U.S. roadways, mitigating congestion and harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

ÖBB RCG expand network connection to three-border region

AUSTRIA: The ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) is expanding its network with a further intermodal TransFER connection that enables high-frequency connections for maritime loading units to the southern and northern ports of Genoa and La Spezia (both in Italy) as well as Rotterdam and Antwerp.

With the new connection, the RCG, in cooperation with the European logistics service provider Swissterminal, offers efficient and sustainable freight transport between the Wolfurt terminal in western Austria and the Swiss terminal in Frenkendorf. The TransFER is served with three weekly round trips and attractive connections to the RCG’s international rail freight network, primarily to northern, southern and eastern Europe.
The Wolfurt–Frenkendorf TransFER is particularly suited to maritime shipments in 20 and 40-foot containers. In Frenkendorf, the RCG, in cooperation with Swissterminal, handles onward transport to and from Genoa and La Spezia on the Ligurian Sea, as well as to the two largest northern European ports in Rotterdam and Antwerp. The RCG will still offer the TransFER Wolfurt–Rotterdam as a direct connection several times a week.

Agreement signed by EIB and Medway for expansion of rail cargo services

SPAIN: The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a €45 million agreement with Medway ROSCO, a subsidiary of Medway Operador Ferroviário de Mercadorias (Medway OFM), the Iberian Peninsula’s largest private rail freight operator and part of the Medlog Group. The project supports the expansion of rail freight transport services in Portugal and Spain (including cross-border services), thus enabling more efficient supply chains in the two countries.
The new services offered by Medway OFM will predominantly target less developed or transition regions in Spain and Portugal, thus contributing to strengthening the European Union’s economic, social and territorial cohesion objectives and promoting sustainable transport. The project will also positively affect employment, as it is expected to create around 940 jobs during the implementation phase (2022-2023) and 56 new jobs during operation.

Tesla buys its siding

GERMANY: Tesla has purchased the siding leading to its new plant in Grünheide. The seller is Deutsche Regionaleisenbahn (DRE). This was confirmed yesterday (Jan. 27, 2022) by the Brandenburg Ministry of Infrastructure. Accordingly, Tesla plans to run a shuttle train to and from Erkner at shift change times until the new Fangschleuse station is commissioned. The planning and construction of the stop and the commissioning of the SPNV shuttle are the responsibility of Tesla, the ministry added. Vehicles are already being built at the plant for testing purposes via an early approval process. The Freienbrink GVZ is also connected via the siding.

Urgent application against further construction of Fehmarnbelt tunnel rejected

GERMANY: The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig yesterday (27.01.2022) rejected the urgent application of an environmental association against the further construction of the tunnel under the Fehmarnbelt (Ref. BVerwG 9 VR 1.22). The court had already dismissed the actions brought against the zoning decision in rulings dated November 3, 2020. However, it stated that a supplementary procedure would have to be carried out with regard to further reef occurrences discovered during the court proceedings. In its plan amendment decision of September 1, 2021, the Ministry of Transport in Kiel granted an exemption from the ban on damage and destruction under nature conservation law for these reefs, stipulated the implementation of compensatory measures and ordered that it be immediately enforceable. Excavation work for the tunnel trench began at the end of August 2021 or – in the area of the reef surfaces – at the beginning of September 2021. On January 13, 2022, an environmental association had filed an application for suspensive effect of its lawsuit filed in October 2021.

Tests begin on DAC freight train

GERMANY: A train with innovative digital automatic couplers (DAC) has commenced a practical test due to last several months. Germany’s Federal Minister for Digital and Transport, Dr. Volker Wissing, gave the train the symbolic departure signal for its journey across Europe. Digital automatic coupling (DAC) is an essential part of the digitalisation of freight trains. It is therefore a key lever for making rail more competitive than road. DAC makes it possible to couple freight wagons automatically. The train connections for the brakes are also made automatically.

Fluor JV initiates CTA’s North Main Line reconstruction in US

US: US-based engineering company Fluor and its joint venture (JV) partner Walsh Construction Company have started works to reconstruct a section of Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) North Main Line Red and Purple Line track structure. Part of the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project, the track reconstruction and straightening is said to address slow traffic issues, which has been prevalent for over a century. The renewed track will support increased train speeds while having the capacity to serve more trains and passengers per hour. 
The RPM Phase One Project is said to be the largest reconstruction project ever for CTA, involving upgrades to and replacement of a 100-year-old rail structure and reconstruction of four stations.
Last year, the JV is said to have raised and moved an entire building by 30ft in order to straighten the tracks.
Fluor Infrastructure president Thomas Nilsson said: “As was shown with the recent passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, existing American infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and upgraded, not just repaired.

Canadian Pacific recognised as a global leader in sustainability

CANADA: Canadian Pacific (CP) – a transcontinental railway in Canada and the United States with direct links to major ports on the west and east coasts – has, for the first time, been included on the Corporate Knights Global 100 Index, an annual ranking of the most sustainable corporations in the world.
CP ranked 34th overall on the 2022 index and was the top performing freight transportation company evaluated globally.
Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer, said: ““We are honored to be recognised by Corporate Knights as a global leader in sustainability and the top-ranked company in the freight transportation sector. We are proud to be a sustainably-driven company and industry leader, and know there is more work to be done on our journey. We will continue to challenge ourselves to look for innovative approaches to advance our sustainability performance.”
The Corporate Knights global ranking evaluated 6,914 companies worldwide on up to 24 quantitative key performance indicators, weighted to reflect each industry’s impact profile. Performance indicators covered topics including clean revenue and investment, resource management, emissions, health and safety, diversity and workforce management. 
CP’s ranking stems from a long-term organisational commitment to continuous improvement related to sustainability performance. The company recently released its 2020 corporate sustainability report highlighting its successes and achievements toward being a sustainably driven railroad. CP’s leadership in sustainability was recognised by several organisations in 2021. CP received a leadership level score of A- for climate disclosure from CDP and was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for the second year in a row.
CP provides North American customers a competitive rail service with access to key markets in every corner of the globe. CP is growing with its customers, offering a suite of freight transportation services, logistics solutions and supply chain expertise.

Stadler wins its largest ever contract for German-Austrian tram-train order

SWITZERLAND: Stadler has won an international tender worth up to €4 billion held jointly by six transport companies from Germany and Austria to deliver up to 504 vehicles as part of the ‘VDV Tram-Train’ project.
In addition to vehicle production, the framework agreement also includes a maintenance contract lasting up to 32 years. Part of the framework agreement is a fixed order quantity of 246 CITYLINK vehicles representing a volume of around €1.7 billion. There is also an option to order up to 258 more vehicles.
The award of the contract marks the beginning of a long-standing partnership between Stadler and the project consortium, consisting of Verkehrsbetriebe Karlsruhe (VBK), Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (AVG), Saarbahn Netz, Schiene Oberösterreich, the State of Salzburg and Zweckverband Regional-Stadtbahn Neckar-Alb. Over the next 10 years, Stadler will produce 246 CITYLINK vehicles for the six operators. The first four vehicles will be delivered to the Saarbahn in 2024.

Hitachi Rail collaborates with IMT to strengthen freight service

INTERNATIONAL: Hitachi Rail has formed a long-term alliance with the Netherlands’ Intermodal Telematics (IMT) to enhance its offerings for the rail freight market.
Under this partnership, Hitachi’s current digital freight service will incorporate IMT’s monitoring sensors that support real-time monitoring.
These sensors help in verifying the precise location of railcars, loading status, open/close condition of doors and hatches, temperature and pressure of the cargo, along with the state of bogies and wheelsets.
Through a solar powered GPS device, data is then transmitted to the Cloud.
As part of this cooperation, Hitachi Rail will utilise AI analytics for improving the efficiency and security of its clients’ freight services globally.
The firm will now offer ‘fully-fledged’ telematics capabilities for the freight sector.

Lusail Tramway in Qatar begins commercial operations

QUATAR: French rolling stock company Alstom has announced that the Lusail Tramway in Qatar has commenced commercial services.
The new 28km transportation system is said to be the largest tramway system project in the Gulf region. It will particularly serve Lusail, a new city located north of Doha.
The tramway has 25 stations and also offers connectivity to the Doha Metro.
According to Alstom, the system began operations with 28 Citadis X05 trams that can accommodate 209 commuters each.
In 2014, a LRTC Consortium composed of Alstom and Qatari shareholding firm QDVC secured the contract to deliver a turnkey catenary-free tramway system in the city.
This contract was awarded by Qatar Railways Company.

DB Regio to receive Coradia Stream trains from Alstom

GERMANY: DB Regio has placed an order with Alstom for the delivery of 17 high-capacity Coradia Stream electric multiple units.
These new trains will operate on the Main-Weser network in Germany, running between Frankfurt, Giessen, Marburg and Kassel.
The trains will include 13 four-car and four five-car trainsets.
With 420 seats, the four-car type includes two double-deck control cars and two single-deck middle cars.
The five-car versions include an extra double-deck middle car, increasing the number of seats to 540.
In a statement, Alstom said: “The high-capacity version of the Coradia Stream offers passengers on the highly frequented Main-Weser Express line up to 15% more space than the vehicles currently in use.”

Rio Tinto battery locomotive

AUSTRALIA: Mining company Rio Tinto has ordered four Wabtec FLXdrive battery locomotives for use in the Pilbara region of Western Australia from 2023.

Valley Metro starts deploying Siemens’ S700 LRVs for commercial service

US: Valley Metro in the US has introduced the first three Siemens Mobility’s S700 light rail vehicles (LRV) in Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa.
The new fleet is progressively being introduced into the system following the completion of the testing.
The new vehicles will be operating on the current 28-mile (45.06km) network that stretches between north-west Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa.
The LRVs feature energy-efficient LED lighting, large interiors, air conditioning systems, CCTV, and racks for bicycle transportation.
Siemens Mobility North America president Michael Cahill said: “This vehicle was designed with passengers top of mind.
“Together with Valley Metro, we’ve created an LRV that is both safe and convenient while providing the ultimate passenger experience to metro Phoenix riders.”


Major order from Norway

NORWAY: Norske tog AS wants to conclude a framework agreement with Alstom for up to 170 Coradia Nordic trains. However, the objection period is still running and the contract is scheduled to be signed on December 30, 2021. The firm order is for 30 six-car trains for Østfoldbanen, to be delivered in 2025. With the train type, Norske tog intends to buy a product that has proven itself in Sweden, the company said. Alstom manufactures the Coradia Nordic in Salzgitter. The train’s total capacity is 778 passengers, including 294 seats. Parliament has released NOK 4.2 billion (EUR 410 million) for the procurement. Six bidders qualified for the procurement process. Alstom Transport Norge and Alstom Transport Deutschland won after an overall evaluation of quality and price.

Alstom to supply new high-speed trains

SWEDEN: SJ has decided to purchase 25 new high-speed trains. The supplier will be Bombardier Transportation Sweden AB, part of the Alstom Group. The trains, designed for 250 km/h, will be used nationally and internationally to Denmark and Norway. The procurement is part of SJ’s investment program of around SEK 12 billion (EUR 1.2 billion) in new and modernized trains. Of this, around SEK 7 billion is for the new high-speed trains. The new trains are expected to enter service in 2026.

Martin Kupka new Minister of Transport

Czech Republic: President Miloš Zeman appointed Martin Kupka (46) as the new transport minister on Fraidy (Dec. 17, 2021). More than two months after the parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Petr Fiala (Civic Democrats/ODS) can thus start work with his cabinet. The coalition consists of five parties. Kupka, a member of the ODS, graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at Prague’s Charles University and also worked as a press officer at the Ministry of Transport. He has been active in politics since 2010, including as a councilor in Prague. Most recently, Kupka was First Deputy Governor of the Central Bohemian Region, where he was also responsible for transportation. Kupka has announced plans to build 200 km of new “greenfield” highways, but also wants to “significantly advance” the construction of high-speed lines.

ZF – Entry into the Chinese metro market

GERMANY: ZF from Friedrichhafen has now received its first metro order from China. For the 45 vehicles of the new “Airlink” metro line to Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, the company will supply 720 transmissions of the newly developed EcoMet series to the manufacturer CRRC Puzhen. The vehicles are scheduled to go into operation in 2022. The EcoMet series enables adaptation to variable center distances and gear ratios without time-consuming and cost-intensive redesigns.

Vossloh – Major contract for rail fastening systems in China

GERMANY: Vossloh has again been awarded a contract for the supply of rail fastening systems needed for the construction of a high-speed line in southern China. The rail fastening systems are to be largely delivered in 2022 and are thus an important driver for organic growth next year. The order is worth more than €30 million. The Kunshan-based subsidiary Vossloh Fastening Systems China Co. Ltd. employs around 120 people.

HS2 order placed – Siemens does not complain

UK: Yesterday (09/12/2021), the Hitachi-Alstom High Speed (HAH-S) 50/50 joint venture was awarded the contract for the 54 new trains for HS2. Alstom made this public. The order is worth £1.97 billion, including a twelve-year maintenance contract. The 54 eight-car trains for 225 mph (360 km/h) are 200 m long. The contract could be signed after Siemens waived an injunction against the award, writes Handelsblatt. A claim for damages is being pursued, however, Siemens has not said what damages will be compensated. The HS2 company had previously reached out-of-court settlements with bidders Talgo and CAF. They accused HS2 of faulty competitive conduct. Alstom and Hitachi plan to build the trains at their County Durham, Derby and Crewe plants in the UK.

Finland – Sweden rail link to be electrified

FINLAND: Funding has been agreed for the electrification of the 24 km line from the junction at Laurila near Kemi to Tornio and across the border to Haparanda in Sweden.

Turkish track order

TURKEY: Vossloh has announced an ‘economically significant’ order to supply infrastructure contractor Kalyon Group with 147 turnouts of various geometries, along with spare parts and additional track materials, for the Bandirma – Bursa – Yenişehir – Osmaneli High Standard Railway Project.

Thai locomotives rolled out in China

THAILAND: CRRC Qishuyan has rolled out the first of 50 diesel locomotives ordered by State Railway of Thailand to replace locos more than 40 years old.

GTR announces first co-operative energy project on UK rail network

UK: Govia Thameslink Railway, operator of Southern, Thameslink, and Great Northern services, has launched a new innovative co-operative energy project with climate action group, Energy Garden.

Alstom makes a move to transfer V300 ZEFIRO activities to Hitachi Rail

EU: Alstom has agreed to transfer business activities related to Bombardier Transportation’s contribution to the very high-speed train, V300 ZEFIRO, to Hitachi Rail.

Consultation on tickets for travel with multimodal travel chains

Planning and purchasing tickets for journeys combining different modes of transport or involving different operators can be complicated in the EU. For this reason, the European Commission is preparing a new legislative proposal on digital mobility services to facilitate travel planning and ticketing. The relevant consultation was launched on 01.12.2021 and will run until 23.02.2022. The public consultation is divided into two sections: a first one collecting the views of citizens and travelers, and a second one targeting experts and relevant stakeholders.

Cooperation agreement signed

The European Railway Agency ERA and the International Union of Railways UIC will cooperate more closely in the future. The cooperation agreement signed on 29.11.2021 is the umbrella “for topics of common interest”. Both sides mentioned here annexes to Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) such as GSM-R, FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System), further topics on safety and operations as well as human and organizational factors.


Basel passenger train workshop to be expanded

SBB will expand its service facility in the Basel Wolf to handle the new Giruno and Astoro trains there. Two indoor tracks will be extended to 200 m and roofed over. From the end of 2023, six fully equipped 200-meter stands will then be available. The investment amounts to CHF 35 million.

New survey shows increasing confidence in rail as an innovative industry

A recent survey released by the Railway Industry Association has revealed that rail professionals feel increasingly confident towards how innovative the rail industry is becoming.