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JR East to raise fresh graduates' salaries for 1st time in 3 yrs, welcome back ex-staff

Mainichi Japan January 20, 2023 East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) is set to raise the initial salary for fresh graduates by 8,000 yen (about $62) across the board starting April 2023, the company announced on Jan. 18. It will mark the first pay hike for new graduates in three years since April 2020, when the starting salary was raised by 400 to 575 yen (approx. $3 to $4.5), according to the railway operator. College graduates on the career track assigned to work in central Tokyo's 23 wards from April will be entitled to 233,630 yen (around $1,814) per month. Employees currently in their first through fourth years will also get a pay raise of 2,000 to 6,000 yen (roughly $16 to $47) per month. In addition, the company will also introduce a system to welcome back former employees who have switched jobs or left the firm due to family matters. Under the new initiative, ex-staffers' titles when they left the railway operator, and their job history and experiences at their new jobs will be taken into consideration when assessing their pay and other work conditions. JR East aims to secure personnel who are well-versed in its operations while having acquired a variety of experiences outside, and tap their abilities as work-ready forces. "We will continue to develop an environment and systems to allow diverse human resources to display their potential," the company commented. (Japanese original by Shuhei Endo, Tokyo Business News Department) Source https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230120/p2a/00m/0bu/002000c

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HS2 may not run through to central London - report

BBC 27 January202 (UK) The government says it is committed to delivering the HS2 rail line to Manchester after a report the scheme may no longer reach central London. The Sun reported that rising inflation and construction costs meant HS2 trains may terminate in the suburbs of west London instead. The paper said bosses were considering pushing back its Euston terminus to 2038, or scrapping it completely. The government has not denied the report. The move would mean trains would run from a new hub at Old Oak Common, about 8km (five miles) away, and commuters would have to use the Elizabeth Line or Tube to travel to central London. A two to five-year delay to the entire project is also being considered, the newspaper said. A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson said the government remained committed to "delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the Autumn Statement". HS2, or High Speed 2, was originally intended to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The leg to Leeds has since been scrapped. Work on the first phase of the project - between London and Birmingham - is well under way and that part of the line is due to open by 2033. But the project has faced delays and mounting concerns over the exact route and its potential environmental impact. Pressure group Stop HS2 said it believed the project would increase carbon emissions and damage areas of natural beauty. Protesters, including veteran eco-protester Swampy, have built tunnels in an attempt to disrupt HS2 construction. The estimated cost of HS2 was between £72bn and £98bn at 2019 prices. A budget of £55.7bn for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015 - but this was made before the Leeds leg was cancelled. A report published last October found it was unlikely that the £40.3bn target for the first section of the line would be met. Transport Secretary Mark Harper has said HS2 was "experiencing high levels of inflation" and it was working with "suppliers actively to mitigate inflationary increases". Research from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Office for National Statistics published in September showed that construction materials across the UK experienced inflation of 18% from August 2021 to August 2022. Mr Harper said inflation was not affecting the "overall affordability of HS2 in real terms" but it was "creating pressures against its existing annual funding settlements". The head of the National Infrastructure Commission told BBC News in November that cutting back on the HS2 rail route would be "silly". "I think you've got massive investment, which has happened in Birmingham ahead of HS2 - it just shows what can happen. And Manchester of course equally is now seeing investment off the back of HS2. I think that would be a very strange decision," he said. A senior figure at the DfT warned last week that "quite tough decisions" could lie ahead for the scheme. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-64421566

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JR East to offer sightseeing train ‘Satono’ for southern Tohoku

The Asahi Shimbun January 27, 2023 ( Japan ) The Satono sightseeing train is set to make its debut in or around spring 2024 in the southern Tohoku region. (Provided by East Japan Railway Co.’s Tohoku Area Headquarters) East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) announced plans to introduce a new sightseeing train that will operate mainly in Miyagi, Fukushima and Yamagata prefectures of the southern Tohoku region in or around spring 2024. With a maximum passenger capacity of 59, the train, named “Satono,” will be remodeled from the two-car Resort Asunaro sightseeing service currently running on the JR Ominato Line in Aomori Prefecture and other routes. Accommodating 25 passengers, the first car will mainly be fitted out with box seats for up to four people. The base color of the exterior will be painted green in tribute to the mountains and natural features in the region. The second car, which can carry up to 34 passengers, will feature reclining seats. It will be painted in blue and other colors in a nod to the sea and rivers of Tohoku. JR East plans to operate the Satono in conjunction with seasonal events in the three prefectures and other special occasions. Source https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14813860

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UK rail firms ordered to stop abusing train cancellations loophole

The Guardian 19 January 2023 (UK) Cancellations far higher than official data suggests, says ORR, driven by use of unrecorded ‘pre-cancellations’ The rail regulator has ordered train companies to stop abusing a loophole which means that any train they cancel the night before does not count in their official cancellation statistics. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said train cancellations were at “record levels”, far worse than official figures suggest, driven by an increased number of unrecorded “pre-cancellations”, known as “p-coding”. These can be confirmed as late as 10pm the previous evening and are not included in the timetables that railway performance statistics are measured against. A Guardian investigation in November found that one rail company, TransPennine Express (TPE), abused p-codes so much it was regularly cancelling 20%-30% of its train services in autumn. Yet it was legally bound to only report rates of between 5.6% and 11.8% for the same period – services cancelled on the day. On Wednesday this week TPE cancelled 45% of the 333 trains it was timetabled to run. A hundred of those were pre-cancelled the night before. On Thursday the ORR acknowledged a significant “gap” between the cancellation statistics it collected and the passenger experience. It has written to the rail industry outlining the need for “full public transparency” in how p-coded cancellations are recorded. “Removing trains from the timetable in this way can mean that a train a passenger expected to catch when they went to bed can disappear from the timetable by the time they leave for the station, unaware that the train has been cancelled,” the ORR wrote. Historically such changes have been made to support the introduction of emergency timetables when poor weather or infrastructure damage has required a wholesale change to train service on a route. Service performance is measured against the replacement timetable instead. But the ORR said p-codes had been used “differently” over the past year, with late changes made to timetables by withdrawing services when insufficient staff or no appropriate trains were available. “This is an inappropriate application of the Network Code’s provisions on emergency timetables,” it said. The regulator has asked Network Rail to “coordinate the industry to come up with a better way of doing things”. Until this takes full effect, the ORR requires all train companies to supply specific data on any “resource availability pre-cancellations”. It has promised to publish this data alongside official statistics in future. Feras Alshaker, the ORR director for planning and performance, said: “We recognise this temporary mechanism was used to help passengers through a time of frequent disruption by telling them as early as possible when their train service was cancelled. But good passenger information can still be achieved while retaining full transparency, robustness and trustworthiness of the official statistics.” TPE said that on Wednesday this week it recorded 100.5 pre-planned cancellations – with partial cancellations being counted as 0.5 per service – and 50.5 on the day. A spokesperson said it had reported the full range to the ORR and published all cancellations via Journeycheck. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/jan/19/uk-rail-firms-ordered-stop-abusing-train-cancellations-loophole

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Two killed in knife attack on train in northern Germany

Channel News Asia 26 January 2023 (Brokstedt, Germany) Two people were killed and several others injured when a 33-year-old stateless Palestinian man attacked them with a knife on Wednesday (Jan 25) on a regional train travelling between Kiel and Hamburg in northern Germany, authorities said. Police in the state of Schlewsig-Holstein on the Danish border said the man, who was himself lightly injured, was being treated in hospital. He was arrested at a train stop in the village of Brokstedt. Three others were seriously injured in the attack and four were lightly injured, authorities said. There was no information yet on the motive for the attack, police said. Regional broadcaster NDR, citing sources on the investigation team, reported that the man, who came from Gaza eight years ago, had a criminal past, and there was no evidence of a political motivation. Police were investigating at the train station in Brokstedt, the German railway Deutsche Bahn said on Twitter, adding some services between the two cities had been cancelled. Reuters photographs from the scene showed forensics experts gathering evidence on the station platform. Federal and state police were working together on the investigation, state interior minister Sabine Suettelin-Waack said in a statement. Source https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/two-killed-knife-attack-train-northern-germany-3231496

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New railway station to connect visitors to Bristol arena

BBC 25 January 2023 (UK) A new railway station will connect rail services to a new development and a new arena. South Gloucestershire Council has granted planning permission for a new North Filton Station. The station will connect rail services to the new development, named Brabazon, as well as visitors to the new arena. Up to 6,000 new homes are planned to be built in the next 20 years as part of the development.   Regular trains from the new North Filton station will connect to the Henbury Link, from Henbury to Temple Meads via Filton and the new Ashley Down station. The council received revised plans for the new station just before Christmas from Network Rail and fast-tracked its final assessment of the proposals to enable a decision to be made promptly, so that work on the station could begin as soon as possible. South Gloucestershire council cabinet member with responsibility for planning and strategic infrastructure, Steve Reade, said: "North Filton Station will support not only the growing resident population, but also attract visitors from across the region and beyond to this part of South Gloucestershire. "Having regular and reliable public transport links will be vital to make this area an attractive place to live, work and visit." The council said it hopes the station will be completed by 2026. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-64390702

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China-made trains enter service in Istanbul's new metro line

Global Times January 24, 2023 (Istanbul, Turkey) A new metro line connecting central Istanbul and the city's new international airport officially opened to the public on Sunday, featuring China-made automated driverless trains that could run up to 120 kilometers per hour. "This 800,000 daily capacity metro line will allow travel from Kagithane Station to the Istanbul Airport in 24 minutes," said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the opening ceremony. The fully-automated, driverless trains were built by Chinese company CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd. (CRRC ZELC), which signed a purchase and commissioning contract with Türkiye's Directorate-General of Infrastructure Investments back in January 2020. The 34-kilometer metro line between the Kagithane Station in central Istanbul and the city's new international airport boasts Türkiye's fastest trains, and the vehicles running the line are China's first 120km/h automated driverless metro project for the overseas market, according to CRRC ZELC. The contract was for 176 subway cars and required a 60 percent localization rate in Türkiye. Haluk Oguz, a management specialist at CRRC ZELC's subsidiary in Türkiye, told Xinhua that they have delivered 40 vehicles. "Work on the other 136 is ongoing," he said, adding "they will be manufactured at our factory in Ankara." Faruk Bostanci, administrative affairs chief at CRRC Türkiye, said that "new additions (to the line), which will be made as manufacturing continues, will increase the train frequency and provide a faster, more convenient transportation network for Istanbul residents." After trying out the train, Istanbul resident Emirhan Ersoy praised the new vehicles. "Both the heating system and the visual screens are very nice, and the sound system works very well," he said, adding that the high capacity of the cabins was another point of distinction. The vehicles operate in a 4-car formation with a maximum capacity of 1,100 passengers. The exterior of the trains is decorated with Turkish cultural elements such as tulip motifs. Yalcin Eyigun, general manager of the Directorate-General of Infrastructure Investments at Turkish Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry, praised the Chinese partner for overcoming all kinds of difficulties during the project despite the COVID-19 pandemic-related setbacks. Over the past decade, CRRC ZELC has supplied more than 400 metro vehicles to Türkiye, which are now operating in its three largest cities, namely Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Zhou Qinghe, chairman of the board of the CRRC ZELC, said that his company is willing to strengthen cooperation with Türkiye and write new chapters of "shared growth through discussion and collaboration." Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202301/1284212.shtml

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Dubai’s longest rail bridge over Al Qudra takes shape

Khaleej Times 24 January 2023 (UAE) Once Etihad Rail is up and running, this route will be key to facilitating the movement of goods throughout the UAE Dubai’s longest rail bridge is now up and standing. Etihad Rail posted images of the Al Qudra bridge, which is the “longest within the Emirate’s mainline network”. It forms a vital route for trade and commerce to facilitate the “movement of goods throughout the UAE”, the rail operator posted on Twitter. Al Qudra features a cluster of man-made lakes and is home to an 86km cycling track. Earlier, residents of neighbourhoods around the area had told  Khaleej Times  about their excitement in spotting trains. Rineesha Mohammed Ali, who lives in Nshama Town Square, has seen the train track take shape from her house. “The location is a constant hive of activity,” she said. “It is actually quite exciting to watch the whole thing take shape. Sometimes if you are lucky enough to look out of the window at the right time, you can see locomotives on the tracks.” Last week, Etihad Rail had offered a glimpse into its 1km marine bridge that connects the Khalifa port to the national railway network. “This will improve the efficiency of goods transportation and cuts down on shipping expenses,” it posted. Last year, the rail reached several milestones, including a 75 per cent completion of its 1,200km long network. Etihad Rail’s passenger services will connect 11 cities in the UAE. With top speeds of 200kmph, passengers can travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100. The trains are expected to reduce commute times by up to 40 per cent. By 2030, the number of passengers is expected to reach more than 36.5 million annually. Source https://www.khaleejtimes.com/uae/transport/look-dubais-longest-rail-bridge-over-al-qudra-takes-shape

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French CGT, Sud Rail unions eye three more days of rail strikes over pension reforms

Reuters January 24, 2023 (France) French trade unions CGT and Sud Rail on Tuesday called on railway workers to take part in a nationwide strike on Jan. 31 over pension reform, and opt for further strike action on Feb. 7 and Feb. 8. "Our federations are asking railway workers to strike en masse on Jan. 31 and to hold a meeting on Jan. 31 to decide whether to intensify their action through two consecutive days of strikes on Feb. 7 and Feb. 8," the two unions said in a joint statement. More than a million people marched through French cities on Jan. 19 to denounce President Emmanuel Macron's plans to raise the retirement age, with a wave of nationwide strikes halting trains, blocking refineries and curbing power generation. Buoyed by their success, the country's leading trade unions called for a second day of strikes on Jan. 31 in a bid to force Macron and his government to back down on the pension reform plan that would see most people work an extra two years to age 64. Source https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/french-cgt-sud-rail-unions-eye-three-more-days-rail-strikes-over-pension-reforms-2023-01-24/

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Chongqing's first outbound cargo train of Land-Sea Trade Corridor in Year of Rabbit leaves for Qinzhou port

Global Times January 23, 2023 (China) A rail-sea intermodal freight train carrying containers of goods, including cars, motorcycles, engines, and sodium carbonate, waits for departure at Tuanjie Village Central Station in southwest China's Chongqing, Jan. 22, 2023. It was the city's first outbound cargo train of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor in the Year of the Rabbit. Goods on the train will be transported to Qinzhou port on the country's southern coast, from where they will be shipped to Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and some other countries and regions. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202301/1284181.shtml

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Analysis: Mexico City metro exposes "Achilles heel" of mayor's presidential dreams

Reuters January 24, 2023 (Mexico) The second major accident in the Mexico City metro in as many years and a series of recent mishaps in the transport system have piled pressure on Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, one of the favorites to become the country's next president. The Jan. 7 train collision that killed one person and injured 57 and other glitches have shone a harsh light on Sheinbaum's administration just as she bids for the candidacy of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) for the 2024 presidential elections. Reports of cut cables, objects thrown onto tracks and other damage prompted MORENA's secretary general to call out "sabotage", and Sheinbaum called in 6,000 National Guard members to police metro stations, saying they will guarantee security after "intentional incidents" that are under investigation. Critics, however, have questioned that move as a bid to distract from a lack of investment and maintenance in the network that carries millions of people daily. "The metro is possibly the Achilles heel of Claudia Sheinbaum's presidential aspirations," said Jorge Bravo, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), explaining that the network is regarded as a vital test of her ability to govern. There are signs it may already be hurting her. A January poll by newspaper El Financiero, conducted partly on the day of the fatal accident, showed support for Sheinbaum falling from December by five percentage points to 41%. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-city-metro-exposes-achilles-heel-mayors-presidential-dreams-2023-01-23/

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Apprehension as many passengers are stranded after warri – Itakpe bound train derail in Kogi

The Guardian Nigeria 23 January 2023 There was serious apprehension on Sunday as a train from Warri heading to Itakpe in Kogi state derailed, leaving many passengers stranded in a forest between Ajaokuta and Itakpe. The incident was coming barely three weeks after gunmen stormed the train station in Igueben, Edo State, where many passengers were abducted. Multiple sources said the incident happened inside Kogi forest, with many of the passengers said to have abandoned the train for fear of being taken, hostage. It was gathered that the train left Warri early on Sunday morning and got derailed at about noon inside the thick forest between Ajaokuta and Itakpe. Another source alleged a case of sabotage, saying that some of the rail tracks may nave be removed, which might be responsible for the derailment. While the officer in charge, Paul Sunday could not immediately give an account of what actually happened, as he said he was heading to the scene of the accident, another source said that four coaches and the head coach of the train may have been badly affected. While the stranded passengers were allegedly told by the officials of the Nigeria Railway Corporation to remain calm and sit back in the train to find a way of evacuating them to a safer place, the Kogi stated Police Public Relations Officer, SP William Ayah, told our correspondent that the command has mobilised his men to the place to safeguard the stranded passengers, pending their evacuation. He noted that the team from the command is to reinforce the security personnel attached to the train As at the time of filing this report, the corporation officer, Paul Sunday was yet to get back to our correspondent as promised. Source https://guardian.ng/news/apprehension-as-many-passengers-are-stranded-after-warri-itakpe-bound-train-derail-in-kogi/

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