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'No vax, no ride' policy is for the community's good

Manila Times January 18, 2022 (Philippines) I will veer away from my usual discussion on issues on cars and the auto industry, and will instead talk about the most contentious mobility issue today — the Department of Transportation's "No vax, no ride" policy in Metro Manila or National Capital Region (NCR). As usual, critics and pundits alike are quick to score the government for policies they really do not try to understand, or do not devote time to read, particularly the memorandum order. The biggest comment is the question, "How do unvaccinated workers go to work or citizens buy supplies if they cannot ride vehicles to their destination?" And the answer is really simple — they can use other forms of transportation, except that when it comes to public transport operated by the government, they need to prove they have been vaccinated before they get a ride. These public transportation include the bus carousel along EDSA, the Metro Rail Transit/Light Rail Transit lines and the Philippine National Railway trains. I believe other forms such as jeeps, tricycles and even motorcycle taxis are not included. The next question is why? The argument is that their personal human rights are being violated by this policy. Well, there is this legal concept practiced in all democtatic countries and the free world, where restrictions of some personal rights may be allowed if it is to the benefit of the whole community or society. An unvaccinated person has the high possibility of being infected and infecting other people. And because the rate of reinfection is exponential in growth, one infected person who is unvaccinated in a bus or a train can cause the massive spread of the virus in one sitting. This is our current experience worldwide. So, in order to prevent harm to a bigger number of members of a community or society (in Metro Manila we have an over 90-percent vaccination rate), the movement of the extremely smaller number that may cause harm must be limited so they won't have interaction with the majority. Even modernized countries that have a high sense of human rights application invoke this legal concept in times of calamities or pandemics. So, yes, I agree with the Transport department's policy of "no vax, no ride" simply because it aims to protect the majority from the indiscretion of the minority Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/01/18/fast-times/no-vax-no-ride-policy-is-for-the-communitys-good/1829624

January 18 at 06:03 AM

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Construction of PNR Calamba stations to begin 2022

Philippine News Agency December 1, 2021 (Manila) Construction of the 19 stations of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Calamba is set to begin in 2022. During a site visit at the PNR Balagtas Station, Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John "TJ" Batan said construction works are set to begin as bidding for all nine contracts of the project is "almost complete." "The first six contracts are already undergoing Asian Development Bank's (ADB) review for concurrence, following which the contracts will be awarded and signed, and construction will very soon be mobilized," Batan said. The PNR Calamba is a 57-kilometer railway project and is the third and southernmost leg of the North South Commuter Railway (NSCR)--a big-ticket project under the Duterte administration's Build, Build, Build program. In total, he said the NSCR would be composed of 35 stations from Clark, Pampanga passing through the province of Bulacan and the National Capital Region (NCR) to Calamba, Laguna. By June 2022, he said the number of operational train stations in the country will increase from 61 to 87, while 92 stations will be under construction or have signed contracts. "The 179 railway stations operational, contracted, and ongoing construction by 2022 is a critical component of the DOTr's railway network expansion program because it is at stations that a railway becomes more accessible to the people," Batan said. In July, the DOTr said it received a "record-breaking" number of bids for the PNR Calamba both from local and international contractors. Once underway, the project is expected to provide around 10,000 direct jobs.  (PNA) Source https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1161484

January 18 at 06:02 AM

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Saksayam defends rail link plan

Bangkok Post  18 January 2022 (Thailand) The Transport Ministry says it has told parliament that it wants to connect the kingdom with the China-Laos railway to create a seamless inter-border transport link. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, representing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, took to the floor in parliament to respond to a motion raised by Sen Suradet Jiratticharoen regarding issues surrounding the link. The senator had put forth a number of questions to the government, including how Thailand would benefit from the China-Laos railway link, which was inaugurated last month. Mr Saksayam said there is a vast opportunity to be had from the railway link as Thailand currently operates passenger and cargo train services to Thanalaeng station in the Lao capital of Vientiane. Currently, 90% of imports and exports between Thailand and China are transported by sea, while the rest is via roads in Laos. The trade volume between Thailand and China consistently expanded from 2012 to 2020. In particular, exports to China from 2017 to 2020 had tripled while imports were also on the increase. The opening of the China-Laos railway line is expected to increase cross-border freight transport between Thailand and Laos by 50% when the line is connected to the kingdom. Nong Khai station, which connects with Lao's Thanalaeng station, is capable of handling up to 728 freight containers daily although the actual volume passing through the station is estimated at 364 containers per day. Mr Saksayam said the railway link gives Thai businesses the option to send and receive goods from China by train, a mode of transport considered to be cheaper and more convenient. Goods destined for China by boat must load and unload at the Chiang Saen inland commercial port and the freight must also be delivered overland to the final destinations. The minister said Thailand and Laos agreed to study the possibility of shortening customs procedures for trans-border freight transport in April. Both countries also agreed to complete the missing link between the China-Laos railway stretch and Thailand's high-speed train route from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai, the gateway to Vientiane. The State Railway of Thailand operates multiple daily round trips between Nong Khai and Thanalaeng in Laos. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2248943/saksayam-defends-rail-link-plan

January 18 at 05:55 AM

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Thieves loot Amazon, FedEx train cargo in US

Mint  15 January 2022 (US) Dozens of cargo trains are broken every day in US Los Angeles by thieves who loot packages bought online According to the Union Pacific rail operators, there has been a 160% rise in thefts since December 2020 Dozens of cargo trains are broken every day in US Los Angeles by thieves who loot packages bought online leaving thousands of gutted boxes that will never reach their destinations. According to the AFP news agency, companies such as Amazon.com, FedEx, UPS, Target are being hit by thefts that have exploded in recent months. The thieves wait until the long freight trains are immobilized on the tracks, and then climb onto the freight containers, break their locks with the help of bolt cutters. "They then help themselves to parcels, ditching any products that are difficult to move or re-sell, or are too cheap, such as Covid-19 test kits, furniture or medications," the news agency said. According to the Union Pacific rail operators, there has been a 160% rise in thefts since December 2020. In October 2021 alone, the increase was 356% compared to October 2020, the rail operator added. The Union Pacific said that the explosions in looting are accompanied by an upsurge in "assaults and armed robberies of UP employees performing their duties moving trains". Over 90 containers were vandalised each day on average in LA County in the last quarter of 2021. As a result, the rail operators have strengthened surveillance measures -- including drones and other detection systems -- and recruited more security staff for its tracks and convoys. The police have arrested more than 100 people in the last three months of 2021 for "trespassing and vandalizing" Union Pacific trains. "While criminals are being caught and arrested, charges are reduced to a misdemeanor or petty offense, and the person is back on the streets in less than 24 hours after paying a nominal fine," said a spokesman for the rail operator. "In fact, criminals boast to our officers that there is no consequence," he said. The operator has written a letter to the Los Angeles County attorney's office at the end of December asking them to reconsider a leniency policy introduced in 2020 for such offences. The Union Pacific estimates that damages from such thefts in 2021 amounted to some $5 million. The amount in claims and losses "does not include respective losses to our impacted customers" or the impact on Union Pacific's operations and the entire Los Angeles County supply chain, it added. Source https://www.livemint.com/news/world/thieves-loot-amazon-fedex-cargo-trains-in-us-11642234271111.html

January 18 at 04:59 AM

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ScotRail records £26m loss despite £850m pandemic public funding boost

The Herald 17 January, 2022 (Scotland) SCOTRAIL has made a £26m loss despite a boost in public funding to over £850m. The latest financial overview shows the train operator's deficit fell in a year from £56m in 2019/20 to £26m in 2020/21. But Scottish Government funding to cover losses with ScotRail rose from £526.3m to £853.7m. The train operator run by state-owned Dutch transport firm Abellio, slumped from £360.4m in 2019/20 to must £53.5m. ScotRail passenger numbers fell by up to 95 per cent during lockdowns, while Caledonian Sleeper, which cut its Scotland-London services, saw ticket sales fall from £26m to £6m. In March, last year, the Scottish Government said ScotRail would come under public ownership run through an arm’s-length company controlled by the Scottish Government, declaring that the current system of rail franchising was "no longer fit for purpose”. The move come through "operator of last resort arrangements" after it was decided it was not the right time to seek a franchise procurement competition to run Scotland's railways after Abellio ends it control in March, 2022. It came a year after ministers announced it had stripped Abellio of the franchise three years early in the wake of continuing outcry over service failings and rising costs to the taxpayer. ScotRail lost as much as 95 per cent of its passengers at the start of the pandemic in 2020 but kept a minimum of two-thirds of its services running to ensure key workers such as hospital staff could still travel. ScotRail chief operating officer Ian McConnell said: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on businesses across the world, and ScotRail is no different. “Thanks to emergency Scottish Government support, ScotRail has continued to operate a reliable service for key workers and is now supporting the country as we continue to face challenges from the Omicron variant. “To build a more sustainable and greener railway for the future and reduce the burden on the taxpayer, we need to change. "All of us in the railway – management, staff, trade unions, suppliers, and government – need to work together to modernise the railway so that it is fit for the future.” Concerns about the Abellio performance came after a 2018 winter timetable with the introduction of high-speed trains and new class 385 electric trains ushered in months of cancellations and disruption to services with much of it put down to staff shortages partly due to training to deal with the new trains. ScotRail was forced to submit a plan by February, 2019, to address falling performance levels which, if unsuccessful, could result in a breach of contract and lead to Abellio losing the franchise early. Caledonian Sleeper losses, meanwhile fell from £4.6m to £3.9m, while ticket sales for the Scotland to London services fell from £26m to £6m. Financial support for Caledonian Sleep rose from £15m to £48m. A spokesperson for Serco, which operates the Caledonian Sleeper on a 15-year franchise until 2030, said: “The last financial year was challenging for the whole rail industry. "Caledonian Sleeper was no exception and the service was impacted by covid with passenger numbers and revenue dropping significantly. “This resulted in a significant underlying loss for the year to March 2021, despite the emergency measures agreements that are in place with Transport Scotland, and no dividend was paid to the shareholders. “Since the easing of Covid restrictions, we are now seeing a gradual but steady improvement in passenger numbers and the service has continued to provide an important service between Scotland and London.” Source https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19852429.scotrail-records-26m-loss-despite-850m-pandemic-public-funding-boost/

January 18 at 04:50 AM

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Brisbane rail project brings door-to-door public transport a step closer

The Australian Financial Review January 17, 2022 (Australia) In the near future, commuters will travel around cities on smart public transport systems, which adjust their timetables to accommodate real-time passenger demand to offer a seamless door-to-door journey. It’s a key component of a smart city, where lower environmental impacts accompany improved transport connections. Hitachi Rail is taking the first step to realising that vision with its work on south-east Queensland’s Cross River Rail project. The leading railway systems innovator is installing a smart signalling system that will allow trains to run more frequently as the region’s population grows. This is important because frequency of services is central to driving widespread adoption of public transport. “At Hitachi Rail, we’re promoting mobility-as-a-service with rail. This is where you move large numbers of people quickly, safely and reliably using an intelligent train control system,” says Roslyn Stuart, head of sales and projects at Hitachi Rail Australia. Traditional metropolitan train systems have in the past had to run trains at certain intervals, as a safety measure to ensure the gaps were large enough to avoid any risk of collision. But trains on a smart signalling system communicate with a central rail management centre. “Using an intelligent train control system, the rail management centre will know the speed and location of each train at any given time,” Stuart says. “This means that two trains will never come close to each other.” Smart signalling systems like the one being implemented in south-east Queensland will operate on an IT platform that allows further innovation as the needs of rail operators and customers evolve in the future. Widely used throughout the world, the platform provides the opportunity for trains to travel at exactly the right speed to achieve maximum network efficiency. “Our ability to finely calibrate rail operations in this way enhances the sustainability of the rail system itself while better meeting the needs of passengers,” Stuart says. Ultimately, real-time information about a city’s transit system and passenger movements will facilitate mobility-as-a-service. This would allow customers in the future to book a door-to-door journey in a single app that would plan the optimum route. For instance, someone might travel first by bus to the rail station, then by train and finally via a brief rideshare trip to their final destination. The mobility-as-a-service would work out the best times and connections for the travellers and charge them for the journey in the same seamless way that Uber does. The smart transport system could also help people move around the city more seamlessly by detecting the movements of large volumes of passengers and ensuring there are connecting bus or rail services on hand, Stuart says. Hitachi Rail is currently trialling something similar in Genoa in northern Italy. “We believe we’ll have a modal shift towards rail and mobility-as-a-service here in Australia. With the recently held COP26 and the world’s government and corporate institutions all starting to lean towards a net zero economy, it’s predicted that customers will also expect greener solutions in the future,” Stuart says. Geoffrey Clifton, senior lecturer in transport and logistics management at the University of Sydney Business School, says real-time information is central to a smart transport system because it allows passengers to assess available travel options. “This feeds into more informed decision making on the day, which means people making better choices, and operators being able to respond,” he says. Next, transport operators will need the ability to respond to the information and adjust their services. “Traditionally, the ability of transport operators to respond to peaks and troughs in demand has been very limited. The ability to make real-time decisions has been restricted because timetables are set months or years in advance,” Clifton says. “Whereas, once you get that information, you can start to put this into the decision cycle, but you need to have the ability to implement them and that means being able to respond quickly.” Ironically, Clifton says the coronavirus lockdowns and the rise of flexible working have likely sped up the adoption of smart transport, despite initially reducing travel, because it has broken many people’s transport habits, such as catching the train to work at the same time every day. “More of the trips are going to be on an ad-hoc basis where you’ll go to a hot desk, somewhere close to you, you’ll go to an on-demand office to have a meeting with clients,” he says. “And all of that requires people to do something they’ve not done before, which is where your mobility-as-a-service apps can help them get where they want to be quickly.” Source https://www.afr.com/companies/infrastructure/brisbane-rail-project-brings-door-to-door-public-transport-a-step-closer-20220114-p59obz

January 17 at 05:08 AM

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Vietnam's first city metro, built by China, carries 14,917 passengers per day

Global Times  January 13, 2022 (Vietnam) The opening ceremony of Vietnam's first urban light rail, which was built by China, was held in Hanoi on Thursday. The metro line made about 13,000 runs and carried more than 1 million people during the 67-day trial operation, which started on November 6, 2021. Analysts said more trips will be made as the Vietnamese economy recovers, supported by higher employment, growing workers' wages and stable prices. The 13-kilometer Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line with 12 stations linking railway and bus stations and universities, built by China Railway Sixth Group Co, has a maximum transport capacity of 28,500 passengers per hour in each direction.  As the first urban railway in Vietnam, the Cat Linh-Ha Dong line can help realize a 20-minute convenient living circle in Hanoi, according to a statement sent by the China Railway Sixth Group Co to the Global Times on Thursday. Each day, the Cat Linh-Ha Dong route carried an average of 14,917 passengers, according to the Hanoi Municipal government on Thursday. The metro line is also the largest urban light rail project built by China that has integrated the full industry chain of Chinese standards, including construction technology, equipment, materials, supervision and operational management. More than 6,000 technicians have been trained with 20,000 people employed during construction, which involved nearly 40 types of work in 11 professional systems, said the company. The operation of the $868 million project is 100 percent in the hands of the Vietnamese metro company, according to China Railway Sixth Group Co. "About 15,000 passenger-trips per day were made during the trial operation, which slams back at the US media's claim of a 'lack of riders.' More passengers are expected as COVID-19 may have prevented some people from taking public transportation," a railway engineer surnamed Wang, who declined to reveal the name of his employer, told the Global Times on Thursday. The Hanoi Municipal government also said that recently, the number of people visiting and experiencing the route has decreased due to COVID-19 pandemic.  The total number of passenger trips in Vietnam stood at 2.387 billion in 2021, down 33 percent year-on-year, according to statistics released by the General Statistics Office (GSO) of Vietnam. The price of a ticket for the Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro is 8,000 dong ($0.35) for a single trip and 30,000 dong for a daily pass. A monthly pass costs 200,000 dong, local new media Viet Nam News reported. The average monthly wage for workers in 2021 was 6.6 million dong, down 603,000 dong from the same period in 2020, read GSO data. It means that a worker will pay nearly half of their monthly earnings to buy monthly passes for the metro for a whole year.  With the average CPI in Vietnam in 2021 up 101.84 percent from 2020, taking the metro will be no small financial burden for many workers, said analysts. But they noted that as the Vietnamese economy recovers and the employment goes up, more people will take the metro, as it is convenient and safe. Regular travel on the route by users of monthly tickets has remained stable and is increasing, especially as students go back to school, said the Hanoi Municipal government. Global Times Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202201/1245916.shtml

January 17 at 04:57 AM

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North Korea-China trade by rail to resume on Monday as border closures end: Traders

The Straits Times (Reuters)  January 16, 2022 (Beijing/Seoul) Chinese brokers said they expect the resumption of regular trade with North Korea as soon as Monday (Jan 17), after a North Korean train pulled into a Chinese border town on Sunday in the first such crossing since anti-coronavirus border lockdowns began in 2020.   "My business partner in North Korea told me on Friday that the land border will reopen to cargo freight on Jan 17," a Chinese commodities trader in the border town of Dandong told Reuters.  "By Saturday the whole import-export community here has heard about this and people have began snapping up carriages to move their cargo over," he said.   North Korea has not officially reported any Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020, and has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs. Another Chinese trader said she can arrange for cargo to be loaded onto a train in Dandong which is scheduled to cross over to North Korea on Monday.   On Sunday she posted three photos of freight carriages taken inside a railway station on social media, and said that the first batch of cargo for the resumption of rail link between Dandong and North Korea was being loaded.   Both traders refused to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter. China has not officially announced the reopening of border.  Previous reports of imminent border reopening citing traders and logistics had not materialised.   The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request on Sunday for confirmation of the border’s reopening.   Citing multiple unnamed sources, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency earlier on Sunday reported the arrival of what it said was a North Korean freight train in Dandong, saying it marked the formal reopening of North Korea’s land border with China.   It was unclear whether the train was carrying any cargo into China, but was likely to return to North Korea on Monday with a load of "emergency materials", the sources told Yonhap, without elaborating. Japan’s Kyodo news agency also reported the train’s arrival, citing an informed source.   While Chinese data show some limited trade has continued, most shipments appear to be using North Korean seaports, not trains across its land borders.   Officials in Seoul said late last year they were watching closely for a resumption in cross-border rail traffic as a signal that restrictions might be loosening.   After nearly two years of border closures, some humanitarian aid is trickling into North Korea, though shipments of key supplies including food remain blocked, according to United Nations organisations. Several shipments of nutrition and medical aid have entered the country after up to three months of quarantine at Nampo sea port, but there had been no confirmation of major shipments being transported by train.  Source https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/north-korea-train-makes-first-crossing-into-china-since-border-lockdown-reports

January 17 at 04:50 AM

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Coventry's 'very light' railway to be UK first

BBC  15 January 2022 (UK) Coventry is to become home to the UK's first "very light" rail line as part of a £1.3bn travel plan. The line is among 50 transport projects agreed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). They also include cycle routes, bus lanes and a new railway station at Aldridge in Walsall borough. The list of preferred schemes is to be submitted to the Department for Transport for final approval, after which the full list will be published. Plans for the light railway were first put forward in 2018 ahead of Coventry becoming the 2021 UK City of Culture. Investment would also continue in the existing Metro system, the authority said, with funding to be set aside to develop the business case for its extension along Hagley Road, Birmingham, as well as the expansion of the tram depot in Wednesbury. The schemes, to be developed over the next five years, will be funded from the £1.05bn City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement, which was awarded to the region by the Department for Transport last year, topped up with local funding. The authority said it prioritised schemes that promoted "the decarbonisation of transport" and target investment into areas of poor connectivity, in line with policies outlined in the region's draft local transport plan which was also approved by the WMCA Board on Friday. Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: "This unprecedented investment will allow us to deliver more than 50 exciting projects as we continue to revolutionise and de-carbonise public transport across the West Midlands. "I know the team cannot wait to get started on these projects, and so once we have government approval we will press on with getting diggers in the ground and people into work." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-60001340

January 17 at 04:39 AM

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Amtrak Pays $2 Million to Passengers With Disabilities Who Faced Obstacles at Stations

The New York Times January 12, 2022 (US) Under a settlement agreement, the railroad will also overhaul 135 train stations to make them accessible to all. Amtrak has paid more than $2 million to over 1,500 people with disabilities whom it discriminated against at nearly 80 train stations across the country, from Tuscaloosa to Topeka, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday. The payments are the first of several actions mandated by a settlement reached last year between the railroad and the Justice Department that requires Amtrak to rectify persistent barriers across its rail system to those with disabilities. Obstacles included narrow waiting areas, parking spaces without signs marking them as accessible, steep inclines for passenger platforms and track crossings, and toilets that didn’t accommodate wheelchairs, according to a lawsuit that the Justice Department brought against Amtrak alleging that those “failures” caused continued harm and violated federal civil rights law. Under the terms of the settlement, Amtrak must, over the next nine years, redesign 90 stations across the country to make them accessible to all passengers and start construction at 45 other stations. It must also train its staff to comply with the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark civil rights law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Those efforts will “bring both Amtrak and our nation one step closer to realizing the A.D.A.’s promise of equal opportunity for people with disabilities,” Kristen Clarke, an assistant attorney with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. In a statement on Wednesday, Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman, said the railroad had “made significant progress in bringing numerous facilities into higher levels of accessibility.” He added that it had budgeted more than $143 million for accessibility improvements at 43 stations this year. The company operates about 500 stations in 46 states and the District of Columbia, according to court documents. The Justice Department opened its investigation into Amtrak after it had received complaints about inaccessible train stations and a critical report in 2013 by the National Disability Rights Network, an advocacy group that investigated the railroad in relation to civil rights law and found that the railroad had “lagged far behind” other transportation providers in providing accessible services to customers with disabilities. Passengers, the report concluded, had been forced to “suffer embarrassment, discomfort, and other indignities” throughout the process of train travel, from purchasing a ticket to disembarking. “Inaccessible train stations are more than just an inconvenience,” Curt Decker, the group’s executive director, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Transportation is the linchpin of community integration.” Source https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/12/us/amtrak-disability-discrimination-settlement.html

January 17 at 04:33 AM

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Saudi Arabia to triple size of its rail network

Arab News  January 13, 2022 (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) 8,000 kilometers of new track planned, Saudi investment minister tells Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh Saudi Arabia plans to more than triple the size of its rail network with 8,000 kilometers of new track, the country’s investment minister said on Wednesday. “New rail will criss-cross the Kingdom and add to the network we already have,” Khalid Al-Falih told the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh. There are currently about 3,650 km of track on the Saudi rail network, on three lines. The 2,750 km North-South line runs from Riyadh to the border with Jordan, and has feeder lines to mineral mining operations in the north of the Kingdom.   The Riyadh-Dammam stretches 450 km from the capital to the east coast, and the new 450 km Haramain high-speed line connects the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City to the north. Al-Falih also said his ministry was working on a new investment law that would address the needs of both domestic and international investors. The law would be enacted this year, “hopefully soon,” Al-Falih said, and would add to other regulatory and judicial reforms introduced by the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia said last year it would give foreign companies until the end of 2023 to set up headquarters in the Kingdom or risk losing out on government contracts. In October it said it had licensed 44 international companies to set up regional headquarters in Riyadh. The Future Minerals Forum is a special event bringing together ministers, organizations and mining leaders from more than 30 countries. Hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, is aimed at highlighting the role of mining in Saudi Vision 2030, after the government identified it as the third pillar of the Kingdom’s economy. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, told the forum that the transition away from fossil fuels to clean power was complicated, and the world needed to be flexible to avoid sacrificing energy security. Energy transition needed to be thought through carefully, Prince Abdulaziz said. “It may end up be- ing a leap into the future, unfor- tunately an unknown future. We should not forfeit energy security for the sake of a publicity stunt.” Prince Abdulaziz also said the Kingdom would be manufacturing and developing uranium. “Let me be very specific about it, we do have a huge amount of uranium resources that we would like to exploit and we will be doing it in the most transparent way, we will be bringing in partners.” He said Saudi Arabia would be publishing its energy strategy soon, and it was well-placed to become the cheapest producer of “green” hydrogen. Source https://www.arabnews.com/node/2003401/business-economy

January 13 at 05:29 AM

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NRZ revives Zimasco deal

News Day  January 6, 2022 (Zimbabwe) The National Railways of Zimbabwe has allocated trains to ferrochrome producer, Zimasco, in a bid to recapture its lost market. “Executives from NRZ and Zimasco met in Bulawayo on January 3 to discuss ways to reposition the railways as the primary mode of transportation for ferrochrome and chrome concentrates,” the NRZ said in a statement on Tuesday. “NRZ used to be the main transporter of these minerals to the port of Maputo, but lost out to road. NRZ will allocate dedicated trains to Zimasco in a bid to recapture the 130 000 tonnes a year ferrochrome business, the 300 000 to 400 000 tonnes local chrome movements, and nearly 100 000 tonnes of reductants. “The high-level meeting was attended by the NRZ general manager Respina Zinyanduko, chief marketing and business development manager Takunda Mudenha and chief strategy and planning manager Francis Bowden. Zimasco was represented by its general marketing manager Clara Sadomba.” The statement said the meeting also discussed the bigger picture on how the NRZ could position itself to play a key role in the realisation of the 2023 US$12 billion mining industry target. Last year, the NRZ entered into an agreement with DP World, a United Arab Emirates-based organisation, which promised to invest in rail infrastructural development. Source https://www.newsday.co.zw/2022/01/nrz-revives-zimasco-deal/

January 13 at 05:19 AM

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Metrorail trains reach Simon’s Town a month ahead of schedule

Sunday Times (Times Live) 05 January 2022 (South Africa) In what may be a first for railway timetabling, Metrorail commuter trains on Cape Town’s southern line will begin running to Simon’s Town a month ahead of schedule. “Metrorail Western Cape is pleased to announce the resumption of services between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town station on January 5,” the commuter train operator said on Tuesday. Trains were only expected to begin running to full length of the line from Cape Town to the Simon’s Town terminus in February due to ongoing repairs to storm-damaged catenary masts. The catenary poles are used to support the 3kV overhead cables from which electric trains draw their power. “Metrorail had undertaken a series of repair works which include fallen mast poles at Glencairn as a result of weather and natural corrosion, and not vandalism,” the train operator said. This means all 29 stations between Cape Town and Simon’s Town are served by rail. Trains will travel at a reduced speed, however, as certain repairs are being completed. Metrorail is also carrying out remedial works to deal with “sand issues which are endemic to the area”. Sand blowing over the track has long been a problem at the Simon’s Town end of the line. Metrorail had operated test trains on the route in the last week of December. Not everything had run as smoothly as hoped, however, according to local resident and rail enthusiast Mark Robinson, who had been keeping tabs on the situation. “The first of these runs caused a certain amount of chaos for road traffic as the Fish Hoek beach level crossing booms came down as they should but failed to raise again after the train had passed,” Robinson wrote in the Cape Railway Enthusiasts Association January newsletter. “This on a very busy summer morning with lots of beachgoers in their cars trying to access the beach area. Eventually some large guy forced the booms up and what had become quite a large traffic jam was eased. However, the booms failed to operate when the train returned.” The resumption of services marks the culmination of weeks of repairs carried out on the line since cable theft caused a nearly two-month stoppage on the Retreat-Fish Hoek section in October. Trains from Retreat to Fish Hoek restarted on December 21 after a nearly two-month stoppage caused by cable theft in October. Metrorail security caught one of two people as they were “cutting 11kV lines between Retreat and Fish Hoek Stations”, said Nana Zenani, acting spokesperson for Metrorail Western Cape. “During their escape, the criminals proceeded to throw the cut 11kV line onto live 3kV overhead electric lines at Fish Hoek station. The two wires touched causing damage to four mast poles.” The R4.5m repair job involved replacing severed power cables and rebuilding the damaged masts and their foundations.  “All this work took place before the electric lines could be strung up and switched on to allow for operations,” she said. Source https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2022-01-05-metrorail-trains-reach-simons-town-a-month-ahead-of-schedule/

January 13 at 05:02 AM

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Feature: Zim’s railroad transport relegated to history

News Day  January 2, 2022 (Rutenga, Zimbabwe) 17-year-old Zimbabwean, Dayton Murambwi, has never known the inside of a passenger train, nor has he seen one in motion. Hailing from Rutenga, a growth point in Masvingo province in the country’s southeast, Murambwi, in his fourth year of secondary school education, said he only hears about train stories from elderly people who reminisce about the heydays of this country’s railroad network system. At his current age, it means Murambwi was born in 2004, at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, when hyperinflation was picking up, not sparing the country’s railway network system either. “I’ve never seen a moving train. I just see the trains parked and with guards moving around them,” Murambwi said. What he remembers are stories shared between his father and some elderly people at Rutenga township nostalgic about the good old days when railroad transport was most reliable. Such is true of many senior citizens like 71-year-old Dumisani Shonani, who said he was a retired railway employee. “It’s sad that the new generation is not experiencing the good transport service we enjoyed when trains were common some few years back. One could travel on time,” Shonani said. State-owned buses have since last year become the sole means of public road transport after the government banned privately-owned commuter omnibuses in a desperate bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) has taken over the transportation of commuters. But still, it cannot cope with demand and the reintroduced aged trains cannot cope with the pressure either. Extinction In fact, Zimbabwe’s railroad transport is riding to extinction even as the government has desperately tried to bring the aged trains back to life to operate under Zupco to save the irate public. Elivis Mugari, a political activist of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, said the defunct trains were a non-starter. “Remember, these aged trains are only found in Harare and Bulawayo. But they rarely operate because more often than not, they are broken down, and this doesn’t save the situation at all,” Mugari said. Economy halted trains A decade ago, commuter trains used to operate before they were halted by the country’s mounting economic challenges in the midst of hyperinflation. After a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2015 allowed companies to terminate employment without benefits, the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) had to dismiss about 600 of its workers to evade the burden of paying wages to the disgruntled workers. Nevertheless, that has not saved the few remaining commuter trains as the poor economy continued to pummel the aged trains, rendering many of them grounded. Now, for many commuters here like 27-year-old Helen Mbiriyazvo in Harare, transport woes have remained the order of the day. “The government just talks, empty talk in fact. And as you may know, the trains are just grounded and very old, and it is very rare to see them moving either, and even if one or two trains may be seen in motion, they are still not enough for us,” Mbiriyazvo said. No choice A nurse by profession, Mbiriyazvo and many other commuters in Zimbabwe have no choice. In line with Zimbabwe’s coronavirus prevention guidelines, the rare trains, as well as Zupco buses and privately-owned buses under the Zupco franchise, are the only mode of transport authorized to ferry passengers. As a result, they have to bear with long waits at bus terminals waiting for transport. Mbiriyazvo said she cannot opt for the trains because in reality, they have ceased to exist. During its heydays, Zimbabwe’s commuter trains used to ferry around 120 000 passengers daily, according to statistics from NRZ. See no evil Yet even as commuters like Mbiriyazvo see little or no value added by the so-called return of this southern African nation’s commuter trains, government officials instead brag about the aged carriages. In September, government spokesperson Ndavaningi Mangwana went on record in the media saying Zimbabwe’s railway lines and trains were some of the very best in the world in terms of comfort and running on time. But a visit by  Anadolu Agency  to the grounded train carriages in the capital Harare showed otherwise. Out of order The train carriages lack lighting and water, and the toilets are filthy while the signalling and information systems are out of order, with some railway tracks overgrown with grass following years of neglect. Even so, in 2017, South African logistics group Transnet won a US$400 million joint bid to recapitalize this country’s railroad system, including acquiring and refurbishing train carriages. Two years later, the same deal was cancelled by the government, blaming the South African company for not providing a viable funding plan. For now, commuters like Mbiriyazvo just have to make do with the scarce public road transport and the rare commuter carriages. “There are very few buses to rely on for transport now, but also very rare commuter trains,” she said.  — Anadolu Agency Source https://www.newsday.co.zw/2022/01/feature-zims-railroad-transport-relegated-to-history/

January 13 at 04:46 AM

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Nakhchivan-Mashhad passenger train to restart operation

Tehran Times  December 31, 2021 (Tehran, Iran) Iran's Consul General in Nakhchivan Seyed Ahmad Hosseini met with Director of Nakhchivan Railways LLC Mahir Aliyev to discuss rail cooperation and the resumption of the Nakhchivan-Mashhad passenger train line, IRNA reported. In this meeting, the Nakhjavani side pointed out that all the necessary preparations have been made for restarting the routine operation of the Nakhchivan-Mashhad passenger train, and the line could be launched as soon as a final agreement is reached by the railway authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Hosseini for his part announced Tehran's readiness to take all necessary measures in this regard. Nakhchivan-Mashhad passenger train was initiated two years ago but halted shortly after due to unknown reasons. The train from Nakhchivan traveled to Iran’s northwestern city of Tabriz through Jolfa and thereon to Tehran and finally Mashhad. The primary deal for the Nakhchivan-Tabriz-Mashhad railroad project had been inked between Iran and Azerbaijan Republic in February 2016. EF/MA Photo: Iran's Consul General in Nakhchivan Seyed Ahmad Hosseini (1st R) meets Director of Nakhchivan Railways LLC Mahir Aliyev (2nd L) Source https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/468613/Nakhchivan-Mashhad-passenger-train-to-restart-operation

January 13 at 04:30 AM

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Mainland's first rail-sea intermodal special train departs from Jiangxi to Taiwan on Monday

Global Times  January 11, 2022 (China) The first rail-sea intermodal special train between East China's Jiangxi Province and Taiwan departed from Nanchang on Monday afternoon and is heading for the island, according to post on the WeChat account of the Nanchang Railway. The train will arrive at the port of Xiamen in East China's Fujian Province on Tuesday and the freight will further go to ports in Taiwan, including Keelung and Kaohsiung, the post said.  The goods carried by the 25 carriages on this special train include paper and copper products as well as fabrics. The new rail-sea intermodal transportation will also make up for the traditional disadvantages of maritime transportation, such as shortage of containers, and will shorten the overall shipment time by about two days.  Running of trains is another example of the growing trade ties between the mainland and Taiwan despite political disputes. Data from mainland customs show that trade between the mainland and the island of Taiwan grew 27.3 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2021. Data revealed by Taiwan also show that the region's exports to the mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region hit an all-time high of $188.9 billion in 2021, as demand for the island's computer chips was high, according to media reports.  Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202201/1245591.shtml

January 12 at 06:19 AM

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Kenya Railways Conduct Trial Freight Train On SGR-MGR Line

Kenya News Agency  January 10, 2022 (Kenya) Investors transporting huge cargo will now enjoy seamless transportation from the Port of Mombasa to Malaba and to the East African region in a safe, reliable and cost-effective way, thanks to operationalisation of the Standard Gauge Railway and Meter Gauge railway link line in Naivasha. Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga said the cooperation had successfully run the first trial freight train on the new constructed link connecting the Standard Gauge Railway and Meter Gauge Railway in Naivasha. He said the cargo which was loaded at the Port of Mombasa and transported via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), was seamlessly transshipped onto the Metre Gauge Railway (MGR) line at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (NICD), and was now destined for Malaba. Speaking during the event held at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot located at Mai-Mahiu, Mainga said the ICD facility had a capacity to handle 120,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs) annually and that it will handle mostly transit cargo to the Great Lakes Region including Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Northern Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. He added that the cargo to be handled at Naivasha ICD will account for 30% of imports and exports from the Port of Mombasa. The MD said the SGR/MGR railway link was now expected to enhance efficiency and ease the transshipment process in the region. While reiterating that the railway line offers a service that is premised on safety, efficiency and reliability, Mainga said the linkage will be convenient for East African partner states who will no longer have to cover an entire 572 kilometers by road between Mombasa and Naivasha. He assured transporters and importers that they could now pick their cargo at Malaba 36 hours after the train departs from the Port of Mombasa. Mainga also assured local clients that they would be offered a 30 Days free storage with quick cargo processing and transshipment onto wagons at the Naivasha ICD. “We will have regular, speedy and reliable delivery of cargo through well-organized trains’ schedules with strict timetables for the evacuation of cargo and empty container repatriation from the Inland Container Terminals,” said Mainga. Noting that the corporation holds a strong safety record the MD said they will continue to strive to ensure incidences are minimized, adding that there is a Goods in Transit Cover for goods moved on Railway network. Source https://www.kenyanews.go.ke/kenya-railways-conduct-trial-freight-train-on-sgr-mgr-line/

January 12 at 06:06 AM

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Railway project: No better way to begin the Next 50 journey

Khaleej Times  11 January 2022 (UAE) Apart from de-clogging the congested highways, it is expected to offset carbon emissions in a big way, thereby helping the UAE achieve the avowed objective of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 The UAE, which turned an empty, barren desert into bustling metropolises, and which aims to build a colony on Mars by 2117, has now turned its focus to building railway tracks to connect the entire country. The grand ambition was unveiled by none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at Expo 2020 Dubai. The project, which has been long overdue, is announced at a time when the UAE has set sights on the next 50 years of progress after concluding the Golden Jubilee celebrations in a befitting manner. There is no better way to begin the Next 50 journey than this. This is in line with the mission of relentless progress and transformation that the UAE leaders have undertaken ever since the Union was formed in 1971. Etihad Rail, which was previously meant for freight movement, is now expanded to include passenger services. Once complete, one can travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes flat and to Fujairah in 100 minutes. Powered by electricity generated from non-fossil fuel sources, the rail system will take thousands of cars and lorries off the roads. Apart from de-clogging the congested highways, it is expected to offset carbon emissions in a big way, thereby helping the UAE achieve the avowed objective of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. Faster movement of goods and people across the length and breadth of the country is key to the integration of economy. It will certainly quicken economic progress and lay strong foundations for a prosperous and self-sustaining economy. By 2030, the new railway system will have come into operation, deepening the economic diversification of the country. That the UAE leaders dream big and plan big is now the staple of fairy tales. Unending stream of projects and plans is a testimony to the dogged determination of the leaders who would spare no effort to put their nation at the pinnacle of glory. The UAE has been at the forefront of research and implementation of state-of-the-art transportation systems. Work on a Hyperloop system and flying taxis began here years ago and will fructify in due course, putting the country ahead of many others. The UAE has made a name for itself when it comes to innovation and novel approaches to solving problems. Railways is a traditional system of mobility that has linked and united several bigger countries such as China, India and Europe for more than a century. This system will do a world of good to a smaller country like the UAE too. Source https://www.khaleejtimes.com/opinion/railway-project-no-better-way-to-begin-the-next-50-journey

January 12 at 05:49 AM

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Circle Line 6 tunnelling works complete, 3 new stations set to open in 2026

Channel News Asia  12 Jan 2022 (Singapore) If you’re travelling from Telok Blangah to the Marina Bay area by MRT, changing trains twice on your journey will soon be a thing of the past.  The final stretch of tunnelling works for Circle Line 6 (CCL6) was completed on Wednesday (Jan 12). This comprises three underground stations - Keppel, Cantonment and Prince Edward Road - closing the loop between HarbourFront and Marina Bay stations. This means commuters will be able to get a direct line from Telok Blangah to Marina Bay, for instance, saving about 10 minutes of travel time. With the CCL6 extension on track to open in 2026, a year later than initially scheduled, it will allow easier access to areas such as Spottiswoode, Keppel Road and the southern edge of the central business district. There will then be a total of 33 stations along the entire Circle Line, including 12 interchange stations that connect to other MRT lines. AN IMPORTANT MILESTONE Tunnelling works for CCL6 began in August 2019, with the first stretch between Keppel and HarbourFront station completed in August 2020. Tunnelling works between Keppel and Cantonment station were then finished in July 2021. And on Wednesday, tunnelling works from the Prince Edward Road to Cantonment station were concluded, meaning 55 per cent of civil construction works are now complete.  Structural connections will be carried out next, followed by the installation of track-related equipment as well as electrical and mechanical services and systems. At the tunnel breakthrough ceremony, Minister for Transport S Iswaran said that the completion of this final stretch of tunnelling works is an "important milestone", noting that there were "a series of challenges". Some were due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were also engineering challenges.   "The actual tunnelling itself has had to take place beneath heritage buildings in proximity to the foundations of commercial buildings and other MRT stations. And so there has been an important engineering challenge that has also had to be overcome," he said. For instance, the tunnels between the Prince Edward Road and Cantonment station cross under the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station - a gazetted national monument. As the works took place merely 6.7 metres below the building's piles, additional protection measures had to be implemented before tunnelling began, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in a media release. These included ensuring protective structures were installed to reinforce and stabilise the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station's interior and exterior elements.  More than 600 monitoring instruments were also installed to detect any movements of the building during the tunnelling works, added LTA.  Nonetheless, CCL6 is a "tangible improvement for the individual commuter", said Mr Iswaran, adding that it is an "important addition to the resilience of our overall MRT system". Source https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/circle-line-6-extension-tunnelling-complete-keppel-cantonment-prince-edward-road-2429691

January 12 at 05:38 AM

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China hopes to expand East African rail network and develop ports

South China Morning Post  10 January, 2022 (China) The proposals could see Kenya’s Mombasa-Nairobi rail link extended to the Uganda border and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti line expanding to 5 other countries in total There is no rush to implement the plans and analysts said it remains to be seen how much appetite China has to finance the schemes China is proposing a grand infrastructure plan for the Horn of Africa that would involve expanding the two major railroads and developing ports on the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Under the proposals, announced during  last week’s visit by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi,  the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya will be extended to Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and eventually to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile the line linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with Djibouti would be extended to  Eritrea  – but both plans will only happen in “due course”. Wang also called for faster development of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to develop a framework of “two axes plus two coasts”. “This is part of our effort to help this part of the region to accelerate the building of industrial belts and economic belts to create more jobs,” Wang said at a briefing with Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omamo in the coastal city of Mombasa on Thursday. Besides Kenya, Wang visited Eritrea, which occupies a strategic location on the Red Sea and signed up for the  Belt and Road Initiative  in November, and Comoros, an archipelago on the Indian Ocean where China has been increasing its footprint under its Maritime Silk Road, the seabourne part of the BRI. Wang’s visit may help revive plans to extend the Mombasa-Nairobi line to Malaba on the border with Uganda, which stalled after China’s Export-Import Bank asked Kenya in 2018 to redo a study to prove its commercial viability. China is making inroads into the Horn of Africa and has already invested heavily in Djibouti, which is home to its first overseas military base. Further investment in ports in the region may prove crucial to the success of the Maritime Silk Road. Seifudein Adem, a professor of global studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, said a proposed rail link between Addis Ababa and Assab, a port in Eritrea, may be the winning card in China’s new diplomatic strategy in the Horn. Adem said:“Since Ethiopia is already linked to Kenya through a transnational road system, it is conceivable that the entire Eastern and Central African region would be interconnected before very long, with the other regions to follow.” Adem said the expansion of rail networks in the Horn of Africa has been one of Beijing’s main strategic objectives in Africa as a way of boosting connectivity. “Having a standard gauge railway connecting the region’s coastal and inland ports (including dry ports) will be essential for the region in the medium term,” said Deborah Brautigam, a professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University and founding director of the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI). She said if African countries want economic integration with each other and the world, they will need to reshape their economic geography. But Wang’s comments that it will happen in “due course” suggests “it depends on African governments creating the conditions (peace, stability, realistic feasibility studies) that will allow Chinese capital to be employed productively and sustainably,” Brautigam added. Despite the renwed interest in rail investment, Yu-Shan Wu, a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Pretoria in South Africa said:“China is unlikely to commit to large infrastructure projects as it did in the past. Such projects also depend on their feasibility. W Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow with the Centre for Global Development and a former Liberian public works minister, said: “Morocco recently signed onto the BRI – so it seems more of an indication of China doubling down in these regions. “On the infrastructure front, the Chinese have repeatedly baulked at financing the rest of the [Kenyan] standard gauge railway so I would adopt a wait-and-see approach here.” Source https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3162723/china-hopes-expand-east-african-rail-network-and-develop-ports

January 12 at 05:31 AM

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Plane hit by train after crashing on train tracks in California

Reuters  January 10, 2022 (US) Police in Los Angeles, California, pulled the pilot from a crash-landed Cessna seconds before the aircraft was hit by a train on Sunday, sending debris flying in all directions. Dramatic video obtained by Reuters shows several officers freeing the man from the downed plane, which had crashed shortly after takeoff in the Pacoima neighborhood, according to local media. The officers and pilot are just a few feet away from the tracks when the passing train destroys the plane. "The plane had a failed takeoff and landed on the train tracks at a popular intersection," said Luis Jimenez, the 21-year-old music composer who filmed the video. "Just seconds before impact police officers saved the pilot, and a piece of debris almost hit me." The pilot was treated for cuts and bruises and is in a stable condition, according to local media. No one on the train was injured, local media reported. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/us/plane-hit-by-train-after-crashing-train-tracks-california-2022-01-10/

January 11 at 05:18 AM

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UK railways are heading into a perfect storm. Now is the time to nationalise them

The Guardian  10 January 2022 (UK) These services are an essential part of the nation’s fabric, but still ministers fixate on cutting costs over providing a service “So, Mum/Dad, what are the railways for?” That is the question the UK rail industry will be dreading hearing in a post-pandemic world. This is not quite the existential crisis rail faced in the aftermath of the extensive   Beeching cuts to the network in the mid-1960s, but that’s cold comfort. There is a considerable risk that services are going to deteriorate massively in 2022, sending the sector into the kind of downward spiral that was last experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. By the financial year’s end, passengers may well be paying higher fares for a service of fewer and more crowded trains, departing from stations stripped of staff. And the result of that will be to push more people into using cars, but also to critically undermine the government’s “levelling up” promise, since poorer people are far more dependent on public transport. It’s a perfect storm. Unsurprisingly given the restrictions on travel and the instruction to work from home, revenue from rail fares dropped to a fifth of pre-pandemic levels during the 2020-21 financial year. The need to keep services running for key workers throughout lockdowns meant government subsidy rose from about £5bn to a very generous £17bn to prevent the network from collapsing. While this figure does include some modest investment to improve the network, that level of support will not be sustainable for long. The pandemic already led to significant change in the funding of the railways, when in September 2020, the franchise system created during privatisation in the mid-1990s was scrapped. Under franchises, private operators kept the fares, giving them an incentive to generate income through price increases and extra passenger numbers. Now the industry is being run through management contracts, which means the government effectively keeps all the fares but bears the risk if fewer people use the railways. The end of franchising was initially a temporary fix but has now become a permanent change as recommended by last year’s Williams-Shapps review of the industry. That review was already under way at the start of the pandemic – triggered by the chaotic May 2018 timetable change which resulted in widespread disruption because of the lack of coordination between operators and Network Rail. In light of the pandemic, its recommendations have led to the Treasury now demanding operators cut costs by 10% over the next year and a 3.8% fare rise in March, while the Department for Transport is looking at reductions to the timetable. But these cuts will have a severe impact on the level of service because the biggest spending areas for rail operators are on fixed costs such as station buildings, rolling stock and track maintenance, which are the same regardless of how many people use services. Other costs, such as fuel, electricity, platform staff and drivers are relatively low. The only way to save money is to dramatically reduce staff or to make severe inroads into the timetable, which will in turn impact revenue, creating a vicious circle. The unions are already preparing industrial action to combat these cuts, which will further disrupt services. At the same time, £500m is being spent on schemes to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. While that is welcome, reopening lightly used lines with an infrequent service seems an odd priority. Meanwhile, about £98bn may be spent over the next few years on HS2. This apparently contradictory position of building new services while existing ones are being cut   reflects the Treasury’s view that capital expenditure is a “good thing” while operating expenditure, which by its nature recurs every year, is inherently “bad”. But this largesse in favour of HS2 is also putting the squeeze on other more modest enhancements and will result in a poorer service as temporary speed restrictions are imposed on dodgy sections of track. Escape from this perfect storm is possible. The Williams-Shapps report recommended the creation of a strategic body to oversee the railways, to be called, in a flourish of boosterism, “Great British Railways”. It will take over Network Rail, which is already state-owned, and provide a long-term plan for the railways. But as ever, the devil is in the detail. A government with a sense of history and an open mind would look to the British Rail of the past for a blueprint of how to run a successful railway. In its final decade before privatisation, it created three sectors – InterCity, Network SouthEast and Regional Railways – that had considerable independence in the areas of investment and timetabling. Allowing British Rail this freedom resulted in a blend of business imperatives backed by a strong public sector ethos that was successful. It became Europe’s most efficient railway. Sadly, all that was lost to privatisation, and while the collapse of the franchising system could provide an opportunity to recreate it, a continuing ideological obsession with private-sector involvement means that the increased costs and complexity that have characterised the railways in the past quarter of a century will remain. This matters for our transport system, but it matters more than that – because a good rail connection is a passport to prosperity. Look, for example, at how Margate has been transformed thanks to the half-hour reduction in journey time to London. As a corollary, look at how decline has been hastened in towns cut off from the rail network by Beeching. Railways have always been a catalyst of economic growth and prosperity, but politicians throughout history have often failed to recognise this. Some are commercially successful, some aren’t. So what? No one ever asks why the B-road to Nether Hopping should be kept open even though few cars use it on a daily basis. A properly funded, properly configured railway would cost a lot of money over the next few years until passenger numbers recovered, but railways are more than trains and tracks: they are an essential part of the fabric of the country. There is a moral case here, and politically there is the opportunity to make a popular case for a publicly owned, integrated railway – run independently of state interference. Labour should take it. Source https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/10/uk-railways-nationalise

January 11 at 05:13 AM

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Sri Lanka launches train service using Indian-funded coaches

Hindustan Times  January 10, 2022 (Sri Lanka) “Powering Sri Lanka railway infrastructure forward!! The train service launched today to the Northern Province highlights 2 key pillars of Flag of India's development partnership with #lka - infrastructure development and country-wide focus,” the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka tweeted. Sri Lanka on Sunday launched an inter-city train service, using the Diesel Multiple Units procured from India, highlighting two key pillars of New Delhi's development partnership with the island nation -- infrastructure development and country-wide focus. The train service will criss-cross the island nation, connecting the capital city of Colombo with Kankesanthurai on the northern tip of the Jaffna Peninsula, which has a Tamil-majority population. “Powering Sri Lanka railway infrastructure forward!! The train service launched today to the Northern Province highlights 2 key pillars of Flag of India's development partnership with #lka - infrastructure development and country-wide focus,” the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka tweeted. The launch ceremony was attended by Sri Lankan Transport Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi and India’s Deputy High Commissioner Vinod K Jacob. “Another significant landmark in India-Sri Lanka ties! Hon'ble Minister @pavithrawannia1 inaugurated the AC Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) supplied by @RITESLimited under an Indian credit line & launched the train service from Mt.Lavinia to KKS. She undertook the inaugural ride&was welcomed,” the Indian mission said in another tweet. “This train service will facilitate people-to-people exchange and will lay emphasis on mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries,” Jacob said. Wanniarachchi thanked the Indian government for its continued support to Sri Lanka in tackling the ongoing pandemic.  Source https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/sri-lanka-launches-train-service-using-indian-funded-coaches-101641772430926.html

January 11 at 05:03 AM

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Rio Tinto buys four electric trains to transport iron ore in Pilbara

Reuters  January 11, 2022 (Australia) Rio Tinto Ltd (RIO.AX) will buy four battery electric trains to transport iron ore from its mines to ports in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as part of its decarbonisation strategy, the global miner said on Tuesday. The Anglo-Australian company bought the locomotives from Pennsylvania, U.S.-based rail technology firm Wabtec Corp (WAB.N) to help achieve its $7.5 billion plan to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030 in the Pilbara region. "A full transition to net zero emissions technology of its entire fleet of rail locomotives would reduce Rio Tinto Iron Ore's diesel-related carbon emissions in the Pilbara by around 30% annually," the miner said. Last week, the world's fourth biggest iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX) had bought two new electric locomotives to transport iron ore to ports as part of its decarbonisation plan. Source https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/rio-tinto-buys-four-electric-trains-transport-iron-ore-pilbara-2022-01-10/

January 11 at 04:50 AM

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Dakar Regional Express Train inaugurated

Arab News  January 11, 2022 (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) With joint funding from IDB, first express train in Sub-Saharan Africa will play key role in reducing traffic, greenhouse gas emissions in Dakar In the presence of President of Senegal Macky Sall and head of the Islamic Development Bank Dr. Mohammed Al-Jasser, the Dakar Regional Express Train was inaugurated in the capital Dakar on Sunday. The scheme is a massive project jointly funded by the IDB and the governments of Senegal and France. The IDB, however, is the sole donor to commit to both phases of the project. Running at a speed of 160 kph, the train will travel from Dakar city center to Diamniadio in 20 minutes, transporting around 115,000 passengers daily. This project is the first express train in Sub-Saharan Africa and will play a key role in addressing traffic and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the capital. Dakar, which is home to 3 million people, hosts around 20 percent of Senegal’s population and provides approximately 85 percent of employment opportunities nationwide. The IDB offered €300 million ($340 million) for the first phase of the project and plans to invest €100 million in the second phase, which will provide a cost-effective, eco-friendly trip on the 55-km road connecting Dakar city center with Blaise Diagne International Airport in less than 50 minutes. Source https://www.arabnews.com/node/2001871/saudi-arabia

January 11 at 04:35 AM

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Qatar, Saudi transport ministers discuss rail link

Gulf Times  January 06 2022 (Doha) Qatar's Minister of Transport HE Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti and Saudi Arabia's Transport and Logistic Services Minister engineer Saleh bin Nasser al-Jasser visiting the Doha Metro project Qatar's Minister of Transport HE Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti and Saudi Arabia's Transport and Logistic Services Minister engineer Saleh bin Nasser al-Jasser on Thrusday discussed in Doha about setting a date to begin studying about a rail link between the two brotherly countries. In a meeting at the Ministry of Transport headquarters, they also discussed aspects of co-operation in the fields of transportation, civil aviation, ports and railways, and ways of further enhancing them. The meeting was attended by several officials, Qatari transportation industry representatives, and members of the delegation accompanying the Saudi minister. HE al-Sulaiti and the Saudi minister also visited the Doha Metro project Thursday. They inspected its operations and were briefed on the aspects of the project by officials representing Qatar Railways Company. Chairman of the Transport General Authority of Saudi Arabia, Dr Rumaih Mohammed al-Rumaih participated in the tour. Source https://www.gulf-times.com/story/707510/Qatar-Saudi-transport-ministers-discuss-rail-link

January 10 at 05:43 AM

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New technology to tackle 'leaves on line' train delays

BBC  8 January 2022 (UK) New technology is being developed to help identify hazards on railway lines such as "leaves on the line" that can prevent trains from running. So-called low-adhesion hazards on railway lines are estimated to cost the industry £350m a year. Network Rail said the aim was to develop a system that would capture data from across the network. The system is being developed by Loughborough and Sheffield universities and engineering firm Perpetuum. 'Black ice' Engineers said the new software would use sensors located near train wheels to pick up small changes in how the vehicles respond to different track conditions. This data would be fed into a computer system which will create a real-time map of the kind of biological, chemical or physical factors that cannot be easily monitored or controlled. Engineers said the map would allow network operators to react quickly to potential risks, meaning services could run more safely and smoothly. If the testing is successful, the technology could be deployed within five to 10 years. Loughborough's Dr Chris Ward, who is leading the initiative, said: "The network is in danger of low-adhesion events occurring at all times and the industry takes the impact of these incredibly seriously. "Network Rail and the wider rail industry invests huge amounts of money in cleaning and forecasting where low-adhesion events may occur - but it's not an exact science and affected areas may only be discovered after an incident has taken place." He said the new technology would create "a more accurate picture of where hazards lie" on the UK network, which should mean a quicker response from operators and fewer delays. Elaine Cockroft, from Network Rail, said: "The future ambition is to add the technology to passenger trains or freight locomotives. "This would feed into an up-to-date adhesion map of the network." The 22-month study will see the research team test their algorithms at Network Rail's centre in Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, in the summer. Professor David Fletcher, from the University of Sheffield, said: "The chemistry of the leaves, rain and the huge pressures create a material that is akin to black ice - very nearly zero friction. "So, when brakes are applied, vehicles can just slide. "This means red signals can be passed, station stops missed, and collisions can occur." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-59900189

January 10 at 05:37 AM

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Tehran, Ashgabat explore avenues of transport, energy co-op

Tehran Times  January 9, 2022 (Tehran) Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qasemi met with Deputy Chairman of Turkmenistan’s Cabinet of Ministers Serdar Berdymukhamedov in Tehran on Saturday to exchange views and discuss mutual cooperation in various transportation sectors. Speaking in this meeting, Qasemi mentioned the agreements reached between the two sides during the two countries’ Joint Economic Committee meeting, saying: “At the meeting of the Joint Committee, we reached agreements in the fields of transportation and transit between the two countries that had good results; In this regard, in the field of rail transport, we agreed on the daily exchange of 400 freight wagons at Sarakhs border.” Qasemi stated that this agreement has made good progress, adding: “We can increase this exchange rate as well.” The official informed Berdymukhamedov about some problems in the border terminals of Iran and Turkmenistan and suggested: “A joint team of Iranian and Turkmen railway experts can be formed to examine the existing obstacles in the way of realizing the daily exchange of 400 to 500 wagons, and to prepare a comprehensive report and resolve such problems.” He further suggested that the heads of the two countries' railways hold talks on issues related to Sarakhs and Incheh Boroun terminals, saying: "We are confident we can expand trade [at these borders]." Mentioning Turkmenistan's transit of goods to India and southern countries through Iran, Qasemi said: "I think it will have very good economic effects for both countries." According to Qasemi, the connection of the two countries' railways and rail transit can bring billions of dollars a year to Iran and Turkmenistan and have many benefits. He said that Iran and Turkmenistan can expand their cooperation far beyond the current level, adding: “Strengthening the rail transportation system in Iran and Turkmenistan as a safe and cheap route, can have great benefits for the two countries.” Further in the meeting, Berdymukhamedov referred to the good relations between Iran and Turkmenistan in various fields and noted that these relations have been strengthened based on various documents signed at the governmental level and between the ministries of the two countries. He underlined the determination of the two countries’ authorities for the expansion of ties in various areas, saying: “Despite the problems in 2021, we saw an 84-percent increase in the volume of trade between Iran and Turkmenistan compared to 2020.” Iran ready to swap 40 mcm/d of Turkmenistan’s gas During his visit to Tehran, Berdymukhamedov also met with Iranian Oil Minister Javad Oji to discuss the expansion of energy cooperation between the two neighbors. In this meeting, Oji noted that Iran is ready to swap 40 million cubic meters of gas per day (mcm/d) or 10 to 15 billion cubic meters per year. He mentioned the implementation of a gas swap deal with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan as of this month, saying: “Our colleagues at the Sarakhs metering station in Turkmenistan border are monitoring the implementation of the swap deal which is begun with four to five million cubic meters per day, or 1.5 to 2 billion cubic meters per year.” The tripartite gas swap agreement was signed on November 28, 2021 in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat on the sidelines of the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Under the agreement, natural gas will be transported from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan through Iran. EF/MA Photo:  Transport Minister Rostam Qasemi (R) hands a welcome gift to Deputy Chairman of Turkmenistan’s Cabinet of Ministers Serdar Berdymukhamedov in Tehran on Saturday. Source https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/468885/Tehran-Ashgabat-explore-avenues-of-transport-energy-co-op

January 10 at 05:21 AM

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Hong Kong rail operator MTR Corp issues Covid-19 vaccine mandate to its employees

Straits Times (BLOOMBERG) January 9, 2022 (Hong Kong) Hong Kong rail operator MTR Corp is asking its employees to receive at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose by late February as the city battles a fifth wave of coronavirus infections sparked by the Omicron variant. All staff entering company premises must receive one dose by Feb 23 and two by the end of April unless they have certified medical conditions that prevent them from getting the vaccine, MTR said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News. It also urged employees to get their booster shots as soon as possible if they are eligible. Regular testing will not be accepted as an alternative to receiving the vaccine, it said, adding that it will follow up with individual employees who refuse to take the vaccine by the deadline. MTR is the latest major employer in the city to mandate vaccines as the highly transmissible Omicron variant started spreading in the community in late December. Government employees have also been asked to present their Covid-19 vaccination records when they enter government buildings and offices from mid-February. Hong Kong is racing to get more residents vaccinated, with just 62.4 per cent of the population having received two doses so far, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker. The authorities will require people to have had at least one dose to enter many leisure and sports venues such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas, it said late next month. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/hong-kong-rail-operator-mtr-corp-issues-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-to-its-employees

January 10 at 05:17 AM

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Lack of investment slows down high-speed train project

Dhaka Tribune  January 8, 2022 (Bangladesh) Upon project completion, passengers will be able to travel between Dhaka and Chittagong in just an hour instead of the current six to seven hours by road The Dhaka-Chittagong high-speed train project is at risk of not being completed by the 2030 deadline due to a lack of interest from overseas investors.  If Bangladesh Railway (BR) can implement the project by 2030 as planned, passengers will be able to travel between Dhaka and Chittagong in just one hour instead of the current six to seven hours by road. BR has already sought investment from China, India, UK, France, Spain and Germany as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB). “We have approached overseas investors for a funding of the Dhaka-Chittagong high-speed train project as we have the capability to return the loan. However, the funding has still not been confirmed from anywhere yet and discussions are continuing,” said Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan.   The estimated cost of the project is around $11.4 billion, or Tk96,752 crore, according to the feasibility study commissioned by BR. The train will have a maximum speed of 300km/hour. Currently, Bangladesh Railway operates 360 passenger trains on its 3,000km network across the country. However, none of these trains can travel faster than 70km/hour. India has been implementing a bullet train project, while high-speed trains are already on the move in China and Japan. Meanwhile, a $6 billion high-speed rail line connecting China with its Southeast Asian neighbour Laos opened on December 3 last year. “We have decided in principle to construct a dedicated cord-line [between Dhaka and Chittagong] for operating trains at a maximum speed of 300km/hour,” said Quamrul Ahsan, project director (feasibility study and detailed design) of the Dhaka-Chittagong High Speed Railway Project. “It will be operated by electric traction on a ballast-less track for the first time in the country,” he added. “We will reach electrification of train operations, which is important as we are still very behind compared to neighboring countries,” said Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, mentioning that there were already many electric trains in India.  A team led by the railway minister recently met with investors in the UK, France, Spain and Germany to secure funding for the ambitious project.   “Discussions with the European investors were bright. We are waiting now for their further response following our proposal,” said Nurul Islam. The meetings with the investors were held between November 22 and December 5 last year. The BR took the initiative to launch a high-speed train on the Dhaka-Chittagong route in early 2018. Since then, it has been searching for investors. Last September, the government and the ADB discussed funding for the Dhaka-Chittagong high speed train. The ADB took the proposal positively, as the project is economically viable and will connect the country's business capital with its administrative capital. At the beginning of last year, two Chinese companies expressed interest in forming a joint venture to construct, operate and manage funds for a proposed high-speed railway on the Dhaka-Chittagong route. They proposed engaging in the multi-billion-dollar project based on a public-private partnership (PPP) under a government-to-government initiative. However, none of the proposals have been finalized yet. “The project requires massive investment, and the investors will think about the returns. It is viable to implement the high-speed train between the two important cities of the country as passenger traffic is very high,” said Dr Moazzem Hossain of the civil engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet). “Passengers will likely prefer high-speed trains over flying to Chittagong if the train service is available and is comfortable. Passengers can bear the fare once per capita income doubles to around $5,000 between 2030 and 2035,” he added. One detailed design ready China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) in partnership with the Bangladeshi firm Mazumder Enterprise has already prepared a detailed design of the high-speed railway at a cost of Tk,110.6 crore. Further work is being slowed down due to the lack of funds. “Now the preliminary development project proposal is being prepared for submission to the Economic Relations Division. As the source of funds for the project is not ready, procedures are moving slowly” said a senior official of the BR. Earlier, the Covid-19 pandemic hampered the preparation of the detailed design.    Feasibility study According to the feasibility study, the journey from Dhaka to Chittagong will take only 56 minutes once the high-speed train goes into service. If the train stops at four stations between Dhaka and Chittagong, the journey will take 73 minutes. Six stations are planned on the proposed route — in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Comilla, Feni, Pahartali and Chittagong. The total length of the track is 227.3km and approximately 50,000 passengers are expected to use the service each day. The train route will go through Narayanganj alongside the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, instead of along the existing Tongi-Narsingdi route. The high-speed railway will be on a double track and mostly elevated to ensure high speed at level crossings and other entry points of the line. Source https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2022/01/08/lack-of-investment-slows-down-high-speed-train-project

January 10 at 04:44 AM

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Visitors to 2025 Expo in Osaka can take ride on ‘spacecraft’ train

The Asahi Shimbun  January 6, 2022 (Osaka, Japan) The 400 series train to be introduced on Osaka Metro Co.’s Chuo Line (Provided by Osaka Metro Co.) A futuristic-looking subway train featuring an exterior that resembles a spacecraft will provide a wow factor for the 2025 Osaka Kansai Expo. Osaka Metro Co. unveiled the design for the new 400 series train, scheduled to start operating in April 2023 on the Chuo Line. “I came up with the characteristic design by pursuing a vehicle whose passengers can enjoy exciting rides,” Kiyoyuki Okuyama, who serves as chief design officer at the company, told a Dec. 9 news conference. Also known as Ken Okuyama, the industrial designer has worked on Ferrari sports cars, East Japan Railway Co.’s luxury sleeper Train Suite Shiki-shima and the E7 and W7 series trains on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line. Osaka Metro will extend the Chuo Line to Yumeshima, the site of the Osaka Kansai Expo, by the end of fiscal 2024. To offer passengers a good view, the front portion of the 400 series is covered by a large sheet of glass with light-emitting diodes embedded in all four corners. The backrests on passenger seats will stand taller, while cross seats will be available for riders to sit in profile to windows for their comfort. Hitachi Ltd. will build the 400 series. Introducing all 23 of the six-car trains is estimated to cost 30 billion yen ($264 million). The new train will be equipped with a self-operating function, allowing the train to be handled by crew members who do not have driving licenses. The system is expected to undergo verification testing in fiscal 2024. Security cameras will be in place so that crew members can monitor the conditions aboard in real time. The safety feature comes after a series of high-profile attacks on trains nationwide. Osaka Metro plans to use an additional 10 trains from the 30000A series to secure enough transportation capability for the event. Source https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14505772

January 07 at 04:40 AM

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How transport in Paris will change in 2022

The Local  4 January 2022 (France) From flying taxis (maybe) to the RER Vélo, here's how transport will change in the French capital in 2022. January  Line 4 extended to Bagneux  Line 4 of the Paris Metro will stretch 1.8km further south with two new stations, terminating in Bagneux in the southern suburbs. The Barbara (between Montrouge and Bagneux) and Bagneux stations will open on January 13th. As a result of this extension, 37,000 extra people are expected to use the Metro each day. Trains running on this line will be progressively automated from the summer.  February   Navigo users to be reimbursed for late trains SNCF and RATP have said they will begin reimbursing Navigo pass holders for repeatedly late RER A and RER B trains. If less than 80 percent of rail services are on time over a period of several months, users will receive compensation for anywhere between half a month of subscription fees to one and a half months of conscription fees. Those who frequently use the RER B are most likely to benefit from compensation. Reimbursement will not be automatic as in 2021 – rail users will have to apply via a specially created website. March   Phase-out of paper Metro tickets  Many Metro stations have already begun phasing out the old 10-pack metro tickets  carnets . In March, almost all stations will have scrapped this purchase option altogether in an effort to push people towards purchasing rechargeable Navigo Easy cards or use the IDF Mobilities app instead. Cardboard tickets won’t disappear completely – it will still be possible to buy single tickets. Flying taxi trial in Pontoise  RATP, Aéroports de Paris and a company called Volocopter are striving to launch a flying taxi service, although we’re a long way off hailing a flying cab just yet. Prototypes are set to be trialled during the Spring in Pontoise, to the northwest of Paris. The vehicles are a sort of hybrid between drone and helicopter and will be capable of carrying up to four passengers at once. If the trials are successful, the company says that the aim is to have the service fully operational by 2024 – journeys would cost in the region of €100.   April   Price limits for Ile-de-France public transport  The cost of most journeys on public transport in Ile-de-France will be limited to €5, or €4 per journey for people buying a  carnet . The move will be subsidised by regional authorities to the tune of some €60 million per year. It was a campaign promise of Valérie Pécresse, president of the Ile-de-France Regional Council and now presidential candidate.  May   Line 12 extended to Mairie-d’Aubervilliers Line 12 of the Paris Metro will be extended northward, with two new stations – Aimé-Césaire and Mairie-d’Aubervilliers – opening in May. Residents of the northern suburbs have been waiting for this for nearly 20 years, but various problems, most recently including the Covid pandemic, delayed the project significantly.  June   Cycle lane network expands  City authorities in Paris have promised to protect 60km of cycle lanes known as  coronapistes , which were initially meant to be temporary solutions to reduce the saturation of public transport during the pandemic. In the Summer, this network will be expanded eastwards towards Place de la Bastille. The city has promised to construct a 650km network of cycle lanes by 2025.  July   New tramway in Yvelines  After 5 years of construction, the T-13 tramway will finally open up in Yvelines, connecting Saint-Cyr-l’École in the south to Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the north. The line will link through RER C and RER A without users having to travel through Paris. Some 21,000 daily passengers are expected to use the service every day.  Polluting vehicles banned from Paris  Diesel cars registered before 2011 and petrol cars registered before 2006 will no longer be able to enter Paris from July 1st. All the land inside the A86 (the ring road surrounding the city) will be protected as a low emissions zone. Of the 5.4 million cars in the Paris region, about a quarter will no longer to be able to enter the city.  August  Works begin in   Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame RER station  At least four months of repair and maintenance work will begin on August 23rd in the RER C station, Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame, meaning that this stop will be temporarily out of service. The total cost of the work is estimated at €32 million. The Saint-Michel stop of the RER B and Line 4 will however remain operational.  September  Parking fees for motorbikes From September 1st, parking will no longer be free for motorised two-wheeled vehicles on Paris. Drivers will have to pay €2-3 per hour to park their motorbikes/motorcycles, for a maximum of six hours at a time. City authorities have promised to put in place a monthly pass for non-resident bikers, which will allow them to park at cheaper rates at designated parking spots.   End of the year  City authorities are discussing the creation of a limited traffic zone in the centre of Paris, promising to put one in place in the second half of 2022. The aim is to reduce traffic in the four central arrondissements but it is unclear who will have the right to continue driving there. It looks likely that residents, taxis and business owners will be able to continue using these roads but that visitors and private chauffeurs will not.  Source https://www.thelocal.fr/20220104/how-transport-in-paris-will-change-in-2022/

January 07 at 04:33 AM

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Full steam ahead for Chinese rail diplomacy?

South China Morning Post  3 January, 2022 (China) A freight rail link to Laos that opened earlier this month is the latest effort to boost land connectivity with Southeast Asia and other important trading partners Observers say such networks can help China boost its international profile – but may also help bypass increasing tensions in major shipping routes China has launched a new freight rail route from a manufacturing and export hub on the east coast to Laos in the latest example of “railway diplomacy”. Beijing views rail links as a major pillar of the  Belt and Road Initiative , a multibillion-dollar infrastructure and investment programme that aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa with a network of roads, ports and railways. Source https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3161947/full-steam-ahead-chinese-rail-diplomacy

January 07 at 04:26 AM

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TransPennine Express cuts services to cope with impact of Covid

BBC  7 January 2022 (UK) Rail services are being reduced across northern England due to the impact of Covid on staffing. TransPennine Express said it would be introducing an amended timetable from Monday "due to disruption being caused by increased levels of sickness". The firm said the changes would provide "a greater level of certainty for our customers". Passengers are advised to check the firm's website for the latest information. Services between Scarborough and Manchester will be replaced with an hourly service to York, and extending to Leeds at peak times. Routes, including between Newcastle and Liverpool, Cleethorpes, Sheffield, Hull and Manchester, are also affected. The firm's managing director Matthew Golton said the timetable changes would affect all routes and was due to "the ongoing impact of Covid and the Omicron variant, as well as some industrial relations issues". "While we are disappointed to be making these changes and reducing services, our priority is keeping people moving," he said. He added: "We will continue to regularly review these changes in line with the current situation." On Thursday, 22 TransPennine trains were cancelled and another 15 terminated before their planned destination. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-59899485

January 07 at 04:06 AM

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Europe pushes rail travel to tackle greenhouse gas emissions

Channel News Asia  05 Jan 2022 (Europe) The European Commission is doubling down on improving cross-continent rail services in Europe in a bid to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and improve international networks. As one of the greenest ways to travel, moving passengers from planes and cars onto train services could help the bloc achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.  Source https://www.channelnewsasia.com/watch/europe-pushes-rail-travel-tackle-greenhouse-gas-emissions-video-2417156

January 07 at 04:01 AM

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Fortescue buys battery-powered trains as green shift for miners heats up

The Sydney Morning Herald  January 6, 2022 ( Australia) Billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group has purchased two battery-powered trains to carry iron ore to the port in the latest sign of the resources industry’s push for cleaner ways to fuel Australia’s hugely carbon-intensive mining operations. Amid intensifying pressure from shareholders and wider society to do more to combat climate change, companies across the industry such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue have earmarked billions of dollars in the past two years to clean up their difficult-to-decarbonise remote mining operations by shifting away from fossil fuels such as diesel and gas. Fortescue’s new eight-axle locomotives with an energy capacity of 14.5 megawatt-hours would be manufactured in Sete Lagoas, Brazil, the company said. “The new locomotives will cut our emissions while also reducing our fuel costs and our overall operational expense through lower maintenance spend,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said. Across Australia and around the world, the mining industry accounts for a huge share of planet-heating greenhouse gases, both from mining operations themselves and the emissions generated by the end use of the mined resources after they are sold to be burned or processed in factories and power plants. Mining companies have been under mounting pressure to improve their carbon credentials, with powerful investors seeking to reduce their exposure to the ethical and financial risks posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly demanding businesses to do more to help achieve the Paris Agreement’s targets for averting catastrophic global warming. Distributed energy provider EDL, which built a 56-megawatt solar, wind and battery project to help power Western Australia’s Agnew gold mine, said the mining sector was making the “slow but sure transition to decarbonisation” Ahead of his address at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne later this month, EDL chief executive James Harman said off-grid customers across remote Australia largely depended on diesel or gas-fuelled generation but were increasingly turning to hybrid solutions combining renewables with back-up gas or diesel to reduce their carbon footprint, improve reliability and keep a lid on costs. “Our Agnew Hybrid Renewable Microgrid at Gold Fields’ Agnew Gold Mine provides the mine with energy that is an average of 50-60 per cent from renewable sources, with 99.99 per cent reliability,” he said. With its use of five wind turbines, the microgrid, which officially opened in November, is the first project in the industry to power a mine predominately with wind-powered electricity. Rio Tinto, the nation’s biggest iron ore miner, last year vowed to lift its 2030 carbon-reduction targets from 15 per cent to 50 per cent across its global operations, and committed to spending $US7.5 billion ($10 billion) on decarbonisation investments by the end of the decade. It has an ambition for net-zero emissions — removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it generates — by 2050. “Governments are setting more ambitious targets and accelerating actions on climate change,” Rio said in October. “Society at large is also demanding companies take more action to decarbonise.” A key part of Rio’s investments will be earmarked to clean up its sites in Australia, where iron ore output provides the bulk of the group’s earnings. Its sites are mainly powered by emissions-intensive gas-fired electricity and Rio said it would invest in building 1 gigawatt of new wind and solar power to help replace natural gas. BHP has a target to cut its direct emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, and a goal for net-zero emissions by 2050. Fortescue, whose chairman and top shareholder is billionaire Andrew Forrest, has set the mining sector’s most aggressive decarbonisation pledges including a hard target to reach net-zero emissions across its existing and future operations by 2030. Fortescue, which generates more than 2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas a year, has been trialling technology in hydrogen, ammonia and battery power for trains, ship engines, haul trucks and drill rigs in a bid to achieve its target. Nik Gresshoff, the head of mining at energy technology provider ABB Australia, said the challenge for mining firms was to “map out their own journey” and assess the gains that could be achieved through automation and other investments required to achieve their targets for net-zero emissions. “The next step is to examine the technology and what is currently possible to decarbonise,” Mr Gresshoff said “Having a clear understanding of where the company assets are in their life cycle is critical, as well as an understanding of what technology is available and what technology could fit with the current operation.” Source https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/slow-but-sure-miners-are-looking-for-cleaner-power-as-green-shift-heats-up-20220105-p59m3c.html

January 06 at 04:41 AM

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North Korea fires missile as S.Korea breaks ground for 'peace' railway

Reuters  January 5, 2022 (Seoul, South Korea) North Korea fired what the United States said was a ballistic missile on Wednesday, just hours before South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a rail line he hopes will eventually connect the divided Korean peninsula. Nuclear-armed North Korea's first test launch since October underscored leader Kim Jong Un's New Year vow to bolster the military to counter an unstable international situation amid stalled talks with South Korea and the United States. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command called it a ballistic missile launch and the U.S. State Department condemned, it while repeating calls for renewed dialogue with North Korea. "This launch is in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK’s neighbours and the international community," a State Department spokesperson using the initials of North Korea's official name. The launch took place at 8:10 a.m. (2310 GMT) from an east coast inland location into the sea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. Japan's defence minister said the suspected ballistic missile had flown an estimated 500 km (310 miles). Hours later, Moon visited the South Korean east coast city of Goseong, near the border with North Korea, where he broke ground for a new rail line that he called "a stepping stone for peace and regional balance" on the Korean peninsula. Moon acknowledged the launch raised concerns of tensions, and called for North Korea to make sincere efforts for dialogue. "We should not give up the hope for dialogue in order to fundamentally overcome this situation," he said. "If both Koreas work together and build trust, peace would be achieved one day." Moon, who has led unprecedented efforts to engage with North Korea, has stuck to what many analysts see as a forlorn hope for a diplomatic breakthrough before his five-year term ends in May. Reconnecting the two Koreas by rail was a central issue in meetings between Kim and Moon in 2018, but the efforts went nowhere as talks aimed at convincing North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons in exchange for easing international sanctions faltered in 2019. Kim's New Year speech made no mention of efforts by South Korea to restart negotiations or U.S. calls for dialogue. 'VERY REGRETTABLE' South Korea's National Security Council convened an emergency meeting, expressing concern that the launch "came at a time when internal and external stability is extremely important" and calling on North Korea to return to talks. The missile was fired from Jagang Province on North Korea's northern border with China, South Korea's JCS said, the same province where North Korea tested its first hypersonic missile in September. "Our military is maintaining readiness posture in preparation for a possible additional launch while closely monitoring the situation in close cooperation with the United States," the JCS said. Speaking to reporters, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called North Korea's repeated missile launches since last year "very regrettable." The latest launch comes ahead of talks between the U.S. and Japanese foreign and defence ministers on Friday.  U.N. Security Council resolutions ban all ballistic missile and nuclear tests by North Korea, and have imposed sanctions over the programmes. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea has become even more isolated, imposing border lockdowns that have slowed trade to a trickle and have prevented in-person diplomatic engagements. It has stuck to a self-imposed moratorium on testing its largest intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons since 2017, but has test fired a variety of new, short-range ballistic missiles, including one from a submarine in October. It argues it should not be penalized for developing weapons other countries already possess. The U.S. government's Congressional Research Service reported last month that North Korea was "continuing to build a nuclear warfighting capability designed to evade regional ballistic missile defences." At a regular news conference on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged all parties to "bear in mind the bigger picture", cherish the "hard won" peace and stability on the peninsula and stick to the use of dialogue and consultation to reach political settlement. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/north-korea-fired-what-could-be-ballistic-missile-japan-coast-guard-2022-01-04/

January 06 at 04:31 AM

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Germany: Rail operator Deutsche Bahn admits major drop in punctuality

Deutsche Welle  05 January 2022 (Germany) Nearly one-quarter of high-speed trains did not reach their destination on time in 2021. Long delays and canceled trains have become routine across Germany. It has become something of a national joke in Germany that the national train system does not exactly live up to its international reputation as a bastion of punctuality.On Wednesday, rail operator Deutsche Bahn published the statistics to prove it. According to DB, only 75.2% of its inter-city services known as the ICE and IC trains reached their destinations on time. This represents a significant dip from 82% in 2020. The 2020 numbers had marked a 15-year record high in punctuality. Many, however, speculated that the timeliness of trains in 2020 was due to the fact that trains ran less often and not as far during the first year of the pandemic, when many routine passengers began to work from home and skip unnecessary trips. DB blames strikes, natural disasters In a press release, Deutsche Bahn blamed a number of factors for the steep decrease in punctuality in 2021, including the damage from July's devastating floods in western Germany that destroyed more than €1 billion worth of rail infrastructure. The company also pointed the finger at a rail workers' strike over employment conditions as well as an increase in construction on the tracks after many renovation projects were put on hold in 2020. "This led to many bottlenecks in our network," the company said, adding that this was problematic not only for its passenger trains but for its expansive cargo network as well. Transportation experts have long said that the German government invests too little in the country's rail system, giving primary focus to the auto industry. Researchers have also suggested that since DB went to a partly-public, partly-privatized business model, it has implemented a management structure that makes it easy to pass the buck to another branch of the company when problems arise. Despite this, Deutsche Bahn recently announced that it would both increase prices for consumers as well as receive a multi-billion euro bailout from Berlin to cover the losses it incurred due to pandemic-related travel reduction. Source https://www.dw.com/en/germany-rail-operator-deutsche-bahn-admits-major-drop-in-punctuality/a-60338352

January 06 at 04:20 AM

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Rapid Rail: Technical glitch causes MRT train delay

New Straits Times  January 5, 2022 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) A technical glitch involving a train arriving at the Phileo Damansara MRT station had caused delays in the Kajang Line MRT service early today. While apologising for the inconvenience, the operator of the train service, Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd, said they had activated an alternative service plan using a track between the Phileo Damansara station and the Semantan station. "Users from Kwasa Sentral have to get off and take the intermediary train at the Phileo Damansara station to Semantan station and then continue their journey as usual. "Users from Kajang, on the other hand, have to get off and take the intermediary train at the Semantan station to Phileo Damansara station," it said in a statement here. It said the situation had also caused the movement of trains to become slower and stop longer on the platform. The statement said work to identify the problem is being done by the Rapid Rail technical team to ensure that users can continue their journey to work safely. While the alternative service plan will continue to be activated until service returns to normal, users are also advised to follow the laters status of MRT service through the Rapid KL social media platforms. -- Bernama Source https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/01/760438/rapid-rail-technical-glitch-causes-mrt-train-delay

January 06 at 04:06 AM

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Amtrak train stranded in Virginia for nearly 40 hours without food due to storm

New York Post  January 4, 2022 (US) An Amtrak train heading through Virginia was stranded on the tracks as a crippling winter storm had passengers waiting almost 40 grueling hours before the trip resumed. People aboard the Crescent 20 out of New Orleans said they were without food or toilets – or any idea about when their journey would resume before it finally did at around 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. “All we’ve been told is there are trees on the tracks preventing us from moving forward,” rider Sean Thornton said during the extended stop. “Nobody has eaten for about 20 hours and the toilets in coach are completely backed up. The snack bar sold out of food yesterday. Passengers have been banned from leaving the train.” McDonald’s food was brought to passengers midmorning Tuesday after they had been without food since Monday, the Associated Press reported. Thornton told WSB-TV that the train was stranded in an area with poor cellphone service, and told by a staff member to “stop complaining” and call Amtrak headquarters. Source https://nypost.com/2022/01/04/virginia-amtrak-train-stranded-for-nearly-40-hours-due-to-storm/

January 06 at 03:57 AM

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Research: Open windows lower CO2 level on packed trains

The Asahi Shimbun  January 4, 2022 (Japan) Researchers measure carbon dioxide concentrations in a test using a train car of Tokyo Metro’s Fukutoshin Line. (Provided by National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) Opening windows on packed trains can reduce the carbon dioxide level by about 15 percent, according to a study that could be used to determine proper ventilation in buildings to reduce the risk of COVID-19. The test was conducted on Oct. 21 and 22 by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), based in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, at the request of the transport ministry. The researchers used an eight-car train of Tokyo Metro Co.’s Fukutoshin Line. They assumed the express train does not stop at all stations, and moves about nine minutes without opening or closing the doors. They kept one of the train cars in the middle section empty, and released CO2 into the carriage through tubes. The level was equal to the amount exhaled if passengers had filled the car to 150 percent of capacity. Twenty-one indicators in the car found the CO2 concentration rose to an average of 3,200 parts per million (ppm), or 0.32 percent, when the windows were closed. If two windows were open about 10 centimeters, the CO2 concentration increased to an average of 2,700 ppm, or 0.27 percent, which was about 15 percent lower than the closed-window case. The Japan Society for Occupational Health says an acceptable range of CO2 concentration that does not negatively affect workers’ health is 5,000 ppm, or 0.5 percent, or lower. The law concerning building sanitation defines the standard for comfortable air quality as 1,000 ppm, or 0.1 percent, or lower. As an anti-COVID-19 measure at bars and restaurants, the central government has said that it is effective to confirm if an indoor level of CO2 concentration does not exceed 1,000 ppm. Source https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14515055

January 05 at 05:59 AM

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Scarborough cliff railway shuts for engineering work

BBC  4 January 2021 (UK) A 140-year-old funicular railway has closed to allow major engineering works for the first time in 50 years. Scarborough's Central Tramway was opened in 1881 to improve access between the town centre and the beach. Work on the popular visitor attraction will involve replacing the carriages' chassis, which date from the 1930s, and fitting new emergency brakes. The project is expected to take up to three months, with the lift due to reopen in March. The Central Tramway Company was formed in the 1870s to develop and build a new funicular railway to link the Foreshore with St Nicholas Gardens. Yorkshire businessman Eric Purshouse, a regular guest at the adjacent Grand Hotel, took a majority interest in the company in the 1960s. It was one of several funicular railways in the seaside resort designed to enable Victorian tourists to avoid climbing up and down the cliffs. According to Mr Purshouse's great granddaughter Amy Bartle, who is the fourth generation of the family to run it, that is still its main appeal to visitors. "For some the tramway is really an essential amenity to get them up and down that very steep cliff face." She said the engineering work was essential to ensure its survival for the next 140 years and it was important the town's Victorian heritage was retained. There are only about 16 funicular railways left in the UK, Ms Bartle said. "At one time Scarborough did have five of them, of course now there's only two that still operate, the Spa and ourselves. "We really don't want to lose another funicular railway in Scarborough because it would be losing a huge part of the heritage of the town." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-59868359

January 05 at 05:54 AM

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Chattogram will get its metro rail too: Planning Minister

The Daily Star  4 January, 2022 (Chattogram, Bangladesh) A metro rail project will be introduced in Chattogram too, Planning Minster MA Mannan said today following an Ecnec meeting. "Prime Minister said that metro rail should not be limited to Dhaka only, and that it should also be available in Chattogram. Plan a metro rail from Chattogram airport to the railway station, she said. We'll expand it (metro rail) further in other major cities with airports and stations," the minister said. "Today's topic has been Chattogram. The project will be implemented in future. We will encourage it from the Ministry of Planning," the minister added. Source https://www.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/transport/news/chattogram-will-get-its-metro-rail-too-planning-minister-2932226

January 05 at 05:38 AM

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Florida passenger train line kills 5th person in a month

Associated Press  4 January 2022 (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US) A Brightline higher-speed train fatally struck a pedestrian who walked into its path Tuesday, the fifth death involving the railroad since it recently resumed operations after being shutdown because of the pandemic. Boynton Beach police said the pedestrian was struck about 7:50 a.m. Spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said no further details were immediately available. The recent deaths have all occurred in the last month, continuing a trend that shows Brightline to have the worst fatality rate among the country’s approximately 800 railroads since it began test runs in mid-2017, according to an Associated Press analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data. None of the 52 earlier deaths involving Brightline have been blamed on its equipment or crews. Investigations showed most victims were either suicidal, intoxicated, mentally ill or had gone around barriers at an intersection in an attempt to beat the trains, which travel up to 79 mph (128 kph) through densely populated areas between Miami and West Palm Beach. Brightline officials did not immediately return a call and email Tuesday seeking comment. After a recent accident, the privately owned railroad issued a statement saying, “safety is a topic that we will not stop talking about and we are asking the community, law enforcement, elected officials and members of the media to use their platforms and help amplify a consistent safety message: stay off the tracks and obey all warning signs.” Brightline has installed infrared detectors that will warn engineers if anyone is lurking near the tracks so they can slow down or stop. The company has added more fencing and landscaping to make track access more difficult and is also installing red-light cameras at crossings that will allow police to ticket drivers who go around guardrails. It is testing drones to monitor the tracks. The first of the latest spate happened Dec. 7, when a pedestrian was struck in North Miami Beach. Four days later, a pedestrian was struck in Hollywood. On Dec. 30, a 68-year-old driver and his 58-year-old sister died when he drove around warning gates into the path of a Brightline train. Brightline shut down its service from March 2020 until November, but one of its trains fatally struck a pedestrian in July during an engineer training exercise. An ongoing AP analysis of federal data that began in 2019 shows Brightline trains strike someone about every 33,000 miles (53,100 kilometers) traveled. Excluding five small railroads that average less than 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers) traveled a year, where one or two fatal accidents skew their numbers, the railroad with the next worst rate to Brightline is central Florida’s SunRail, which since mid-2017 has had at least 18 deaths or about one every 100,000 miles, according to federal records. TriRail, a commuter service that operates in the same area as Brightline, averages about one death every 115,000 miles (185,075 kilometers). Brightline plans to begin service connecting West Palm Beach and Orlando in about a year. On that new segment, trains will reach speeds of 125 mph (200 kph) when they travel through less densely populated farmland. It also is developing a line that will connect Southern California and Las Vegas. Source https://apnews.com/article/business-florida-fort-lauderdale-7dd0e7ec2435468d685918b92a0d2bf2

January 05 at 05:31 AM

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Kajang MRT line train services disrupted due to technical problem

The Star  05 January 2022 (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia) A technical problem on a train that occurred at the Phileo Damansara MRT station has caused a delay in the train services schedule on Wednesday (Jan 5), says Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd. The operator of the Kajang MRT line also apologised for the inconvenience experienced by users due to the delays. “This occurred as one of the trains (number 22) experienced technical problems while approaching the station.The operation side then activated the alternative service plan by using one track between the Phileo Damansara station and the Semantan station,” it said. Rapid Rail added that users from the Kwasa Sentral direction have to alight and get to the intermediary train between the Phileo Damansara station to the Semantan station to continue their journey as usual. “Likewise, users from the Kajang direction have to alight and get on the intermediary train at the Semantan station to the Phileo Damansara station. This situation caused the train movements to become slower and stop longer at the platform,” it said in a statement on Wednesday. It added that work to identify the problems is currently being conducted by the Rapid Rail technical team. “The focus of the operation team is to ensure that the users would be able to continue their journey to their workplace safely,” it said. It also said that the alternative service plan would continue to be activated until the services return to normal and added that users can get the latest status of its services through their social media platforms. Source https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/01/05/kajang-mrt-line-train-services-disrupted-due-to-technical-problem

January 05 at 04:54 AM

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Full steam ahead for Saudi women with train driver program

Arab News  January 03, 2022 (Jeddah) In this screen grab from a video posted on the Saudi Railway Polytechnic's Twitter account, a young Saudi woman undergoes training in the Haramain Express Train Leaders program. (Credit: @SRP_KSA video) For decades, train driving has been viewed as a masculine career profession While Saudi women have broken records in traditionally male activities, they were left out of railway employment — until now The Saudi Railway Polytechnic is training women to drive trains on the Kingdom’s Haramain High Speed Railway, in a project seeking to break taboos. For decades, train driving has been viewed as a masculine career profession. And while women in Saudi Arabia have broken records in traditionally male activities, including racing and flying, they were left out of railway employment — until now. The SRP project, announced on Jan. 2, will see Saudi women operating the train line that links the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. SRP opened a registration portal for the program through the srp.edu.sa website. It will close on Jan. 13. Training will last for one year, during which trainees will receive theoretical and practical lessons. Classes are taking place in Jeddah beginning Jan. 15. Joining the program will guarantee trainees several benefits, including medical insurance, registration in General Organization for Social Insurance and a monthly SR4,000 ($1,065) bonus during the training period. The program also offers graduates a guaranteed position with Renfe KSA, one of the companies operating the high-speed train project. Once female graduates are employed with Saudi Arabia Railways, they will receive a monthly salary of up to SR8,000. SRP Director Engr. Abdulaziz Alsogair told Arab News that trainees will be selected based on several qualifications, including English language tests. “Transportation operation systems worldwide depend on good language knowledge, thus joining the program requires scoring at least 3.5 in IELTS,” he said. “Applicants with better language levels will have priority in joining the program.” The program also demands at least a high school degree with a grade rating of 70 percent and above. “Trainees must be aged between 22 and 30,” Alsogair added. SRP is expected to train 50 women in the first cohort. “The number of trainees will increase in the coming years,” Alsogair said. The program will teach trainees all there is to know about transportation systems, including safety measures, railway economics, communications, mechanical brake systems and engines. Trainees will practice on train simulators as part of their practical training courses. “There will also be training trips, where trainees will have the chance to drive the actual railway train,” Alsogair said. Haramain High Speed Railway transports about 60 million passengers per year. Demand is expected to grow significantly over the coming years, especially in the Umrah and Hajj seasons. Alsogair said that Saudi railways aim to transport 1.5 billion Muslim passengers with full operational capacity in the future. “There will be a high demand for train drivers of both genders, which will accordingly bring more vacancies to the field to be filled by the daughters and sons of our beloved homeland.” Saudi women will help meet the demand for qualified drivers, he added. “This is how we achieve sustainability — one of Vision 2030’s most important goals.” Women graduates will work together with their male counterparts, who graduated from previous programs. Source https://www.arabnews.com/node/1997096/saudi-arabia

January 04 at 05:23 AM

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Labor promises $500m to start Sydney to Newcastle fast rail

The Guardian  1 Jan 2022 (Australia) Route is first step towards a high-speed network that would cut travel time to the Hunter down to 45 minutes from two-and-a-half hours Fast rail linking Sydney and the Hunter will be prioritised under a Labor government, opposition leader Anthony Albanese says. A first step towards high-speed rail linking major cities, the route would deliver speeds of more than 250km/h, cutting the journey time from Sydney to Newcastle to 45 minutes, down from two-and-a-half hours. The most recent report into high-speed rail found the Sydney to Newcastle route should be the first component of an eventual line to Brisbane. But the coalition branded the plan “too expensive”. The infrastructure minister, Paul Fletcher, said Labor needed to explain where the money would come from. “It is $200 to $300bn on any credible estimate. That has to be paid for and that means higher taxes,” he said on Sunday. Albanese outlined his vision for high-speed rail between Brisbane and Melbourne at a speech in Newcastle on Sunday, saying his government would make the works a key priority for a new high-speed rail authority, and provide $500m funding in its first budget to begin corridor acquisition, planning and early works. “Australia is the only inhabited continent on earth not developing high-speed rail,” he said. “You’ll be able to jump on the train at 6.30pm and be at Sydney Olympic Park for the start of the Knights game.” The move to buy up land in the rail corridor has been welcomed by Sydney’s urban policy thinktank and advocacy body. Committee for Sydney CEO Gabriel Metcalf said the rail improvements would give people more choice about where they work and where they live. “Better connections across this region … means we would effectively work like a bigger global city, with more economic gravitational pull,” he said. “As we look to emerge from two years of disruption and lockdown, this is a project that will get people inspired about Sydney’s future and kickstart our economic recovery.” The opposition leader also announced his government would reverse $500,000 of funding cuts to the GP Access After Hours service in the Hunter region. “The prime minister has refused to rule out supporting a recommendation for a further funding cut, which if approved would end this vital service,” a statement said. “This is a devastating blow to the Hunter community, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. Almost every Hunter family has used this vital service.” Albanese’s speech gave some insight into how Labor thinks it can win votes in a region with several marginal seats, with a focus on community anger over vaccines being diverted to Sydney during the last lockdown and the controversial PEP-11 offshore petrol exploration permit. The prime minister Scott Morrison said the government would refuse PEP-11 in mid-December after community backlash. The coalition is also pouring resources into the Hunter, spruiking Labor’s more ambitious climate policy as a risk to local coal mining jobs. Labor is defending its narrowly held Hunter seat with incumbent Joel Fitzgibbon stepping down at the next election. The party is also fending off a coalition campaign in the neighbouring Hawkesbury-based seat Macquarie, the Maitland-based seat Paterson and in the Central Coast seat Dobell. But it’s hitting back at the Liberal-held, Gosford-based seat Robertson. Source https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/02/labor-promises-500m-to-start-sydney-to-newcastle-fast-rail

January 04 at 05:09 AM

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Leap in KiwiRail's $100,000-plus earners fuel claim executive pay at the SOE 'out of control'

The New Zealand Herald  3 Jan, 2022 (New Zealand) Former chief executive Greg Miller left the company suddenly in late November citing the distraction of allegations in the media about the workplace culture under his leadership The number of employees at state-owned KiwiRail earning more than $100,000 jumped by more than 450 in the 2021 financial year, bringing the total number at this level to 1749. Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/leap-in-kiwirails-100000-plus-earners-fuel-claim-executive-pay-at-the-soe-out-of-control/R36OVJ5USQC6LVAF6FEJ2YPWXE/

January 04 at 04:31 AM

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New Year's Eve in Dubai: Over 1.6 million people used public transport

Khaleej Times  1 January 2022 (UAE) Data revealed that 640,175 riders used the Dubai Metro and 837,331 riders used public buses Over 1.6 million people used public and shared transport means and taxis during New Year’s Eve in Dubai. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) confirmed that 1,631,861 million riders used its public transport, shared mobility means and taxis during New Year’s Eve on Friday. Data revealed that 640,175 riders used the Dubai Metro, 34,672 riders used Dubai Tram and 837,331 riders used public buses. 50,398 riders used various marine transit modes and 96,937 riders used e-hail rides. Taxis carried 476,831 riders and shared mobility means served 1,011 riders on the New Year’s Eve. RTA has been delivering high-class, safe and smooth transit services to millions of public transport commuters throughout the year, especially during public events and festivities. RTA has also facilitated smooth access to booking of appropriate transit means through its smart apps. Source https://www.khaleejtimes.com/new-year/new-years-eve-in-dubai-over-1-6-million-people-used-public-transport

January 04 at 04:09 AM

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Train travel: How you can save on first class upgrades in Switzerland

The Local  15 December 2021 ( Switzerland ) First class train travel at second class prices in Switzerland, even at peak times? Here’s how to go about it. While nothing in Switzerland is particularly cheap, with prices much higher than standard second class or supersaver fares, first class train travel has felt unattainable for many of us.   Switzerland’s SBB has announced a range of new first class upgrades at a fraction of the normal cost. Some first class upgrades are actually cheaper than a point-to-point ticket.   “The primary goal is to make better use of trains that are under-utilised,” said Thomas Ammann, spokesman for the public transport industry organisation Alliance Swisspass. “Currently, the demand on long-distance trains is below average because of the corona pandemic. This means that there are currently supersaver tickets on trains that are not available anywhere else.” The discounts in the ‘savings class change’ program are so good that the SBB has come under fire.   How do I get the tickets and how much can I save?   As the promotion is designed to prevent trains from being under-utilised, it tends to work on a spontaneous basis – i.e. you may not be able to upgrade your travel for the next year.   The ‘spur of the moment’ promotion “allows you to travel in 1st class on one route or for one day” the SBB said.   Whether an upgrade is available and how much you will save will depend on your particular route.   Analysis by Swiss news outlet Watson showed that you could save up to 75 percent on class upgrades and that many were even available at peak times.   Upgrades on several routes were available, including some of the most popular routes taken by Swiss commuters.   Where can I get it?   The upgrade is available basically everywhere that tickets are available. This includes the SBB app, at the ticket counter or in the ticket machines at the station.   The main thing however is that the upgrades are spontaneous. You can upgrade one fare for a specific route.   You do not need to have a GA travelcard in order to get an upgrade, i.e. you can upgrade basically any second class ticket.   As at mid-December, the spontaneous upgrades are not incredibly spontaneous, in that you cannot upgrade once you are already travelling, i.e. if your second-class carriage is full.   You will need to buy the upgrade at least one hour before the journey starts, although the SBB said this will be changed from January onwards so that you can buy the ticket when your trip is already underway.   You can also order a class upgrade for an entire day, or for multiple days. You can do this on the SBB website.   People with GA travelcards can also decide to upgrade for a month.   Why is the SBB being criticised?   While it might be hard to find reasons to knock a cheaper train fare or a more equitable use of the first class area, some have criticised the offers.   Swiss passenger advocacy group Pro Bahn said the discounts are not transparent enough and may create inequalities among passengers.   “What we don’t support, however, are special offers or non-transparent tariffs. Or ticket offers with massive discounts that result in an imbalance between the passengers,” a spokesperson told Watson.   As much of the public transport networks are publicly funded, Pro Bahn said offers should be clearer and more equitable, otherwise train travel will too closely resemble airline travel, where ticket prices for seats next to each other can vary widely.   “Free pricing in line with aviation is therefore not justifiable from our point of view,” the spokesperson said.   Source https://www.thelocal.com/20211215/train-travel-how-you-can-save-on-first-class-upgrades-in-switzerland/

January 04 at 04:02 AM

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ScotRail to introduce temporary timetable for January

BBC  3 January 2021 (UK) Staff shortages caused by the impact of Covid has forced ScotRail to make temporary changes to its timetable from Tuesday. The rail operator has hundreds of staff isolating and this has resulted in scores of services being cancelled. To provide customers with a level of certainty about which trains are running , a temporary timetable will be in place until 28 January.  It is mainly routes in the central belt that are affected. A total of nine routes in and out of Glasgow's two biggest stations will operate on a revised timetable between Mondays and Fridays, while three routes to and from Edinburgh Waverley are also being temporarily cut back. Scotland's busiest service, Glasgow to Edinburgh via Falkirk High, is unaffected by the changes. A full list of the changes which come into force on 4 January can be found on the ScotRail website. ScotRail absences causing 'significant disruption' ScotRail cancels 118 services as virus spikes Covid in Scotland: What are the rules David Simpson, ScotRail Operations Director, said:  "Like most businesses, ScotRail is not immune to the impact of coronavirus.  "We've been working flat out to run a safe and reliable railway in really difficult and rapidly changing circumstances.  "We've looked to spread these changes out across the day where possible to minimise the impact on our customers, but people should plan ahead and continue to check the train times right up until they arrive at the station. " On 29 December ScotRail said 320 staff were absent, including more than 100 drivers and about 60 conductors. It is about about 6% of the workforce of 5,300 drivers, conductors and engineers. The rail operator said it would continue to review staff absence levels over the coming weeks in the event of a further spike in cases.  'Increased certainty'   The reduced timetable comes as rail fares on routes across Scotland will increase by 3.8% this month. Robert Samson, of the passenger group Transport Focus, said: "It's better for some services to be temporarily withdrawn on a planned basis than to have chaotic last-minute cancellations as these are harder for passengers to deal with. "These temporary changes to the timetable should deliver an increased level of certainty for passengers." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-59851385

January 03 at 04:15 AM

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Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway to adopt divided carriages to separate Olympic participants from ordinary passengers

Global Times  December 31, 2021 (China) Following the release of the second edition of the playbook that outlines COVID-19 countermeasures to be adopted during the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Games organizers have adopted a closed-loop management for cross-city transportation, especially the high-speed railway line connecting Beijing and the neighboring Zhangjiakou, the co-host city of the Games. Using the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed trains, Olympic participants can reach the suburban Yanqing race area from Beijing in half an hour and the Chongli race area in Hebei's Zhangjiakou in one hour.  Based on the principle that Olympic participants will not have contact with ordinary passengers, Qinghe, Taizicheng and Yanqing stations along the Beijing-Zhangjiakong high-speed railway line will be divided into epidemic prevention zones and ordinary zones, Yu Shun, captain of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway operation team, told the Global Times on Friday.  The second edition paybook stipulates that all Olympic participants will undergo full-process, site-to-site closed-loop management. Olympics-related personnel traveling on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway must use special waiting areas, special entrance channels and and specially designated carriages. Yu explained that the epidemic prevention zone is part of the biosecurity loop, in which platforms, channels, transfer zones, and working staff are all fixed. While the ordinary zones will operate normally with midway temperature measurement services on the train. Lü Pan, a train conductor of the Beijing-Zhangjiakong high-speed railway, told the Global Times on Friday that the eight carriages will be divided into a closed-loop management area (carriages 1-4), an ordinary passenger area (carriages 6-8) and an isolated area (carriage 5). "There are two groups of conductors and two services teams on each train, who are unable to come into contact despite being on the same train," said Lü. "Staff on the closed-loop carriages have special channels for access and site-to-site pickups." Yu said that the high-speed train services team has invited professionals from health authorities to conduct epidemic prevention training for all employees, including personal protection, carriage disinfection, and disposure of medical waste in accordance with standard procedures. He said the high-speed train services team has carried out emergency response drills many times and has set up 31 emergency response plans for different emergencies. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1243853.shtml

January 03 at 04:06 AM

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Auckland's City Rail Link tunnel boring machine breaks through after 7-month underground journey

The New Zealand Herald  22 December, 2021 (New Zealand) A giant tunnel boring machine broke through into the Aotea Station in central Auckland today, marking the end of its seven-month underground journey for the City Rail Link project. The machine, dubbed Dame Whina Cooper, cut through a concrete protective wall into Aotea, marking the end of a mammoth tunnelling endeavour that started at Mt Eden in May. Transport Minister Michael Wood, Auckland mayor Phil Goff, Cooper's whānau and City Rail Link (CRL) workers were on site for the moment. "Our aim was always to get into central Auckland before Christmas and here we are – pleased and proud at what a committed Link Alliance team of contractors has achieved in some pretty testing times," said CRL chief executive, Dr Sean Sweeney. "It's been a hard year but a better rail network for an international city like Auckland is getting closer." The Crown and Auckland Council are CRL's sponsors, and Wood and Goff were impressed with the progress made by the project despite the pandemic. "It's great to see Dame Whina Cooper finish its journey – a positive milestone that is an exciting Christmas delivery for Auckland," Wood said. "CRL will form the heart of linked-up high-capacity rapid transit network for the city." Goff described the Aotea breakthrough as remarkable. "While we continue to face challenges due to the pandemic, we are making good progress on delivering this essential infrastructure," he said. "Once complete, the CRL will be a gamechanger for the region, doubling train capacity, reducing journey times and carrying the equivalent of up to 16 extra traffic lanes into the city at peak times." Sweeney described the breakthrough as the "icing on CRL's Christmas cake" after a year of "significant advances" - reopening the city's restored Chief Post Office, connecting Aotea to the Albert St section of tunnels, mining New Zealand's deepest station at Karangahape, relocating the huge Huia 2 watermain at Mt Eden and navigating a Covid-19 pandemic. "This breakthrough is a great morale booster for a dedicated team working at times under stressful conditions. It gives us great confidence going into the second half of the project next year," he said. "Covid is responsible for a lot of disruption. CRL Ltd and the Link Alliance are now assessing the impact of that disruption on construction timetables and costs. We'll have a clearer picture next year. "What is important today is that the Link Alliance has progressed a vital piece of Auckland's transport infrastructure." During its seven-month journey, the tunnel boring machine (TBM) multi-tasked – cutting into the earth, removing spoil to the surface, and installing the concrete panels that line the tunnels. Following centuries-old mining tradition, the TBM's name recognises a woman of significance and mana – for CRL it is Dame Whina Cooper. Today's breakthrough occurred less than a fortnight after the Māori champion's day of birth in 1895. Cooper's son, Joseph, said the breakthrough reflects in many ways the impact his mother made on Māori and all people living in New Zealand/Aotearoa. "Kite matau nga iwi te kopura marama i tera moka o Te Kauhanga Raro – we the people can see the light at the end of the underground sacred passageway," he said. The breakthrough marks the end of the first of two underground journeys for Dame Whina Cooper. The front section, known as the shield, will be lifted out in sections and transported back to Mt Eden. The shield's supporting sections, or gantries, will move back through the newly excavated tunnel to Mt Eden and reconnected with the shield for the TBM's second drive to Aotea next year. A completed CRL connects a redeveloped Mt Eden station directly with Auckland's main station at Britomart. Two underground stations along the 3.45km route – Aotea and Karangahape – will "make it easier to access the central city for work and pleasure", CRL says. Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/aucklands-city-rail-link-tunnel-boring-machine-breaks-through-after-7-month-underground-journey/CP6QL3TR2BDWQL6VKZVKD6AIUE/

January 03 at 04:00 AM

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China-Europe rail trade set for infrastructure upgrade, with container traffic up 30 per cent

South China Morning Post  30 December 2021 (China) China Development Bank will provide additional funding support to upgrade the China Railway Express, which links 89 Chinese cities with 23 countries in Europe According to China Railway, 13,817 trains carried 1.33 million 20-foot equivalent units along the route in the first 11 months of the year China’s largest policy bank has pledged additional funding support to upgrade a key railway link to Europe at a time when both sea and air transport links are struggling from various coronavirus-related pressures. China Development Bank will support the construction of key domestic port stations with bonded warehouses for the China Railway Express, as well as creating hub projects with multimodal transport functions and a strong international influence, according to the state-backed  Financial News  on Thursday. The bank will also provide funding to help accelerate technology development and equipment upgrades, which will assist in reducing transport costs and improving efficiency. The railway network between Europe and China  is a key component of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to link Asia, Europe and Africa with a network of ports, motorways and railways. The China-Europe rail programme, which links 89 Chinese cities with 23 countries and 175 cities in Europe, has become an  alternative to global sea  and air transport which have been both  impacted by the coronavirus.  Rail transport is generally cheaper than the faster air route and faster than seaborne freight. The upgrades will help expand rail networks, bonded warehousing, multimodal transport, logistics parks, distribution centres, port construction, cross-border e-commerce as well as import and export processing. According to China Railway, 13,817 trains carried 1.33 million 20-foot equivalent units along the route in the first 11 months of the year, up 23 and 30 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2020.   China has already invested in the construction of several overseas stations this year, with 12 added to Zhengzhou’s China-Europe railway, including Kaliningrad in Russia. The network of stations from Chengdu was also increased by 68, including Immingham on the east coast of Britain, while a new route connected Chongqing to Kyiv in Ukraine.   Europe’s largest freight rail company, Deutsche Bahn, also set up a 100 per cent-owned subsidiary in Shanghai in November.   “DB Cargo Eurasia is repositioning itself in order to bring even more freight transport onto the rails between Europe and China in the long term,” said a Deutsche Bahn statement. The China-Europe rail route, though, is supported by significant funding  of up to US$7,500 per container, according to Ding Rujun, the vice-president of Lanzhou University of Finance and Economics. According to Ding’s research, which was published in the  Northeast Asia Economic Research  academic journal earlier this month, subsidies can range from US$3,000-US$4,000 per container, up to US$7,300 from Guangzhou and US$7,500 from Chongqing and Zhengzhou, which in some cases exceeds the freight cost itself.   “It is the excessive intervention of local governments in the China-Europe rail that leads to the low efficiency of its market-oriented operation which intensifies the vicious competition among transport enterprises, disrupts the normal market order and is not conducive to the healthy and stable development of China-Europe rail,” he said. Ding also said that substandard infrastructure in some less developed areas along the route has exacerbated the problems of ageing tracks, poor facilities and insufficient storage capacity, which to a certain extent restricts the development of the China-Europe route. “This not only prolongs the cargo transport time, but also tends to cause commodity loss and congestion of the trains, reducing the overall operating efficiency of the train,” he added. Source https://www.scmp.com/economy/global-economy/article/3161588/china-europe-rail-trade-set-infrastructure-upgrade-container

January 03 at 03:52 AM

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Majority of officials who downgraded northern rail plans don’t live there

The Guardian  31 December 2021 (UK)  Only a quarter of those who wrote Integrated Rail Plan rely on north of England’s sub-par services Only a quarter of the government officials responsible for cancelling HS2 to Yorkshire and downgrading plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) actually live in the north of England and rely on the region’s sub-par trains, the Guardian has learned. Of the 24 officials in the Department for Transport (DfT) responsible for writing the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), just six live in the north, the DfT admitted in response to a freedom of information (FoI) request. The government was accused of “betraying” the north in November, when the long-awaited IRP ignored recommendations from Transport for the North, a statutory body set up to advise the government on the region’s transport needs. That organisation, which brings together all the political and business leaders of the north, had asked for HS2 to reach Leeds and for NPR to run right across the country, including a stop in Bradford. Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool city region, said: “With so few northern voices involved in the decision-making process, it’s no surprise that the government chose to ignore millions of people across the north in foisting their cheap and nasty rail plan on us. It’s the same old ‘Whitehall knows best’ thinking that we have seen time and time again from a government who are doing more to hold us back than level us up.” Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said the admissions were proof the “cut-price” IRP was plotted from Whitehall and imposed on the rest of the country. “You don’t have to spend long travelling on the north’s fragmented, unreliable, overpriced public transport system to realise that it has been built by people who don’t live here and don’t use it,” he said. “Transport for the North was set up to correct this and give the north a strong transport voice. It’s so frustrating that its clear, united, cross-party advice on the IRP was simply ignored. The result is yet another cut-price plan imposed by Whitehall that will not solve our rail needs. We will only get the public transport that people in the north deserve when we are able to make our own decisions about it.” The rail plans caused particular anger in the north-east, with local business leaders accusing the government of “ignoring” the region of 2.7 million people. Jamie Driscoll, the North of Tyne mayor, said the FoI admissions proved the north of England needed to be able to make its own decisions. “If anyone in the north ever believed this government was serious about investing in northern transport, they don’t now. The only way we’ll ever see a decent northern transport network is to give the north the power to raise the finance ourselves. That means devolving the transport budget. We’re nearly a quarter of the country’s population – give us a quarter of the budget, and let us decide how to spend it. And give us tools like land value capture, so we can create the wealth to pay for vital infrastructure,” he said. The DfT said that one of the two ministers in the “core” IRP team lived in the north. It did not name them, but it is very likely to have been Andrew Stephenson, the minister for HS2 and MP for Pendle in Lancashire. The department refused to reveal how many of the DfT’s three special advisers involved in the IRP lived in the north because it “would be unfair and would contravene current data protection legislation”. In March 2021 the government announced the DfT was to create a “second headquarters” in Birmingham and a northern hub in Leeds, with 650 job roles created in the two cities by 2025. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/31/majority-of-officials-who-downgraded-northern-rail-plans-dont-live-there

January 03 at 03:33 AM

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Kenya Railways scales down Nairobi Commuter services

The Star  29 December 2021 (Kenya) Kenya Railways said the link services between Nairobi Central station and Nairobi terminus everyday at 0630 hours, 1200 hours and 2010 hours has not been affected by the scaling down. The Commuter rail services within Nairobi and satellite towns have been scaled down. Kenya Railways Management in a statement on Wednesday scaled down its services to Ruiru, Embakasi village, Limuru, Syokimau and Lukenya. Kenya Railways did not give any reason for the scale down. However, it is understood that most of those who use the service travelled to the upcountry for the festive season. The services are halted from 28 December to 2nd January, 2022. "Normal commuter operations will resume on January 3rd 2022," Kenya Railways said. The Corporation said the services operational during the festive season include Madaraka Express Passenger Services to and from Mombasa and Nairobi that operates each day. Others not affected include Madaraka Express passenger service between Nairobi and Suswa station in Narok that operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Kenya Railways said the link services between Nairobi Central station and Nairobi terminus everyday at 0630 hours, 1200 hours and 2010 hours has not been affected by the scaling down. The safari train to and from Nanyuki and Nairobi that operates on Fridays and Sundays as well as the Safari train to and from Nairobi and Kisumu that operates on Fridays and Sundays has not been affected. Kenya Railways has also been offering Bus Services to various parts of the city. It however did not indicate if such services have also been affected by the scale down. In November 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Nairobi Commuter Rail System. The system consists of new Diesel Mobile Units and Commuter Rail Buses. The Nairobi Central Station will serve as the nerve centre of operations connecting to 10 stations in satellite towns, including newly built stations in Donholm and Pipeline. Currently, there are commuter train services on Nairobi - Imara Daima-Syokimau route, Nairobi - Githurai - Mwiki - Kahawa – Ruiru route, Nairobi-Embakasi route, and Nairobi - Kibera – Kikuyu route. Kenya Railways Managing Director Phillip Mainga had said on average they move 30,000 to 40,000 passengers through the station daily.  KR is targeting a daily commute to the CBD of 1.5 million people. Travellers are ferried to and from the Nairobi Central Station under the Commuter Rail Project, a collaboration of the Kenya Railway Service and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services. The commuter rail is part of the Master Plan of an integrated commuter system within the city and its environs. It also comprises the Bus Rapid Transit, monorail and underground rail. Kenya Railways has purchased 11 refurbished DMUs for Sh1.15 billion. The new DMUs plies five routes from Nairobi Central Station to Embakasi Village, Syokimau, Kitengela, Kikuyu and Thika. Source https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2021-12-29-kenya-railways-scales-down-nairobi-commuter-services/

December 31 at 05:13 AM

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UK rail operator cancels London route due to COVID disruption

Reuters  December 30, 2021 (London, UK) A British rail operator has been forced to suspend all direct services to the busy London Victoria train station until Jan. 10 after staff fell ill with COVID-19 and others had to isolate. Southern Rail said on Twitter that due to coronavirus isolation and sickness, there would be no direct services to or from London Victoria, disrupting commuter routes from south London and lines that run to the south of the country. Britain is undergoing another heavy wave of the coronavirus pandemic driven by the Omicron variant, with a record 183,037 daily cases reported on Wednesday. Office workers have been asked to work from home where they can to reduce transmission. While the government has said that the Omicron variant appears to be milder than others, it is highly transmissible and businesses across the country have been hit by staff shortages. In the United States airlines were forced to cancel thousands of flights over Christmas as COVID-19 reduced the number of crews that were available. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-rail-operator-cancels-london-route-due-covid-disruption-2021-12-30/

December 31 at 05:08 AM

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State in talks to stop 437 Kibaki, Uhuru projects

Business Daily Africa  December 29 2021 (Kenya) The Government is negotiating with contractors to allow it cancel 437 stalled projects, started during the Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta regimes, setting the stage for compensation claims by suppliers. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed the government is negotiating contractual terms with the suppliers of the projects and hopes to cancel them by March next year as Kenya seeks to contain expenditure in the wake of a cash crunch due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government was forced to review all State projects following revelations that hundreds of development projects worth Sh9 trillion had stalled. The projects are accumulating pending bills, increasing in variation costs and could expose Kenya to legal compensation claims by the contractors if cancelled. The Treasury told the IMF that it had concluded a stocktaking of projects and associated commitments as part of the reforms under the multibillion shilling deal with the fund and identified projects to be cancelled. The government, however, did not disclose whether the contractors were demanding compensation to quit the stalled projects. “Based on this extended exercise, we have identified 437 stalled or underperforming projects that should be cancelled. The stalled projects have not received budget funding for several years but have nevertheless remained in the portfolio of projects,” Treasury told the IMF. “A Cabinet decision to terminate these projects is expected by March 2022, as there are contractual issues to be addressed prior to executing that decision,” the Treasury said. Kenya has a bad history with contractors who fight to get government tenders but end up delivering hot air, only to hold the government at ransom should it cancel the tender. This has seen the government increasingly turn East, handing Chinese contractors legacy contracts at the expense of local contractors. GROWTH POLICY It also comes at a time the government has increasingly been coming under pressure not to initiate any new projects before completing old ones. Two decades of debt-funded infrastructure growth policy have seen officials rush to initiate hundreds of projects beyond what the country can afford egged by connected tenderprenuers seeking to secure multibillion shilling deals with the State. Kenya has borrowed a cumulative Sh7.7 trillion to date, most since the Jubilee government took power in 2013, and launched ambitious infrastructure projects. The World Bank and the IMF have asked the government to cancel some of the stalled projects in exchange for multibillion shilling loans to plug revenue shortfalls. The Kenya Public Expenditure Review published by the World Bank, showed Kenya had 4,000 ongoing projects many of which are significantly delayed, incomplete or stalled. The Bretton Woods institution says that 522 projects worth Sh1 trillion ($10 billion) are completely dormant and should be considered for cancellation to save on costs. The Bretton Woods institution said that 40 percent of the projects became white elephants during the transition to devolution system with 195 irrigation projects initiated in the second term of President Mwai Kibaki not being allocated funds by county governments. About 53 projects are dormant because of diverse factors, including litigation, wayleave challenges, acquisition of land, and funding suspension by the donors. Other reasons for staling projects have been imposition of budget ceilings by the Treasury keen on taming expenditure. The Northern corridor, Kenya’s strategic transit route with a mix of rail, road, pipeline, ports, and inland water ways, makes up 72 percent of the value of dormant projects where 22 white elephants require Sh798 billion to get to completion. Other projects that have stalled include the water, irrigation, and environment sectors which have the highest number of dormant projects, totalling 216 whose cost is equivalent to Sh26.7bn of the cost of all the stalled projects. DELAYED PAYMENTS These sectors are followed by the security sector with 99 stalled projects, and the infrastructure sector with 89. The huge number of stalled projects, which comes with delayed payments to contractors, is a major contributor to the cash crunch in the private sector that has precipitated job losses and reduced cash in people’s pockets Many of the public projects lack a cost-benefit analysis as well as standardised appraisal and selection plans, effectively failing to match expenditure to available financial resources and producing white elephant projects. Cancelling projects, however, comes with a cost of litigation as contractors are likely to sue the government and claim billions of shillings in damages. Source https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/economy/state-in-talks-to-stop-437-kibaki-uhuru-projects-3666036

December 31 at 05:01 AM

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Moon says new southeastern railroads can play part in East Asia railway bloc

The Korea Times  28 December 2021 (South Korea) President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday a set of new railroads, poised to open in the country's southeastern region, can play a key role in an East Asia railway bloc that extends to Europe. Moon made the remarks during a launching ceremony of a railway network connecting major cities in North Gyeongsang and South Gyeongsang provinces. Under the plan, four railroads will run over a stretch of 142.2 kilometers linking Daegu, Yeongcheon, Gyeongju, Ulsan and Busan. "If we can connect the southeastern region through a traffic network and make a single economic bloc, there would be a mega city of 10 million population and the economic market of 490 trillion won," Moon said during the ceremony at Taehwa River Station in Ulsan, some 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul. "For a bigger dream, southeastern railroads could be a starting point for continental railways in the future," he said. Connecting railways across East Asia is an element of the Korean Peninsula peace process initiative that Moon unveiled in 2018. The project aims to connect railways between South and North Korea and extend the inter-Korean railway to China, Mongolia and ultimately to Europe. Moon also said he anticipates balanced national development and enhanced regional cooperation through a metro operation between Ulsan and Busan, the first metropolitan train service outside the capital area. "This comes after a nearly half century since the opening of metro service in the capital area in 1974," he said. "The southeastern region would be a one-hour metropolitan living circle," he said. Moon stressed that success of balanced national development and regional cooperation depends on the metropolitan traffic network and vowed that the government will also pursue similar railroad projects in other regions. (Yonhap) Source https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2021/12/113_321307.html

December 31 at 04:57 AM

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China’s high-speed rail hits new milestone as it reaches the length of Equator

Global Times  December 30, 2021 (China) China's high-speed rail network hits a new milestone on Thursday, as it reached the length of the equator at around 40,000 kilometers, after a railway linking Anqing in East China's Anhui Province and Jiujiang in East China's Jiangxi Province with a designed speed of 350 kilometers per hour officially came online. The record-breaking milestone further highlighted China's achievements in not just high-speed rail technology and construction but also its overall economic strength, which will help boost domestic as well as regional transport networks, experts noted.  The 176-kilometer railway snakes down through rivers, lakes, urban main roads and other railways, posing complex construction challenges and risks, the railway builder China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group told the Global Times on Friday. The rail link will shorten the current four-hour journey from Nanchang in Jiangxi to Hefei in Anhui to around two hours, boosting the railway network between provinces in Central China and serving the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the company said. The Anqing-Jiujiang section is part of the famed high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Hong Kong. In addition to efforts to expand the high-speed rail network, China needs to further increase the utility rate of high-speed railways over land transportation section to compress general logistics costs, in order to achieve China's stated carbon emission reduction targets, Sun Zhang, a mass transit expert and professor at Shanghai Tongji University, told the Global Times on Thursday. "Demands for passenger and cargo transports vary across railway systems in coastal region and inland regions, which determines the development direction of high-speed railway," said Sun. China's efficient high-speed railway system will play an increasingly important role in the implement of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in the future, according to experts. "China has both land border and coast line, high-speed railway is able to connect multiple international ports with inand provinces, and further accelerate international corporations between China and ASEAN member countries," said Sun. In a sign of the country's marked progress on high-speed rail, the China-Laos railway became fully operational on December 3, one of the four high-speed rails that were open to traffic during the first 10 days of December, according to media reports, the country is set to open an estimated seven additional high-speed rail links operating at 350 kilometers an hour in 2022. Sun pointed out that China's high-speed railway export will encounter challenges from some Western countries, including US, from a political viewpoint, as well as competition from other countries with high-speed railway technique such as Japan. "China must apply more advanced equipment on high-speed railway and keep improving technical level at hand," Sun noted. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1243819.shtml

December 31 at 04:53 AM

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Tanzania signs $1.9 bln railway contract with Turkish firm

Reuters  December 28, 2021 (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) Tanzania on Tuesday signed a contract with Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi to build a 368 km section of standard gauge railway that is expected to cost $1.9 billion and will be funded by loans. It is part of a 1,219 km line which Tanzania is building to help boost trade with neighbouring countries and Yapi Merkezi is already building two other sections which are near completion. The section announced on Tuesday will link Makutopora with Tabora, two towns in the country's central region, Masanja Kadogosa, director general of Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), said in a televised ceremony. The full line will connect Tanzania's Indian Ocean port and commercial capital of Dar es Salaam with Mwanza, a port city on the shores of Lake Victoria which straddles the borders of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. President Samia Suluhu Hassan said at the ceremony that Tanzania would borrow to finance the project. "We will find friendly loan facilities and the best ways to get loans. We won't get this money from levies or from domestic taxes," she said, adding they were giving priority to the project because it connects Tanzania to its regional neighbours. The east African country is currently implementing mega infrastructure projects to support its industrialisation plans including a controversial 2,115 megawatt hydroelectric dam being built in a UNESCO world heritage site. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/tanzania-signs-19-bln-railway-contract-with-turkish-firm-2021-12-28/

December 29 at 09:08 AM

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Green trains on their way to power one of the world's most abundant mining regions

ABC North West Queensland  29 December 2021 (Australia) Hydrogen-fuelled trains could be the future of freight in the North West Minerals Province Two major companies have started a feasibility study into using the technology The greener alternative is a critical step toward net zero by 2050, stakeholders say A global mining organisation and an Australian rail operator will attempt to build greener freight solutions to service one of the most resource-rich regions in the world. Australian rail company Aurizon has partnered with British mining giant Anglo American to replace diesel trains with hydrogen in the North West Minerals Province in Queensland. The region is home to several mines and is internationally renowned for its abundance of copper, zinc, lead, silver, cobalt, nickel, and vanadium — the demand for which is increasing alongside global renewable energy efforts. The two organisations have launched a feasibility study to look at implementing the hydrogen technology on Aurizon's Mount Isa rail corridor, which operates between the North West Minerals Province and Townsville, as well as the Moura rail corridor between Anglo American's Dawson mine and Gladstone. Shifting to cleaner freight Rail freight produces 16 times less carbon pollution than road freight, according to peak rail body the Australasian Railway Association. A 1 per cent shift of freight from road to rail in Australia would reduce accident, emission, and health costs by $71.9 million per year, the association estimated. "Hydrogen is a gas and it can be used as a fuel source. The neat thing about hydrogen is that you can make it from renewable energy, from renewable electricity," the managing director and chief executive of Aurizon, Andrew Harding, said. "That's why it's got so much attraction for use in projects that are designed to lower carbon emissions. "The date Australia has chosen for net zero is 2050 and Aurizon commits to that. "Hydrogen offers enormous opportunity in decarbonising and continuing to improve the competitiveness of Australia's export supply chains. "So, to make that happen we've got to now start implementing and testing quite a range of different technologies, and this is one of those. The chief executive of Anglo American in Australia, Tyler Mitchelson, believes the collaboration with Aurizon is a great example of the power of partnerships to help address the urgent issue of climate change  "Displacing our use of diesel is critical to eliminating emissions at our sites and along our value chain," he said. Building from the ground up While hydrogen fuel is being trialled on haul trucks in Anglo American's South African coal mine, the company's technology is yet to be applied to freight trains. "This is all new technology that's not available off the shelf. So, you actually have to build your hydrogen fuel cell; you have to build the battery pack that would go with it," Mr Harding said. "Then you have to strip out the diesel system from the locomotive and replace it with your battery equivalent." Aurizon had set aside at least $50 million to spend on projects that help transition the company to net zero by 2050, Mr Harding said. Source https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-29/hydrogen-powered-freight-trains-north-west-minerals-province/100728682

December 29 at 07:47 AM

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What does the future hold for Longannet?

BBC  28 December 2021 ( Scotland ) The demolition of the last remaining large structure at Longannet marked a new milestone in the long history of Scotland's last coal-fired power station. A 600ft (182m) chimney was brought down in a controlled explosion at the Fife site earlier this month, nearly six years after it was shut down. The 80,000 sq m site is being prepared for redevelopment by Scottish Enterprise and owner Scottish Power - but its future remains unclear. Two years ago, Fife Council backed plans submitted by Scottish Enterprise for a new train factory at the site. Spanish train manufacturer Talgo had already announced that it could create up to 1,000 jobs in developing the facility. But there was a big caveat - it would only go ahead with the factory near Kincardine if it won an initial order to build new trains as part of the controversial HS2 rail link. Longannet power station chimney blown up Council agrees plans for Longannet train factory Train factory bid for former power station site Its plans were thrown into disarray when the Madrid-based company lost out after being shortlisted to build 50-odd trains for the new high-speed line. Earlier this month, HS2 signed a £2bn contract with Hitachi and Alstom to build the trains. Talgo has said on several occasions that it is still committed to Scotland but it has been revising its plans. A Scottish Enterprise spokeswoman told BBC Scotland: "While it is disappointing that Talgo have not been successful in their bid for the HS2 contract, the company have advised Scottish Enterprise that they remain committed to bringing operations to Scotland and we will support them to do so once we see their revised plans." However, when asked by BBC Scotland last week for an update on its plans for a train factory at Longannet, Talgo's response stopped short of a firm Talgo UK managing director Jon Veitch said in an emailed statement: "In so far as our plans, what I may say at this time is that we are working on some hugely exciting but currently confidential projects which are reflected in our plans for Scotland, the UK and Ireland." Mr Veitch gave no indication of when a decision on its revised plans would be made. Fife Council declined to comment, referring BBC Scotland to Scottish Enterprise. The government agency said it remained focused on the redevelopment of the site. A spokeswoman said: "In the meantime we continue to promote Longannet as an attractive proposition for potential investors, all the more so following the collaboration between Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Power to get the site ready for development. "And we are still working to develop Scotland as an international centre of rail excellence and innovation." Longannet was once the largest coal-fired power station in Europe. It began generation in 1970 and, at the height of operations, burned coal from around the world including from as far away as Russia and Colombia, as well as from Scottish open-cast mines. Typically, it consumed four million tonnes of coal per year and at full production could make enough electricity to power two million homes. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-59775943

December 29 at 07:14 AM

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Hanoi to break ground on three metro lines by 2025

Vietnam Net  28 December, 2021 (Vietnam) Hanoi is preparing to start work on three new urban railway projects by 2025, said municipal vice chairman Duong Duc Tuan. At a conference on December 25 to review the Ministry of Transport’s performance in 2021, Tuan said the three metro line projects comprised the 5th line connecting Van Cao and Hoa Lac, a section from the Hanoi Station to Hoang Mai of the third line and the first metro line stretching from Yen Vien to Ngoc Hoi, the local media reported. Accordingly, the fifth metro line will be a dual-track line, including a 6.5-kilometer underground section, a two-kilometer elevated section and a 29-kilometer section on the ground. The line will pass through Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Cau Giay, Nam Tu Lien, Hoai Duc, Quoc Oai and Thach That districts. The project is being assessed by the State Appraisal Council. If approved, work on it will start in 2022, and the project is expected to be put into operation in 2026. Meanwhile, the 8.7-kilometer Hanoi Station-Hoang Mai section of the third metro line will be an underground section running along Tran Hung Dao, Tran Thanh Tong, Kim Nguu and Nguyen Tam Trinh streets. The project is scheduled to be executed between 2023 and 2028. In addition, a technical design consultant for the first line is being sought. The project requires an estimated VND9 trillion and is divided into three phases. After nearly two decades, the investment cost and phases of the project have been adjusted many times. Hanoi will also accelerate the preparation for the remaining urban railways to start work on them in the 2025-2030 period. Next year, the city will put the Nhon-Hanoi Station metro line into operation. Furthermore, traffic systems connecting the downtown area with five satellite urban areas—Soc son, Son Tay, Hoa Lac, Xuan Mai and Phu Xuyen—will be developed. The city will also build Tay Thang Long and Ngoc Hoi-Phu Xuyen roads, Ring Roads Nos. 3, 4 and 5, Tu Lien, Hong Ha and the Me So bridges of the Ring Road No. 4 and the Duong 2 Bridge. In the suburban districts of Gia Lam, Dong Anh, Hoai Duc, Dan Phuong and Thanh Tri, which may be developed into urban districts in the coming time, the city will gradually upgrade traffic systems. Tuan said in 2021, Hanoi had coordinated with the Ministry of Transport to complete many traffic infrastructure projects, such as the Mai Dich-Thang Long viaduct and the Cat Linh-Ha Dong urban railway. Hanoi and four other localities have sent the prime minister a plan to develop Ring Road No. 4. Source https://vietnamnet.vn/en/society/hanoi-to-break-ground-on-three-metro-lines-by-2025-804805.html

December 29 at 07:07 AM

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Saudi Railway and Uber link up for new service

Arab News  28 December 2021 (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) State-owned Saudi Railway Co partnered with the US ride-hailing platform Uber to launch a new service to facilitate the transportation from SAR stops to final destinations. This new service allows SAR clients to schedule rides in advance through the Uber app, enabling a faster arrival.   The first phase will cover stations in Riyadh on the North Train line and Qassim, and for the Eastern Train, Riyadh, Hofuf, and Dammam. The stations Al Majmaah, Hail, Al Jawf, Qurayyat and Abqaiq will be covered in the second phase.  SAR's new partnership with Uber is expected to boost the level of transportation for SAR passengers, which comes in line with the railway company’s development plans.  The agreement will also see further steps to enhance passengers’ travel experience, Senior Vice President for Passenger Transport at SAR, Khaled Al-Harbi said.  Source https://www.arabnews.com/node/1994291/business-economy

December 29 at 05:29 AM

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Rs2bn power theft loss in Railways every year, says minister

Dawn December 29, 2021 (Islamabad, Pakistan) Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati on Tuesday informed a Senate committee that Pakistan Railways (PR) has been suffering a loss of Rs2 billion annually due to electricity theft. He told a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Railways presided over by Mohammad Qasim at the Parliament House that electricity was being stolen in connivance with officials of the Water and Power Development Authority and it could be stopped only by installing over 54,000 electricity meters. The meeting discussed the proposed Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and future strategies of Pakistan Railways. Deputy Chairman of the Senate Mirza Mohammad Afridi, Senators Dost Mohammad Khan and Mushahid Hussain Sayed, senior officers of the railways ministry and other officials also attended the meeting. The committee ratified Senator Faisal Saleem Reh­man as member of the Rai­lway Advisory Committee. Mr Afridi urged the railways ministry to launch fast passenger and freight trains as there was a cargo business worth billions in the country and if Pakistan Railways could get 30 per cent of it the financial position of the organisation would change. While reviewing details of the PSDP’s tentative allocation of Rs35 billion for 2022-23, Mr Swati informed the meeting of the strides Pakistan Railways had taken in the past 10 months. The minister urged the committee to fully support the PSDP package so that the railways could be revived. He said that if the provinces played their part, the sector could be revolutionised, spreading business and trade opportunities far and wide. He said the Taftan-Quetta track would be restored if the Balochistan government gave Rs15bn out of Rs600bn and the federal government would bear the remaining amount which will help development of the province also. Mr Swati said Pakistan Railways had started a freight train service to connect Islamabad with Tehran and Istanbul and also planned to start a passenger train on this route. He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was restoring the old track from Peshawar to Torkham. The minister told the committee that Pakistan Railways was controlled by the mafia and tenders for more than 1,500 trains were awarded to one man. He informed the committee of plans to develop the Afghan-Pakistan transit trade route. He said that tourism would be enhanced if historical railway routes and stations were revived. Mr Swati invited the members of the Senate and the National Assembly committees to visit the railway stations and give suggestions for building hotels, hostels or markets. He informed the committee that once completed the Rs220bn Karachi Circular Railway project would revolutionise commuting in the metropolis. He said the seed money had been arranged for its completion in 36 months. The minister said Pakistan Railways would dynamically pursue the expansion of routes and take these beyond borders. It planned to develop the Chaman-Kandahar route and the Havelian-Kashgar route to promote international trade. The committee lauded the efforts of the ministry despite lack of funds and assured it of its complete support. Source https://www.dawn.com/news/1666426/rs2bn-power-theft-loss-in-railways-every-year-says-minister

December 29 at 05:18 AM

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Senegal's new commuter train makes first journey from capital Dakar

Reuters  December 27, 2021 (Dakar, Senegal) A new $1.3 billion commuter railway in Senegal meant to ease traffic gridlock and modernise a crumbling public transport system made its inaugural journey from the capital Dakar on Monday. The Regional Express will connect Dakar with Diamniadio, an industrial city being built on a dusty plain about 40 kilometres (25 miles) away. The first new railway since independence from France in 1960 is a cornerstone of President Macky Sall's Senegal Emergent plan, which includes a new airport, roads, sports arenas and a sleek conference centre. The projects have burnished Senegal's image as one of Africa's fastest-growing economies. And the air-conditioned trains are expected to reduce pollution in Dakar, where banged-up old buses and taxis hurl clouds of black smoke as they inch towards the capital each morning. "Senegalese people deserve to travel in comfort and safety, while controlling their time, with a mass transport system that meets the best international standards," the government said in a statement on Monday. The 45-minute ride with built-in Wi-Fi will cost nearly $3 in a country where half the population lives in poverty, though shorter trips will be cheaper. About 115,000 passengers are expected to commute daily on the train between Dakar and Diamniadio, the government said. Further extensions will connect the main airport and eventually other cities and towns in the coming years. Source https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/senegals-new-commuter-train-makes-first-journey-capital-dakar-2021-12-27/

December 28 at 09:35 AM

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NSW government holds back committing to next Parramatta light rail stage

The Sydney Morning Herald  December 27, 2021 (Australia) Businesses fear construction of the second stage of the Parramatta light rail line to Sydney Olympic Park is years away after it was deemed an “uncommitted” project in long-term government plans for the sporting precinct. Proposed changes to the master plan setting out the development of Olympic Park over the next eight years have not included the light rail line because it “is not a committed project”. It has cast doubt over whether the government will proceed with the nine-kilometre second stage from Camellia to the Carter Street residential precinct neighbouring Olympic Park. Business Western Sydney executive director David Borger said it would be distressing for residents of fast-growing suburbs along the proposed route of the line such as Wentworth Point and Melrose Park to learn that the second stage was “still uncertain”. While setting aside $50 million over three years in the June budget for planning, an environmental report and geotech work, the government is yet to make an investment decision on the second stage of the multibillion-dollar project. Mr Borger said the project was a “prime candidate” for the federal and NSW governments to split the cost on, “just like the deal that has been done for the various stages of the Gold Coast light rail”. “The communities located around Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park are likely to determine which party will win the upcoming federal and state elections,” he said. “These communities will be very interested in the future of Parramatta light rail stage two.” The Liberal-held electorate of Parramatta will be one of the battleground seats at the 2023 state election. A recent change to the state’s electoral boundaries reduced the Liberals’ margin from 10.6 per cent to 6.5 per cent in Parramatta, which now includes Wentworth Point, Newington and Silverwater. NSW Transport Minister David Elliott and the state’s transport agency both declined to respond to questions about the second stage of the project. While Transport for NSW has begun preparing an environmental impact statement, the government has repeatedly delayed making an investment decision on the second stage. A final business case for the project has been in the government’s hands since mid-2019. When the proposed route was unveiled in 2017, the government said it was hopeful construction of the second stage would start before 2020. Sydney Olympic Park Business Association chief executive Allison Taylor said businesses were eagerly awaiting the government’s investment decision on the second stage. “It is absolutely necessary because it connects the communities [of Wentworth Point and Melrose Park] to the Olympic Park and the metro [station],” she said. “We want these communities to come into Sydney Olympic Park and use it. Olympic Park needs people.” The train station planned for Olympic Park will form part of the $27 billion Metro West rail line from Sydney’s CBD to Westmead. Ms Taylor said the second stage of the light rail would also support the government’s $2.4 billion investment in the first stage – which is due to open in 2023 – from Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD. The government’s Sydney Olympic Park Authority is seeking changes to the 2030 master plan to allow the new metro train station to be incorporated into the precinct. The height limit for a building next to the station will be raised from 30 to 45 storeys if the planning changes are adopted. Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/nsw-government-holds-back-committing-to-next-parramatta-light-stage-20211222-p59jii.html

December 28 at 09:30 AM

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Hong Kong driver escapes serious injury in collision with Light Rail train

South China Morning Post  19 December 2021 (China) Dash cam footage shows the impact of the crash knocking the SUV into – and partially on top of – a pedestrian barrier lining the adjacent pavement MTR spokesman confirms the collision took place on route 507, adding video indicates the train was advancing in accordance with the traffic signal at the time A driver escaped serious injuries after his car was slammed into a roadside railing in a collision with a Light Rail train at a Tuen Mun junction on Sunday afternoon. A viral video taken by the dash cam of another vehicle shows the SUV making a right turn at the intersection of Wu King Road and Wu Shan Road near Siu Hei LRT station at about 12.20pm. Just as the car is crossing the LRT tracks, an oncoming train slams into its side, knocking it into – and partially on top of – a pedestrian barrier lining the adjacent pavement. The driver sustained minor injuries in the crash, but did not need to be sent to hospital. Street signs at the scene indicate right turns from Wu King Road onto Wu Shan Road are not allowed. Police are investigating the cause of the accident. An  MTR Corporation  spokesman confirmed that the collision took place on route 507, and added that a review of video clips of the accident indicated the train was advancing in accordance with the traffic signal at the time. The crash interrupted service on routes 507, 614 and 614P. Free shuttle buses were arranged to pick up affected passengers until about 1pm, when service began to resume. Source https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3160330/hong-kong-driver-escapes-serious-injury-collision

December 28 at 08:57 AM

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Warwickshire trains suspended indefinitely due to staff shortage

BBC  27 December 2021 (UK) Train services between Leamington Spa, Nuneaton and Coventry have been suspended indefinitely. West Midlands Trains said staff shortages meant it was unable to provide services until further notice. It comes after hundreds of trains were cancelled in the run-up to Christmas as rising numbers of railway staff fell ill with Covid-19. A replacement bus service will be in operation in Warwickshire and with the situation under "close review". West Midlands Trains said the pandemic had "a significant impact on our workforce" with "more of our colleagues are having to self-isolate". The operator has been struggling to staff services on its other routes for months due to a shortage of drivers. Its services between Worcestershire and Birmingham have been subjected to regular cancellation as it struggles to recruit and train new drivers. West Midlands Trains previously said it anticipated these problems to last until summer 2022. With regards to its services between Leamington Spa, Nuneaton and Coventry, the firm said its intention was to reinstate "the full timetable on this line as soon as possible​". Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-59781146

December 28 at 08:51 AM

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CN and Watco Announce Surface Transportation Board Approval of the Sale of Rail Lines in Wisconsin and Michigan

Associated Press (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)  December 21, 2021 (Montreal, Canada) CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) and Watco are pleased to announce that the United States Surface Transportation Board (STB) has approved the sale of non-core lines and assets on approximately 650 miles of branch lines of Wisconsin Central Ltd. in Wisconsin and Michigan. This marks an important step toward the successful conclusion of the sale process that CN announced and launched in July of 2020, which also includes the sale of the Soo subdivision (approximately 250 miles of track) that runs from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to Oba, Ontario. CN and Watco will work together in the coming weeks to implement a seamless transition for customers on the lines. After closing, CN will continue to play a central role in Wisconsin and Michigan, as the transferred segments will remain connected to CN’s tri-coastal network, safely and reliably linking businesses to markets around the world. CN is committed to building the railway of the future -- a railroad that creates value for its shareholders by truly serving the needs of its customers. About CN CN is a world-class transportation leader and trade-enabler. Essential to the economy, to the customers, and to the communities it serves, CN safely transports more than 300 million tons of natural resources, manufactured products, and finished goods throughout North America every year. As the only railroad connecting Canada’s Eastern and Western coasts with the U.S. South through a 19,500-mile rail network, CN, and its affiliates have been contributing to community prosperity and sustainable trade since 1919. CN is committed to programs supporting social responsibility and environmental stewardship. About Watco Watco is a leading service and logistics company providing transportation, mechanical repairs and maintenance, material handling and warehousing, and logistics solutions for customers throughout North America and Australia. Watco is one of the largest short line railroad holding companies in the U.S. with more than 5,000 miles of track. Through its 40-year history, Watco has grown to be a leader in the railroad industry through exceptional customer service, improved safety and a strong commitment to its’ public and private partners. Watco controlled railroads currently operate over 600 miles of track within the state of Wisconsin. For more information on Watco, visit watco.com. CN Forward-Looking Statements Certain statements included in this news release constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and under Canadian securities laws. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. The Company cautions that its assumptions may not materialize and that current economic conditions render such assumptions, although reasonable at the time they were made, subject to greater uncertainty. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of terminology such as “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “assumes,” “outlook,” “plans,” “targets,” or other similar words. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results or performance of the Company to be materially different from the outlook or any future results or performance implied by such statements. Reference should be made to Management’s Discussion and Analysis in CN’s annual and interim reports, Annual Information Form and Form 40-F, filed with Canadian and U.S. securities regulators and available on CN’s website, for a description of major risk factors. Source https://apnews.com/press-release/globe-newswire/business-wisconsin-united-states-michigan-320f50a7b44165845573d532a675d840

December 28 at 08:43 AM

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Zim plans to construct railway line to link Zambia

News Day  21 December 2021 (Zimbabwe) THERE are plans to construct a railway line linking Harare and Kafue in Zambia to decongest roads, Transport minister Felix Mhona said during his tour of Kariba on Saturday. “We got a very good investor willing to partake in the construction of a railway line that will connect Harare and Kafue, Zambia,” Mhona said. The purpose of the railway line is to decongest the roads and for an easier and cheaper model of transportation. Instead of moving cargo by roads, we will move them by rail and in terms of budgetary issues; the feasibility study is in process. The technical team was supposed to come this December but because of COVID-19, we now expect it in the first quarter of 2022.” Meanwhile, there is noticeable improvement in the state of roads in Mashonaland West province. Under Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme Phase 2, government through the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration is rehabilitating roads in Karoi, Kariba, Chinhoyi, Chegutu, Kadoma and other towns in the province. Source https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/12/zim-plans-to-construct-railway-line-to-link-zambia/

December 24 at 06:55 AM

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Grosmont rail crash due to speed and poor visibility

BBC  23 December 2021 (UK) Excess speed and poor visibility led to a diesel locomotive colliding with a passenger train, an investigation has concluded. Five passengers sustained minor injuries in the crash at Grosmont Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) on 21 September. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the locomotive had intended to stop behind the waiting train. Instead it hit the rear of the train at about 5mph (8km/h). The RAIB report said the locomotive was travelling too fast to be able to stop in the distance available when the driver realised he was too close to the rear of the waiting train. The class 20 locomotive, designed in the 1950s, only has a cab at one end, which can restrict a driver's visibility of the line ahead when the nose end is leading. The report said the class 20 unit had been made available to the heritage railway while some of its own locomotives were undergoing maintenance and was brought into use at short notice on that day after a steam locomotive failed an operational test. Although qualified to drive the steam locomotive, the RAIB said, the driver did not have a specific competency to drive the class 20. He had asked to be accompanied by a traction inspector. The class 20 had already driven to Whitby that morning and then returned to Grosmont, where it was uncoupled from the train and replaced with a steam locomotive. As it would be required for a later journey to Whitby it was agreed it would be stabled in a siding until it could be coupled to the later service. A train was already waiting for departure on platform two, blocking access to the siding, and the class 20 was advised to wait in the free space behind the Whitby-bound service and, once it had left, move into the siding. "The driver undertook the move from platform three to a position behind signal 11 with the locomotive's cab leading," the report stated. He then changed driving desks and began the move back towards platform two with the cab end trailing and increased his speed to around 10 mph (16 km/h). The initial part of the move was on a straight line, with the driver's view of the line limited by the body of the locomotive ahead of him, the line later curves to the right, further limiting his view. RAIB said he would have only been able to see the rear passenger coaches when he was 16m (52ft) away. The report found the driver did apply brakes and the emergency braking slowed the speed to 5mph, but the decrease in speed began when the carriages were only 20m (65ft) away. The driver stated he believed the train was further along the platform and he had more time and space. The RAIB concluded his unfamiliarity with the engine was a contributory factor to the collision. The Office or Rail and Road issued the NYMR with an improvement notice in October due to the collision. It requires the railway to be able to demonstrate the competence of its drivers for operation on both its own infrastructure and on Network Rail's line. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-59772588

December 24 at 06:49 AM

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Brazil approves construction of 9 privately run railroad lines, trying to rebuild railway network

The Rio Times  December 10, 2021 (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) The railroads are located in the states of São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Piauí and Pernambuco. The Ministry of Infrastructure signed today (9) authorization for six business groups to start the construction of nine railroads in the country. The measure is part of the Pro Trilhos Program, which aims to expand the national railway network through private investments. With the signature, the companies should invest about R$50 (US$8.9)  billion and add 3,500 kilometers (km) to the Brazilian network. According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, the idea is to reduce the underutilization of the Brazilian railway network. Source https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/brazil/brazil-approves-the-construction-of-9-railroad-lines-by-private-initiative-rebirth-of-trains-in-the-country/

December 24 at 06:40 AM

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No easy ride for passengers as Eastern Cape trains hit the buffers

Sunday Times (Times Live)  20 December 2021 (South Africa) It was no easy ride home after the first long-haul passenger trains to run for almost a year were so delayed that passengers had to complete their journeys by bus. In a long-awaited return to service, two Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger trains set off on Wednesday, one in each direction on the Johannesburg-East London route. However, the southbound train suffered a 24-hour delay just short of Kroonstad, 190km from Johannesburg, due to cable theft, according to social media reports. Meanwhile, the northbound train from East London reached as far as Vereeniging before it, too, was halted by cable theft, said Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa) spokesperson Andiswa Makanda. “While the trip got off to a good start, unfavourable weather conditions, sabotage of the rail network and cable theft forced management to put in place a contingency plan to get passengers safely home,” she said. The East London-bound passengers boarded buses at Virginia, Free State, for the rest of their journey, while the northbound passengers travelled from Vereeniging by minibus. Makanda said the agency had “managed the situation” by keeping passengers informed on developments and providing them with food and alternative transport. “A train was also dispatched from Johannesburg to carry the large luggage of some of our passengers to their destinations,” Makanda said. Apart from cable theft, other challenges facing the operators included cables left strewn over the tracks by thieves, heavy rainfall that prevented technicians from working and 30km/h speed limits. Cable theft has also forced Prasa to resort to manual train operating and single-line operating procedures on some sections. As most of the overhead power cables from which electric locomotives draw power on Prasa's network in Gauteng have been stolen, the agency has had to hire diesel locomotives from private operators to haul its trains. Photos circulating on social media show a Grindrod Rail-owned diesel locomotive hauling the southbound East London train soon after leaving Johannesburg. Long-distance passenger train services were suspended in January because of Covid-19 and widespread vandalism along numerous routes, where overhead electric power cables were stolen and stations destroyed. The first six months of operations, which began on December 15, will see Prasa focus on employee and customer safety, bringing back customers, generating revenue and sustainability, the rail agency said. With the Johannesburg-East London route, services will also operate on lines to Gqeberha, Bloemfontein via Kimberley and to Musina via Polokwane. The first train to Gqeberha was due to depart on December 17, with a train from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein via Kimberley. Prasa said on Saturday that the first service from Johannesburg to Gqeberha on December 17 had also “experienced similar challenges”. The agency had arranged alternative transport to ferry passengers to their destinations. Source https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-12-20-no-easy-ride-for-passengers-as-eastern-cape-trains-hit-the-buffers/

December 24 at 06:32 AM

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Detailed policies required to successfully call investment in railway

Vietnam News  December, 10, 2021 (Hanoi, Vietnam) Detailed policies on attracting investment in the railway industry are needed to meet the country’s ambitious VNĐ240 trillion (US$10.5 billion) railway development plan in the next ten years, experts said. Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính recently signed a decision to approve the country’s railway development plan for the 2021-30 period, which sets the goal of building nine new railways with a total length of 2,362km by 2030. The longest is a 1,545km long high speed rail line running north-south from Ngọc Hồi Station in Hà Nội to Thủ Thiêm Station in HCM City, with priority of investment being given to the Hà Nội-Vinh and Nha Trang-HCM City sections. The Yên Viên - Phả Lại - Hạ Long - Cái Lân line will run 129km while the Ngọc Hồi - Lạc Đạo - Bắc Hồng will be 59km long. The 102km long Hà Nội - Hải Phòng line, part of the Lào Cai - Hà Nội - Hải Phòng line, will run in parallel to the Hà Nội - Hải Phòng Expressway and connect with the port of Hải Phòng. In the central region, a 103km line will run from Vũng Áng Port to Mụ Giạ Pass on the Việt Nam-Laos border. The Biên Hòa - Vũng Tàu line runs 84km from Trảng Bom to Vũng Tàu stations. There will also be two other lines linking HCM City with Cần Thơ and Lộc Ninh, with respective lengths of 174km and 128km. The Thủ Thiêm - Long Thành line will link Long Thành International Airport with Thủ Thiêm Station and only serve passengers. Việt Nam will need an estimated VNĐ240 trillion to fund the projects. In order to achieve planning goals, Government will continue to provide incentives for organisations and individuals to invest in the railway transportation business, including the use of land funds to develop the national network. It will further mobilise domestic and foreign resources to invest in transportation by ensuring a fair and healthy competitive environment for all economic components in this field. According to Nguyễn Danh Huy, Director of the Ministry of Transport’s Planning and Investment Department, with such a large capital need, the State’s budget will play the leading role, accounting for 80 per cent of the total investment. The remaining capital will come from the public–private partnership (PPP) investment model. Vũ Anh Minh, Chairman of the Members' Council of the Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) said it is necessary to clearly identify the capital sources to enable to success in calling for private and official development assistance (ODA) investment. Director of the Vietnam Railway Authority Vũ Quang Khôi said some new railway lines connecting to seaports have received more attention from investors because they have clearly defined the form of PPP investment model. For example, the railway project from Vũng Áng Port to Mụ Giạ Pass at the Việt Nam-Laos border has a total investment of more than $5 billion, in which investment capital of Việt Nam is nearly $1.6 billion under the PPP model. The consortium of Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company (PetroTrade) and Việt Nam's HT Investment Construction Management Co has so far completed reseaches and submitted the project’s pre-feasibility study report to relevant authorities. — VNS Source https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/1095396/detailed-policies-required-to-successfully-call-investment-in-railway.html

December 24 at 06:24 AM

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Berlin metro offers passengers edible hemp tickets

Deutsche Welle  14 December 2021 (Germany) Berlin's public transport operator is offering hemp-oil laced edible metro tickets for stressed commuters. Berlin's public transport company (BVG) has come up with a way for passengers in the German capital to unwind from the stress of Christmas and COVID. BVG is offering customers the chance to buy day tickets impregnated with hemp oil, which it promises will have a "calming effect" when they are eaten. What exactly is the special ingredient? The tickets, which cost € 8.80 ($ 9.95) each, are made from edible paper and are sprinkled with "no more than three drops" of hemp oil. BVG says the oil was obtained from the seed of the cannabis plant. Unlike the flowers, this contains none of the intoxicating substances such as THC. As a result, the operator says, the oil on the tickets — which are valid for 24 hours — is "completely harmless to health" and "completely legal." "This way you can travel hassle-free around Berlin all day and then simply swallow your Christmas stress along with your ticket," the company said. Source https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-metro-offers-passengers-edible-hemp-tickets/a-60119704

December 23 at 05:47 AM

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Chelmsford's Beaulieu Park railway station plans move a step closer

BBC  22 December 2021 (UK) Plans for a city's new railway station have moved step closer after a council approved the next stage in the development. Essex County Council agreed Beaulieu Park station in Chelmsford would now be fully designed and planned. If it goes ahead, it will be the first new station on the Great Eastern mainline for more than 100 years. It is hoped the station will open in 2026 and welcome more than two million passengers. Essex County Council said it would watch the budget carefully as there were certain costs it was obliged to underwrite, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. The project had been in danger of being abandoned before costs, estimated at about £171m at the beginning of the year, were reduced to £155m - largely by scrapping plans for a multi-storey car park. The county council will also have to underwrite any operating deficits. This risk is now considered lower as numbers for public transport show some recovery. Beaulieu Park station has had £7m spent on it and £2m of the Housing Infrastructure Funding (HIF) from Homes England has been drawn down. A £20.5m contribution from developers Countryside Zest and a £12m contribution from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership will also make up the funding. The county council has admitted to the risk from "unfunded cost escalation", as it will have to bear the financial liability over increased costs. Lesley Wagland, cabinet member for economic renewal, infrastructure and planning, said: "There will be particular attention paid to this contract in terms of its management, so we can ensure we do properly mitigate the risks and there will be opportunity for scrutiny to help us with that." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-59748864

December 23 at 05:41 AM

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BNSF to pay $1.5 million after oil train spill in Iowa

Associated Press  December 17, 2021 (Omaha, Nebraska, US) BNSF Railway has agreed to pay a $1.5 million settlement arising from an oil spill into northwest Iowa waters in 2018, according to court documents filed Thursday. The settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency comes after about 160,000 gallons (606,000 liters) of tar sand oil leaked into the floodwaters near Doon, Iowa, in June 2018. The National Transportation Safety Board said heavy rain washed out track and flooded a tributary of the nearby Little Rock River before the 32-car train derailed. The train was traveling from Alberta, Canada to Stroud, Oklahoma, when it derailed. The EPA contended the oil spill violated federal clean water regulations. BNSF denied any fault and both parties said they agreed to settle the complaint to avoid costly litigation. Source https://apnews.com/article/oil-spills-environment-iowa-transportation-national-transportation-safety-board-35e96af302e5b2646c01ff1bf76ff9ac

December 23 at 05:35 AM

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Ministry to issue rare guidance to JR Tokai on maglev project

The Asahi Shimbun December 20, 2021 (Japan) The transport ministry will soon issue an administrative guidance to Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) calling for close dialogue with Shizuoka Prefecture over a local section of the long-awaited magnetic levitation rail project. It is unusual for the ministry to issue such a directive to a business operator that has not broken any laws. The new maglev train line is a major controversy in the prefecture amid concerns over how it could affect the environment and local water resources. The move by the ministry comes as a panel of experts, including scientists, compiled an interim report on Dec. 19 assessing the potential impact that building a tunnel under the Southern Japan Alps could have on the volume of water in a Shizuoka river. The Alps straddle Shizuoka, Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures. JR Tokai initially planned to have the Chuo Shinkansen Line in operation between the capital’s Shinagawa Station and Nagoya Station in 2027. But Shizuoka Prefecture is refusing to allow construction of the Shizuoka section, the only portion for which work has yet to start. Prefectural officials have raised concerns that tunneling through the Alps would cause the groundwater to well up, reducing water levels along the Oigawa river, which runs through the prefecture and supplies local households. The panel’s interim report concluded water levels would remain unchanged in the middle and lower reaches of the river if all the water that gushes out from underground due to the construction work is put back into the river. It determined that an abundant source of groundwater in the mountain can supplement any water that is lost, some of which Shizuoka Prefecture fears could flow into neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture during the construction work. The panel called on JR Tokai to continue making sincere efforts to dispel the prefecture’s concerns and anxiety, given that residents in the Oigawa river basin have suffered from water shortages in the past and the railway operator has so far failed to assuage locals. It also said JR Tokai should discuss with Shizuoka Prefecture and concerned municipalities ways of redirecting any lost water back into the river. However, the panel added that its assessment is still not certain. It urged the railway operator to monitor the groundwater to deal with an eventuality if water were to suddenly begin to gush out, and make the data public to ensure transparency. In response to the panel’s report, transport minister Tetsuo Saito plans to meet with Shin Kaneko, the JR Tokai president, on Dec. 21 to instruct the railway operator to respect the feelings of local residents and officials when proceeding with the project. “The panel sufficiently reflected our concerns in the report,” Shizuoka Vice Governor Takashi Namba said after the panel meeting on Dec. 19. He urged JR Tokai to provide a thorough explanation because locals have “little trust” in the railway operator. “Our belief that we have responded to the matter sincerely remains unchanged,” said Mamoru Uno, an executive vice president of JR Tokai. “We want to discuss it with Shizuoka Prefecture to dispel the concerns and anxieties of the local people as much as possible.” The panel will study how reduced water levels of the groundwater and rivers near the planned tunnel would affect the Alps’ ecosystem and discuss ways to minimize any possible negative effects. It is still unclear when JR Tokai can start operating the Chuo Shinkansen Line. Shizuoka Prefecture is expected to decide on whether to allow the railway operator to begin construction after examining the results of these future panel discussions. (This article was written by Masanori Isobe, Susumu Imaizumi and Shinya Takagi.) Source https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14506299

December 23 at 05:25 AM

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'Swift chariots of democracy' – all aboard Washington's secret subway

Beunos Aires Times  27 October 2021 (US) The Capitol Subway System, a network of trolleys in the fluorescent-lit bowels of the labyrinthine, 600-room US Congress in Washington, has been ferrying politicians back and forth for more than a century. Frequented by presidents, Supreme Court justices and even the occasional movie star, it is the transport of choice for some of the world's most powerful movers and shakers – yet few Americans know it exists. The Capitol Subway System, a network of trolleys in the fluorescent-lit bowels of the labyrinthine, 600-room US Congress in Washington, has been ferrying politicians back and forth for more than a century. It has made headlines as the scene of a botched assassination bid, an impromptu off-Broadway stage and a hiding place for a president who disappeared from the Oval Office without telling anyone. "Children love it so there are always senators who are willing to bring family members with young children, nieces and nephews, to ride on it," Dan Holt, an assistant historian at the Senate Historical Office, told AFP. "And so I think there's just something kind of special about it." The track stretches 3,100 feet – a shade under a kilometre – with the 90-second hop between stations just enough for serious political debate, idle gossip, an impromptu press conference or a moment of quiet reverie. "Think about getting on the train to ride to work in other contexts, where you have that moment where you can just sit for a minute and think – or sit and have casual conversation," Holt said. "The train in the Capitol has served that purpose as well over time." It has also provided useful photo opportunities for presidential hopefuls looking to show the common touch, such as Ronald Reagan, although a boyish JFK – then just plain old Senator Jack Kennedy – was once refused entry and scolded to "stand aside for the senators, son." 'Good fortune... bad marksmanship' Today, the bustling main station is abuzz whenever the Senate is in session, with journalists waiting patiently to swarm legislators as they disembark to vote in the upper chamber. But the cut-and-thrust of political discourse isn't always as convivial below ground as it is on the Senate floor. In 1950, Maine senator Margaret Chase Smith was preparing to deliver a rebuke to fellow Republican Joe McCarthy when the intimidating anti-communist crusader and smear-artist saw her in a subway car. "Margaret, you look very serious," Smith later recalled McCarthy saying, according to Holt. "Are you going to make a speech?" "Yes," she responded, "and you're not going to like it very much." Three years earlier the subway had seen its only recorded assassination attempt, when disgruntled ex-Capitol Police officer William Kaiser opened fire from a .22-calibre pistol on presidential hopeful John Bricker. The Ohio senator dived for cover into the waiting subway car, yelling at the driver to whisk him away, as a second bullet whistled over his head. "Only good fortune and the bad marksmanship of his assailant saved the senator,"  The New York Times  reported after the gunman fled the scene, only to be arrested later.  In less querulous times, political leaders have seen the subway as something of a refuge from the frenetic pace of Washington politics. William Howard Taft, the 27th president, alarmed aides one Saturday in January 1911 when he went missing for around an hour to go see the trains. "A keen thrill of fear swept over the city when anxious inquiries at the White House brought forth the reply that the president could not be found. The alarm spread like a forest fire,"  The Washington Times  reported at the time. Show tunes The first subway was opened on March 7 1909 for senators hoping to avoid the punishing Washington heat as they went between their offices and the upper chamber.  Electric Studebaker automobiles were replaced by a monorail with its own track three years later and, in 1960, officials added four US$75,000 electric subway cars – dubbed "swift chariots of democracy" by the Senate chaplain.  A House line connected the Rayburn House Office Building to the Capitol five years after that and, in 1993, an US$18 million Disneyland-style driverless train was introduced to great fanfare. Not everyone supported these improvements. Some senators grumbled about bumpy rides while others complained that their delicately coiffured hair was being ruined by gusts of wind. Ohio's Mike DeWine banned his staff from riding in protest against government waste. Future presidents aside, the system's famous patrons have included actors Richard Gere, Chuck Norris and Denzel Washington, satirist Jon Stewart and the rock star Bono.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award-winning creator of hit musical  Hamilton , decided to take a midnight ride and belt out show tunes for his Twitter following when he was in the building to receive an award in 2017. Some Capitol Hill staff see the gentility of subway interactions becoming rarer as health-conscious politicians with step-counting devices increasingly take to walking between buildings. But the clientele will never truly disappear as long as the urgent task of running the country requires busy people to be in 10 places at once. "If you're in a rush, it's great," Holt told AFP. Source https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/world/swift-chariots-of-democracy-all-aboard-washingtons-secret-subway.phtml

December 23 at 05:12 AM

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Armenian Prime Minister Says Yerevan, Baku Agreed on Construction of Railway

Sputnik News  16 December 2021 (Yerevan, Armenia) Yerevan and Baku have agreed on the construction of a railway through the Yeraskh-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz route, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday.   "At a meeting with Azerbaijani President [Ilham Aliyev] in Brussels, we reiterated the agreement on the construction of the Yeraskh-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz railway," Pashinyan told a government meeting.   "This agreement was reached within the framework of a trilateral working commission at the level of the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. This agreement was fixed at a meeting in Sochi on 26 November with the mediation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Brussels, at a meeting mediated by the head of the European Council Charles Michel, this agreement has been confirmed," he added.   Earlier, European Council President Charles Michel said that the European Union will provide expert assistance in the demarcation and delimitation of the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan.   The escalation of a long-lasting conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted in September 2020 and ended with a trilateral ceasefire agreement, signed in November of the same year. Source https://sputniknews.com/20211216/armenian-prime-minister-says-yerevan-baku-agreed-on-construction-of-railway-1091564719.html

December 22 at 06:25 AM

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Railway fleet receives 526 domestically-made, renovated wagons

Tehran Times  December 21, 2021 (Iran) Of the mentioned 526 wagons, 500 were the new freight wagons worth 6.6 trillion rials (about $22.758 million), one was a new passenger wagon worth 160 billion rials (about $551,724), and 25 were renovated passenger wagons worth 1.18 trillion rials (about $4.068 million). The ceremony to add these wagons to the railway fleet was attended by senior transport officials, including Transport and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qasemi, and Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (known as RAI) Seyed Miad Salehi. The development of the railway sector has been one of the macro policies of the Iranian government as it has been emphasized by the general policies of the country’s national development plans. In this regard, the national railway fleet has constantly received new domestically-made locomotives and wagons in the past and current Iranian calendar years. As the first stage of the program for the renovation of the country’s railway fleet in the current Iranian calendar year (started on March 21), 156 freight wagons, three locomotives including two renovated ones and a newly made one by MAPNA Group, as well as 10 renovated passenger wagons had joined the railway fleet in early July. Advantages such as consuming less fuel and creating less pollution as well as high safety attaches priority to the railway when compared to some other transportation systems, and makes its development economically viable. The country’s Sixth Five-Year National Development Plan (2016-2021) has envisaged that the railway will account for at least 30 percent of cargo transportation and 20 percent of passenger transportation in Iran. Source https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/468291/Railway-fleet-receives-526-domestically-made-renovated-wagons

December 22 at 05:43 AM

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Midland Mainline: Work due to start on electrification

BBC  21 December, 2021 (UK) Work to lay the foundation for the planned electrification of the Midland Mainline is due to get under way this week, the government has said. The upgrade of the route between Kettering, in Northamptonshire, and Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, is due to start on Christmas Eve. The government said the project would allow for potential electrification of the route to Sheffield and Nottingham. The plans were previously paused by the government in 2015. 'Better connections' The government said electrification would allow for quieter trains, greater decarbonisation, better connectivity and more local services across the region. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, on a visit to the Leicester hub of Network Rail contractors SPL, said the project marked the beginning of "a transformation of rail journeys for the Midlands and the North". "We will slash journey times and build better connections between towns, cities and everywhere in between," he said. "Under our plans, people won't have to wait two decades for better services." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-59729033

December 22 at 05:39 AM

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Khon Kaen-Nong Khai line gets nod

Bangkok Post  21 December 2021 (Thailand) B29.7bn rail route to take 3 years to build from 2023 The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) board has approved a plan to construct a 167-kilomtre double-track rail route from Khon Kaen to Nong Khai at a cost of 29.7 billion baht, SRT governor Nirut Maneephan said yesterday. After last Thursday's board meeting green light, the SRT is now concluding the details of the project before forwarding them to the cabinet for endorsement expected in the second quarter of next year. The construction of the double-track rail route is expected to begin in 2023 and end in 2026, he said. The Khon Kaen-Nong Khai route is among seven routes proposed for a second phase of the government's double-track rail system, which will span 1,483km and require 273 billion baht in funding, he said. This particular section was singled out in one study by the SRT, as being of particular importance given that it will connect with the recently opened Lao-Chinese rail system, he said. More importantly, the Khon Kaen-Nong Khai route is also considered to be nearest to completion having already passed the environmental impact assessment, he said, adding that the route is projected to by 2037 serve the transport of goods of up to 12 million tonnes per year and yield an 18.46% economic internal rate of return (EIRR). The other six double-track routes are Pak Nam Pho-Den Chai, Den Chai-Chiang Mai, Chumthang Thanon Chira-Ubon Ratchathani, Chumphon-Surat Thani, Surat Thani-Chumthang Hat Yai-Songkhla, and Chumthang Hat Yai-Padang Besar. Among them, the Pak Nam Pho-Den Chai route is seen as the second most important as it will connect with the Den Chai-Chiang Rai-Chiang Khong double-track project, he said. The SRT's board had also approved a request for a 30-day extension of the deadline for the construction of a 750-metre skywalk being built to connect Lak Si station of the Red Line electric rail system with Chulabhorn Hospital. Although construction of the 238.22-million-baht skywalk was due to finish today, it is only 60% complete due to the Covid-19 lockdown in June. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2235239/khon-kaen-nong-khai-line-gets-nod

December 22 at 05:13 AM

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Free rides on Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Light Rail until Jan. 2

Taiwan News  20 December 2021 (Taipei) City government purchases four additional light rail cars to help transport passengers during New Year’s Eve Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) on Thursday (Dec. 16) announced free rides on the Kaohsiung Light Rail until Jan. 2 to encourage greater use. Noting that the newly added light rail section from Gushan District Office Station (C17) to the TRA Museum of Fine Arts Station (C20) connects The Pier-2 Art Center and Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, the mayor said that the light rail is a transportation artery that crosses four administrative districts, providing convenience for passengers to go shopping, transfer to the Taiwan Railway, visit hospitals, go to school, go to work, and visit tourist attractions, CNA reported. Chen pointed out that the average daily ridership from October to December this year had reached 10,000 passengers on weekdays and 20,000 passengers on weekends and national holidays, surpassing the pre-COVID-19 levels. The city government has purchased four additional light rail cars to help transport passengers during the New Year’s countdown party, Chen said, adding that a train is scheduled every five minutes during the peak time on New Year’s Eve and that trains will run until 2 a.m. In ordinary times, the earliest and latest trains depart from terminal stations at 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., respectively, with a train scheduled every 10 minutes during the peak time and every 15 minutes during off-peak times. Source https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4382746

December 22 at 05:01 AM

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High-speed rail blues

Bangkok Post  20 December, 2021 (Thailand) Concern has grown over the influx of fresh produce from China into the Thai market after the China-Laos bullet train railway commenced operations early this month. Opposition MPs submitted a motion to question the government last week following a report that 33 containers with 20 tonnes each of fresh vegetables from China were sent to Thailand in the first week of December. The 414km route which took five years to construct under China's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative runs from the Boten border pass in northern Laos bordering China to Vientiane which is opposite Nong Khai, Thailand's border town on the bank of the Mekong River. The trains set out from Kunming, the capital city of southwest China's Yunnan province, in the morning and arrive at Vientiane by nightfall on the same day. They speed along the line at up to 160 km/h. The development is challenging to Thailand as Chinese fresh produce can be sent to the Thai border in one day at a much cheaper cost than air transport. But the China-Laos Railway is a great opportunity for all three nations -- China, Laos and Thailand. Thailand can likewise reap the opportunity to export fresh produce, particularly fruit to China via the rail route. Unfortunately, the 652 km high-speed train railway from Bangkok to Nong Khai has made little progress after the 179-billion-baht project was agreed with China in May 2016. The project is supposed to connect to the China-Laos bullet train railway. According to Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, it won't be until 2026 until the first phase of the high-speed train project which links Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima is operational. And then the construction of the second phase linking Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai will take 5-10 years to finish. Thailand will lose immense opportunities from such a delay. Aat Pisanwanich, director of the Center for International Trade Studies, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, expects the import of fresh produce from China to Thailand via the China-Laos railway will jump to 200 containers a month next year, increasing the country's trade deficit with China. Firstly the government must ensure the quality and standard of the produce that comes from China. The government must also reach an agreement to link the country's existing railway to the Laos-China railway so it can transport its own domestic products to China along the newly-developed line. In October, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) called on the government to speed up a tripartite agreement with its Lao and Chinese counterparts to develop seamless logistics infrastructure between Thailand and the China-Laos Railway. Currently, railway logistics between Thailand and Laos are enabled via the conventional one-metre gauge track linking Nong Khai and Tha Na Laeng station in northern Vientiane. However, there is still a missing link between the existing rail system and the Laos-China railway which is in southern Vientiane. There has been no progress in relation to the NESDC's recommendation. Like it or not, under the Asean-China FTA, Thailand cannot block the flood of cheaper products from China, so the government must be smart. The China-Laos link holds great promise for Thailand, both in terms of trade and also investment and tourism. However, to capitalise on these factors there is little time to waste. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/2234615/high-speed-rail-blues

December 21 at 06:02 AM

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Aurizon shares fall to earth while it reassesses its coal links

Australian Financial Review  December 20, 2021 (Australia) It has been 11 years since Aurizon floated on the ASX at $2.75 a share, and the Queensland rail haulage group has since had its share of ups and downs. It was flying high in mid-2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, when its shares were trading close to $6. Source https://www.afr.com/companies/infrastructure/aurizon-shares-fall-to-earth-while-it-reassesses-its-coal-links-20211216-p59i7k

December 21 at 05:56 AM

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Covid in Scotland: ScotRail cancels 118 services as virus spikes

BBC  21 December 2021 (UK) More than 100 ScotRail services have been cancelled as the rise in Covid cases gathers pace. The train operator's website showed 118 cancelled trains on Monday morning, with staff illness stated as the cause of almost all of them. Positive cases and self-isolation are having an increasing impact on trains and other public services as the new variant advances. Bus services, attractions and theatre shows have also been badly hit. Omicron wave may last until February Scotland to receive an extra £220m from Treasury Calls for hospitality support after 'bleak Friday' ScotRail said it was planning for a further rise in cases and was putting contingency plans in place to revise timetables to ensure a level of certainty to rail services. The rail operator said that like all businesses, it was not immune to the impact of coronavirus on its staff. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-59727020

December 21 at 05:43 AM

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German industry berates Deutsche Bahn over rail freight problems

Financial Times  20 December 2021 (Frankfurt, Germany) Manufacturers say they are ditching trains for lorries because of unreliable services Representatives of Europe’s biggest logistics companies have hit out at “systematic” problems at Deutsche Bahn, whose freight business has become so unreliable that German manufacturers are having to use trucks to transport key supplies instead. Volkswagen and steelmaker Saarstahl are among those who have been affected by disruption at the state-owned railway operator, the companies said, worsening the supply chain problems already affecting industrial production in the country. According to Deutsche Bahn’s half-year report, only 71 per cent of freight trains in Germany were on time between January and June, compared to 80 per cent a year earlier. Over the past weeks, widespread engineering works, combined with driver shortages and rolling stock and ageing track infrastructure, have brought freight transport in Germany almost to a halt, people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times. In an attempt to handle the rising congestion, Deutsche Bahn has prioritised passenger trains over freight. The company said it was in a “close, solution-oriented exchange with rail freight customers in order to find individual solutions for all sectors”. The escalating problems add to the challenges facing the new German government, which wants to increase rail from 18 to 25 per cent of all freight transport by 2030 and to double passenger numbers, as part of efforts to fight climate change. Manufacturers rely on freight trains particularly to transport commodities like coal, iron ore, and sheet metal steel. Deutsche Bahn’s heavily loss making freight unit accounted for a tenth of overall group revenue of €21.8bn in the first half of the year and was responsible for a fifth of operating losses of €975m. The current congestion and delays have been most acute in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and along the Rhine Valley, in particular around the Duisburg area, which is home to the continent’s largest steelworks, run by Thyssenkrupp, the Network of European Railways said. The lobby group, which represents dozens of European logistics companies, cited a recent example where freight trains were delayed by close to eight hours between the Dutch city of Venlo and the south-German city of Kehl. NEE said that management at DB Netz, the subsidiary that manages rail infrastructure, were responsible for a “de facto systematic restriction” of the network. In a letter sent last month to DB Netz and Germany’s transport minister, seen by the Financial Times, NEE said management was in danger of causing “lasting damage to confidence” in rail freight. “As the central infrastructure service provider in the value chain, DB Netz is currently causing freight railways an extraordinary number of problems . . . which require rapid and sustained action on the part of the company’s top management,” the letter said. “Nothing less than the functioning of large parts of national and especially cross-border freight transport by rail is at stake,” it added. It claimed that for five days in recent weeks, train path bookings at DB Netz had to be sent by fax because of understaffing and technology problems. Leading German business lobby, the BDI, held an unscheduled meeting this week to discuss the rail freight bottlenecks. The new government has also said it will quiz Deutsche Bahn’s executive board over fraud allegations related to the €8.2bn construction of a new station in Stuttgart. The project has been overseen since 2017 by Angela Merkel’s former chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, who is now a Deutsche Bahn executive and the head of DB Netz’s supervisory board. Source https://www.ft.com/content/4f57f3d3-17fa-4bde-bf36-09806649d71b

December 21 at 05:37 AM

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Huzhou-Hangzhou high-speed railway under construction

Global Times  December 17, 2021 (China) Workers of the China Railway No.4 Engineering Group lay the track of the Huzhou-Hangzhou high-speed railway in Yuhang District, Hangzhou City of east China's Zhejiang Province Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1241742.shtml

December 21 at 05:15 AM

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Woman sentenced for Washington railroad track sabotage

Associated Press  December 18, 2021 (Bellingham, Washington, US) A woman convicted of sabotaging railroad tracks near the U.S.-Canada border in Washington state just before a train carrying crude oil was due to pass through has been sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. Ellen Brennan Reiche, 28, of Bellingham was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle for committing an act of violence against a railroad carrier. In addition to prison time, she must also complete 100 hours of community service while on federal supervision. She was convicted in September for placing a device that interferes with train signals on the tracks apparently as part of a campaign to protest construction of a pipeline across British Columbia. Her co-defendant, Samantha Brooks, 24, pleaded guilty in July to a terrorist attack and violence against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway as part of a plea agreement. The duo was spotted on video surveillance on BNSF tracks near Bellingham late on Nov. 28, 2020. When Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies detained them, Reiche was carrying a paper bag with wire, a drill and magnetic adhesive inside. Deputies found a shunt buried nearby under rocks on the tracks. Shunts are comprised of wire that is stretched between the rails and frequently fastened with magnets, disrupting the systems that indicate a train is on the tracks. It was one of dozens of shunts placed on the tracks last year, apparently to slow the delivery of oil and supplies in protest of a natural gas pipeline through Indigenous land in British Columbia. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force worked with BNSF police to investigate the placement of 41 shunts on the BNSF tracks since 2020. On Oct. 11, 2020, multiple shunts were placed in three locations in Whatcom and Skagit counties. They triggered an automatic braking system on a train that was transporting hazardous material, causing part of the train to decouple from the engine — risking a derailment of tanker cars of flammable gas in a residential area, prosecutors said. On Dec. 22, 2020, a train carrying Bakken crude oil to the Phillips 66 refinery at Cherry Point did derail, with five tanks catching fire, north of Bellingham. No injuries were reported, but the fire sent a large plume of black smoke into the sky and 120 people were evacuated. No cause has been publicly identified. “Placing a shunt on active railroad tracks puts lives in danger – to drivers preparing to cross the tracks who may not get any warning lights of an approaching train, and to the homeowners in the area who could be endangered by a train derailment,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a statement Friday. “In this case ... the device was discovered and removed before it could cause a tragedy.” Source https://apnews.com/article/business-environment-and-nature-british-columbia-seattle-washington-14a7126442508317c8f9c043fc9332a7

December 20 at 05:02 AM

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China-Nepal freight train service launched, links Qinghai, Kathmandu

Global Times  December 16, 2021 (China) The China-South Asia freight train service linking Haidong, Northwest China's Qinghai Province and Nepal has been launched, beefing up the country's ever-expanding rail freight network, which has made the China-Europe freight train service a calling card of the country's logistics prowess despite the pandemic.  The first train departed from a railway freight yard in Haidong on Wednesday. The 30-car train, carrying some 1,350 tons of supplies, including everyday items and farm byproducts, set out for Xigaze, Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, the Tibet Daily said in a post on its WeChat official account on Thursday. The goods will then be transported by road and exported in batches before eventually reaching their final destination - Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, according to the report, sketching out a journey of about 2,800 kilometers that would supposedly take six days. The first such cargo service that combines rail and road transportation was launched by Qinghai Province and the China Railway Qinghai-Tibet Group Co, per the Thursday report, revealing that Qinghai-Tibet Group has plans to strengthen the development of plateau railways, expand the rail network and take full advantage of rail transport, known for its high speeds, large volumes and low costs, for there to be increased international freight train capacity. The China-South Asia freight train service adds to the country's international cargo supply chain strength revolving around robust freight train services connecting China and Europe. Since the launch of the China-Europe freight train service in 2011, the number of trains running between China and Europe topped 10,000 for the first time in 2020, up sharply from a mere 17 during the first year, the Securities Daily reported in November. In the first 10 months of this year, the number of China-Europe freight trains hit 12,605, an increase of 26 percent year-on-year. The freight trains carried 1.22 million 20-foot equivalent unit containers of goods during the period, a rise of 33 percent from the year before, data from the report showed. This suggests that both the number of trains and the volume of their cargoes exceeded that for the whole of last year, arguably an indication of the country's role as a ballast to international logistics supply chains.   Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1241694.shtml

December 20 at 04:56 AM

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Rail fares to increase by 3.8% in March

The Guardian  17 December 2021 (UK) Industry welcomes decision not to raise fares above July’s RPI inflation rate as some had feared Rail fares in England are to rise by 3.8% in March, the government has confirmed, in line with July’s RPI inflation rate and the biggest increase in nine years. The latest increase – revealed in the Guardian after a leak this month – is less than some feared after fares went up above the RPI inflation rate in March of this year. However, with current inflation rates running much higher, and many former season ticket-holders in the commuter belt working from home, the fare rise is likely to be met with less passenger outcry than in previous years. Industry leaders have argued for a freeze to tempt passengers back to the railway, with numbers again declining with the Omicron coronavirus variant. Numbers had peaked at about 70% of pre-pandemic levels in November. However, the Treasury is keen to reduce subsidy, with the government having invested more than £14bn to keep services running during the pandemic, and said the fare rise would help meet some of these costs. The rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “Capping rail fares in line with inflation while tying it to the July RPI strikes a fair balance, ensuring we can continue to invest records amounts into a more modern, reliable railway, ease the burden on taxpayers and protect passengers from the highest RPI in years.” The increase officially applies to regulated fares – such as season tickets, long-distance returns and anytime urban fares – in England alone, but is likely to be reflected throughout UK rail. The government said the flexible season tickets it launched this year, whose savings were widely regarded as insufficient to attract many passengers, had now been purchased by more than 100,000 people, who could still save by travelling two or three days a week. Labour, however, said that it was “a nightmare before Christmas” for rail commuters, who would see average fares rise to 48.9% more than they were in 2010. Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “Families already facing soaring taxes and bills will now be clobbered with an eye-watering rise in the cost of the daily commute. Many will wonder what planet ministers are on if they think people can afford this?” The rail industry welcomed the decision not to raise fares above RPI as some had feared. Andy Bagnall, the director general of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “It is important that fares are set at a level that will encourage more people to travel by train in the future, helping to support a clean and fair recovery from the pandemic.” But campaigners and unions criticised the rise, contrasting it with policies on road and air transport. Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Rail fares should have been frozen to match the fuel duty freeze for car drivers. If the government is serious about shrinking transport’s carbon footprint it should make rail the affordable choice. Instead, it is asking some commuters to pay hundreds of pounds more for their season tickets, which risks driving people off rail and onto roads instead.” Rail fares have risen at or above the higher rate of RPI inflation for more than a decade, while fuel duty on petrol and diesel for motorists has been frozen in absolute terms at 57.9p per litre. News of the fare rise comes as rail unions gear up for industrial action, with a wave of job cuts expected as train operators and Network Rail have been told to find savings of £1.5bn a year. Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, said: “Fares rises are staggeringly counter-productive. Rail should be incentivised and the government should look at free travel – as many other countries do – as a positive way to change travel behaviour and cut emissions.” Source https://www.theguardian.com/money/2021/dec/17/rail-fares-increase-march-inflation

December 20 at 04:46 AM

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Rail users observe fast in Erode

The Hindu December 19, 2021 (India) Rail passengers, who travel using season tickets, staged a protest in Erode on Sunday urging the Southern Railway to operate various MEMU services. The members of Erode Season Ticket Rail Passengers Welfare Association observed a fast on Old Railway Station road and demanded that MEMU services between Erode and Coimbatore, Palakkad Town and Erode and services between Salem wnd Coimbatore should be resumed. The protesters said the services that were stopped citing the COVID-19 pandemic had severely affected regular travellers. Many persons were forced to travel on two-wheelers and it had led to fatalities. Bus fares They demanded that train services 66601, 66600, 66608, 66609, 66602 and 66603 should be resumed for the welfare of rail passengers. As bus fares were higher that train tickets, the protesters urged the authorities to resume the train services. Source https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/rail-users-observe-fast-in-erode/article37992656.ece

December 20 at 04:41 AM

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Trains: Half-hourly service from south Wales to London returns

BBC  20 December, 2021 (UK) A half-hourly train service between south Wales and London is to return from Monday. An extra 18 trains are being reintroduced between Cardiff and London Paddington from 20 December, restoring trains cut due to Covid. Great Western Rail is also starting an all-electric train service between the two stations for the first time. The rail operator said the new timetable would provide communities with needed "help and support". Trains fundamentally safe, says Welsh rail boss Climate change: What's the impact on rail? The introduction of an all-electric Class 387 service between Cardiff and London began with a limited weekend service, plus an early-morning service on weekdays, from 18 December. Great Western Rail said this would provide a low carbon, sustainable way to supplement capacity on the popular route. In the future, the rail operator said it can provide extra, up to 12-carriage capacity, for events at the Principality Stadium. Welsh rugby final sees more packed trains from Cardiff Better links between Wales and England recommended Jess Morden, the MP for Newport East, said she thought the return of the half-hourly services between stations in south Wales and London was "really important". "We're seeing more people now using the trains again and it's really important in terms of climate change and decarbonisation," she said. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-59682739

December 20 at 04:26 AM

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Joint media statement - Preferred proponents next stop for two major METRONET projects

Media Statements (Government of Western Australia)  16 December 2021 (Australia) A key milestone has been reached on two major METRONET projects, with preferred proponents announced to design and build the Byford Rail Extension and Victoria Park-Canning Level Crossing Removal projects.   The Victoria Park-Canning Level Crossing Removal project will see the Armadale Line Upgrade Alliance (ALUA comprising Acciona Construction Australia Pty Ltd, BMD Constructions Pty Ltd, WSP Australia Pty Ltd and AECOM Australia Pty Ltd) work to remove level crossings along the Armadale Line at Mint Street, Oats Street, Welshpool Road, Hamilton Street and Wharf Street and replace them with elevated rail.   New elevated stations will be built at Carlisle, Oats Street, Queens Park and Cannington, which will enable safer and improved rail connections to schools and businesses.   The gates at each of these level crossings are down for more than three hours a day, causing traffic congestion and frustration for commuters.   The MetCONNX Alliance (comprising Laing O'Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd, Pritchard Francis Consulting Pty Ltd and Kellog Brown & Root Pty Ltd) will extend the Armadale Line eight kilometres south for the Byford Rail Extension. A new Byford Station, located 400 metres north of Abernethy Road, will provide future passengers with a 42-minute train journey to the Perth CBD and support the growing town centre.   Following additional funding from the Morrison Government in May 2021, the Byford Rail Extension project has expanded to include removing level crossings at Armadale Road, Forrest Road and Church Avenue by elevating the rail and Armadale Station in this area.   Early work on the Byford Rail Extension is already underway on the Thomas Road Over Rail Project.   Negotiations with the preferred proponent for each project will commence to finalise the detailed scope and cost of the project, before an Alliance contract is signed in coming months.   The Morrison and Western Australian Governments have worked together to allocate up to an additional $600 million to these two major projects and the New METRONET Midland Station project.   The Morrison Government has also allocated an additional $25 million to the Canning Bridge Interchange project.   The additional budget allocation reflects market cost pressures and project scope changes.     Comments attributed to Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher:   "The Morrison Government is continuing to fund the delivery of important infrastructure projects like METRONET, which help people to get home to their families sooner and safer, move freight more quickly between our cities, and generate jobs across the country.    "These projects are being funded as part of the Morrison Government's record $110 billion, 10 year infrastructure investment pipeline, which is helping to drive Australia's economic recovery."   Comments attributed to WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:   "We're another step closer to saying 'Bye Bye Boom Gates', with negotiations now underway with a preferred proponent to deliver the METRONET Victoria Park-Canning Level Crossing Removal Project.   "This project will completely revitalise Victoria Park and Cannington, with new elevated stations to be constructed, freeing up land under the train line for community use.   "I will also be working with local members and key stakeholders about an action strategy for the land that will be freed up under the elevated rail.   "The suburb of Byford is growing rapidly and it's important we deliver the infrastructure for the future now.   "When the Byford Rail Extension is complete, Byford residents will be able to travel to the Perth CBD for the cost of a two-zone fare, with our capped public transport fare structure coming into effect from January 2022."     WA Transport Minister's office - 6552 5500​ Source https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2021/12/Joint-media-statement-Preferred-proponents-next-stop-for-two-major-METRONET-projects.aspx

December 17 at 09:39 AM

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Hitachi, Alstom win contract for Britain’s HS2 rail project

The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) December 16, 2021 (London, UK) A joint venture between Hitachi, Ltd. and Alstom SA of France has won a £1.97 billion (about ¥300 billion) contract to supply next-generation high-speed trains for Britain’s High Speed Two (HS2) railway line project. The companies announced on Dec. 9 that the venture will design, build and maintain 54 trains for the HS2 project, which will initially link London and England’s Midlands region. They will “deliver Europe’s fastest operational train, capable of operating at maximum speeds of 360 kilometers per hour,” according to the Alstom website. The high-speed railway will link London to Birmingham in Phase 1 of the project, and then to Manchester in Phase 2. Phase 1 is expected to be completed between 2029 and 2033.   According to Hitachi, the newly designed trains will be able to run on conventional lines all the way to northern Scotland. Hitachi and Alstom received the order for Phase 1, which involves the manufacture of 54 eight-car, 200-meter-long high-speed trains. The contract also includes a 12-year maintenance deal. In 2018, Hitachi and Canada’s Bombardier Inc. announced the submission of a joint bid to build high-speed trains for the HS2 project, claiming that it would create jobs in Britain and strengthen the skills and parts-supply network. After the bidding, Bombardier’s railroad business was acquired by Alstom. The British government has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and is promoting the development of a rail network with high energy efficiency. In expectation that new railroad lines and trains will be built and renewed globally, Hitachi built a new plant in Britain in 2015 to manufacture, maintain and inspect railcars. The company is also putting a lot of effort into next-generation technologies, such as IT services for fleet management and ticket payment systems. Source https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0008084211

December 17 at 09:34 AM

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Pakistani train driver who stopped for yoghurt suspended

Arab News  December 08, 2021 (Lahore, Pakistan) An inter-city train driver in Pakistan has been suspended after he made an unscheduled stop to pick up some yoghurt. A video of the driver’s assistant collecting the snack from a street stall before climbing back into the carriage has been circulating on social media. The incident on Monday raised questions about the safety and regulation of railways in Pakistan, where accidents are common due to mismanagement and neglect. “When you stop a train in the middle (of the tracks) it becomes a safety issue. Safety is our priority. We cannot tolerate anything which compromises safety,” Syed Ijaz-ul-Hassan Shah, a spokesman for the railway ministry, told AFP on Wednesday. The passenger service had started its journey in the eastern city of Lahore and was moving south toward Karachi. In a statement the country’s minister of railways, Azam Khan Swati, warned that he will not “allow anyone to use national assets for personal use.” A railway official admitted to AFP that such incidents are not uncommon in Pakistan, and that oversight is often lacking. More than 60 people were killed in June when a train hurtling through farmland smashed into the carriages of another service that had derailed minutes earlier. Source https://www.arabnews.com/node/1982976/offbeat

December 17 at 06:04 AM

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NRZ resumes Majestic Steam Safari trains

News Day  17 December 2021 (Zimbabwe) THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) yesterday announced that it would resume its Majestic Steam Safari trains for the Plumtree to Bulawayo route after a two-year break. In a statement, NRZ acting spokesperson Martin Banda said the parastatal would be running a steam train on Unity Day, (December 22)  to add flavour to this year’s festive season. “The train will run from Bulawayo to Plumtree. It will be pulled by a Garratt Locomotive, which is one of the few remaining such locomotives still running in the world and is still in good condition. It leaves Bulawayo Station at 8:45am and is expected to arrive in Plumtree at 1:15pm. “In Plumtree, passengers will have an opportunity to have a braai at the station before the train returns to Bulawayo arriving at 6:30pm. Fares for the steam train will range from US$30 for adults and US$15 for children in first class coaches, and US$25 for adults and $13 for children in dining coaches.” Banda said fares for economy class coaches will be $16 for adults and $8 for children. He said as a compliment when one pays for four people, they will get an extra ticket for free. “A cash bar will be available on the train and passengers can also bring cooler boxes at no extra charge. COVID-19 health protocols such as wearing of masks, sanitising hands and social distancing will be observed. Temperature readings will be taken when boarding the train and those with a fever will not be allowed on board it. “Riding on the steam train is not only for steam train enthusiasts, but it is also for members of the general public wishing to have a Unity Day holiday trip with a difference. The steam train is run by NRZ’s Rail Leisure Unit as part of a drive to promote domestic tourism and attract international tourists through train excursions.” “Besides attracting train enthusiasts from all over the world, the NRZ train excursions are gradually being received by domestic tourists and local corporates.  NRZ is urging families to come out in numbers to enjoy this experience offered by Rail Leisure, which promotes domestic tourism using steam locomotives and museum coaches which have been preserved to ensure quality and affordable rides for passengers.” Source https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/12/nrz-resumes-majestic-steam-safari-trains/

December 17 at 05:56 AM

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Around (half) the world in 13 trains: the longest possible rail journey

The Times  December 15, 2021 (UK) The grand opening of a missing rail link between China and Laos has allowed passengers to travel by train all the way from Lisbon to Singapore, via Paris, Moscow, Beijing and Bangkok — a distance of about 11,650 miles, and the longest journey possible since the invention of the railway. It would take a long time, however. The luxury sleeper train from Paris to Moscow runs only once a week. You would then have to go to a different station in Moscow to take the Trans- Siberian Express through Mongolia to China. It runs twice a week. The high-speed line from Lisbon to Madrid is not yet open and you would have to take several local trains to reach the Spanish capital. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/around-half-the-world-in-13-trains-the-longest-possible-rail-journey-wpq2jfrtz

December 17 at 05:45 AM

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Tesco express - British supermarket turns to rail to deliver Christmas

Reuters  December 16, 2021 (London, UK) Tesco (TSCO.L) said on Thursday it has introduced a refrigerated rail freight service to help Britain's biggest supermarket group deliver for Christmas and cut its carbon emissions. The new service from Tesco, which has a near 28% share of the country's grocery market, removes road transport from the British leg of the journey for fresh produce from Europe. With Christmas approaching, the new service will transport hundreds of different products, including sprouts, parsnips, carrots, onions, oranges and lemons to customers shopping over the festive season. In the first domestic refrigerated rail service it has committed to, Tesco said it had partnered with Direct Rail Services (DRS) to distribute chilled goods from the Port of Tilbury, east of London, to Coatbridge in Scotland by low CO2 rail twice a day, seven days a week. Tesco said the 415-mile service will take at least 17,000 containers off the road each year, saving 7.3 million road miles and nearly 9,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. From 65,000 containers a year on rail, Tesco has an ambition to increase that to 90,000 containers by the end of the year. "We’ve been using rail to transport our goods since 2008 and this new service reflects our continuing commitment to rail which has clear advantages for our business, our customers and the planet," Jason Tarry, Tesco UK and Ireland CEO, said. In September, Tesco extended its green targets by promising net zero carbon emissions by 2050 across its operations together with those generated by the products it sells and its supply chains. It also pledged a new group-wide net zero target of 2035 for all its own operations, bringing it into line with the ambition set last year for its UK business alone. British retailers are grappling with international supply chain delays that are being compounded by labour shortages in domestic transport and warehousing networks. Tesco, however, has said it is coping well. Source https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/tesco-express-british-supermarket-turns-rail-deliver-christmas-2021-12-16/

December 17 at 05:40 AM

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Freight rails trying other locomotive fuels to cut emissions

Washington Post  15 December 2021 (Omaha, Nebraska) The major freight railroads across North America continue to experiment with alternative locomotive fuels as a way to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. BNSF railroad said Wednesday that it plans to test out a hydrogen-powered locomotive along its lines, joining Canadian Pacific in experimenting with that technology. Canadian National railroad recently announced plans to test out a battery-powered locomotive to haul freight across Pennsylvania, and Union Pacific has said it would like to try using battery-powered locomotives in some of its railyards once they are more widely available in a few years. Several other past tests at other railroads have looked at natural gas powered locomotives and battery powered options. Using some combination of these new fuel options will be key to helping the railroads achieve their goals to significantly cut their emissions in the coming years. Source https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/freight-rails-trying-other-locomotive-fuels-to-cut-emissions/2021/12/15/0f2a30b4-5ddc-11ec-b1ef-cb78be717f0e_story.html

December 16 at 07:21 AM

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Canadian Pacific closes US$31-billion Kansas City Southern acquisition deal

Yahoo Finance  December 15, 2021 (Calgary, Canada) Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has completed its acquisition of Kansas City Southern, paving the way for North America's only railroad that stretches across all three countries. The sale, which closed on Tuesday, places the shares of the American railway in a voting trust while the United States Surface Transportation Board reviews the deal. The trust allows KCS shareholders to be paid while ensuring the railway operates independently until the U.S. regulator issues its decision on the deal valued at US$31 billion, including the assumption of US$3.8 billion of debt. With the completion of the acquisition, KCS shareholders will receive 2.884 CP shares and US$90 in cash for each KCS common share held and US$37.50 in cash for each KCS preferred share held. CP and KCS said in a release they expect the review by the U.S. transportation board to wrap up in the fourth quarter of next year. The expected benefits from the railway to be known as Canadian Pacific Kansas City Ltd. (CPKC)will not be realized until the U.S. regulator approves the deal, the companies said. CP chief executive Keith Creel called the milestone a "historic day" for the two railways, which both have histories stretching back to the 19th century. “CPKC will become the backbone connecting our customers to new markets, enhancing competition in the U.S. rail network, and driving economic growth across North America while delivering significant environmental benefits," he said in a release. “We are excited for the possibilities that will open to us through this combination with CP and we look forward to our next chapter," said KCS chief executive Patrick J. Ottensmeyer. An overwhelming majority of shareholders at both CP and KCS approved the transaction in special meetings last week, following a green light from Mexican regulators in November. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CP) The Canadian Press Source https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/canadian-pacific-closes-kansas-city-144356704.html

December 16 at 07:10 AM

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Japan donates used diesel trains, Thais criticise acquisition over transport costs

The Thaiger  December 15, 2021 (Thailand) Japan has donated 17 second-hand diesel trains to Thailand which will be refurbished and ready to be in service in the Kingdom by 2023. The trains are the KiHa 183 series, which were constructed in the 1980s and late 1990s and were last used for UR Hokkaido limited express services. The State Railway of Thailand says the used trains can be operated for another 50 years. The Thai government paid 42.5 million baht in transportation costs to ship the trains from Japan to Thailand. Some Thais have criticised that the acquisition of the decades-old diesel cars was not worth the costs. Some people say the trains look old. And some question if the SRT will actually keep the trains in good condition and use them for 50 years. Authorities say the trains arrived at Chon Buri’s Laem Chabang Port on Monday and reports say they are in good condition. The cars now need to be adjusted to match the Thai railway. The main engines, transmission, air conditioning units, and seats will also be changed and adapted. The trains are expected to be in service within the next two years. These trains will be offered for a charter train and also for four main routes including: Udon Thani – Nong Khai – Vientiane: To support travellers from the new Lao-China railway Nakhon Ratchasima – Khon Kaen: A feeder route for the future high speed train from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima Bangkok – Hua Hin – Suan Son Pradiphat: The return of an old route that had a large commuter base Tourist routes: Routes that vary depending on the occasion with destinations in Central Thailand including Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Pa Sak Jolasid Dam, Pak Chong, Nakhon Pathom, Chachoengsao, and Supanburi Source https://thethaiger.com/news/national/japan-donates-used-diesel-trains-thais-criticise-acquisition-over-transport-costs

December 16 at 06:44 AM

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Free election day rides a voluntary gesture by Hong Kong bus and railway operators, Carrie Lam says in defending move

South China Morning Post  14 December, 2021 (Hong Kong) A plan to offer residents free rides on Legislative Council  election day  is strictly voluntary on the part of Hong Kong’s franchised bus and railway operators, the city’s leader has said amid complaints about its expense and whether it will boost voter turnout. Speaking ahead of her last Executive Council meeting of 2021, Chief Executive  Carrie Lam  Cheng Yuet-ngor again called on all 4.5 million voters to cast their ballots on Sunday. “It is the first Legislative Council general election after the improvements to Hong Kong’s electoral system,” she said, referring to a series of drastic changes imposed by Beijing earlier this year to shake up the city’s political system and slash the number of directly elected seats. “Those improvements are crucial … and to ensure we are in a situation of ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’ and to help Legco to return to normality.” Local and mainland Chinese officials alike have made numerous appeals to the public to vote in recent weeks amid fears of the lowest turnout in years, with Hong Kong’s commerce, education and development chiefs among those writing to urge people in their respective sectors to cast ballots. The government has also for the first time set up polling booths at three checkpoints along the border for Hong Kong voters who live in mainland China. Justice Barnabas Fung Wah, chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission, on Tuesday said the government was arranging for a live broadcast of the vote-counting process at the three checkpoints. Source https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3159626/free-election-day-rides-voluntary-gesture-hong-kong-bus-and

December 16 at 06:37 AM

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U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak suspends vaccine mandate for employees

Reuters  December 15, 2021 (Washington, US) U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak said on Tuesday it will temporarily suspend a vaccine mandate for employees and now no longer expects to be forced to cut some service in January. In a memo seen by Reuters, Amtrak Chief Executive Bill Flynn said the railroad would allow employees who were not vaccinated to get tested. Currently, fewer than 500 active Amtrak employees are not in compliance. Last week, the railroad told Congress it anticipated "proactively needing to temporarily reduce some train frequencies across our network" because of the mandate. Flynn said 95.7% of Amtrak's 17,000 employees are either fully vaccinated or have an accommodation -- and including employees with one dose 97.3% of employees are in compliance. Amtrak cited a U.S. district court decision that halted the enforcement of President Joe Biden's executive order mandating vaccines for federal contractors by January. "This caused the company to reevaluate our policy and to address the uncertainty about the federal requirements that apply to Amtrak," the memo said. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-passenger-railroad-amtrak-suspends-vaccine-mandate-employees-2021-12-14/

December 16 at 06:25 AM

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Asian bank to lend $338M for Turkey’s key railway project

Daily Sabah December 14, 2021 (Turkey) The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will provide a 300 million euro ($338 million) loan for the Ispartakule-Çerkezköy railway project in Turkey, which aims to increase rail transport safety, passenger and freight capacity and speed between Turkey and the European Union, the lender said in a statement Tuesday. The project involves the construction of a new double-track, electrified high-speed railway between Ispartakule in Istanbul and Çerkezköy in northwestern Tekirdağ province. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is already financing the project with a 150 million euro loan. The railway project is part of the Halkalı-Kapıkule railway line, a strategic transport project that aims to strengthen economic relations, trade and transport in the regions of the Black Sea basin, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. The project is also set to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as its design includes measures to minimize energy use and reduce fuel usage during both its construction and operation phases. According to an AIIB statement, switching to rail transport from road transport will also result in low carbon benefits, and railway transportation is especially suitable for Turkey’s export commodities, namely automotive parts, construction materials and dry goods. “The AIIB’s investment in the project is considered 100% climate mitigation financing and falls under the bank’s transport sector strategy. It is also aligned with the AIIB’s thematic priorities of connectivity, regional cooperation and green infrastructure,” said Supee Teravaninthorn, director-general of the Infrastructure Investment Department. “We look forward to working with the Government of Turkey and the EBRD in support of developing high-quality and sustainable infrastructure across the region in order to further promote trade and economic growth and improve connectivity between Europe and Asia,” Teravaninthorn was cited as saying during the last week’s signing ceremony. Serhat Köksal, acting director-general of foreign economic relations at Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Ministry also said that they “appreciate the AIIB's support and contribution in this project, which will provide Turkey's high standard railway connection with European countries with a safe, high-speed and clean connection for both freight and passengers.” “It is also very important in terms of being the first public project financed by the AIIB and EBRD in the field of transportation. When the project is completed, it will be a major step that strengthens our country's position as a bridge between the East and West,” he said. Yalçın Eyigün, director-general of infrastructure investments at the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry, for his part, noted that this particular railway line is part of the EU Trans-European Transport Network and Beijing to London “Silk Railway.” “The project will provide safe, sustainable and low-carbon passenger and freight. The project will also promote the climate resilience of Turkey’s transport infrastructure by supporting the preparation and execution of engineering designs and construction approaches to develop infrastructure, thereby contributing to climate change adaptation goals regarding Turkey’s ratification of the Paris Agreement,” Eyigün said. The line extends through the provinces of Edirne, Istanbul, Kırklareli and Tekirdağ. Source https://www.dailysabah.com/business/transportation/asian-bank-to-lend-338m-for-turkeys-key-railway-project

December 15 at 06:30 AM

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Faster trains and cheaper tickets to boost European rail travel in new strategy

The Guardian  14 December 2021 (Europe) European Commission proposals aim to encourage cross-border and long-distance train journeys Trains will run faster on key routes across Europe and ticket prices and provider costs could be slashed under a Brussels plan to boost faltering efforts to make rail Europe’s default mode of transport. A new speed requirement to ensure trains on a core network of track are able to travel at 160 km/h or faster would be introduced by 2040, the European Commission has proposed. Cross-border travel, including by night trains, would be encouraged by making ticketing easier and potentially through cutting the track access charges faced by rail companies. The commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, who presented the proposals for the bloc’s 27 member states to agree, said the EU’s executive would also look at introducing a VAT exemption for rail tickets. Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister, said: “We will speed up travel times and make it easier to build a competitive rail network across Europe. Next year work will start on 15 pilots to improve long-distance rail services across main train corridors – train tickets need to be easier to find, to book and buy at attractive prices. In this context we will also look at a VAT exemption for international rail tickets.” The commission has long spoken about revolutionising European rail travel. The EU has set a target of doubling high-speed rail traffic by 2030, and tripling it by 2050, in an attempt to cut carbon emissions from transport by 90% within the next three decades. But experts say cross-border routes remain expensive and unnecessarily slow. The EU is expected to miss its target of having 31,000km of high-speed rail track in operation in the next eight years. National governments, not the commission, decide on high-speed rail projects and despite the EuropeanCentral Bank (ECB) having provided significant levels of lending, Brussels has struggled to encourage investment in cross-border travel. For long-distance freight rail, trains are often stuck at borders due to inefficient rail safety checks. A 2018 report on EU high-speed rail by the European court of auditors described “a patchwork of national lines built by member states in isolation, without proper coordination across borders”. High track access charges and the takeoff of low-cost flights have long been cited as reasons for the decline of night trains in Europe. When national railway companies owned the rail infrastructure as well as the trains, deals were done between those operating in different countries to keep track access charges low. When management of the railways was separated off, those charges became revenue earners and the previously mutually helpful deals to ease international travel fell away. The commission has proposed that it will issue guidelines in 2023 on the setting of charges in order to boost affordable cross-border travel. The ECB is also launching a lending programme for rail companies who wish to purchase rolling stock. Herwig Schuster, a transport expert at Greenpeace, said: “It’s essential that the EU makes travelling by train easier, faster and more affordable – helping people to take the climate-friendly option and fly less. The commission’s plan includes some really great ideas to better support rail; we now need to see the follow-through. “The EU and national governments have for too long prioritised dirty road and aviation projects – they must stop paying polluters and start funding transport that works for people and doesn’t wreck the climate.” Source https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/14/faster-trains-and-cheaper-tickets-to-boost-european-rail-travel-in-new-strategy

December 15 at 06:24 AM

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Haifa to Tel Aviv in 30 minutes: Planning committee okays high-speed rail

Times Of Israel  14 December 2021 (Israel) NIS 12 billion project will see 2 lines in Haifa dive belowground, easing access to coast and freeing up space for real estate as fast service whisks passengers between cities The National Infrastructure Planning Council announced Monday it had approved a project for a rail connection between Haifa and Tel Aviv that is expected to cut travel time between the two cities to just 30 minutes. As part of the project, two underground lines will be added to the existing surface level routes in Haifa and will stop at four suburban stations, Lev Hamifrats, Kiryat Hamemshala, Bat Galit, and Hof Carmel. The current lines that stop at those stations will instead be dedicated to a fast train service running from Nahariya in the north to Tel Aviv, passing through Haifa. The project is expected to cost NIS 12 billion ($3.9 billion) Travel times are estimated to be 54 minutes from Nahariya to Tel Aviv instead of the hour and 40 minutes of today’s journey. Haifa to Tel Aviv, with one stop in Hadera, will be just half an hour. Shlomi Heisler, chair of the planning council, said the project “will propel the entire Haifa metropolitan area forward, a fast and efficient electric train connection from the heart of the metropolis to the high-speed train network.” “Today, the railway tracks are a buffer between Haifa and the sea, and the plan will allow the city of Haifa to be connected to its main asset — the sea,” he said. Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem said the new lines will be “a real revolution for a city that is desperate to connect with its beach.” The lines will use the next generation of electric trains planned for the country, which have not yet been put into use. The trains will be able to reach speeds of 250 kilometers per hour. The current train route will continue to serve suburbs by stopping at existing stations. The planning council said it preferred the underground routes rather than surface alternatives in part to prevent damaging open spaces in Haifa and impacting access to the seacoast and in order to free up land for residential building projects. The Haifa municipality intends to raise some of the funding for the train line from the sale of residential real estate, the Walla news site reported. The project aligns with the Israel Railways’ strategic plan to provide efficient rail networks between the country’s metropolises. The rail company predicts that by 2040 there will be 350 million travelers a year on the country’s trains. Source https://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-to-tel-aviv-in-30-minutes-planning-committee-okays-high-speed-rail/

December 15 at 06:18 AM

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New Chinese technologies attract US, Germany

Manila Times  December 15, 2021 (Changsha, China) Cutting-edge Chinese technologies have attracted enterprises from the United States, Germany, France and other countries at an international expo held in Zhuzhou City, central China's Hunan province. The core technologies developed by CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co. Ltd. allow trains to automatically identify and diagnose technical faults, according to company representative Hou Zhaowen. The high-speed trains running on the China-Laos Railway, which began operations earlier this month, have now been equipped with the technologies, guaranteeing improved reliability and performance. Over the past six months, multiple countries in Asia and Europe have witnessed "China speed," receiving more exports of rail transit vehicles. In May, CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive's first double-decker electric multiple unit (EMU) trains for export to Europe rolled off the production line. Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/12/15/business/foreign-business/new-chinese-technologies-attract-us-germany/1825946

December 15 at 05:58 AM

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After 1,000 train drives at Gunma park, Kanagawa man wants more

Asahi Shimbun  December 15, 2021 (Annaka, Japan)  Gunma Prefecture--Yasuhiko Okudaira reached an “incredible” milestone in his hobby--operating his favorite train 1,000 times--after 20 years, hundreds of hours-long road trips and constant fee payments. But that still hasn’t satisfied his desire. On Oct. 8, the operator of the Usuitouge Railway Heritage Park here issued a letter of appreciation to Okudaira, 76, at a ceremony to commemorate his feat in operating the EF63 electric locomotive. “I’ve loved vehicles since childhood, and railways are my favorite from my high school days,” Okudaira said. “I am happy after driving the locomotive 1,000 times, and I will continue to operate it from now.” The park in Gunma Prefecture is the only facility in Japan that offers demonstration drives of the EF63. That created a problem for Okudaira, who lives in Ayase, Kanagawa Prefecture, a five-hour car drive away. Okudaira said he became fascinated with the EF63 after an unexpected encounter with the train on a trip. And despite the long distance from his home, he kept frequenting the park for a chance to drive the train. “He visited here 50 times a year on average,” said Yoshihisa Nakajima, chairman of the park operator. “This is incredible and really helpful for our facility. We hope he will be able to continue enjoying the demonstration drives of the EF63.” People who want to operate the EF63 must complete a one-day training program for 30,000 yen ($264) and pass an exam. The first 29 rides cost the driver 5,000 yen each, and 4,000 yen for every following session. Source https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14492977

December 15 at 05:49 AM

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Australia's Aurizon teams up with Anglo American for hydrogen-powered freight rail

Reuters  13 December 2021 (Australia) Australian rail freight operator Aurizon Holdings Ltd (AZJ.AX) will team up with global mining firm Anglo American Plc (AAL.L) to explore potential development of hydrogen-powered trains for bulk freight using the miner's hydrogen fuel cell technology. Aurizon and Anglo American on Monday said they entered agreement to conduct feasibility study to assess use of the London-listed miner's hydrogen fuel cell and battery hybrid power units in bulk freight rail operations to replace diesel engines. If the study is successful, the parties would deploy the technology on Aurizon's Moura rail corridor which connects Anglo American's Dawson metallurgical coal mine and the Gladstone Port, as well as Mount Isa rail corridor, they said. "Our agreement with Aurizon marks the first time our hydrogen power technology could be tested beyond our existing mine haul truck programme," said Tony O'Neill, Anglo American's technical director. "Displacing our use of diesel is critical to eliminating emissions at our sites and along our value chain." Anglo American, a diversified miner which produces metallurgical coal, iron ore, thermal coal, coking coal, and also has a copper to platinum, nickel and diamond portfolio, is aiming for carbon neutral mines by 2040. Aurizon also aims to reach net zero operational emissions by 2050. Source https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/australias-aurizon-teams-up-with-anglo-american-hydrogen-powered-freight-rail-2021-12-13/

December 14 at 04:37 AM

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Soham railway station welcomes first passengers in 56 years

BBC  13 December 2021 (UK) A town is welcoming its first rail passengers in 56 years with the opening of a new unstaffed station. A single platform stop in Soham, Cambridgeshire, will form part of the Ipswich to Peterborough line, with trains run by Greater Anglia. The 06:49 GMT for Peterborough was the first train to stop at Soham since its station closed in 1965. Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Nik Johnson, will conduct an official opening later. The combined authority funded the £18.6m station, which had been under construction by Network Rail since the spring. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-59628145

December 14 at 04:31 AM

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Russian & Serbian PMs Urge to Speed Up Conclusion of Rail Agreement

Sputnik News  10 December 2021 (Moscow, Russia) Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić have asked to speed up the signing of the Serbia-Russia agreement on the modernisation and construction of the Belgrade and suburbs railway network. Sinara-Transport Machines Deputy General Director Anton Zubikhin voiced the proposal on the sidelines of the “Made in Russia” International Export Forum during the heads of governments’ tour of the exhibition.   He said that the project envisages the construction and modernisation of 222 km of railway tracks, 74 stations, and the supply of 39 electric trains within five years.   Belgrade Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic said in November that he expected the inter-agreement to be signed before the end of the year. For her part, Prime Minister Brnabić called the planned construction a “very important project." “Belgrade Diameters” is a project to build an urban and suburban railway with a possible supply of Russian rolling stock and the construction of new suburban directions.   The Russian Ministry of Transport reported in early April that Russian Railways JSC jointly with the Sinara Group suggested organising intracity passenger traffic “Belgrade Diameters,” including the use of high-speed train of Russian assembly “Lastochka.” First Deputy Managing Director of the Russian Railways JSC Sergey Pavlov said at the time that the holding would calculate the cost of this project in 2021, which could be partially financed by a loan from Russia.   Moreover, Mishustin and Brnabić toured stands displaying equipment for geological prospecting, an emergency alert and personal call system for miners, products by a Russian manufacturer, fandomats (automatic machines for collecting empty consumer packaging for recycling), and digital equipment for radiation diagnostics. Heads of governments also visited stands of AI system developers for unmanned vehicles with high export potential as well as technologies, which allow extracting analytics about the condition and development of objects, territories and natural resources from space images. The unified digital environment service for export support was also presented.   During the exhibition tour, the Serbian prime minister asked clarifying questions, with explanations provided by both the companies' representatives and her Russian counterpart PM Mishustin. Source https://sputniknews.com/20211210/russian--serbian-pms-urge-to-speed-up-conclusion-of-rail-agreement-1091419320.html

December 14 at 04:25 AM

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London tube and UK railway use falls as work-from-home advice updated

The Guardian  13 December 2021 (UK) London Underground passengers down 20% on Monday morning as number travelling by bus falls by 6% Passenger numbers on London Underground and rail stations around the country have dropped about 20% in the morning peak time after some – but far from all – took government advice to work from home. Almost 1m entries or exits to the capital’s tube system – Britain’s busiest public transport network – were recorded before 10am, about 220,000 fewer trips than the previous Monday, as official guidance to work from home where possible came into effect. Following the measures announced last week by Boris Johnson to curb the spread of the Omicron variant, Network Rail said footfall in the largest city stations it manages was down about 20-25% from a week ago, with the biggest drop, of 38%, at London’s Cannon Street, serving the City. Leeds station recorded 35% fewer passengers, Birmingham 24% fewer, while numbers in Glasgow – in Scotland, where guidance was already to work from home where possible – were down 7%. There were 17% fewer people at Manchester Piccadilly, and 30% fewer passengers on Manchester’s Metrolink tram system, according to Transport for Greater Manchester. Bus travel in London was down less sharply, with 6% fewer passengers travelling before 10am. Tube usage started to fall back in the second half of last week after the government’s plan B announcement, with passenger numbers down between 3% and 5% on the previous week’s mornings. The morning rush hour has now fallen back to below half of pre-pandemic levels, at 46% of normal. However, a greater proportion of people are now using Transport for London’s services later in the day, for work and leisure, possibly attending still-permitted Christmas parties and shopping. The reduction in passengers will further hit TfL’s battered finances. On Monday, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed to the Commons a week-long extension to the government’s financial support for the capital, after talks over longer-term funding failed to reach agreement before the weekend deadline. Shapps said the decision would provide “continued support to and certainty to Londoners while we work with TfL on their funding needs”. Data unavailable for train or bus travel nationwide. Provisional rail figures from the start of December suggested weekday travel has started to decline from a 2021 peak of just over 70% of normal levels, although weather-related delays as well as fears over renewed Covid transmission were a factor. Despite the fall in numbers in rush hour on Monday, early retail data suggested that plenty of people – working from home or otherwise – were still managing to reach UK shops. Retail figures showed a rise in footfall in UK high streets, up 11% week on week, particularly in market towns, which have smaller, more local high streets and were 25% busier than last Monday. However, central London was a less appealing prospect for some, with footfall in the capital’s shopping districts down 10% week on week. Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, which compiled the data, said the drop in London demonstrated “the size of the office working population, and the impact of the reduction of this on activity in the capital”. While the figures overall remain some way below 2019 levels, the new instructions on home working may have boosted some shops ahead of Christmas, Wehrle said. “Despite plan B restrictions coming into force today, UK footfall [across all retail destinations] over the period up to 12pm on Monday is higher than last week (+5.2%). “It appears that despite the working from home guidance, footfall is being insulated by Christmas shopping – indeed, it may actually be due to the working from home guidance that footfall has risen, as shoppers feel less nervous in visiting stores and destinations as they anticipate locations won’t be as crowded,” she said. Source https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/dec/13/london-bus-and-tube-use-falls-as-work-from-home-advice-updated

December 14 at 04:16 AM

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Saudi Arabia increases Haramain rail journeys to 16 a day

Gulf News  December 12, 2021 (Cairo, Egypt) Increase aims to cope with high demand for high-speed service Saudi authorities have decided to increase the journeys of a high-speed train linking the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina to 16 journeys a day, a Saudi newspaper reported, citing sources in the service. The increase includes eight daily trips from the Red sea city of Jeddah to each of Mecca and Medina, the sources added, according to Okaz. The increase, which will be carried out gradually, comes to cope with the high demand for the services, they said without giving specific figures. The 450-km-long service was inaugurated in 2018 and stops at five stations. The service aims to transport about 60 million passengers annually. Source https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-increases-haramain-rail-journeys-to-16-a-day-1.84347005

December 14 at 04:10 AM

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Battery-powered trains: New Kirkby station to see 'a rail industry first'

BBC  11 December 2021 (UK) Plans for a new railway station which, in "a rail industry first", will see trains run on battery power on its track have been been approved. The station at Headbolt Lane in Northwood, Kirkby will see trains between it and the town run "without the need for electrification", Knowsley Council planning committee was told. Planning officer Mark Quinn said it would make the area more accessible. The committee was told the station would take about 18 months to build. The Local Democracy Reporting Service said a report produced ahead of the meeting said the station would become a terminus for Merseyrail and Northern trains and "effectively" replicate the existing arrangement at Kirkby station, "which would become a Merseyrail station with no Northern service". 'Cutting edge technology' The plan for the site includes building a new station building and car park, upgrading of a section of track, bridgeworks and the removal of a redundant platform at Kirkby station. It is part of a wider blueprint for battery-powered trains in the surrounding city region. Mr Quinn told the committee that while the scheme involved the loss of green space and trees, the benefits of a new station outweighed the negative aspects. He said it would bring a "significant increase in accessibility" for an area of Kirkby with low car ownership rates. Rail development advisor for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Tony Killen said the application was "the fruition of considerable work over many years to secure a train station at this site". "This scheme is a rail industry first with new trains fitted with the latest industry cutting edge battery technology, allowing trains to operate between Kirkby and Headbolt lane without the need for electrification," he added. Ward councillor Tony Brennan said he was "looking forward to using the station" and urged fellow councillors to support the plans, speaking of its importance to the people of Kirkby. "It brings forward what people told us [they wanted] and will be a welcome positive addition to Kirkby's bright future," he said. Councillors voted to approve the plans, subject to conditions. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-59606693

December 13 at 05:26 AM

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First China-Central Asia freight train from Guangzhou launched

Global Times  December 12, 2021 (China) The first China-Central Asia freight train from Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province to Almaty, Kazakhstan departed from port of Guangzhou on Saturday, providing a stable and efficient international logistics channel for goods made in the Pearl Delta - Southern China's manufacturing hub - to go global. Loaded with a variety of household appliances, hardware products, daily necessities with total value of approximately $1.7 million, the 100 containers on the freight train will exit China via the Khorgos port in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and arrive in Central Asia in 14 days, according to a statement that the Port of Guangzhou sent to the Global Times. Compared with original transportation routes, the China- Central Asia freight train not only reduces the number of conversions, reduces transportation costs, and improves the efficiency of international cargo transportation, but also widens and deepens the logistics transportation connectivity between Guangzhou and Central Asia. The trip also marked the 10th China-Europe cargo train trip starting from the Port of Guangzhou. In April, the Port of Guangzhou launched a combined sea-rail transportation service to Europe. At the end of the year, a direct freight rail shuttle from Nansha Port in Guangzhou to Europe will be launched. It will open up the "last mile" of sea-rail-bus transportation for China-Europe and China-Central Asia freight trains, a representative of the Port of Guangzhou said. China-Europe freight-train services have played a significant role in stabilizing international railway logistics amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly disrupted sea and air transport services. A total of 12,605 services carrying nearly 1.22 million containers have operated between China and Europe from January to October, according to China State Railway Group, the national railway operator. The number of trains was up 26 percent year-on-year, while freight volume was 33 percent higher. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1241247.shtml

December 13 at 05:21 AM

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Railways transporting sugar and maize now

The Hindu  December 12, 2021 (India) 2,661 tonnes of sugar loaded from Nanjangud to New Mangaluru The Mysuru division of Southern Railways, which has been attracting newer freight commodities in the last couple of months, has now begun transporting sugar and maize apart from automobiles. “For the first time, 2,661 tonnes of sugar was loaded from Nanjangud of Mysuru division, South Western Railway to New Mangaluru,” tweeted the Ministry of Railways last week, marking the despatch of the first consignment of the scheduled twelve rakes, totalling more than 31,000 tonnes of sugar from Nanjangud to Mangaluru, between December 8 and 27. A Gurugram-based exporter has booked sought movement of 12 rakes of 2,650 tonnes each from Nanjangud to Mangaluru port to transport sugar from Bannari Amman sugar factory near here for export to Indonesia and Bangladesh. Though sugar is transported by road in trucks usually and by railway freight to Tuticorin occasionally, it was for the first time that the commodity had been loaded on the railways to Mangaluru, said sources in the Railways. Apart from sugar, the Mysuru division of South Western Railways has also been transporting huge quantities of maize from Ranibennur and Haveri to parts of West Bengal and Bihar, besides Kerala and Tamil Nadu, mostly to meet the requirement of poultry feed. Before sugar and maize, automobile manufacturers too had begun transporting the vehicles after the Railways modified its coaches to provide New Modified Goods rakes to facilitate transport of two-wheelers from Nanjangud to different parts of the country. Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Mysuru Division, South Western Railways, Manjunath Kanamadi said iron ore and petroleum products continued to be the mainstay of railways freight from the division while sugar and maize were “seasonal”. When asked if the recent rise in prices of fuel had forced the transporters to consider railways over road transport, Mr Kanamadi said businesses will consider railways when the goods are in bulk and the distance is long. For, transportation by train requires businesses to bear the additional expenditure of loading and unloading from trucks at the departure station as well as terminating station. Mysuru division had recorded the highest monthly turnover of ₹71.52 crore during October 2021 when freight operations witnessed a spurt after the lockdown by loading more than 8 lakh tonnes of goods during the month. However, November 2021 saw a marginal slump with about 7.6 lakh tonnes being loaded yielding a revenue of ₹60.02 crore. The slowdown was attributed to torrential rains lashing the region. Large quantities of onion, which was to be transported to different destinations from Mysuru division, too perished in the rains, sources added. Source https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/railways-transporting-sugar-and-maize-now/article37940536.ece

December 13 at 05:09 AM

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Mahathir defends move to scrap KL-S'pore HSR

The Straits Times  December 8, 2021 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has defended the move to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, insisting that the line was too short and did not save much time compared to other modes of transport. He was speaking on Tuesday (Dec 7) just over a week after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob proposed reviving the project which was scrapped by his predecessor, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. When asked if the proposal meant a revival of corruption politics, Dr Mahathir responded: "It is." He also claimed that Singapore had "demanded" to be compensated for work already completed in connection with the HSR. "The high speed train is going to travel between Singapore and KL, it's a very short distance, not much time saved by high speed. You can also fly, you can drive," Dr Mahathir said during a virtual roundtable promoting his upcoming book, Capturing Hope: The Struggle Continues For A New Malaysia, to be launched on Dec 12. "When you want a high speed train, it should go a long distance, say from Singapore to Penang, or to Alor Setar, or to the Thai border, but we could not afford that. And we don't need it at the moment. "And when we wanted to terminate it, Singapore demanded to be compensated for the work they have done in Singapore." Compensation, in the event the project was aborted, was stipulated in the legally binding agreement that both countries had signed. Dr Mahathir, who was prime minister of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government which came to power in 2018, was also in favour of ditching the project but eventually agreed to a two-year delay to allow for it to be reviewed. Dr Mahathir's PH government was subsequently ousted, replaced by one led by Mr Muhyiddin in early 2020. Both Singapore and Malaysia eventually could not agree on the changes proposed by Kuala Lumpur and the HSR agreement was allowed to lapse on Dec 31 last year. In January this year, Singapore's then Transport Minister Mr Ong Ye Kung told Parliament that Malaysia had to compensate Singapore in accordance with the HSR agreements, noting that the Republic had spent about $270 million on the project thus far. Mr Ong said that the compensation included various abortive costs such as for consultancy services, design of infrastructure and manpower to deliver the project. It would not cover land acquisition costs as the value of the land could be recovered. In the end, Malaysia paid about $102 million as compensation to Singapore with a joint statement in March pointing out that both countries had reached an "amicable agreement" on the amount following a verification process by the Malaysian government. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/mahathir-defends-move-to-scrap-kl-spore-hsr

December 13 at 05:00 AM

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Alstom to cut up to 1,300 jobs in Germany in restructuring drive

Reuters  December 10, 2021 (Munich, Germany) French train maker Alstom (ALSO.PA) plans to cut up to 1,300 of its roughly 10,000 jobs in Germany over the next three years as part of a restructuring after the purchase of Bombardier's (BBDb.TO) rail unit, a spokesperson for the company said. Production of trains in Germany, where Alstom has its biggest workforce, is to be shrunk and partly moved abroad, the spokesperson said on Friday, confirming comments by labour union IG Metall. At the same time, the company will create 600 to 700 new jobs in signalling technology and the software business, the person said. Alstom, which makes trains and signalling systems for urban and regional rail networks, said some plants in Germany were structurally underutilised and that it aimed to integrate production more closely into its European network. It aims to carry out the redundancies in a socially responsible manner, via internal transfers, re-training, early retirement or severance packages, it said. IG Metall, which opposes Alstom's plans to cut jobs, said the plan would particularly affect sites in eastern Germany, with 350 to 450 of the job cuts to hit Hennigsdorf outside Berlin and 300 to 400 Goerlitz. The new jobs would be primarily in Mannheim and Braunschweig in western Germany as well as in Berlin. Alstom's site in Kassel will not be affected, it said. Source https://www.reuters.com/business/alstom-cut-up-1300-jobs-germany-restructuring-drive-2021-12-10/

December 13 at 04:46 AM

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Alstom and Hitachi win HS2 train bid

The Times  December 09, 2021 (UK) The government and HS2 are on the verge of announcing that a £2.8 billion contract for the most prestigious train manufacturing project in the history of Britain’s railways is to be awarded to Derby’s historic Litchurch Lane works and Hitachi’s much newer factory at Newton Aycliffe in Co Durham. The long-awaited contract to produce at least 54 trains that can run at 225mph, are up to 400 metres long and able to carry more than 1,000 people, is to be awarded to a joint venture between Alstom of France and Hitachi of Japan. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/alstom-and-hitachi-win-contract-to-build-high-speed-trains-for-hs2-m37fr2xzx

December 10 at 05:26 AM

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Lithuanian Railways will continue to transport Belarus potash for now

Reuters  December 8, 2021 (Vilnius, Lithuania) State-owned Lithuanian Railways (LTG) said on Wednesday it will continue to transport Belarus potash in December despite U.S. sanctions on producer Belaruskali. Landlocked Belarus uses Lithuania's Klaipeda port to export potash from state-owned producer Belaruskali, one of the largest potash producers in the world and Minsk's main foreign currency earner. The company was sanctioned by the United States in August, one year after a crackdown following a disputed presidential election which President Alexander Lukashenko said he won. A ban on sales of potash kicked in on Wednesday after a four-month wind-down period. LTG expects to continue transporting Belaruskali's fertiliser despite the sanctions, because they only apply to U.S.-connected entities, the railway company's CEO Mantas Bartuska told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday. "We have a contract with Belaruskali which expires at the end of 2023 ... We cannot terminate it," Bartuska said. Lithuanian banks would not process Belaruskali payments due to sanctions, but the company paid in advance for railway services throughout December and a part of January, Bartuska told lawmakers. Lithuania's Foreign and Transport ministries were notified by LTG before the company accepted the advance payment, he added. LTG receives about 60 million euros a year from Belaruskali. Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told reporters on Wednesday that she expected the potash transportation "would not last for long", without giving further details. "The United States is a strategic partner of Lithuania, and the decision is intended to lessen the financial comfort of autocratic regimes, which we agree with," she said. Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanoyskaya, in exile in Lithuania since August 2020, on Wednesday welcomed the sanctions as a way of pressuring Lukashenko's government to stop repressions and hold free elections. "We expect the sanctions will lead to a halt in potash imports and transit until the rule of law is restored." Source  https://www.reuters.com/markets/deals/lithuanian-railways-will-continue-transport-belarus-potash-now-2021-12-08/

December 10 at 05:21 AM

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Southeastern: 'Serious errors' made, says rail operator

BBC  9 December 2021 (UK) A train operator has admitted "serious errors" over the running of Southeastern, which was stripped of its franchise by the government. The Go-Ahead Group had the routes taken away after it failed to declare more than £25m of taxpayer funding. It has apologised for failing to repay the money owed to the Department for Transport (DfT). Go-Ahead said it expected to pay a fine to the DfT, although it said the full amount is unclear at this time. The Southeastern franchise had been run owned by Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group and Keolis, since 2006. Southeastern's network is one of the busiest in Britain, stretching across south-east England, including London, Kent, East Sussex and the High Speed 1 line. The operation of all Southeastern services was transferred from London South Eastern Railway (LSER) to SE Trains Limited on 17 October. Go-Ahead Group's chief financial officer, Elodie Brian, resigned after the decision to take over the franchise was announced. Go-Ahead said: "Serious errors were made by LSER with respect to its engagement with the DfT over several years. "In particular, the group accepts that, by failing to notify the DfT of certain overpayments or monies due to the DfT, LSER breached contractual obligations, "Accordingly, the group has apologised to the DfT." Source  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-59591042

December 10 at 05:15 AM

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Japanese firm acquitted in deadly Taiwan train derailment: report

Japan Times December 9, 2021 ( Taipei, Japan) A Japanese firm was found not guilty by a Taipei court on Thursday for the derailment of an express train that killed 18 people in 2018, local media reported. The Central News Agency reported that the Taiwan Railways Administration had filed a lawsuit against Sumitomo Corp. and its affiliate in Taiwan seeking 612 million New Taiwan dollars ($22 million) in compensation. The Japanese firm won a bid in 2011 to supply the TRA’s fleet of Puyuma tilting trains. TRA argued that the Japanese contractor should be held responsible for the accident that investigators concluded was caused by two mechanical problems, as well as human error. One problem concerns a flawed blueprint for wiring the connection of the train’s automatic train protection safety system to the control station. The other problem concerns air compressors that control the train’s brakes and power system. However, the court dismissed the TRA’s legal complaint on the grounds that it failed to provide proof to substantiate its claim and that there is no considerable causal relationship between the Japanese firm’s alleged breach of contract and the damage caused by the accident, the report said. The report said the TRA is studying the possibility of appealing the court decision. Last October, the driver of the train was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for negligence causing death. The court heard that he contributed to the derailment of the train by disabling its automatic train protection safety system, which prevents trains from speeding, and driving it at over 140 kilometers per hour, far in excess of the speed limit of 75 kph, when it came off the rails along a curve. Source https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/12/09/national/jp-taiwan-rail-accident/

December 10 at 05:10 AM

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Power outage on Penang Hill forces funicular train to run at half speed

The Star  09 December 2021 (George Town, Penang, Malaysia) A power outage on Penang Hill on Wednesday (Dec 8) evening has left the funicular train service running at only 50% speed for the time being. The outage occurred when a contractor working on the hill station accidentally knocked down a Tenaga Nasional Malaysia (TNB) cable pole, causing a blackout. Penang Hill Corporation general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said the trains were running as normal powered by a generator set, but at a lower speed. "There has not been any major disruption to the funicular train service, but it is running at 50% of its normal speed since it is on a genset," he said on Thursday (Dec 9). Cheok said TNB personnel were already at the site to repair the cable and pole. "We hope power will be restored as soon as possible, as the community on the hill would be affected if the outage goes on," he added. Source https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/12/09/power-outage-on-penang-hill-forces-funicular-train-to-run-at-half-speed

December 10 at 04:51 AM

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Prasa's long-distance passenger trains back on track in time for Christmas

Times Live  08 December 2021 (South Africa) The Passenger Rail Agency of SA's (Prasa) long-distance passenger trains are due to begin operating from December 15 after almost a year's absence. Times and dates of the revived Shosholoza Meyl services were announced on Wednesday, with trains departing in each direction from Johannesburg and East London on December 15. Long-distance passenger train services were suspended in January because of Covid-19 and widespread vandalism along numerous routes where overhead electric power cables were stolen and stations destroyed. The first six months will see Prasa focus on employee and customer safety, bringing back customers, generating revenue and sustainability, the rail agency said. Along with the Johannesburg-East London route, services will also operate on the lines to Gqeberha, Bloemfontein via Kimberley and to Musina via Polokwane. The first train to Gqeberha is due to depart on December 17, along with a train from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein via Kimberley. Source https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-12-08-prasas-long-distance-passenger-trains-back-on-track-in-time-for-christmas/

December 09 at 06:41 AM

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Surveillance cameras in train cars could soon be the norm

The Asahi Shimbun  December 3, 2021 (Japan) Japan is on a fast track to making rail companies across the country install surveillance cameras inside their trains following a series of high-profile attacks, sources said. The transport ministry is planning the requirement in response to successive incidents where passengers were attacked and injured inside running trains. A discussion panel will review the regulatory standards for train cars, which could be updated in fiscal 2022 at the earliest. On Oct. 31, a man dressed in a Joker costume, a nefarious villain from the Batman superhero franchise, attacked passengers with a knife inside a running Keio Line train before setting the car on fire. That incident brought to light a weak link in train security systems. Due to the absence of surveillance cameras inside the train, it took authorities a long time to identify where and how the attack was occurring.  The ministry’s discussion panel, which consists of experts and representatives from train companies, will examine which train cars the new regulations should target. At the moment, it is expected to cover each newly introduced train car, including for Shinkansen bullet trains. Ministry regulations cover fire safety on trains, but not the installation of surveillance cameras. The panel will discuss setting a new standard on crime prevention inside trains, with an eye to revising the existing rules. Train companies have voluntarily installed surveillance cameras inside their trains. However, since their functions vary substantially, the ministry intends to ramp up train safety measures all at once through introducing a new standard. Currently, some can only record video footage, while others can transmit the video feed to a staff room inside a train and to a control room located outside the train. The panel will also consider what functions should be added to the onboard emergency notification button, which is typically installed near train doors that allows passengers to alert train staff to an emergency. Source https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14494491

December 09 at 06:21 AM

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NRZ embarks on borehole drilling programme

News Day  6 December 2021 (Zimbabwe) THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will drill 80 boreholes at its premises nationwide to alleviate water problems. NRZ general manager Respina Ziyanduko told  NewsDay  that the parastatal has been undertaking a restructuring exercise and after doing a cost benefit analysis, it concluded that the company will benefit more if it augments water supplies. “NRZ requires 80 borehole systems countrywide to sustain its operations given the erratic water supplies by local authorities,” Ziyanduko said. “A cost benefit analysis was done and it was realised that it would benefit us more if NRZ acquires its own borehole drilling rigs like what the army did. This will be used to meet NRZ water requirements and it will also be used for commercial purposes.” She said the restructuring exercise also noted that most NRZ staff was idle as there was less activity. “This resulted in management re-assigning most of the employees to areas of need where the organisation would benefit from their services,’’ she said. Ziyanduko also said some staff would be redeployed to the parastatal-owned Nalatale Mine to extract ballast stones for the mainline. “Application of ballast stones was last done 15 years ago.  That is why most NRZ tracks are in a sorry state. This would require huge quantities of quarry stones and cannot be sustained using ballast procured from commercial quarry suppliers. It is worth noting that all the re-assignments were done on a lateral transfer basis and in some rare circumstances, employees would be redeployed within the same department on a personal to holder basis,’’ she said. Source https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/12/nrz-embarks-on-borehole-drilling-programme/

December 09 at 06:05 AM

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Concessions should double number of railroads in Brazil in 15 years – Infrastructure minister

The Rio Times  November 28, 2021 (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) According to Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, the initial forecast was eight requests for the new type of concession. But there are already 35 requests for authorization, which should generate R$120 (US$22) billion in investments. The Brazilian government is now adopting a new, faster, and more bureaucratic concession model. It is known as "authorization", an instrument already foreseen in Brazilian legislation but little used. This model is now being used to give a jumpstart to the railway industry. According to the Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, the initial forecast was eight requests for the new type of concession. But, to the ministry's surprise, there are already 35 requests for authorization, which should represent around 9 thousand kilometers of railroads and R$120 (US$22) billion in investments Source https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/brazil/concessions-should-double-the-number-of-railroads-in-brazil-in-15-years-says-minister/

December 09 at 05:43 AM

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Japan to get world's first operational dual-mode bus and rail vehicle

The Japan Times  November 28, 2021 (Japan) The world’s first operational dual-mode vehicle capable of running on roads and railway tracks is set to enter service next month in the Shikoku region. Asa Seaside Railway Corp. in Tokushima Prefecture said it will roll out the DWV vehicles on Dec. 25, having cleared safety checks by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The vehicles will run on a 50-kilometer course connecting the town of Kaiyo in Tokushima Prefecture and the city of Muroto in Kochi Prefecture, of which 10 km will be on a railway track. Three will be in operation, each with a capacity of 23 passengers and crew. The DMV is a diesel-powered bus that has been fitted with an extra set of wheels on the undercarriage, which can be deployed in about 15 seconds to make it capable of traveling on railway tracks. The Tokushima Prefectural Government, which has a 35% stake in Asa Seaside Railway, said it hopes the DMV will become a tourist draw and help boost the local economy, which, like much of Japan, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The company is also 10% owned by the Kochi Prefectural Government. The vehicles may also be useful in natural disasters such as earthquakes, which may leave sections of roads or railway tracks unusable. The DMV is lighter than a traditional train, which, according to the company, means it requires less fuel and is easier to maintain. Hokkaido Railway Co. developed its own version in 2004 but did not bring it into operation, in part due to financial difficulties. Asa Seaside Railway had initially planned for the DMV to enter service in time for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics but had to push back those plans after the transport ministry instructed it in June to reinforce welding on the arm holding the retractable wheels. Earlier this month a technical panel at the ministry reviewed the test results using the upgraded parts and gave the green light for the vehicle to go into operation. Source https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/11/28/business/rail-bus-tokushima/

December 09 at 05:19 AM

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HCMC metro line takes possession of six train cars

VnExpress  December 7, 2021 (Vietnam) Six cars that make up two trains on Ho Chi Minh City's first metro line arrived from Japan on Tuesday morning. The cars, belonging to the 8th and 9th trains of the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line, were transported from the Kasado factory in Japan to HCMC’s Khanh Hoi Port in District 4. They would be transported to Long Binh Depot in Thu Duc City on Dec. 10 and Dec. 13 for assembly. Each car spans 21 meters and weighs 37 tons. The metro line's investor, the Ho Chi Minh City Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR), said six more cars for the 10th and 11th trains are also on their way to HCMC. The ship carrying them is expected to dock on Wednesday, with the cars taken to Long Binh Depot for assembly on Dec. 15 and Dec. 17. The cars would include train driving simulators for training and testing purposes, MAUR added. With the additional cars, 11 trains out of the line’s 17 have arrived in Vietnam. The trains are designed with a maximum speed of 110 kph on elevated sections and 80 kph underground. Each train has three cars and is capable of carrying 930 passengers. The trains at Long Binh Depot are expected to conduct test runs in the first quarter of 2022. HCMC’s first metro line costs over VND43.7 trillion ($1.89 billion) and spans around 20 kilometers, starting from Ben Thanh Station in District 1 to Long Binh Depot. It has three underground and 11 elevated stations. The project was supposed to be completed at the end of 2021 and enter commercial operations in 2022, but was delayed due to impacts of the pandemic and other factors. The project is now 88 percent complete and is expected to finish at the end of 2023. Source https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/hcmc-metro-line-takes-possession-of-six-train-cars-4399714.html

December 08 at 05:29 AM

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Union slams plan to shut old station

Bangkok Post  8 December 2021 (Thailand) The State Railway Workers' Union of Thailand is mounting fierce resistance against the Transport Ministry's plan to shut down Hua Lamphong station, which has served as Bangkok's main rail hub for 105 years. The station will be decommissioned on Dec 23, after which all passenger rail services to and from Bangkok will operate out of Bang Sue Grand Station. With the new station acting as the city's new terminus, the government hopes to relieve congestion in the inner city, where trains passing through level crossings often cause gridlocks, especially during rush hour. After a public hearing on the matter, SRUT adviser Sawit Kaewwan said on Tuesday that most union members disagree with the ministry's plan and demanded Hua Lamphong be kept operational. At least 22 trains per day must depart the station for it to maintain its function, Mr Sawit said, before calling the ministry's plan to shut down Hua Lamphong "unnecessary". "Hua Lamphong is a place of historical significance, having served the city for such a long time. For this reason alone, the ministry must review [its closure] and think hard whether the move would benefit corporations or the people," said Mr Sawit. Furthermore, the land on which Hua Lamphong station sits was decreed to serve only as a railway transport site. Developing it into a commercial area is illegal under Section 6 of the State Railway of Thailand Act, he added. Mr Sawit also dismissed the Transport Ministry's claim that Hua Lamphong's commercial development will give the State Railway of Thailand the financial boost it desperately needs, calling the agency's 600-billion-baht debt "exaggerated". Mr Sawit said the SRT's debt stands at around 190 billion baht. "[SRT] has had to provide cargo and passenger services at below-market rates, and the government has not shored up the lost revenue," he said. "It was forced to procure loans to stay afloat. Interest repayments alone costs a whopping three billion baht a year," Mr Sawit said. He called on the ministry to make use of other plots owned by the SRT which are located in Phahon Yothin, Bang Sue and Chatuchak. Separately, former senator Rosana Tositrakul also slammed the station's development, fearing the station could end up becoming an entrance to a planned mall next to it. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2228175/union-slams-plan-to-shut-old-station

December 08 at 05:19 AM

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Railroad works to cut emissions

Arkansas Democrat Gazette (Associated Press) 07 December 2021 ( Omaha, Nebraska, US ) Union Pacific says it intends to increase use of biodiesel fuel Union Pacific railroad plans to expand its use of renewable fuels and explore using battery-powered locomotives in the coming years to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases. The Omaha-based company said Monday that it plans to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases 26% by 2030 when compared with its 2018 levels. To do that, the railroad plans to increase the amount of biodiesel it uses to 10% of all the fuel it uses by 2025, and it will continue working to reduce the amount of fuel it consumes by expanding its use of a cruise-control system on its locomotives and continuing to refurbish older locomotives to improve their efficiency. Union Pacific officials said the railroad will also work with locomotive manufacturers to develop battery-powered locomotives that could be used in some of its railyards, but it will likely still be several years before those are available. UP Chief Executive Officer Lance Fritz said the railroad is taking "deliberate steps to improve our environmental footprint." In addition to those environmental goals, railroad officials said they want to increase the diversity of Union Pacific's workforce by doubling the number of women it employs and significantly increasing the number of minority workers it employs. By 2030, the railroad wants 11% of its employees to be women and 40% to be people of color. Union Pacific is one of the nation's largest railroads, and it operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 states. Source https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/dec/07/railroad-works-to-cut-emissions/

December 08 at 05:06 AM

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'Hedgehog highway' created at Lanark station

BBC 7 December 2021 A "hedgehog highway" has been created at a South Lanarkshire railway station. Small holes have been cut at regular intervals along the bottom of the boundary fencing at Lanark to allow the animals to move around the station grounds more freely. A concerned local resident contacted Network Rail earlier this year after noticing hedgehogs were becoming trapped under a fence at the station. A team, which included an ecologist, visited the site to better understand the situation and devise ways to stop the animals from getting trapped. The highway has been marked with hedgehog signs and an information board has been installed to highlight the reasons behind the work as well as raising the profile of hedgehogs in general. Network Rail said it intended to add a small hedgehog-friendly hole at the base of fences at other stations. Ashleigh Wylie, Network Rail Scotland ecologist, said: “We really appreciate members of the public taking the time to bring things to our attention – particularly where animals may be at risk and we can do something to help – as with the hedgehogs at Lanark station." Source  https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cy370w4xze8o

December 08 at 04:45 AM

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UAE Railway Programme launched: All you need to know

Khaleej Times  5 December 2021 (UAE) Project will see passengers zipping from Abu Dhabi to Dubai within 50 minutes UAE residents and tourists could soon be chugging across the Emirates within minutes in trains The UAE Railway Programme announced on Sunday will see passengers zipping from Abu Dhabi to Dubai within 50 minutes; and from the UAE Capital to Fujairah in 100. Top speeds on the trains could hit 200kmph. The programme is said to be the largest integrated system for transporting goods and passengers across the country. The UAE Government announced the scheme at Expo 2020 Dubai in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Sheikh Mohammed said: "The Etihad Rail is the largest project to consolidate the strength of the union for the next 50 years. It will connect 11 key cities and regions across the UAE. "The UAE's infrastructure is among the best in the world, and the Etihad Rail will further enhance UAE excellence in the logistical field. The project comes in line with the environmental policy of the UAE and it will reduce carbon emissions by 70-80 per cent.” Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said the programme reflects the “true meaning of integration into our national economic system”. “It comes to support a national vision to connect the country’s key centres of industry and production, open new trade routes and facilitate population movement, creating the most developed work and life environment in the region.” Source https://www.khaleejtimes.com/transport/uae-railway-programme-launched-all-you-need-to-know

December 07 at 06:04 AM

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Mechanisms needed to attract capital to railway sector

Vietnam Plus  December 06, 2021 (Hanoi, Vietnam) In order to mobilise 240 trillion VND (10.5 billion USD) for national railway development in the next 10 years as set by the freshly-approved railway planning for the 2021-2030 period, economists said that it is crucial to design specific capital attraction mechanisms. In order to mobilise 240 trillion VND (10.5 billion USD) for national railway development in the next 10 years as set by the freshly-approved railway planning for the 2021-2030 period, economists said that it is crucial to design specific capital attraction mechanisms. Under the planning, the construction of the North-South high-speed railway will be prioritised with the two initial routes of Hanoi-Vinh and Nha Trang-Ho Chi Minh City, while the current railway system will be upgraded. In the 2021-2025 period, middle-term public investment capital will be used to upgrade the Hanoi-HCM City route. According to Nguyen Danh Huy, head of the Department of Planning and Investment under the Ministry of Transport, in the 2021-2030 period, the sectors need over 112 trillion VND for the initial construction of two sections on the North-South high-speed railway. However, the amount is just 20 percent of the total capital demand of the whole project. Huy said that 80 percent of the capital will be sourced from the central budget, while the remaining will be mobilised from the society through public-private partnership (PPP). Meanwhile, Vu Anh Minh, Chairman of the State-owned Vietnam Railway Corporation (VNR), said that it is necessary to clearly define the capital sources to call for private capital and ODA. The State capital will be partly in cash and bond issuance, and the rest will be swiched to other forms of benefits, he said. Vu Quang Khoi, head of the Vietnam Railway Authority, some new railway routes linking with seaports, including the 103km  Vung Ang-Tan Ap-Mu Gia route  connecting with Laos’s railway system, have drawn more attentions from investors as their investment form has been clearly defined to be PPP. Meanwhile, Huy held that among the 240 trillion VND for the 10-year scheme, the State should be play the key role, especially when the middle-term public investment capital for railway sector in the 2021-2025 period is at low level at only about 15.9 trillion VND. He held that the capital should mostly focus on the 2026-2030 period, including investment in the  North-South high-speed railway . According to Huy, capital for the upgrade of current railway system will mostly come from the State budget. Nguyen Huu Duc, a transport specialist said that in reality, the attraction of capital in railway sector is hard, therefore, the State should invest in infrastructure system and leave the operating part to the private sector. Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thuy, another transport expert, held that as the railway sector needs huge investment, while the capital recovery time is long, it cannot expect fast capital mobilisation like road projects. Nguyen Khanh Tung, Vice Director of the Railway Project Management Board under the Ministry of Transport, said it is necessary to clearly define the items that investors can take part in, including trains and warehouse./. Source https://en.vietnamplus.vn/mechanisms-needed-to-attract-capital-to-railway-sector/216664.vnp

December 07 at 05:56 AM

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Chinese cities rush to provide trains to China-Laos rail ahead of RCEP, a boon to SE Asia economy

Global Times  December 06, 2021 (China) Following the opening of the China-Laos Railway, a growing number of cities in China immediately rolled out freight trains to Lao capital Vientiane, providing well-timed transport convenience for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact which will be implemented within a month, while countries in Southeast Asia are sparing no efforts to boost their economies as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is threatening to upend the region's COVID-19 recovery.  There are high expectations that the China-Laos Railway, which was launched on Friday, a landmark project under China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) linking Kunming of Southwest China's Yunnan Province with Vientiane, will drive trade and investment between China and Southeast Asia and promote cooperation in the Lancang-Mekong region in a flourishing era of bilateral relations, officials said.  Following the railway's launch, Chinese cities ranging from Southwest China's Chongqing and Chengdu to South China's Shenzhen opened freight trains to Laos, with many initiating the routes for the first time and shortening the transport time by half compared to sea transport. Freight trains from Nanjing in East China's Jiangsu Province on Monday headed to Vientiane, Jiangsu International Freight Train Company told the Global Times. This was followed by the departure of a train involved in cold-chain logistics on the China-Laos Railway, loading 33 containers of vegetables from Kunming on Saturday and expected to arrive in Vientiane on Sunday, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday. The train would return with specialty products from Thailand and Laos to Kunming, which will be delivered to China's metropolitan cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, achieving closed-loop cold-chain transportation.  Such a blockbuster railway project was launched in the year which marked the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations, a leading official of the ASEAN-China Center, an inter-governmental organization co-founded by 10 ASEAN member states and China, noted.  "The ASEAN-China Connectivity through the Kunming-Vientiane Rail Link will play an important role in strengthening ASEAN-China cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. The project also shows the implementation of the integration between the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the Belt and Road Initiative," the official told the Global Times on Monday.  The 1,035 kilometer-long route is expected to ultimately snake down through Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore, making the high-speed rail dream connecting Southeast Asia and China come true.  The railway will not only help Laos expand trade and attract investment, catapulting the landlocked Southeast Asian nation into a land-linked hub, but also facilitate regional countries to seize opportunities fueled by the world's largest trade deal as the RCEP will take effect starting January 1, 2022, Xu Ningning, executive president of the China-ASEAN Business Council, told the Global Times on Monday.  "Once the RCEP takes effect, the institutional arrangements in the region's open market will need the support of transport. Rules in the open market plus hardware infrastructure, like the China-Laos Railway, will power the region's economic growth," Xu said, stressing if the China-Laos Railway connects with other rail links, there will be a bigger and more open market for China and ASEAN members as the two sides will work to launch the Version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.  Looking forward, Xu said that ASEAN will be China's largest trade partner as long as tariff and trade barriers imposed by other major economies remain.  China-ASEAN trade grew from $8.36 billion in 1991 to $685.28 billion in 2020, with an annual growth of 16.5 percent, Chinese Customs data revealed.  Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1240823.shtml

December 07 at 05:44 AM

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Another milestone achieved by Indian Railways in under-construction Kashmir rail project; details here

Financial Express  December 06, 2021 (India) A part of the 272-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail line, the project aims to provide an alternative surface link between Kashmir and the rest of the country. Indian Railways’ project in Kasmir is on fast track! Another milestone has been achieved by the Northern Railway zone with one more tunnel in the Bankot area located near Banihal in Ramban, Jammu and Kashmir connected after a breakthrough. With this breakthrough, IRCON International Limited has completed most of the excavation work of railway tunnels between Banihal and the Khari sector, according to officials quoted in a PTI report. The work is underway on the Kashmir railway project in a 110 kilometres long rail line between Katra and Banihal and it is likely to be completed within the next two years. A part of the 272-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail line, the project aims to provide an alternative surface link between Kashmir and the rest of the country. According to an official, the approx. 2-km-long tunnel project in Bankot is being developed at a cost of Rs 300 crore in two parts. Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Harbans Lal Sharma said in the next two years, travelling by train from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is expected to start and the work is in full swing in Ramban to achieve the deadline. The 53-kilometre-long railway line’s 96% passes through underground tunnels and land measuring over 11,000 kanal (an area of 550 hectares) has been handed over to the national transporter, Sharma further said. According to the MD of Beigh Construction Company, Imran Beig, for the first time, a road-header machine is being used in the excavation of railway tunnels in the Kashmir rail line project. In tunnel excavation, the load-header machine is being utilized and thanks to the machine, there is no need for conducting blasts inside the rail tunnels, which sometimes damage the nearby residential houses coming along the tunnels, the MD further said. The Beigh Construction Company has been given a one-year deadline to complete tunnel number 77, he said. The MD is hopeful that the company will complete the project within the deadline. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/another-milestone-achieved-by-indian-railways-in-under-construction-kashmir-rail-project-details-here/2383062/

December 07 at 05:38 AM

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Covid: Trains fundamentally safe, says TfW boss

BBC  6 December 2021 (UK) Despite complaints of overcrowding during the pandemic, trains are "fundamentally safe", Transport for Wales has said. Chief executive James Price said he was "not happy" with some commuters' experiences but new trains would help. One commuter said trains were "pretty dreadful", delayed and overcrowded. The Welsh Conservatives' transport spokeswoman Natasha Asghar MS said passengers were being "rammed into trains like sardines". Formal social distancing rules came to an end in Wales on 7 August but TfW has asked passengers to keep "a respectful distance from others if you can". Face masks must be worn in most public places including public transport. Mr Price said regular cleaning of trains was one of the measures which meant coronavirus had not been detected on any of its services.   Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-59518933

December 07 at 05:31 AM

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Ahead of the curve

Straits Times  November 30, 2021 (Canada)  A lone Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive cutting a striking silhouette against a snowy landscape as it pulled train cars along a rail line past Morant's Curve near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta province, last Friday. Morant's Curve is a scenic spot in the Rocky Mountains along the Canadian Pacific Railway. The unmarked location was named after Nicholas Morant, who was the special photographer for the Canadian Pacific Railway on and off throughout the 20th century. His work is regarded as having been especially influential in promoting tourism in Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies. His images were used in Canadian currency and postage stamps, and appeared in publications such as Time, National Geographic and Reader's Digest. The Canadian Pacific Railway archives maintain more than 12,000 images captured by Morant. The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies also maintains the Nicholas Morant Fonds, which contains more than 50,000 photographs by or of Morant, as well as negatives, scrapbooks and sound recordings. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/multimedia/photos/ahead-of-the-curve

December 06 at 06:28 AM

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Chiltern Railways awarded new six-year contract

BBC  5 December 2021 (UK) Chiltern Railways has been awarded a new six-year contract by the government with a commitment to reduce emissions. The Arriva-owned company will continue running trains between London Marylebone and Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the West Midlands. It said it would expand trials converting diesel trains to diesel-battery hybrids, which are zero-emission while standing at stations. Managing director, Richard Allan, said the firm was "determined to modernise". It will also bring in an enhanced compensation scheme, with passengers eligible if they are delayed by 15 minutes, rather than the current 30 minutes. The new contract starts on 31 December and runs to the end of 2027. London Stratford emerges as UK's busiest station UK's quietest rail stop sees passenger increase Why one railway station lost 90% of its passengers Chiltern Railways has held the franchise for services on its routes since July 1996. Earlier this year, the Department for Transport announced a new state-owned body, Great British Railways (GBR), to set timetables and prices, sell tickets in England and manage rail infrastructure. The plan will begin in 2023 and the Chiltern Railways agreement could see the firm moved on to a new type of contract in early 2025. Source  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-59531741

December 06 at 06:17 AM

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Abandoned Maine railroad to become a new multi-use trail

Associated Press  04 December 2021 ( Augusta, Maine, US) An abandoned Maine Central Railroad Company corridor is being converted to a new multi-use trail. The Madison Branch spans 32 miles across Kennebec and Somerset Counties and will connect with the Maine Interconnected Trail System and Maine ATV Trail System, officials said. “Snowmobiles and ATVs are as much a part of the Maine outdoor experience as hiking boots, snowshoes, and skis,” said Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. “My administration has listened to our off-road recreational vehicle riding community who wants to be able to travel long distances, legally and safely, and have a good time. ” The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry completed the purchase in November from Pan Am Railways at the cost of just over $1 million. Source  https://apnews.com/article/lifestyle-maine-hiking-forestry-f3fe08bdc9fb3ee57683c66192e5c27e

December 06 at 06:11 AM

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Major disruptions to inner west buses ahead of train driver, teacher strikes

The Sydney Morning Herald  December 6, 2021 (Australia) Rolling strike action will reach a crescendo on Tuesday when bus drivers in parts of Sydney, train drivers across NSW and teachers all walk off the job. Inner west commuters faced major disruption on Monday as 60 bus routes were impacted by 24-hour industrial action taken by about 1200 drivers and members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union and Transport Workers Union NSW. Inner west light rail replacement bus services, in lieu of the fleet of decommissioned cracked trams, were not impacted. Similar action will follow on Tuesday with a 24-hour strike by about 300 drivers in south-west Sydney, at the Smithfield and West Hoxton depots in region three of the network. The following routes between Parramatta, Liverpool and Bonnyrigg could be impacted on Tuesday: 800, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 807, 808, 809, 812, 813, 814, 815, 816, 817, 818, 819, 820, 821, 822, 823, 824, 827, 835, 810X, 811X, S10 and T80. Drivers are seeking equal pay and conditions in their negotiations with operator Transit Systems, asking that those “doing the same job should get the same pay” after privatisation of Sydney’s buses created a two-tier workforce, the TWU says. “We understand the inconvenience this may cause some members of the public, and it’s not a decision the drivers take lightly, but we are confident the community will understand drivers have been left with no other option to have their voices heard,” TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen said. A Transit Systems spokesperson claimed some bus drivers, including those unwilling to take part in the industrial action, had been blocked from leaving the depot on Monday. “Once again, the unions are placing their members who are not supporting the action and other drivers under unnecessary pressure, in addition to confusing the community,” the spokesperson said. Transport for NSW said negotiations on a proposed enterprise agreement were between Transit Systems and its employees, and the government agency’s priority was to ensure the minimum impact to customers by any industrial action. RTBU members will also refuse to man “foreign-made” trains on Tuesday, which the union anticipates will affect 75 per cent of trains across the public transport network. Transport for NSW said trains would run to a reduced frequency on Tuesday, from first service until last service on the Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink network, with significant delays and some cancellations expected. “Trains will run every 30 minutes on some Sydney Trains suburban lines, and services will be stopping at all stations so customers should expect longer journey times,” it said. Buses will replace trains between Lidcombe and Bankstown on the T3 Bankstown line. Intercity services will run to a weekend timetable on the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Newcastle lines, while buses will replace South Coast Line trains between Wollongong and Kiama, Port Kembla and Thirroul. The RTBU is calling for a 3.5 per cent pay increase, while the government is offering 0.3 per cent in the first year of the new deal, and 2.5 per cent thereafter . Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/major-disruptions-to-inner-west-buses-ahead-of-train-driver-teacher-strikes-20211206-p59f56.html

December 06 at 06:06 AM

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‘Back to the bad old days’: swingeing rail cuts set alarm bells ringing

The Guardian  5 December 2021 (UK) Rail operators surprised by immediacy and scale of cuts demanded by Department for Transport Train operators have been told to find ways to cut hundreds of millions of pounds from the railway’s operating costs next year, in a move that is likely to result in fewer services and worse stations for passengers. The Department for Transport seeks to cut spending by 10% after the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s autumn budget. With the Treasury anxious to limit spending on rail, which increased massively during the pandemic, letters from the DfT’s managing director of passenger services, Peter Wilkinson, have been sent to individual operators setting out the swingeing cuts needed across the industry. While train operators expected cuts – the Williams-Shapps plan for rail, which was published in May, set out a target of saving £1.5bn over the next five years – the immediacy and scale of the financial demands has come as a surprise. Government sources said there were no finalised decisions, and denied that individual operators were being asked to deliver cuts of 10% or more to expenditure. Operators have been under direct government contract since the abolition of franchising at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Under the emergency recovery contracts, they are paid a fixed fee to deliver services with the revenue and cost risk taken by the government. Even if, as DfT sources suggest, the latest call for savings are a “routine business planning process” to maintain efficiency and reduce the cost to taxpayers, alarm bells are ringing through the industry. While the effects of the pandemic on rail travel patterns and revenue are clear to all, a division has grown between those who believe it is essential to maintain services and lower fares to attract passengers and those who favour cutting costs and maximising current income. According to figures released by the Office of Rail and Road on Wednesday, the Treasury spent an additional £6.5bn on running the railway in 2020-21, to cover lost revenues as passenger numbers dropped 78% overall. The shortfall will be substantially less this financial year, with weekly rail demand having risen steadily to about 70% of pre-Covid levels by November – although the discovery of the Omicron variant and the reintroduction of mandatory mask wearing is expected to depress numbers. Provisional DfT figures showed a 10% drop in train travel last Monday, although the impact of storms would have played a part. In October, train operators announced a voluntary severance programme to try to reduce staff costs. However, further budget constraints could mean mandatory job cuts, with many of the fixed costs in rail, such as rolling stock and track access charges, impossible to reduce quickly. Operators fear the reputational damage, and financial hit, of managing decline and likely industrial action. Under the new contracts, at least 20% of the potential profit will be linked to performance measures including customer satisfaction. One insider said: “If you’re setting the budget at a point where customers and staff are going to be unhappy, it looks pretty hard to get those fees.” Forced redundancies would spell certain strike action, with even the scale of voluntary departures – many thousands applying at Network Rail alone – yet to be agreed after months of talks with the unions. The unions have in the interim geared up for battle over proposed cuts to services that operators had already prepared before the latest DfT costcutting demands. South Western Railway, which has been badly affected by a drop in daily commuters to London from the stockbroker belt, has consulted on long-term timetable cuts to be introduced next December. A SWR spokesperson said it would still have 93% of pre-Covid capacity, adding that it was “appropriate and responsible that we right-size our services to match demand in the new normal”. Meanwhile, LNER, which is run by the government’s own operator of last resort since the collapse of Virgin, has been consulting on cutting ticket offices; protests against the cuts are due on Monday in stations in the north-east. Demands for savings have been compounding industry gloom after the HS2’s northeastern leg and the new Leeds-Manchester line were scrapped last month in the government’s integrated rail plan. Enthusiasm in some parts of government for building new rail infrastructure and improving services – a key tool for both “levelling up” the regions and decarbonising transport – has come up against Treasury unwillingness to spend more now. "It’s back to the old days of British Rail when they squeezed services and then said no one is using trains because the service is rubbish" Christian Wolmar, the author of the forthcoming History of British Railways, argued that the £96bn plan was actually “a vote of confidence in the long-term future of the railways, however mis-sold”. But, he said: “In the short-term, they are being completely squeezed. It’s incoherent. And it’s going to have a real impacts.” Timetables are likely to be thinned out and late-night services withdrawn to cut costs, he predicted: “It’s back to the old days of British Rail when they squeezed services and then said no one is using trains because the service is rubbish. “In a rational world they would just cut the branch lines – but they can’t do that politically because ministers have said they are reversing Beeching.” Meanwhile, the depth of Treasury control is also raising questions about the future plans for Great British Railways, the arms-length “guiding mind” supposedly taking charge under the Williams-Shapps plan to improve the railways. Six months after publication, progress has been slow, with legislation now unlikely to bring any new body into effect before 2024 or 2025. Its designate leaders – Network Rail’s chief executive, Andrew Haines, and its chair, Peter Hendy – were kept at bay as government departments tussled over the cuts to the integrated rail plan. As one industry veteran put it: “Network Rail can’t paint a station fence without asking the Treasury now.” Industry leaders and unions alike believe that the Treasury wants to target working conditions. According to one senior rail figure: “The single biggest thing is workplace reform, they believe productivity is low.” Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, sees it as “cynically exploiting the Covid crisis”, at a time when the government has talked up the value of rail as a green mode of transport and a way to level up. “What they really want to do is cut back on the existing workforce and start rehiring on inferior terms and conditions when demand returns,” he said. A DfT spokesperson said it was “demonstrably false” to suggest the government was delivering cuts to the railway, given the current levels of investment, the £96bn rail plan and the restoration of lines such as  Okehampton . They added: “With passenger numbers significantly down, it would be reckless and irresponsible not to ensure that the railway is more efficient and reducing its costs to the taxpayer. “As taxpayers would expect, we have asked operators to provide credible and sustainable business plans which ensure taxpayer money is used efficiently, to deliver exceptional services, promote recovery to reset the balance in financial support and ensure the railway has a bright future.” Source https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/dec/05/back-bad-old-days-swingeing-rail-cuts-alarm-bells-ringing

December 06 at 04:53 AM

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Siemens on track for long-range hydrogen-powered trains

Reuters   December 2, 2021 (Zurich, Germany) Hydrogen-powered trains with ranges of up to 1,000 km are being trialled by Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE) which sees them as a emissions free solution on routes without overhead power cables. Trains which use hydrogen to charge an onboard battery extend the range from around 100 km for battery only-trains, making them viable for long distance routes without overhead lines, Michael Peter, head of Siemens Mobility, said. "We have the tools in our hands in transportation to reduce emissions to zero, and then you cannot just talk about the cheapest operating cost," said Peter. "You have to talk about the cost of allowing CO2 into the atmosphere which is gigantic." Hydrogen-powered are also cheaper and quicker to introduce than hydrogen trucks because they do not need a broad network of fuel stations to support them, Peter said in an interview for the Reuters Next conference. Today's trains running over long distances where overhead powerlines are not present rely on diesel engines, which produce harmful emissions, including carbon dioxide. "In Europe there are 20,000 rail vehicles which could be replaced by hydrogen in the next 15 years," Peter said. "We think the future of transportation in the U.S. is by slowly electrifying," Peter added. "But 60% of the line is electrified and 40% is not." Siemens trains work with a hydrogen generator which charges an on-board electric battery that powers an electric motor. The battery is only used to deliver high peak power for fast acceleration, and reach speeds of up to 160 km per hour. The technology, which is being trialled by Siemens in Germany next year, will make a significant contribution to environmental goals, Peter said. "Around 80% of railway traffic already runs on electrified lines, that is 100% green. For the remaining 20%, mass transportation is cleaner - even if it is diesel - than an individual car," Peter said. "If we want to meet our climate targets, transport in general should strive to be 100% clean." Siemens Mobility declined to give details of the costs of the trains, although hydrogen-powered ones are usually more costly than electric-only versions. But over the long term, this can be reduced by their long lifespan, with trains that can cover 400,000 km a year for 40 years and can also be recycled. Source https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/siemens-track-long-range-hydrogen-powered-trains-2021-12-02/

December 03 at 05:20 AM

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NRZ solar-powers coaches

News Day  November 16, 2021 (Zimbabwe) THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has begun installing solar power on its coaches to ensure uninterrupted power supply and improve safety of passengers. Most of its coaches have been vandalised by criminals who advantage of the poor lighting system in the trains. NRZ acting spokesperson Martin Banda yesterday told  NewsDay  that four coaches were already solar-powered. “We started the project last year and we have fitted solar panels on one of the cabooses used for cross trippers as a pilot project. “We replaced the generators used by the crew for lighting by solar-powered ones. Installation of the solar panels will allow crews on cross trippers to have power throughout the year without fear of breakdowns,” he said. “The panels on each caboose can provide enough power to run a refrigerator, lighting, fan, television and microwave ovens. In the past, there were instances where crews worked in the dark after a generator failed.” Banda said the solar power project would cost US$64 000 for the eight cabooses earmarked to be fitted with panels. He said they would be harvesting solar during the day and it would be stored in batteries for use during the night. However, he said the challenge the rail company could face would be unavailability of parts for refurbishment of coaches. Banda told  NewsDay  that NRZ was experiencing a lot of accidents, particularly at level crossings. “Once accidents happen, it means we have to pull out all damaged property from the business and try to replace it with new parts.” Recently, police pledged to work closely with the NRZ to combat vandalism of railway infrastructure. Source https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/11/nrz-solar-powers-coaches/

December 03 at 05:08 AM

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Prasa’s bid to restore Cape Town commuter trains comes off the rails

Sunday Times  28 November 2021 (South Africa) The rail agency was supposed to have relocated about 1,300 people from the central line tracks by end of last week Shacks on the tracks have taken the steam out of efforts to revive commuter trains on what was once Cape Town’s busiest railway line.  Thanks to a high court eviction order, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) was supposed to have moved about 1,300 people from the central line tracks in Langa by Friday Source  https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times-daily/news/2021-11-28-prasas-bid-to-restore-cape-town-commuter-trains-comes-off-the-rails/

December 03 at 05:03 AM

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High-speed rail dreaming is a fast track to nowhere

Australian Financial Review  November 24, 2021 (Australia) Giving a leg up to the numbers on wish-list projects simply sidelines better ideas that might pass the cost-benefit test. There’s no surer sign of an imminent federal election than a fast-train promise. Labor is pledging that if it wins next year’s federal election, it will create a new High Speed Rail Authority and get cracking on building the 1750km railway from Brisbane through Sydney to Melbourne. And who doesn’t love the idea of a bullet train zipping along Australia’s coastline? We like to imagine it would be nation-building, bring us in line with the rest of the world, and give a major economic boost to regional communities. Source https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/high-speed-rail-dreaming-is-a-fast-track-to-nowhere-20211123-p59bgc

December 03 at 04:57 AM

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Kenya returns to colonial rail after Beijing hits buffers

The Times  November 29 2021 (Kenya) A stretch of colonial-era railway is being untangled from the bush in a realisation of Kenya’s most ambitious infrastructure project since independence. The line, known as the Lunatic Express for its huge cost both to the British government and a workforce preyed on by disease and lions, appeared to have had its day with the unveiling in 2017 of a new high-speed line, mostly built and funded by China. That project, intended to connect central Africa with the Indian Ocean, has been left languishing, however, after Beijing put a brake on lending. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kenya-returns-to-colonial-rail-after-beijing-hits-buffers-p8flr2jwj

December 03 at 04:53 AM

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PM to present proposal for HSR project revival to cabinet on Friday

Malaysiakini  01 December 2021 (Malaysia) Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will present to the cabinet this Friday about the proposed revival of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR), said Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong. Ismail Sabri had reportedly proposed the HSR project’s revival in a bilateral meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Nov 29. Source https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/601419

December 02 at 06:07 AM

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Union Pacific cuts 2021 volume, operating ratio growth forecast

Reuters  December 2, 2021 (US) Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) cut its full-year forecast for volume and operating ratio growth on Wednesday, as supply chain logjams pressure the U.S. railroad operator's volumes. The Nebraska-based company, in a regulatory filing, said it expects 2021 volumes to grow about 4% from around 5% growth it had forecast in October. It had expected a volume growth of about 7% earlier in the year. Union Pacific's intermodal and automotive shipments, which are key revenue drivers, have been hit by supply chain problems, such as logjams at ports, truck driver and chip shortages.  Operating ratio, a key profitability metric, is expected to rise about 150 basis points, down from the 175 points Union Pacific had forecast earlier. Shares of Union Pacific, which operates in 23 states and connects East Coast ports to key terminals like Chicago, pared gains to trade about flat in the afternoon session. Source https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/union-pacific-cuts-2021-volume-operating-ratio-growth-forecast-2021-12-01/

December 02 at 06:02 AM

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NTSB issues safety alert to subways, rail over wheel defect

Associated Press  1 December, 2021 (US) [Photo: A Washington Metro train pulls into Dupont Circle station, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Washington. The regional train system serving the District of Columbia area will remain on drastically reduced service levels through at least the end of this year, as authorities grapple with a safety problem that has forced the majority of the trains out of service.] The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday issued a safety alert to subway systems and commuter railroads over a wheelset problem that led to a derailment in the nation’s capital, saying the defect is difficult to detect and potentially devastating. The investigative agency released a preliminary report of its ongoing probe into the Oct. 12 accident involving the Washington subway system that ruled out other factors such as speed. The NTSB said the flaw in the rail car’s wheel and axle assembly is “not easily identifiable” with a routine visual check, and urged transit agencies to comply with a recent Federal Transit Administration directive to conduct inspections for misaligned wheels — something that NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy urged early in the investigation. The NTSB broadened its alert to include commuter rail, which isn’t fully covered under the FTA order. Several transit and rail agencies have said they have made checks and the problem does not appear to apply to them, but NTSB underscored the need for vigilance. “A derailment due to wheel movement could be catastrophic,” according to the safety alert. The bulk of Washington’s Metro fleet has been suspended from service since mid-October after a train car slipped off the tracks on the Blue Line near Arlington National Cemetery. According to NTSB’s report on Wednesday, the car derailed and then reconnected with the rails by itself on two occasions during that trip, before derailing a third time. Some passengers were trapped in a tunnel in a dark train car and had to be evacuated on foot. Following that mishap, the NTSB found chronic problems in which the wheels on Metro’s 7000-series line, its newest rail car, spread too wide on the axles, allowing the carriage to slip off the tracks. The issue had been apparent to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority since 2017, but neither the NTSB nor the WMATA board had been informed. At the place of derailment, the NTSB said the maximum authorized speed was 59 miles per hour. Preliminary data from an onboard event recorder showed the train speed was below that at about 33 mph. “The NTSB is concerned that car 7200 operated with a wheelset that did not meet specifications for an undetermined time as the car derailed three times on the day of the accident ... without any noticeable indication of the problem to alert the train operator,” the alert said. “The derailment likely occurred due to movement of the wheel on its axle, which should never happen.” Washington Metro is expected to operate sharply reduced service at least through the end of the year. “The safety alert identifies the issue of wheelset movement on transit railcars and commuter railroads as a serious problem,” said Robert Hall, director of NTSB’s office of railroad, pipeline and hazardous materials investigations. “As we continue to conduct the investigation of this derailment, it is imperative that the safety issues identified are addressed immediately to protect the American public traveling daily on our transit system.” The agency said its investigation will examine whether the flawed wheelsets were a result of a design defect or assembly error, evaluate the response from rail traffic controllers and try to identify if there are similar problems in other types of rail cars. The safety concerns come as public transit agencies work to win back passengers and build out expanded transportation routes under President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure law after a crushing year of drained ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Washington, overall rider numbers remain at about 30% of pre-pandemic levels but were expected to increase with office reopenings and renewed tourism. Source https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-business-national-transportation-safety-board-accidents-b914fc5a761d8a858f79f3b3aafb0700

December 02 at 05:42 AM

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Mumbai: Central Railway track staffer detects rail fracture, prevents mishap

The Times Of India  Nov 28, 2021 (Mumbai, India) The presence of mind shown by a Central Railway (CR) staffer working on tracks as a keyman helped detect a major rail fracture on Sunday morning. The keyman, Bhausaheb Kangne was posted on duty on Sunday morning near the Parsik tunnel which comes after Thane station. During his inspection around 10.20 am, he noticed a major rail fracture and alerted his superiors who in turn informed the control room to stop trains along the route. While the trains on Down fast were halted, they were subsequently given diversions to the Down slow line. During this period, the technical staff arrived at the spot and repaired the fracture before the trains were allowed to run on the Down fast line. Source https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-central-railway-track-staff-detects-rail-fracture-prevents-mishap/articleshow/87966645.cms  

December 02 at 05:32 AM

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China-Laos railway to open Friday, expected to inject impetus to local economy, benefit regional countries

Global Times  December 01, 2021 (China) Flagship BRI project brings friends even closer: observers Top leaders of China and Laos will meet via video link on Friday and jointly witness the opening of the China-Laos Railway, which is expected to not only boost connectivity between Laos and other countries, but also benefit regional development. As the docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub, the 1,035 kilometer-long China-Laos Railway will connect Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, and Laos' capital city Vientiane.  Billed as a showpiece of Laos' participation in the BRI, the railway has 11 stations on the Chinese section and 10 on the 409-kilometer Laos section. With a designed speed of 160 kilometers per hour, the railway will shorten travel between Vientiane and the China-Laos border from two days to just three hours, and the trip from Vientiane to Kunming can be done overnight, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Speaking at a routine press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told the media that as China and Laos, two socialist friendly neighbors, celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties, it is a grand and joyous milestone event to have the two heads of state witness the opening of the China-Laos Railway.  China believes that the railway could help Laos turn its strategy of turning from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub into reality, accelerate the joint construction of a community of shared future of the two countries, benefit the two peoples, boost regional connectivity and supply chain resilience, and make contributions to regional development and prosperity, Wang noted.  Chinese observers said that by delivering the railway on time, China will display its seriousness in carrying out BRI projects and in promoting regional economic unity that could withstand the test of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The railway will also establish a rapid transit and commercial link between the Southeast Asian country and China, the world's second largest economy, powering Laos' economic growth, they added. However, some Western media have reported otherwise.  The AFP reported on Tuesday that the project has already left 4,400 farmers and villagers reeling after they were forced to surrender land, and that many have faced long delays receiving compensation or have been paid inadequate amounts, citing a report by the Lao Movement for Human Rights. Some Western media also said that the project is more the work of China's political agenda to increase China's clout, than pure economic consideration.  "The railway will result in the growth of many industries like tourism, trade and investment, especially in the processing industry, and it's going to help a lot for Laos' post-pandemic recovery," said Valy Vetsaphong, vice president of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and advisor to Laos' prime minister during a recent interview with the Xinhua News Agency.  Valy said many local business operators will switch to exporting products by using the railway, which is expected to cut the cost of transport through Laos by 30 to 40 percent compared to traveling by road. The railway connects Laos with "not only China, but also the entire BRI network," according to a World Bank report in 2020. And it will bring a significant reduction in transport costs by some 30-50 percent depending on the method of calculation, and is expected to increase trade between China and Laos to 3.7 million tons of cargo by 2030, according to the World Bank. Xu Liping, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, predicted that the railway will mostly handle cargo in its initial stage of operations, given the COVID-19 pandemic situation that has greatly stalled international travel. The completion of the railway marks a dream-come-true moment for local residents in the infrastructure-poor inland country, as it previously had only 4 kilometers of railway tracks, Gu Xiaosong, dean of the ASEAN Research Institute of Hainan Tropical Ocean University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.  Cargo, including raw materials and fresh agricultural products, could be transported to China and then even Europe via the railway network, which would inject new impetus to not only the local economy, but also other regional players such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar, Gu said.  Higher-level people-to-people exchanges, trade and investment, among others, will be flowing to the region with the opening of the railway, he noted.  Chinese observers also see the future development of the China-Laos Railway, as it could be part of the grand scheme of a rapid transit hopefully linking China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and ultimately Singapore, to be known as the Kunming-Singapore Railway or the Pan-Asia Railway Network. By then, it would be possible to bypass the crowded maritime traffic in the Malacca Strait, enabling faster transport to and from Europe, they said.  For its contributions, the Laotian government awarded the China State Railway Group the 1st Class Medal of Development, the highest honor, at an award ceremony in Vientiane on Wednesday, according to a press release sent to the Global Times by the Chinese state railway operator. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1240416.shtml

December 02 at 05:18 AM

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Germany's Knorr Bremse expects annual growth of up to 6.5% until 2025

Reuters  Nov 29 (Munich, Germany) Knorr Bremse (KBX.DE) expects annual revenue growth of 5.5% to 6.5% till 2025, when revenues would likely reach 8.6 billion euros ($9.70 billion), the German auto and railway parts supplier said on Monday ahead of its capital markets day. Operating margins (EBIT) would come in between 14% and 16%, it added. The company, which is targeting growth opportunities in the rail and commercial vehicles sectors, said it expected revenues of 6.6 billion to 6.8 billion euros this year and a profit margin of between 13% and 13.5%. It, however, warned that semiconductor supply bottlenecks were weighing on its commercial vehicles business. Source  https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/germanys-knorr-bremse-expects-annual-growth-up-65-until-2025-2021-11-29/

December 01 at 08:24 AM

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All clear for Malaysia's coast-to-coast rail link after impasse resolved

Straits Times  1 December 2021 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) The federal and Selangor governments have finally agreed on a deal to end more than a year of impasse over the route that the RM50 billion (S$16.2 billion) East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) will take through Malaysia's richest state. Official sources told The Straits Times that an agreement will be inked on Thursday (Dec 2) to proceed with a revised northern alignment put forward by the Umno-led federal government. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/all-clear-for-malaysias-coast-to-coast-rail-link-after-impasse-resolved

December 01 at 08:12 AM

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Infrastructure: Light rail gathers speed

New Zealand Herald  30 Nov, 2021 (New Zealand) The options that are on the table for the city centre to Māngere light rail route. The Auckland light rail proposal, christened the City Centre to Mangere project, is a lot more than a swish public transport system to ease congestion and quicken people's commuter journeys. The multi-billion-dollar project, planned to be operating within 10 years, will speed up urban development as Auckland heads towards a population of 2.4 million by 2050 — an additional 720,000 people from today's population. The project will transform communities along the 24km light rail corridor from Wynyard Quarter to the airport, particularly at the Dominion Rd junction on the city centre fringe, at Wesley and neighbouring Mt Roskill, at Onehunga and at the Mangere town centre. Transit-oriented developments or zero-carbon neighbourhoods of sustainably-designed apartment, office and retail buildings, even urban schools and other services, will pop up along the way. Owning a car won't be necessary because the locals will be within 500 metres walking distance of the rapid light rail system. At the recent Building Nations 2021 symposium, Minister of Finance and Infrastructure Grant Robertson was asked whether the Auckland light rail project would ever progress. He replied: "It's important it does. We need to continue to develop the network in Auckland with different modes of public transport. We want to see work start rapidly." Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/infrastructure-light-rail-gathers-speed/BLDIRWNOZKRNN362ENSKSJLLYY/

December 01 at 08:06 AM

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JB-Singapore RTS Link project will be finished by 2026, says Malaysian transport minister

Straits Times (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK)  November 23, 2020 (Johor Baru, Malaysia) Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has assured Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, that the Rapid Transit System Link (RTS) between Johor Baru and Singapore will be completed within the stipulated time frame. In a video presented during the virtual ground-breaking ceremony of the mega project and posted on his Facebook page on Sunday (Nov 22), Datuk Seri Wee said that the project would bring maximum positive impact to the people of Johor. "As the representative of the Transport Ministry, which is the overseer of the project, I assure the commitment of the government in making sure that the project would be carried out effectively and in an organised manner, while also being completed by the set time, which is by 2026,"  he said. He said the ministry hoped the project would bring positive economic impact to industries such as tourism and real estate, especially in Johor. In a separate Facebook post, Mr Wee said that the 4km RTS Link functions as a cost-effective transportation system that promises to boost connectivity. He said it would also provide easy, fast and comfortable access to the people who travel across the Malaysia-Singapore border. "This would also solve the traffic congestion problem faced at the entry points of both countries that has been going on for years," he said. Once completed, the journey between Bukit Chagar station in Johor and Woodlands North station in Singapore will take only five minutes. The RTS can ferry up to 288,000 people per day. Malaysia - through the Transport Ministry - will be forking out RM3.715 billion (S$1.22 billion) or 39 per cent of the total cost of the 4km link project, with the balance to be borne by Singapore.   Those commuting with the RTS Link would have to go through Immigration clearance only once, at the point of departure - either at Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru or Woodlands in Singapore. Meanwhile, Johor residents are excited that the project has finally started, as many have been waiting for it for more than a decade. Businessman S. Sures, 48, is glad to see the project progress. "It will really help improve connectivity and allow Johor, especially its city Johor Baru, to benefit from the higher number of visitors from Singapore entering through the RTS. "Most local businesses are highly dependent on visitors from Singapore. The RTS will definitely bring positive economic growth to the state, including for small businesses like mine," said the owner of a shop selling clothes and textiles. "Easy access to public transportation across the border will help the state recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will probably take years for us to recover. "If the project is completed as scheduled, which is by 2026, it can help us rebuild the economy," he said. Restaurant owner Tan Kim Hock, 58, anticipated the RTS Link would bring more customers from the island republic to his shop, as well as make it easier for him to visit his family members in Singapore. "The congestion at the Causeway and Second Link has been a huge problem. I have, at times, cancelled trips to Singapore due to the traffic. I hope the RTS Link can end my travel woes," he said. Taxi driver Abdul Razak Abd Rahman, 57, said the RTS would help boost the tourism industry in Johor. "I think it would not only bring positive spillover impacts on Johor Baru but also other districts in the state, such as Mersing and Kota Tinggi, that are famous for its beaches and islands, " he said. Primary school teacher Ngoi Fee Min, 38, said the RTS is highly anticipated, as it means that those working in Singapore can come home more often without having to sit through hours of traffic on the Causeway. She said her husband, a technical team manager, commuted to and fro between Johor Baru and Singapore daily but decided to stay in the island republic, as he got tired of the traffic jam. "Hopefully with the RTS, my husband can move back home and we can spend more time together as a family. "Besides that, students who study in Singapore can also benefit from this, as they do not need to wake up at 3am or 4am just to beat the jam to travel across the Causeway," said Ms Ngoi, a mother of two. Source  https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/johor-residents-all-on-board-for-jb-singapore-rts-link-project

December 01 at 07:59 AM

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Laos hopes for economic boost from Chinese-built railway but some question its viability

The Japan Times  November 28, 2021 ( Bangkok ) A new $6 billion Chinese-built railway line opens in Laos this week, bringing hopes of an economic boost to the reclusive nation, but experts are questioning the benefits of a project that has seen thousands of farmers evicted from their land. The 414-kilometre route, due to open on Dec. 3, took five years to construct under China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative, which funds infrastructure projects aimed at increasing Beijing’s clout globally. Struggling strawberry farmer Anouphon Phomhacsar is hoping the new railway will get his business back on track. His farm usually produces up to two metric tons of the red heart-shaped fruits a year, but the pandemic has hit the 2021 harvest hard. It currently takes Phomhacsar three to four hours to send his strawberries to Vientiane by road, but he hopes the new railway will cut this delivery time in half. And he says it will also be easier for tourists to travel to camp under the stars and pick berries. “In the future, foreign tourists coming to the farm could be in the tens of thousands,” he said. The train route will connect the Chinese city of Kunming to the Laos capital, with grand plans for high-speed rail to ultimately snake down through Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore. Infrastructure-poor Laos, a reclusive communist-run country of 7.2 million people, previously had only 4 km of railway tracks. But now sleek red, blue and white bullet trains will speed along the new line at up to 160 kph, passing through 75 tunnels, across 167 bridges and stopping at 10 passenger stations. Economic boost Despite registering only dozens of COVID-19 cases until April, Laos’ economy took a pandemic battering — economic growth declined to 0.4% in 2020, the lowest level in three decades, according to the World Bank. Hopes for a 2021 rebound were dashed — Laos locked down as it logged roughly 70,000 infections in the past eight months. And while the railway could boost tourism, freight and agriculture, according to a World Bank report, the government needs to undertake substantial reforms, including improving border clearance processes. “The new railway is a major investment that has the potential to stimulate the Lao economy and allow the country to take advantage of its geographical position at the heart of mainland Southeast Asia,” said Sombath Southivong, a senior World Bank infrastructure specialist. The tourism industry is desperate for a pick-me-up after the pandemic caused an 80% downturn in international visitors in 2020 — 4.7 million foreign tourists visited the previous year. Before the pandemic, young nomads crammed onto buses at Vientiane for the four-hour ride to adventure capital Vang Vieng — a journey that will now take about an hour by train. The town, which has a former CIA airstrip, was notorious for backpackers behaving badly at jungle parties before it re-branded as an eco-tourism destination. But the kayaks, rafts, ziplines and hot air balloons have been empty of late. Inthira — a boutique hotel nestled on the banks of the Nam Song River — shifted from a full occupancy rate to only a trickle of domestic travelers on weekends, says general manager Oscar Tality. Tality hopes the railway and reduced travel times will give the industry a shot in the arm. “Along the way people will see magnificent views of the mountains and will cross over bridges and tunnels. It will be a wonderful trip for those on the train,” Tality said. White elephant? Despite local optimism, some Laos watchers are concerned about the long-term viability of the project. “The issue for Laos though is whether their economy … their private sector is positioned to take advantage of this transport system,” Australian National University lecturer Greg Raymond said. Two-thirds of Laotians live in rural villages toiling on the land, and the minimum wage is around $116 a month — a reported $13.30 train fare from Vientiane to the border town of Boten has attracted some social media criticism for being too expensive. “When you look at the juxtaposition of this super modern railway and the countryside it is passing through — it’s very stark. One does wonder whether the Laos people will be the beneficiaries?” Raymond said. The project has already left some 4,400 farmers and villagers reeling after they were forced to surrender land. Many have faced long delays receiving compensation or have been paid inadequate amounts, the Lao Movement for Human Rights said in a report. “The compensation rate is very low. If you are asking villagers to move, how can they afford new land?” Laotian MP Vilay Phommixay told parliament in June last year. But for others it’s all aboard. “There’s great anticipation … there’s a source of pride for the Laos people,” Tality said. Source https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/11/28/business/laos-train-project/

December 01 at 07:23 AM

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Chinese Private Security Firm Provides Security Services Along Laos-China Railway

The Laotian Times  November 25, 2021 (Laos) A private security firm based in China has won the contract to provide security services for the Vientiane to Boten section of the Laos-China Railway. Frontier Services Group, a Chinese private security firm providing security, logistics, insurance and infrastructure services for clients operating in frontier markets, has been chosen to monitor the security of the new railway. The company was founded by American businessman and former US Navy Seal, Erik Prince and has a major presence in Africa. The company has been deeply involved in the security consulting and supporting work of the Laos-China Railway during construction period, according to the company’s website, undertakng risk assessment along the construction line, security training for overseas employees, personal security of the Laos-China Railway headquarters, and security system design for the operation period. Frontier Services Limited Manager, Mr. Gua Jia Kai says the company has now begun implementing security measures along the railway, providing 160 people to guard each station as well as at freight stations and warehouses. “The company’s major role is railway safety, which is monitored on a regular basis to verify that no railway construction components have been stolen, as well as to ensure that there are no issues while trains are running on the tracks,” Mr. Gua Jia Kai told the media. “Security work is currently in the pilot phase, but will be ramped up with additional employees being added once the Laos-China Railway is fully operational,” he added. Residents have expressed concern about the safety of the railway after components have been stolen and cables cut in recent months. A man was been arrested in Vientiane Capital for stealing railway construction components along the Laos-China Railway in September, while two people have been electrocuted while attempting to cut electrified cables. Laos has announced that the Laos-China Railway is scheduled to officially open on 3  December this year. The Laos-China Railway runs some 426 kilometers, including 198km of tunnels, and traverses 62 km of bridges. It runs from the Boten border gate, connecting Northern Laos to China, down to Vientiane Capital, with an operating speed of 160km per hour. Source https://laotiantimes.com/2021/11/25/chinese-private-security-firm-provides-security-services-along-laos-china-railway/

November 30 at 08:03 AM

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Bangkok’s Yellow Line skyrail starts test runs

The Thaiger (The Nation Thailand) November 30, 2021 (Thailand) The newest addition to Bangkok’s skyrail is here.The Yellow Line, which travels from Lat Phrao to Samrong in Samut Prakan, has reportedly begun its test run since last Thursday from the maintenance depot near Sri Iam station in Bang Na district. The Yellow Line, which is a joint venture worth 54,768.455 million baht between Thailand’s Mass Rapid Transit Authority and Eastern Bangkok Monorail Ltd., is an elevated mass rapid transit system that will run directly from Sri Iam station to Samrong, then back to the depot, passing through a slew of busy areas like Sri Lasalle, Sri Bearing, Thipawan, and the shopping complexes of Seacon Square and Paradise Park. The 30.4-kilometer line, which will have 23 stations, is slated to be finished in mid-2022, hoping to relieve traffic congestion on Lat Phrao Road and in the vicinity of the Airport Rail Link stations. At Lat Phrao station, it will connect to the MRT Blue Line, as well as the Airport Rail Link at Lam Sa Li station. Source  https://thethaiger.com/news/bangkok/bangkoks-yellow-line-skyrail-starts-test-runs

November 30 at 07:55 AM

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Forest Department proposes more watch towers for elephants’ safety

The Hindu  November 30, 2021 (India) Other measures include foot patrols and use of drones The Forest Department has proposed to intall more watch towers in forest areas on the sides of the two railway lines that connect Kerala and Tamil Nadu via Walayar, for the safety of elephants. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj instructed T.K. Ashok Kumar, District Forest Officer of Coimbatore Forst Division, to initiate work on setting up watch towers at the earliest after identifying a suitable location to monitor elephant movement. Source https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/forest-department-proposes-more-watch-towers-for-the-safety-of-elephants/article37763240.ece

November 30 at 07:48 AM

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Laos high speed rail brings buzz to Thai border town

The Straits Times  November 27, 2021 (Nong Khai, Thailand) (The First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge crosses the Mekong River to link Thailand's Nong Khai province with Laos' Vientiane prefecture. Laos can be seen on the opposite bank) The sky is a cloudless shade of cobalt when I catch my first glimpse of the Mekong River. Above its deceptively still waters stands the First Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge, which connects the Thai province of Nong Khai to the Laotian capital of Vientiane. The two locales are linked by a rail shuttle that used to ferry 1,200 passengers daily. But the Covid-19 pandemic brought this service to a halt. The border was shut last year to curb transmissions, though freight was allowed through. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/laos-high-speed-rail-brings-buzz-to-thai-border-town

November 30 at 06:02 AM

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Newcastle light rail suspended due to fault with Spanish-built trams

The Sydney Morning Herald  November 26, 2021 (Australia) The Newcastle light rail has been suspended after a mechanical issue was identified in the trams, which were built by the same Spanish manufacturer behind the cracked inner western Sydney fleet. The Newcastle service was suspended from 5pm on Thursday after the mechanical problem was uncovered, with work still being carried out on Friday afternoon. “The fleet has been suspended temporarily as a precaution until inspections are completed. This issue is unrelated to the cracking issues identified in the inner west light rail fleet,” a Transport for NSW spokeswoman said. “Obviously, as investigation works progress over the weekend we will be able to provide customers with a more accurate update in coming days.” While the six trams that service the Newcastle light rail are the same model as the cracked inner west fleet, they are newer and have some different components. Transport for NSW expects the Newcastle service to return on Monday. “The six CAF Urbos 100 vehicles which are operated in Newcastle are the same baseline tram as those operated in the inner west L1 line, however these are newer and have some differing components and systems,” the spokeswoman said. “Keolis Downer is working to urgently investigate and repair the fleet to restore passenger service as soon possible and at this stage the aim is to have some trams back in services by Monday.” Sizeable cracks were discovered last month in all 12 trams servicing the inner west light rail, which runs from Dulwich Hill to Central Station, forcing the closure of the line for up to 18 months. Transport Minister Rob Stokes on Thursday said he still did not have a timeline for when the inner west service would return, with the government working with manufacturer CAF on an engineering solution to the cracking. Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/newcastle-light-rail-suspended-due-to-fault-with-spanish-built-trams-20211126-p59ckx.html

November 30 at 04:58 AM

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Mexican regulators approve $31 billion railroad merger deal

 AP  29 November 2021 (Kansas City, Missouri) Mexican regulators have approved Canadian Pacific’s $31 billion plan to acquire Kansas City Southern and create a railroad linking Mexico, Canada and the United States. The deal could close as soon as mid-December if shareholders of both companies approve it. Then Kansas City Southern would be held by a voting trust while the U.S. Surface Transportation Board conducts its lengthy review of the transaction but its shareholders would be paid right away. The $31 billion deal includes 2.884 CP shares and $90 in cash for each shareholder and Canadian Pacific would assume roughly $3.8 billion of Kansas City Southern’s debt. The railroads said Friday that the STB’s review of the deal is expected to continue into the fourth quarter of next year. U.S. regulators haven’t approved any major railroad mergers since the 1990s, so it’s not clear yet whether this deal will ultimately be approved. But executives at Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern have said they expect the deal will be completed. “This historic combination will add capacity to the U.S. rail network, create new competitive transportation options, support North American economic growth, and deliver important benefits to customers, employees and the environment,” CP CEO Keith Creel said. Earlier this year, Canadian Pacific beat out Canadian National’s $33.6 billion bid to acquire Kansas City Southern, even though that railroad offered more money, because the STB refused to approve part of CN’s plan to acquire the Missouri-based railroad. Source https://apnews.com/article/business-canada-mexico-united-states-kansas-city-5227ec66b451d3750573c0bd2e8cf09b

November 29 at 04:27 AM

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Germany's Deutsche Bahn sets up firm to strengthen China-Europe freight transport

Global Times  November 27, 2021 (Germany) (Staff members pose for photos with the first "Shanghai Express" in Hamburg, Germany) Deutsche Bahn's subsidiary DB Cargo established a new company to strengthen rail freight transport between China and Europe, the German state-owned rail operator announced on Friday. "Climate-friendly and reliable goods transport by rail is becoming increasingly important for global supply chains," Deutsche Bahn noted. That is why demand along the Belt and Road, the rail route between Europe and China, is booming. With the establishment of DB Cargo Transasia in Shanghai, Europe's largest freight railroad provider is "considerably strengthening" its services in the Far East, connecting 18 European countries, Deutsche Bahn noted. Chinese customers could be offered a variety of services from DB Cargo Transasia instead of having to contract multiple service providers as in the past, according to Deutsche Bahn. The German rail operator already opened several new routes between China and Europe this year, most recently the connection between Shanghai and Hamburg at the end of September. Last year, DB Cargo transported around 200,000 containers back and forth between Asia and Europe. By 2025, Deutsche Bahn was aiming to more than double the annual capacity to 500,000 containers. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), goods worth 213.2 billion euros (240 billion U.S. dollars) were traded between Germany and China in 2020. Including exports and imports, China remained Germany's most important trading partner. Source  https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202111/1240043.shtml

November 29 at 04:17 AM

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A new golden age of British rail depends on total electrification

The Guardian  26 November, 2021 (UK) Charles EL Gilman  urges the government to   resume and complete electrification schemes,  Jim Grozier  fondly remembers on-board sightseeing booklets, while  Victoria Owens  recalls an ecclesiastical jewel seen from a train I was glad to read in Ian Jack’s article (The London to Edinburgh train ride was once a thing of wonder. Can it be again?, 19 November) that, on the trains operated by Lumo in the east coast mainline, “every part of the train is electric”. Even an exclusively diesel-powered train is better for the environment than flying, but a train with no onboard engine at all is the best of all. If only the same were true of the Azuma trains run by the line’s main operator, for it is not true of all of them. Those trains travelling through, to or from Aberdeen or Inverness – or turning off to places such as Hull – are “bi-modes”, which can take power either from electrification or from an onboard engine – a diesel one in this case, but a hydrogen or battery one would not be much better. A train engine is not like a stationary generator: being carried around means that it uses energy whether switched on or off. Carrying such an engine under the wires all the way from London to Edinburgh, for example, somewhat undermines the advantages of using electrification. The saddest thing is that when real railwaymen ran the railways, bi-modes were experimented with and ultimately abandoned because they were inefficient. Yet they are now being used on ever more lines – the Great Western lines are one example, thanks to the electrification scheme being left unfinished. If the government is serious about the environment, it needs to resume and complete electrification schemes, and encourage operators to strip out engines. Charles EL Gilman Mitcham, London  Thank you, Ian Jack, for reminding us of the little sightseeing booklets that railway companies used to produce. It’s sad that many train travellers now don’t even look out of the window, but instead spend their time stroking screens. I always took my Virgin Windowgazer Guides with me on long train journeys when they were available; they were also the only good thing I ever encountered that had Virgin in its name. Jim Grozier Brighton, East Sussex  Ian Jack’s article reminded me of travelling between King’s Cross and Aberdeen as a student in the early 1980s, and clocking the cathedrals along the way. But how strange that he omits to mention the ecclesiastical jewel of the route, which is surely the utterly beautiful lantern tower of St Nicholas in Newcastle upon Tyne, near Robert Stephenson’s resplendent High Level Bridge. Victoria Owens Long Ashton,  Somerset Source  https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/26/a-new-golden-age-of-british-rail-depends-on-total-electrification

November 29 at 04:03 AM

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London hit by biggest Tube strike in three years

Reuters  November 26, 2021, (London, UK) Central London shops and businesses hoping to receive a much-needed boost from Black Friday sales were hit by disruption to the tube network as drivers held their biggest strike since 2018. The 24-hour strike, which started at 0430 GMT, led to the suspension of the Piccadilly, and Waterloo and City lines, and delays on the Jubilee, Central, Victoria and Northern lines. Transport for London (TfL) said it was running 58% of its usual services. The walkout of 2,000 Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) members came after disagreements over TfL's plans to make tube drivers take on shifts at night. The strikes targeted the five lines where TfL used to employ dedicated Night Tube drivers, with the Waterloo and City line also suspended as it shares many of its drivers with the Central line. The Friday and Saturday Night Tube service was suspended during the pandemic. It was due to restart with a limited service on Saturday. Source  https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/london-hit-by-biggest-tube-strike-three-years-2021-11-26/

November 29 at 03:57 AM

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Storm Arwen: Snow and falling trees disrupt West Midlands rail services

BBC  28 November 2021 Snow and high winds have caused disruption to trains, road closures and power cuts in the West Midlands. Rail services on the Cross City line from New Street to Lichfield stopped running, as trees fell on overhead power cables and blocked the line. Between Ledbury and Hereford the line was blocked, but later reopened, London Northwestern Railway said. Services between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury were also disrupted, after a train hit a tree on the line. Birmingham New Street station tweeted that it was "sorry to passengers in the Midlands" delayed by the storm, saying gales and snow had "caused widespread problems". West Midlands Railway tweeted that it expected the Cross City line north between Lichfield Trent Valley, Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham New Street to remain closed until start of service on Sunday morning. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-59443298

November 29 at 03:48 AM

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JR West operates bullet train for vaccinated passengers and those with negative tests

The Japan Times  November 20, 2021 (Japan) West Japan Railway Co., or JR West, on Saturday operated a bullet train exclusively for passengers vaccinated against the novel coronavirus or those who have provided negative COVID-19 test results. The train on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line left Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture in the morning for Hakata Station in Fukuoka Prefecture. The bullet train is for those participating in an overnight tour organized jointly by JR West and Nippon Travel Agency Co. It is the first time that a chartered bullet train that limits passengers to those fully vaccinated against the virus or with negative test results has been operated. Some 200 passengers were required to submit a health check sheet. They disinfected their hands and took their temperatures before boarding the train. JR West and Nippon Travel capped the number of passengers at 300 when advertising for participants, in order to prevent the train from being crowded. The tour costs started at ¥17,800, including accommodation fees, per passenger. The companies said that they have not decided if a similar chartered bullet trains will be operated in the future. “I’m traveling to Hakata to see my relatives for the first time in three years,” a participant in his 80s said, adding that he felt safe since only vaccinated people and those who have tested negative for the virus were on the train. JR West is considering offering some cars of its bullet trains for exclusive use by fully vaccinated people or those with negative test results during the year-end and New Year period. Source https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/11/20/business/vaccine-negative-bullet-train/

November 26 at 06:15 AM

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Rail investment is only a priority for the elites

The Times  November 26 2021 (UK) Last month, I spoke at a business breakfast in Manchester discussing all sorts of economic and social issues faced by the government. The room was full of business people and civic leaders, and they had mostly had a nightmare journey. The trains from York to Manchester had been delayed. They weren’t sure how to get back. Northern transport was a mess. For the business community — dare I say it, the elite — trains matter. There is no dominant city outside London, so travel between the cities is important. This chimes with London's own views - trains and the tube network are the most important way to getting into and around the city. Source  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rail-investment-is-only-a-priority-for-the-elites-m3wqm8lh0

November 26 at 06:09 AM

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(Bhanga-Payra Port Rail Line) Railway in search for investors--Delegation led by minister to hold talks with UK-based company

The Daily Star  November 22, 2021 (Bangladesh) In a bid to manage funds for the Bhanga to Payra Port rail line, railways authorities have started talks with a UK-based company -- IM Power PLC -- over the 214km line. During their UK tour slated to start from tomorrow, a delegation led by Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan will hold further discussions with the company. "They have shown interest for both investing and providing technology [for the rail line]. They have already met with us in Bangladesh, now we will hold a meeting with them there," the minister told The Daily Star yesterday. An eight-member delegation led by the minister will visit four European countries, including the UK, from tomorrow to December 5 to see developed railway systems there. Besides, they will hold talks with different government agencies and businesses that showed interest in investing in BR. They were scheduled to leave the country last night. PROJECT TIMELINE The development comes months after Bangladesh Railway (BR) has completed feasibility studies and detailed designs for the rail line. As part of the government's plans to bring the entire country under the rail network and establish a direct link between the under-construction Payra Sea Port and the capital, BR intended to construct the rail line from Bhanga to Payra. The line, which will have 19 stations, will cost around Tk 41,797.6 crores, or $4.93 billion. The proposed deadline of the project is June 2029. BR authorities expect the direct link between the sea port and the capital as a way to boost its income by operating freight trains on the line. BR has already sent the Preliminary Development Project Proposal to the Railways Ministry to forward it to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) to find financiers for the project, sources said. Bhanga has already been connected with the railway network from Faridpur and it will be linked directly with the capital once the ongoing Padma Bridge Rail Link Project -- under which a rail line from Dhaka to Jashore is being constructed -- is completed by June 2024. TRANSPORT EXPERTS SHED DOUBT However, transport experts have raised questions over the viability of the project, considering how much money is required for it. Prominent transport expert Prof Shamsul Hoque said the government has decided to build a sea port in Payra switching from its previous plan to build a deep sea port. This means even if previous feasibility studies have brought up the need for such a rail line, it will might less important considering the change in plans. "I have doubt over the viability of such a big project," he told this newspaper recently. FUNDING PROPOSALS Meanwhile, BR sources said different companies have expressed their interest to finance the project on several occasions. They mentioned Providus Investments, an Australian company, had expressed interest to fund and strike an EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) contract early this year. BR has sent a letter to the rail ministry seeking ERD's opinion in this regard. During a visit to Saudi Arabia in September this year, Prime Minister's investment adviser Salman F Rahman, also sought the country's investment in the project. In November 2019, while meeting the then chief of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Sirazul Islam, UK-based IM Power Plc and TenBroeke Ltd had proposed an integrated initiative involving the development of Bangladesh's power and railway sectors. Yesterday, the railways minister said they would talk with IM Power over their proposal to invest in the project. He said the Bangladesh High Commission in UK is also in touch with the company after they expressed interest in the project. "If necessary, we will provide partial funding along with the company's investment," he added. The minister said the company also expressed interest to get involved in a project for the electrification of Dhaka-Chattogram rail line, which will also be discussed during the meeting. IM Power is an independent power producer (IPP), providing comprehensive solution for customers by combining its expertise in financing power generation, integrated power and industrial infrastructure projects together with EPC, operation and maintenance services, according to their website. Source https://www.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/news/railway-search-investors-2235761

November 26 at 05:51 AM

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Brazil’s Paraná projects US$5.4 billion railroad linking Mato Grosso do Sul to Paranaguá Port

The Rio Times  November 15, 2021 (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) Ferroeste is a state-owned railroad that operates under a federal concession, from Cascavel (PR) to Guarapuava (PR). The new stretch should now expand the railroad, reform the current structure and be outsourced to a private party. The government of the state of Paraná is getting ready to launch an extremely ambitious project: the Nova Ferroeste, a railroad system from Maracaju (MS) to the Paranaguá Port (PR), with an investment forecast of R$29.4 (US$5.6) billion. It is not yet clear if any investor is willing to disburse a check of this size. The team expects to attract some foreign groups, even in an election year. In the financial market, however, there is little confidence that the plan will get off the drawing board at this point. Source https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/brazil/brazils-parana-state-projects-a-us5-4-billion-railroad-linking-mato-grosso-do-sul-state-to-paranagua-port/

November 26 at 05:43 AM

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DoTr-PNR, NLEX Corp. ink MOA for PNR Clark phase 2 project

The Manila Times  November 24, 2021 (Philippines) THE second phase of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project continues to gain traction after the Department of Transportation-Philippine National Railways (DoTr-PNR) and the NLEX Corp. signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 for the construction of columns for the PNR Clark project. Under the agreement, columns for the PNR Clark project will be constructed at the shoulders and median island that will cross above the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) to allow the seamless operations of both the expressway and the railway. DoTr-PNR and NLEX Corp. will also coordinate on the project design, traffic management plan, safety plan and security plan. DoTr Undersecretary Giovanni Lopez said the government had gained the private sector's trust with the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. "The signing of our MOA will benefit not only the private sector, but the millions of Filipinos, who would be using this infrastructure project," Lopez said during the signing of the agreement. Present during the MOA signing were DoTr Secretary Arthur "Art" Tugade, NLEX Corp. President and General Manager Luigi Bautista, Chief Finance Officer Maria Theresa Wells, and Bases Conversion and Development Authority Senior Vice President Joshua Bingcang. The second leg of the NSCR project, the 53-kilometer PNR Clark phase 2 will be connecting cities and municipalities in Central Luzon with Metro Manila and will link the railway system with the country's first airport express service, going to Clark International Airport. Once operational, PNR Clark phase 2 will reduce travel time between Makati City and Clark International Airport in less than 2 hours through the Airport Express Service. The project's current overall progress is at 32.21 percent. Meanwhile, Bautista said NLEX Corp. fully supports the NSCR project to help spur economic activity and revitalize the country's provinces by enhancing the country's transport approach to improve mobility of Filipinos. "We at NLEX believe that our shared purpose of helping our country's economy grow through infrastructure development has suited us for this partnership. We are pleased to support this undertaking that will make travel easier for kababayans (countrymen) in Bulacan, in Pampanga and more areas in North and Central Luzon," Bautista added. Bingcang said the PNR Clark project, being a part of the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program, was a "game changer" that would pave the way for opportunities for growth in Central Luzon. "The BCDA plays a part in the Build, Build, Build program of the government, and in this, we'd like to extend our support to this project to see its unimpeded, continued implementation. The project is a game changer, as we continue to develop business around Clark in Pampanga to provide more options to the Filipino public," Bingcang added. Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/11/24/public-square/dotr-pnr-nlex-corp-ink-moa-for-pnr-clark-phase-2-project/1823374

November 26 at 05:37 AM

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Madrid-to-Galicia high-speed AVE to open by Christmas: Tickets on sale for €15

Think Spain  23 November, 2021 (Spain) IF YOU missed your chance to get an early 'Black Friday' cut-price rail ticket for travel in 2022, you can still get one from today (Tuesday, November 23) – although this time, only for trips between Madrid and the far north-eastern region of Galicia. That's because the high-speed AVE network has now added another route, which is set to open on December 21. Highly-efficient, typically about double the price of the Long Distance ( Larga Distancia ) 'snail rail', although about a third to a quarter of the journey time, the AVE is still thin on the ground in Spain, limited to the largest cities and mainly via Madrid; where it is in operation, though, the service is of a similar level of comfort and facilities as major cross-border rail connections such as the EuroStar. As an idea of how quickly it gets passengers from A to B, the Valencia-Madrid AVE covers the journey in just 90 minutes, compared with about three to four hours by motorway or six hours by  Larga Distancia  including changing trains halfway. The brand-new Madrid-to-Galicia AVE service runs to Ourense, the only one of the region's four provincial capitals without a coast, but from here, other rail links run regularly to the other capitals of Lugo, A Coruña and Pontevedra and to key cities such as Santiago de Compostela, Ferrol and Vigo. According to transport minister Raquel Sánchez, who took the first 'test trip' in the soon-to-be-launched AVE link, the journey from Madrid to Ourense takes two hours and 15 minutes. Tickets bought over the next two weeks are valid for travel on the new connection any time from its opening date of December 21, through to September 12, 2022. A quarter of a million tickets costing just €15 one-way are now up for grabs, from the website for rail board RENFE, by telephone, or from physical ticket offices in stations. Source https://www.thinkspain.com/news-spain/33148/madrid-to-galicia-high-speed-ave-to-open-by-christmas-tickets-on-sale-for-15

November 25 at 05:28 AM

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Chinese Companies to Build New Railway Line Between Belgrade and Budapest

Rayhaber  24 November, 2021 (Turkey) Chinese companies started the construction of the Belgrade-Budapest railway with a total length of 350 kilometers. The new rail line will allow people and goods to travel between the capitals of Serbia and Hungary in around two hours. The Serbian part of the railway will be completed in three years, while the Hungarian part will be completed and put into service before 2025. Construction of the new section of Serbia's Belgrade-Budapest railway began with a ceremony on Monday. The ceremony, attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, took place in Novi Sad, Serbia. Work on the 108-kilometer section of the high-speed rail stretching from Novi Sad to the Kelebija border crossing in Northern Serbia was initiated by Vucic, Szijjarto, Chen Bo and a Chinese representative at the push of a button. Speaking at the ceremony, Vucic stressed the importance of the railway for Serbia's future development and praised the friendly relations with both China and Hungary. “We will enjoy it and it will benefit both with construction and with higher wages and pensions, higher living standards and a better future for our children,” Vucic said. Vucic said the Serbian part of the railway will be completed in three years, while Szijarto said the Hungarian section of the railway, which is 167 kilometers long, should be completed before 2025. In his speech via a video link, Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman of the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), congratulated both countries on the progress they have made in the construction of the Belgrade-Budapest railway. Ning said the project is “the flagship project of cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and an important part of the European transport corridor and the China-Europe Land and Sea Express Route.” Source  https://en.rayhaber.com/2021/11/Chinese-companies-will-build-the-new-railway-line-between-belgrade-and-budapest/

November 25 at 05:23 AM

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200 bursaries for engineering and computer science students

IOL  24 November, 2021 (South Africa) Train manufacturer Gibela Rail Transport Consortium is calling for applications for 200 bursaries in 2022. Study fields include engineering, manufacturing, computer science, supply chain and logistics, and various trade fields – for both universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions. Gibela’s bursaries include full tuition and a book allowance. The bursaries are granted for one year and are renewable on an annual basis based on academic performance. Bursary applicants must be: South African citizens with a South African bar coded identity document. Enrolled or intending to enrol at a South African TVET institution (current N3/N4 candidates are encouraged to apply). Enrolled or intending to enrol at a South African university or university of technology (current first- and second-year candidates are encouraged to apply). Able to demonstrate potential for academic success. In need of financial assistance. In a statement, Gibela said it was revitalising South Africa’s railway industry by manufacturing state-of-the-art commuter trains in the country. The company has a R51-billion contract with the South African government to manufacture 600 trains for Prasa. It is heavily committed to upskilling and training South Africans to be able to participate in this industry that has the potential to grow in South Africa. In addition, its core function of improving commuters’ experience through its trains. Gibela is very conscious of uplifting the communities in which it operates, as well as having a broader social impact across South Africa in terms of education, skills development, local content production and ultimately economic empowerment. Gibela bursaries for study at a university or university of technology are available in the following disciplines: Electrical, electronic, mechanical, metallurgical, and industrial engineering Computer science and information technology Accounting Supply chain and logistics management The prerequisites for applying for a Gibela bursary at a university or university of technology are: A matric with level 6 for Mathematics, Physical Science and Accounting, and level 5 for English Written proof of acceptance for admission to a South African university or university of technology Gibela bursaries to study at TVET institutions are available for the following professions: Boilermakers Electricians Mechanics Fitters and turners Millwrights Welders Pattern-makers Vehicle-builders Plumbers Control and instrumentation technicians The prerequisites for a Gibela bursary at a TVET institution are: A matric with Mathematics and Science, and English at level 4 Written proof of acceptance for admission to a South African TVET institution The bursary applications close on 15 February 2022. Interested applicants should send a short CV, a certified copy of their academic records and a certified copy of their South African identity document to [email protected] or fax these to 086 246 2666. According to the statement, the group will respond only to applicants who make it through the first round of assessments. Applicants who have not been contacted by 26 March 2022 should consider their applications unsuccessful. Source https://www.iol.co.za/education/200-bursaries-for-engineering-and-computer-science-students-ef5cb29b-0c21-40f8-846b-e31a443d0c46

November 25 at 05:05 AM

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President's Approval for Bursa High Speed ​​​​Train Project Foreign Loan

Rayhaber  22 November, 2021 (Turkey) President's Approval for Bursa High Speed ​​​​Train Project Foreign Loan While the project, which will bring Bursa to a high-speed train, almost turned into a snake story, two developments took place one after the other. The foreign loan, which was found by the main contractor of the high-speed train project, was approved by the President after the approval of the Treasury. The Treasury did not approve the first foreign loan found by Kalyon İnşaat, the main contractor in the high-speed train project, due to the high cost, and a new process started on the subject. Editor-in-Chief of Olay newspaper Ahmet Emin YılmazAccording to the latest development, the process regarding the new loan from Sweden and Denmark has been completed. While it was stated that the process was prolonged due to the environmental sensitivity of the creditor institutions, the file was first approved by the Treasury. A few days after the Treasury's approval, the file was approved by the President. Thus, the financing problem of the Osmaneli-Yenişehir-Bursa-Bandırma High Standard Railway project was solved. Source https://en.rayhaber.com/2021/11/Presidential-approval-for-bursa-high-speed-train-project-foreign-loan/

November 25 at 05:01 AM

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UAE: Etihad Rail completes excavation works of 9 tunnels

Khaleej Times  21 Nov 2021 (UAE)  The 6.9-km stretch of tunnels are being constructed across Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah Etihad Rail, the UAE’s national rail network, on Sunday said it had completed excavation work on all nine tunnels of the Package D of Stage Two ahead of its schedule and the work on the project is proceeding according to schedule. His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, visited the Sakamkam area in Fujairah, in the presence of Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Etihad Rail, to announce the completion of excavation works of all the nine tunnels extending over 6.9 kilometres. The tunnels are being constructed across Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah as part of Package D of Stage Two, two months ahead of schedule. The completion of the excavation of the nine tunnels recorded one million working hours. The project was supervised and carried out by more than 600 experts, specialists, and workers using the latest tunnelling machinery and modern technologies. Source https://www.khaleejtimes.com/transport/uae-etihad-rail-completes-excavation-works-of-9-tunnels

November 25 at 04:47 AM

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Chow's suggestion to discontinue funicular train draws ire

Malaysiakini  November 17, 2021 (Malaysia) Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kader has reacted with shock and dismay to the suggestion by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow that the state government is considering shutting down the problematic Penang Hill funicular train service if it continues to break down. While Chow stressed on the importance of passenger safety, CAP said in a statement today that it was shocked at his announcement last week and it hopes that the shutdown will not be a permanent one. "The iconic Penang Hill Railway was opened in 1923 with work beginning in 1920. The last modernisation of the train was in 2011 which reduced the time of the whole journey to just 10 minutes. "Penang lost its iconic ferry in December last year. Are we going to lose another icon that has been operating for nearly 100 years?" asked Mohideen. He questioned if this announcement was made to favour the cable car project proposed by the state government. "This announcement of the possible shutting down of the Penang Hill Railway seems to be building up the logic of the need for a cable car, either as a replacement or an alternative to carrying people up the hill. "CAP is not against shutting down the Penang Hill Railway for repairs or servicing as the safety of the train is most important, but to give the excuse that the train continues to break down and is problematic, and therefore that it may be shut down is like giving up any hope on this iconic service which is both important for tourists and residents on the hill, he said. Source https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/599546

November 24 at 07:39 AM

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Operator admits staff put light rail performance before safety of passengers

The Sydney Morning Herald  November 22, 2021 (Australia) The private operator of Sydney’s light rail system told staff they had put service performance ahead of safety when introducing the trams that shut the line down this month. The revelation comes as the government tries to work out how cracks formed on all 12 trams servicing the Central to Dulwich Hill line before being noticed, while it is under growing pressure over Treasury’s attempt to shift its train network’s costs onto a corporation despite multiple warnings about safety and budgetary risks. An internal Transdev Sydney note said there was a rise in the number and severity of safety incidents in the three months before it brought the now-cracked trams into service in July 2014. “Our investigations into what and why these incidents have occurred show that, on many occasions, we’ve put network demand ahead of the safety of our staff and passengers,” the note, obtained by the  Herald , said. These concessions were made the same year Transdev Sydney was selected by Transport for NSW to operate and maintain the new CBD and South East light rail. Two years later, it was awarded the contract to supply, operate and maintain stage one of the Parramatta Light Rail due in 2023. Transport Minister Rob Stokes said the idea of putting network demand ahead of safety was “unacceptable and outrageous”. “It would have been unacceptable in 2014 and it remains so today,” he said. Tram expert and former government light rail adviser Greg Sutherland said the priority of private operators was to make money for their shareholders, so the government must make sure the services it was paying for remained safe. Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/operator-admits-staff-put-light-rail-performance-before-safety-of-passengers-20211119-p59acs.html

November 24 at 06:48 AM

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Railways U-turn highlights Westminster’s contempt for the north

The Guardian  23 November 2021 (UK) ‘However prosperous cities such as Leeds [pictured], Manchester and Liverpool become, it seems that, for some policymakers at least, it’s grim up north.’   People in the north of England have every right to feel angry about the railways (Labour attacks ‘Whitehall power grab over Northern rail policy’, 19 November). Here in Oxford there has been a welcome but embarrassing level of investment in the railways, and more is planned. In 2015, the brand new Oxford Parkway station was opened just outside the city, on a new route to central London using mainly existing lines. The track infrastructure around Oxford railway station itself has seen significant investment recently, and last week I attended a briefing on a planned expansion to make the station “fit for a world-class city”. According to Network Rail, the station is almost at full capacity and needs to be increased in size to accommodate planned new services. Yet the through platforms at Manchester Piccadilly were at capacity for years, with dangerous overcrowding. Here we have world-class manufacturing, but then so does the north of England. And we have excellent academic and research facilities, but so do the cities in the northern powerhouse corridor. So what’s the difference? Snobbery. Down here, we are seen as posh. But however prosperous cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool become, it seems that, for some policymakers at least, it’s grim up north. Tim Treuherz Oxford Binning plans for the Northern Powerhouse Rail line between Leeds and Manchester and, in the process, sidelining transport for the north, highlights yet again the contempt that Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and their colleagues have for the people of the north of England and their political leaders. They are able to treat the north in this way because the region has little real political or financial power. In this sense, current forms of devolution to the north’s sub-regions – in the shape of elected mayors, for instance – simply don’t cut it. Had the north (the north-east, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the north-west) had its own regional government – as part of a Britain reformed as a modern federal state – then other options could have come into play. With the high levels of financial autonomy and control typically associated with regional states, the north could have waved the proverbial two fingers to the Westminster government and opted to fund the rail line itself. Until the north has the autonomy and control that a federal state would provide, the idea of “levelling up” will remain a joke. Prof Jeffrey Henderson Hannah Mitchell Foundation  Your report on the cancellation of the eastern leg of HS2 and the new line between Leeds and Manchester (‘A betrayal of the north’: Tory MPs frustrated at downgraded rail plan, 18 November) makes reference to a Treasury source expressing “surprise at how badly the announcement had been received”. In that one metropolitan utterance lies the most compelling case yet for moving the Treasury to Sheffield, Leeds or Bradford. Were that to happen, the north would suddenly find itself with more cash than it knew what to do with. Glyn Turton Emeritus professor,  University of Chester  For some months I have tried to work out the meaning of “northern powerhouse”. I think I now understand – it’s a typical Guardian misprint. It should be “northern poorhouse”. Lyn Summers Lancaster Source https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/nov/23/railways-u-turn-highlights-westminsters-contempt-for-the-north

November 24 at 06:30 AM

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Bids invited for suburban rail corridor

Deccan Herald  November 24, 2021 (India) The successful bidder has 27 months to complete the work In a step forward for the suburban rail project, bids have been invited for the construction of the 25.57-km-long corridor between Benniganahalli and Chikkabanavara (Corridor 2). The Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Limited issued a tender for the design and construction of the line under the two-cover system where companies have to qualify for the technical bid to become eligible for the financial bid. The line, named 'Mallige', comprises 8 km of the elevated corridor and 17.55 km of the at-grade corridor. The work includes the construction of ramps, formation of embankments, cuttings, blanketing, major and minor bridges, retaining walls, drains and utility diversions. The successful bidder has 27 months to complete the work. Source https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/bids-invited-for-suburban-rail-corridor-1053941.html

November 24 at 06:12 AM

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Arrive at railway stations one hour before travel-KRC

The Star  23 Novvember 2021 (Kenya) Corporation said this is due to an increase in the number of passengers and enhanced security checks. •There is an increased number of passengers. •There is enhanced security checks The Kenya Railways has urged customers who will be using the Madaraka Express train to arrive at the railway stations at least one hour before the scheduled departure time. This, Kenya Railways management said, is due to an increase in the number of passengers and enhanced security checks.  Any delays occasioned by these checks are therefore regrettable but unavoidable, it said in a statement on Tuesday. "Kenya Railways further assures the public that security checks are constantly run along all our lines to ensure the safety of all our services."  The corporation thanked all passengers for patronizing its services adding that it will continue to work with the relevant government security agencies to ensure all services run seamlessly and with utmost safety. Kenya Railways reminded members of the public that it is a major offence to interfere with its assets, operations and services. "As the Corporation continues to enhance safety in the provision of its services, we encourage members of the public to report any cases of suspicious activity to the Kenya Railways hotline, 0728787880 or to the nearest police station," it said. The corporation said while passenger safety remains its priority, members of the public are reminded that they have a personal responsibility to observe safety guidelines and obey rail traffic rules as required. It added that remains committed to delivering its mandate to the people of Kenya. As of April 6, 2020, over 4.3 million passengers had used the Madaraka Express passenger service launched on May 31, 2017. An economy coach has 118 seats while a First-class coach has 72 seats. Source https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2021-11-23-arrive-at-railway-stations-one-hour-before-travel-krc/

November 24 at 05:39 AM

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Struggle to save Bulgaria's narrow-gauge railway: Baltic roller coaster

New Zealand Herald  22 November, 2021 (Bulgaria) The Rhodope Narrow-Gauge Railway would seem like an esoteric tourist attraction. Winding between 27 stations between Bulgaria and the borders of the Greek Hinterland, it is one of a kind. Rolling on narrow-gauge 760 mm, it's even a peculiarity among railways. The thin gauge allow the carriages to take narrow turns and steep mountain tracks, more like a rollercoaster than a passenger train. Or at least it would be, if it weren't in such bad need of repair. At the time it was constructed in the early 1920s the train line was a source of pride for the region. It was intended to run as far as the Aegean, connecting Bulgaria to the Mediterranean. However, as time rolled on, communism came and went, and so did many of the hardy mountain communities it served. Since the 1990s the country's main rail arteries were ripped out and replaced with the European standard of 1435 mm. With direct train links through to Turkey and Serbia, such as the Istanbul-Sofia Express, the mountain trains are a bit of an oddity. 16km of the Varvara-Pazardhik branch was closed in 2002. Now Septemvri to Dobrinishte is the last hold out of 760 mm gauge. But it is in terrible condition. There are still four passenger locomotives on the Septemvri–Dobrinishte, taking tourists and the last few hangers on to traverse the mountains. Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/struggle-to-save-bulgarias-narrow-gauge-railway-baltic-roller-coaster/TPBF2UW7HNBFKQCCDDBQADUFRQ/

November 23 at 06:38 AM

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New plan for old rail hub

Bangkok Post  23 November, 2021 (Thailand) The State Railway of Thailand's (SRT) plan to close the 105-year-old Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok is facing growing public resistance. Starting Dec 23, all train services to and from the capital will be moved to the newly completed Bang Sue Grand Station. Then, the debt-ridden state enterprise will auction off parts of the station's land for commercial development. According to Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, whose ministry oversees the SRT, all of the station's infrastructure, including the tracks, train depot and office buildings, will be cleared to make way for shopping malls, hotels and condominiums. He has repeatedly promised that the old station's architecture -- especially its iconic facade and atrium -- will be kept as is, as the station will be turned into a public museum. The SRT also promised to build public amenities around it, such as park-and-ride facilities, a connection with the nearby Klong Lot and cycling lanes. These promises seem to be just a load of hot air, after a virtual rendering of a cone-shaped high rise planned behind the historic station began circulating on the internet. Fortunately, the image -- which was dubbed an eyesore by critics -- wasn't real. It was made by SRT Asset, the SRT's property development arm that was established by Mr Saksayam last year. SRT Asset has said it will hire an architectural firm of "international calibre" to lead the station's transformation, though it remains to be seen how the subsidiary would be able dictate the design once the SRT awards the concession to a developer. Make no mistake. The grand old station's days are numbered, as rail systems and services are gradually being moved to Bang Sue Grand Station, which is located on a much larger plot of land. Businesses around the station are feeling the impact of the move, with many moving or closing down completely. Even so, the station -- designed by Mario Tamagno, the Italian architect behind the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and other royal palaces -- needs to be placed in the good hands of someone visionary and with the aesthetic refinement to bring the station into the modern era. It needs more than just the SRT and the transport minister, which are both consumed by rescuing the SRT from its toxic debt. Hua Lamphong station should have a future that is more than just being a museum. There are plenty of older rail terminuses which are still operating regular services, the best known of which is probably New York City's Grand Central Station, which serves as both a heritage landmark and a major transport hub. The transport minister seems to be committed to preserving the old train station, but the SRT, with its massive debt burden, simply can't do it alone. It needs to work with conservationists, historians, architects and developers to maximise the station's value. There have been some interesting suggestions, including one from former deputy Bangkok governor, Samart Ratchapollasit, who asked the SRT to maintain limited regular services from the station. Others have proposed turning Hua Lamphong station into a terminus for high-end luxury trains to promote tourism. SRT and Mr Saksayan need to consult the public about any decision on the station's future. By law, the station might be state property, but Hua Lamphong is a Bangkok landmark that belongs to the people. Instead of putting it up for a quick auction, Mr Saksayam can use this opportunity to maximise the value of Hua Lamphong's heritage. To do so, he must listen before making a decision. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/2219843/new-plan-for-old-rail-hub

November 23 at 05:51 AM

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Qatar Tourism signs MoU with Qatar Rail

Gulf Times  November 22, 2021 (Doha, Qatar) (HE Akbar al-Baker and HE Abdulla Abdulaziz al-Subaie witness the MoU signing.) Qatar Tourism signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail), it was announced Monday. Furthering Qatar Tourism’s Service Excellence programme, this MoU outlines the partnership, whereby Qatar Rail’s customer facing staff will be trained in order to streamline customer service and maintain the highest standards for the same, providing for the onsite placement and dissemination of touristic information. Chairman of Qatar Tourism, and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker, stated: “We are pleased to partner with Qatar Rail as we further our promise of promoting Service Excellence across consumer touchpoints in Qatar. As we prepare to welcome the world to Qatar, Service Excellence places the consumer at the heart of our offerings, working closely with partners such as Qatar Rail to provide seamless experiences while showcasing Qatar’s award-winning hospitality.” HE Abdulla Abdulaziz al-Subaie, Qatar Rail’s managing director & CEO stated: “The Doha Metro plays an instrumental role in supporting the tourism sector by providing a network that connects different tourist destinations. We are pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding which covers various aspects of collaboration, as we are keen to further enrich the tourist experience in Qatar. This collaboration will equip our front-line staff with the required knowledge and training to act as ambassadors to promote tourist destinations on Doha Metro network.” He added: “We look forward to working closely with Qatar Tourism on this partnership which will undoubtedly contribute to advancing the State of Qatar as a tourist destination and support hosting international events such as the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.” Qatar Tourism works with stakeholders across the public and private sectors, and its Service Excellence programme aims to elevate customer-facing experiences by providing training and certifications for frontline staff, improving performance, and enabling Qatar to offer best-in-class service across every customer touchpoint. Source https://www.gulf-times.com/story/704968/Qatar-Tourism-signs-MoU-with-Qatar-Rail

November 23 at 05:24 AM

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Japan offers 'office cars' on bullet trains for people to work

New Straits Times  November 23, 2021 (Japan) JAPAN has started offering "office cars" to allow people to work onboard some of its bullet trains that connects the capital Tokyo and the country's northern and central parts. Officials said this was to meet growing demand for a new work style amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Kyodo News report, East Japan Railway Co. launched the service on its shinkansen bullet trains on Monday and its available on weekdays only for free of charge. The service is available on one of the coaches in the Tohoku, Joetsu, and Hokuriku lines. Passengers will be able to talk on the phone and participate in online meetings from their seats - activities that are discouraged on the rest of the train. "We want to support a new way of working that is not bound by time and place," said a JR East official. Passengers will also be able to borrow "smart glasses" that project the content of their laptop screens before their eyes. On bullet trains on the Tohoku line, they will also be able to use free of charge small dividers to put around their seat tables, with a similar measure being considered for the Hokuriku and Joetsu lines. Kyodo said the remote work spaces onboard the shinkasen are also available on a different railway operator's shinkansen line in Hokkaido, which connects directly to the Tohoku line. JR East hopes the new service will help people go on "workation" trips in which they combine working online with travel. Central Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co. have also been testing similar onboard work spaces since October on the Nozomi super express trains on Sanyo Shinkansen and Tokaido Shinkansen lines that run through the major Japanese cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. Meanwhile in another development, Kyodo reports that children will be allowed to ride bullet trains that run through most of Japan's biggest cities for free as part of a campaign to revive domestic tourism. The campaign until Dec 19 will cover Nozomi super express services that stop at major stations including Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Hakata, Central Japan Railway and West Japan Railway said. Child passengers must be between six and 11 years old and accompanied by an adult, with up to five children able to travel for free per adult passenger. It will be the first such campaign by the two major railway operators, which in March will mark the 30th anniversary of the launch of Nozomi services. Following a recent sharp decline in coronavirus infections in Japan, the government is aiming to stimulate domestic travel demand by restarting the "Go To Travel" subsidy programme around February. The programme was suspended in December last year due to the spread of the virus. Source https://www.nst.com.my/world/region/2021/11/747887/japan-offers-office-cars-bullet-trains-people-work

November 23 at 05:14 AM

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The Times view on HS2 and the new rail plan: Broken Promises

The Times  November 18, 2021 (UK) Whatever the merits of the government’s new integrated rail plan, Boris Johnson’s U-turn on HS2 is the latest in a series of failures to deliver on election pledges When you spend £96 billion, you expect to get something for it. Grant Shapps may be right that the government’s new integrated rail plan announced today will bring faster rail travel in shorter order to many parts of the Midlands and north of England than under the previous plan. The transport secretary insists the combination of three new stretches of high-speed rail lines, between Birmingham and Nottingham, Manchester and Warrington and Crewe and Manchester, plus 180 miles of electrification and other upgrades, will significantly shorten some journey times. London to Manchester, for example, will fall from 126 minutes to 71 while Birmingham to Nottingham will drop from 74 minutes to 26. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-times-view-on-hs2-and-the-new-rail-plan-broken-promises-bm6vfz50x

November 23 at 05:05 AM

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From fire to floods, climate change hits Canada's fragile supply chain

Reuters  November 19, 2021 (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) The massive rains that unleashed floods and mudslides in the Canadian province of British Columbia exposed the country’s supply chain vulnerability as crucial railways and roads were severed from the country's biggest port. That one storm could within hours shut down a key engine in one of the world's biggest exporting nations highlights Canada's unique economic fragility. The majority of Canadian exports, which account for nearly one-third of the country’s GDP, travel to the Pacific coast to reach Asian markets. But the supply chain route relies on two rail lines and a handful of highways through the Rocky Mountains and rugged British Columbia interior to the Port of Vancouver. "Geology did not give Canada a lot of options and funnelling a huge amount of exports down the Fraser Canyon increases our vulnerability," said Barry Prentice, professor of supply chain management at University of Manitoba. The Fraser Canyon, which stretches from B.C.'s high interior plateau through the Coast Mountains to the lower mainland, suffered some of the most severe highway washouts during the storm. It was also ravaged by a wildfire this summer that destroyed a town and closed road and rail routes.  Building a third track through the canyon, roughly 150 kilometres (93 miles) northeast of Vancouver, is not practical since the current tracks are "literally carved into the wall of the canyon," he added. Canada is developing a plan to adapt to climate change and this week's historic flooding underscored the need to protect export routes, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said. "What this week has shown us is some of those issues around export routes, and around goods routes...are perhaps more important than many of us had even assumed," Wilkinson told Reuters. MORE DROUGHT AND FLOODS British Columbia is not equipped to cope with the increasingly extreme weather it faces, said Simon Donner, professor of climatology at the University of British Columbia. "These were rainfall totals you would expect to see in a tropical cyclone, not in November in Canada," he said. More such disruptions in B.C. will likely force Canada to export more commodities south and east, rather than west, receiving lower prices than Asian markets pay, said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association. Some work is already underway to make Canada's export economy more resilient. The port at Prince Rupert in northern B.C. plans to increase its container capacity by one-third by 2023, offering a more viable, albeit much smaller, alternative for shippers to reach Asia. In 2017, Canada's Senate released a report on the feasibility of a 7,000-kilometer northern infrastructure corridor running from the Pacific Coast, across the boreal forest past Hudson Bay and into northern Quebec. The report concluded such a project could boost exports but take decades to complete. Climate change is causing problems for shippers, but it could also offer solutions. Churchill, Manitoba's seldom-used port on Hudson Bay near the Arctic may become more viable as melting glaciers open shipping lanes, Prentice said. The season for ships travelling through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway may also get longer before ice closes the route each winter, said Bob Ballantyne, senior adviser at the Freight Management Association, which represents shipping industries. The solutions provide no near-term fix, however. "We are in this weird place where climate change means both more drought and more flooding," said climate professor Donner. "The problem in British Columbia and across Canada and the world, is we are adapted to a climate of the past." Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Nia Williams in Calgary; Editing by Lisa Shumaker Source https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/fire-floods-climate-change-hits-canadas-fragile-supply-chain-2021-11-19/

November 22 at 05:17 AM

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Making tracks across the border

BBC  19 November, 2021 (UK) Give and take in the new rail plans for the north of England and Midlands have created winners, losers and disappointment. High-speed rail plans as they affect Scotland are not much changed - with reduced travel times almost entirely because of improvements to tracks and capacity in the south. But choices are yet to be made on how fast London trains will be, depending how often they have to stop. The UK government is yet to set out its plans for improved transport connections across the UK's internal borders, but they could be arriving soon. In terms of "levelling up" the left-behind bits of Britain, rail is a test case of what that means and whether it's serious. With some give and some take, one of the more generous assessments is that UK ministers' "integrated rail" plan has delivered a very British outcome - "a half-built railway".   Without managing expectations and by pulling back on past plans, a lot of money is being deployed in the building of a lot of disappointment.   There were expectations of high speed services reaching Leeds and transforming the grim infrastructure that has long failed to link northern mill towns to the modern world.   Past plans have now been revised and costs cut.   And in the small print, note that plans will still have to go through the financial gateways, which the Treasury controls like fortifications. HS2 rail extension to Leeds scrapped What is HS2 and where will it go? So what does it mean for Scotland and links to the south?   As with air connections, remember not just to see this as a means of getting out of Scotland. Transport also brings in visitors for business and leisure, and rail is a travel option that cuts down on aviation and road emissions.   That environmental rail advantage is more important for Scotland because speed and length of journey makes the aircraft a serious competitor to the long-distance train, in a way that it rarely does in England.   Cancellation of the new high speed link between Leeds and points south could diminish the range of options for travellers linking further north with Edinburgh and the east of Scotland, particularly if journeys are to the the north of England and Midlands.   Journeys between Scotland and England have seen faster growth for destination Manchester and Birmingham than the growth for London. All of them have been growing a lot in recent decades. The Victorian rail network that built spokes in and out of London is unlike the modern demand for services that aren't about the metropolis.   And that growth in passenger numbers is why capacity - and particularly in the southern portions of the journey, as population becomes more dense - is a constraint that has to be addressed. That can be done with more tracks, longer trains and smarter signalling, as well as faster trains. Parallel tracks Apart from Leeds, the impact on Scottish links with English cities is not as great as the change that will or won't take place across the north of England.   It remains the case that a journey that typically takes four and a half hours from London to Glasgow should be cut by about 50 minutes, once HS2 has reached a point near Wigan. At that point, a northbound train will transfer off high-speed tracks, and as it continues north, it won't be able to go as fast.   The east coast line, from Edinburgh through York and Peterborough to London, is to get an upgrade. That is badly needed. Rail campaigners point to ageing overhead gantries and the failure to provide sufficient electric power for the newest trains north of Newcastle, meaning that at least some of them have to switch to diesel.   If the new plans for "integrated rail" do as promised on the east coast line, that could cut journey times by 20 minutes between Newcastle and London. But the plans give no indication of improvements north of the Tyne.   Rail campaigners say there could be improvements to speed up these long-distance services on tracks north of the border. Most of these would use existing line, in some cases and places adding parallel tracks so that slower trains don't get in the way of the fast ones. That could cut Glasgow to London journeys to only three hours, but that depends how often they stop.   If the priority is to link Scotland with London in order to reduce demand for air travel, then the priority should be very few stops and the minimum possible journey time. 'Union connectivity' A rough reckoning by the rail industry is that a cut in journey time from 4 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours 40 should knock out about half of the demand for London air links with Scotland's central belt. Taking it down to three hours could replace air travel.   But there are other priorities in the north of England. "Levelling up" means services that stop and don't hurtle past English towns in order to suit Scottish travellers.   It was recently reported that a Scottish government official had admitted to a transport conference that plans for improving rail connectivity with England have been shunted into a siding for the past couple of years. That appears to reflect a lack of co-operation between Whitehall and St Andrew's House.   Even if it has stopped its own work in high speed rail, the Scottish government remains keen on the UK government pushing on. Said a spokesperson at Transport Scotland: "We have consistently supported HS2 from the outset and called for it to extend further north to Scotland, recognising the benefits this will bring from the improvements in the connectivity, capacity and resilience of the rail network, in addition to a welcome reduction in journey times.   "It is therefore disappointing that the ambition for HS2 has been scaled back rather than expand by bringing it north of Border." A strategic transport projects review is expected this winter, with a 20-year time horizon.   Boris Johnson's government wants to be seen to be improving cross-border links of all sorts, and on its own terms for political reasons. A "union connectivity review" has been long-awaited. Its first draft pointed to improvements to the road links to Northern Ireland through Scotland. It could also take on the hopes of a railway that links the new Edinburgh-Border railway with Carlisle.   Stand by for a tannoy announcement that the review will be arriving at a UK government platform in the next few weeks.   Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-59339381

November 22 at 04:30 AM

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Start of final Crossrail trials in London raises hope of early 2022 opening

The Guardian   22 November 2021 (UK) Volunteer passengers will be aboard central TfL section of Elizabeth line as part of final testing phase Hopes that Crossrail will open in central London in early 2022 – this time on schedule – have been boosted as the troubled £19bn scheme moved into its final phase of testing at the weekend. The start of months of trial operations, which will involve thousands of volunteer passengers to test how the system will function, including in emergencies, was described as a “significant milestone” by Transport for London and the mayor. TfL bosses have committed to open the line in full in the first half of next year, after the former Crossrail leadership downplayed problems that escalated into vast overspending and delay from its planned 2018 launch. Initially, passengers will need to change trains between the new central underground section and the services already running from Reading in the west and Shenfield in the east, but TfL hopes that some trains could run from suburbs across the city centre by next autumn, ahead of a May 2023 deadline. Testing of the railway started in May with up to 12 trains an hour running underground. The trial operations phase will involve more than 150 exercises over three to six months to ensure that the Elizabeth line, as Crossrail will be known, is ready for full passenger service. TfL said the tests would continue until the railway was “at the highest levels of safety and reliability”, before an exact opening date would be given. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Reaching the start of trial operations is a significant milestone in the delivery of the Elizabeth line. The next few months are crucial to making sure the railway can open safely next year, and everyone is working incredibly hard to reach that goal.” Andy Byford, TfL’s commissioner, said there had been “huge progress … it is great to now enter this final stretch”. He said he believed the controversy and past problems would be forgotten once the line opened, as “a stunning addition, the jewel in the UK’s crown”. Costs will be minimised by an early opening date. Byford has pledged to deliver within the final budget specified by the outgoing board, although £275m of that money has yet to be made available from the government or Greater London Authority. Even before the pandemic, Crossrail’s opening was regarded as critical to ensure TfL’s finances could remain on budget. The line will increase total passenger capacity by 10% and expand the potential revenue for the capital, whose transport system has been heavily reliant on tube fares. The importance was underscored by fresh warnings over TfL’s precarious position before a key budget meeting on Wednesday, with London’s emergency funding deal from the government set to expire on 11 December. TfL has said it will need an extra £1.7bn until March 2023 to run services, with passenger numbers only at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels on the tube. Talks have yet to start on extending financial support from central government – and although previous deals during Covid have been agreed at the 11th hour, there are fears in London that the Treasury, which slashed planned rail spending on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail last week, will withhold funds. TfL said the lack of confirmed funding would force it to prepare for “managed decline” of the transport network. London’s finances have been worsened, it revealed, by the success of the recently expanded ultra-low emission zone in encouraging drivers to sell polluting vehicles. Drivers of older petrol and most diesel vehicles are charged £12.50 or more daily under the clean air scheme. About 90% of vehicles are now exempt – up from 39% in February 2017 when plans for the expanded area were made public – improving air quality but reducing expected revenues by up to £600m over the next three years. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/22/start-of-final-crossrail-trials-in-london-raises-hope-of-early-2022-opening

November 22 at 04:16 AM

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RIPTA gets $900,000 grant to help develop transit corridor

AP  21 November 2021 (Providence, Rhode Island,US) The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is getting a $900,000 federal boost to develop plans for a high-capacity transit corridor to connect Central Falls to Warwick via Providence, according to the state’s congressional delegation. The corridor was one of five goals included in RIPTA’s Transit Master Plan for the next 20 years. The planning grant could enable RIPTA to complete the preliminary work needed to eventually bring a bus rapid transit or light rail project to the region. The $900,000 planning grant is made available through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity grant program, for capital investments in surface transportation that will have a significant impact or that directly benefit areas of persistent poverty. The state’s congressional delegation and RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian have scheduled a news conference for Monday at the agency’s Chafee Transportation Center in Providence to discuss the study and its potential impacts. Source https://apnews.com/article/business-rhode-island-providence-transportation-congress-7089da2e00e60d5c726d08f5ca7a626c

November 22 at 04:10 AM

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Labour attacks ‘Whitehall power grab’ over northern rail policy

The Guardian  19 November 2021 (UK) Shadow minister and Manchester mayor criticise removal of powers from Transport for the North Ministers have been accused of a “massive power grab” and silencing leaders in the north of England by stripping powers from Transport for the North (TfN), the statutory body set up to advise the government on the region’s transport needs. A senior official from the Department for Transport wrote to TfN’s chief executive, Martin Tugwell, on Thursday saying that it would stop paying the body to develop Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a hotly contested train line across the Pennines. TfN, which is overseen by a board of all the northern mayors and council leaders, had proposed a £36bn scheme to build a new line between Manchester and Leeds with a stop in Bradford. But on Thursday the government said it would only build a bit of new track, with most of the route running on the existing transpennine line via Huddersfield rather than Bradford, which has no through station. The government’s approach cut costs in half but disappointed its own MPs, particularly those in Bradford, which – despite being home to more than half a million people – was recently found to have the worst rail connections of any British city. Robbie Moore, who became the MP for Keighley in 2019, told parliament: “In my view the Bradford district has been completely shortchanged. We are one of the most socially deprived parts of the UK and we must get better transport connectivity.” In a letter sent the day after the government’s rail review was published, David Hughes, the director general of the rail infrastructure group that is overseen by the Department for Transport, told Tugwell it would stop paying TfN to develop NPR. “This work will instead be funded within the normal arrangements for the rail network enhancement portfolio, directly by the department,” he wrote. The shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon, said: “It’s a massive Whitehall power grab. When George Osborne set out plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and signed the first devolution agreement with Greater Manchester in 2014, I was the leader of Oldham council and I believed in it, even if it was a Tory government, because it was far better that we control our own destiny rather than be beholden to Whitehall, which would always put us second best. “I just feel like we’ve gone backwards. The complete architecture that’s meant to support devolution has been dismantled.” Andy Burnham, the metro mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “It’s worrying. There’s clearly a number of people in Whitehall who don’t like the idea of the north having a stronger voice. They want to dictate rather than work in partnership. The minute the north starts to come up with solutions and positive interventions, it tries to rein us in. Not only did we lose out on infrastructure, we got silenced as well.” He insisted TfN must not fold. “I will fight for it. This is the one formal structure in the British machinery of government that allows the north to come together with one voice.” The economist Jim O’Neill, who was a northern powerhouse minister under Osborne, criticised TfN’s board for not developing clear priorities. “One of the challenges of TfN was they appear to find it difficult to prioritise and there’s generally too much compromise and not enough conciliation,” he said. Sarah Longlands, the chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, said the denuding of TfN called into question the whole northern powerhouse concept, as envisaged by Osborne as chancellor. “I think it’s probably dead from a government point of view,” she said. “It has been clear, particularly through Covid, that this government has a centralising agenda … The verdict is out on whether they want to be associated with the northern powerhouse, but if it’s not dead it’s on life support.” A rail expert said until now TfN had received about £60m a year to pay consultants, Network Rail (soon to become Great British Railways) and HS2 Ltd to develop NPR, but now this money would go straight to Network Rail to develop it. The government cut TfN’s core funding by 40% earlier this year, from £10m to £6m, and cancelled a project to introduce smart ticketing across the north. TfN’s chief executive, Barry White, left shortly afterwards. The Guardian understands TfN will continue to receive a core grant from government in 2022-23 as well as limited funds to act as a “co-sponsor” of NPR. That means TfN will offer government strategic direction and advice on a range of issues including integration with local transport and infrastructure and opportunities for local development and regeneration. In a statement Tugwell defended TfN’s “demonstrable track record in developing evidence-led, cost-effective solutions that reflect the needs of the north’s communities”, and added it was essential NPR “continues to be shaped by the knowledge, insight and constructive challenge that underpins TfN’s work”. A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “As we deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail, as part of our £96bn investment into the railway, we must ensure there is clear accountability and oversight which provides significant benefits for passengers as quickly as possible. As with all major projects, the programme will be managed by the government.” Transport for the North will “continue to provide important strategic direction and advice”, they added. Source https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/nov/19/labour-attacks-whitehall-power-grab-over-northern-rail-policy

November 22 at 04:02 AM

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Downtown Line to transition to new rail financing framework from January 2022

The Straits Times  November 11, 2021 (Singapore) (The Land Transport Authority and SBS Transit had reviewed the Downtown Line's financing model.) From next January, the Downtown Line (DTL) will shift to a financing framework that will see the Government shoulder a portion of any losses made by operator SBS Transit and get a greater share of the profits. This will bring the DTL in line with the majority of Singapore's other rail lines, except for the new Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), which has a model where the Government collects the fares and bears the full revenue risk. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SBS Transit had reviewed the DTL's financing model to ensure it can continue to deliver reliable train services in a financially sustainable manner. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/downtown-line-to-transition-to-new-rail-financing-framework-from-january-2022

November 19 at 06:46 AM

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Minister: 3214 acres of railway land under illegal occupation

Dhaka Tribune  November 16, 2021 (Bangladesh) Drives are being conducted to recover the grabbed railway land, he says Some 3,214 acres of land of Bangladesh Railway are now under the clutches of land grabbers across the country, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan told Parliament on Tuesday. “The amount of unused (fallen) land of Bangladesh Railways is 10,843.15 acres and 3,213.78 acres of land remain under illegal occupation,” he said replying to a written question from BNP MP Aminul Islam (Chapainawabganj-2). Of the illegally occupied land, the highest 620 acres are in Rajshahi district, 321 acres in Rajbari, 282 acres in Sirajganj, 280 acres in Bagerhat, 210 acres in Kurigram, 183 acres in Chattogram, 154 acres in Faridpur, 143 acres in Pabna, 128 acres in Gaibandha, 113 acres in Nilphamari, 106 acres in Lalmonirhat, 103 in Jhenaidah and 56 acres in Kushtia. The amount of illegally occupied land is less than 50 acres in other districts, according to the statistics placed by the Minister in the House. Source https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2021/11/16/railway-minister-3214-acres-of-ministry-land-under-illegal-occupation

November 19 at 06:37 AM

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Industry calls for railway rehab

The Herald  12 November 2021 (Zimbabwe) Industry players have challenged government to prioritise resuscitation of the country’s dilapidated railway network — one of the key economic enablers — if the country is to realise meaningful industrialisation and export business. Despite being at the heart of the North-South corridor, a dilapidated railway network in the country has lately prompted transporters of merchandise to resort to move their goods by road, to the detriment of roads whose life span is being shortened due to heavy cargo. Good road and rail networks are vital for efficient transportation of manufactured goods, as the former is the cheapest mode of cargo transportation that enhances competiveness of local produce at the export markets. While presenting her concerns to Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza at the ongoing Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry (CZI) conference running under the theme upper middle-income industry for an upper middle-income economy “a time for industrial transformation,” Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway (BBR) chief executive officer Thembi Moyo, lamented lack of attention being given to the management of the country’s railway network. He argued railway networks strengthened roads lifespan. “Transport is key to industrial transformation, we cannot leave this topic outside as we talk of industrialisation. We need to seriously capacitate our railways so that we are not left out as Zimbabwe. Railway network is not getting enough attention, there is room for both rail and road to co-exist but the challenge we are having is we now think road is the only way for transportation. “More support is going towards roads than to rail, which in turn is causing shortened lifespan for our roads. We can all see what is happening to our roads in terms of damage,” said Moyo. Source https://www.herald.co.zw/industry-calls-for-railway-rehab/

November 19 at 06:29 AM

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Safety investigators warn questions remain over $40b rail corporation

The Sydney Morning Herald  November 18, 2021 (Australia) (About $40 billion of rail assets including trains are owned by the government’s Transport Asset Holding Entity.) Transport investigators have warned that questions remain over what will happen if conflicts arise between Sydney Trains and the state’s controversial rail corporation at the centre of concerns over safety. A review of the Transport Asset Holding Entity underscores the delays in finalising measures to manage risk more than a year after the corporation took ownership of $40 billion worth of the state’s trains, tracks and other assets. The Office of Transport Safety Investigations also said it was unclear whether TAHE’s operating licence and other arrangements “will stand up to scrutiny in the event of a major incident”. The release of OTSI’s two-month review comes three days after former NSW Transport chief Rodd Staples warned of potential safety risks posed by TAHE to the state’s railways in the medium to long term. Mr Staples told an inquiry into TAHE that the for-profit corporation could present safety risks in the coming years because of potential conflicts over how much is spent on rail assets, such as a new signalling system, versus money invested in property developments which offered higher returns. While “preliminary indications” were that it should have the desired effect, OTSI said the framework for managing rail assets vested in TAHE had “not yet been fully developed and implemented, making it difficult to understand how well it will deliver in practice on what was intended”. “The review demonstrates that more time is needed to implement and test the framework,” it said. “Questions remain as to what happens if conflicts arise between TAHE and [Transport for NSW], or TAHE and transport operators and how they will be managed.” It has listed a range of “issues to watch” including how competing priorities are managed, the effectiveness of governance systems when conflicts arise, and tensions over when to replace rail assets. OTSI chief investigator Natalie Pelham said the mitigation measures had reduced potential risks, but questions remained about how the new framework would work in practice. “A lot of these are still under development or not fully implemented, so they need to test how these will work in practice,” she said. “They have carved TAHE out of accountability for rail operations and that is important because that is where the risk is.” Investigators will carry out another review of TAHE about six months before its two-year operating licence expires in July 2023. Transport Minister Rob Stokes said the people who looked after safety before the establishment of TAHE were the same people still looking after it. “We have added an extra layer of assurance and Transport for NSW is still required to meet safety standards set by the national regulator,” he said. But Labor finance spokesman Daniel Mookhey said OTSI’s findings endorsed Mr Staples’ fears about the dangers that the TAHE model poses to rail safety. “The risk is that in a worst-case scenario, the confusion about who is responsible for what leads to another tragedy like Waterfall,” he said. “TAHE is no startup – it’s had more than five years to prove it can run the state’s assets safely.” TAHE chief executive Benedicte Colin said the entity’s new operating licence was “very clear on accountabilities” and its agreements with the rail operators made it “absolutely clear that safety is our number-one priority”. Ms Colin said she would have asked the same questions as Mr Staples during the development of TAHE, but insisted that she was “extremely comfortable” with the safety measures now in place. TAHE’s operating agreements with Sydney Trains and NSW Trains came into effect in July, after it was granted a one-year transition period. The  Herald  has previously reported that senior transport officials feared the creation of TAHE could repeat the 1990s carve-up of NSW railways and the resulting gaps in safety and investment accountabilities, key factors in the 1999 Glenbrook and 2003 Waterfall rail disasters Emails tabled at the inquiry have also revealed conflict between Treasury and Transport for NSW over who would have responsibility for maintenance in the months after TAHE was fully established in July last year. After a meeting with Treasury and TAHE executives in September last year, then KPMG partner Brendan Lyon warned several colleagues “Treasury are dangerously unclear about maintenance”. Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/safety-investigators-warn-questions-remain-over-40b-rail-corporation-20211117-p599p3.html

November 19 at 05:44 AM

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Passengers asked not to open doors on trains, except if assailant near

The Asahi Shimbun  November 18, 2021 (Japan) Although most train cars in Japan have an emergency lever to manually open their doors, passengers are advised to not pull it in a crisis and leave it to railway workers instead.  However, as a recent stabbing rampage on a Keio Corp. train showed, even some railway operators concede there may be an exception if passengers feel their lives are in danger.  During the panic on the Keio train on Oct. 31 as an assailant stabbed one person and tried to set fire to the train, one passenger pulled the lever. However, in this instance, the action trigged an unexpected result.  Passengers were forced to open windows and climb out to flee the attacker. Seventeen people were injured in the incident and a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Two minutes after the Keio train departed Chofu Station, a passenger pulled the emergency call button to inform the driver of the assailant. A minute later, a passenger pulled the emergency lever. The levers are located on the lower part of the passenger seat near a train car door. According to Keio officials, once a door is manually opened at least 1.6 centimeters, a device on the train recognizes that a door has opened and automatically makes it impossible to accelerate. No one on the Keio train tried to leave while the train was still moving, but the train came to a stop about two meters short of its designated spot at Kokuryo Station because pulling the lever slowed the train. The driver did not immediately open the train doors to prevent passengers from falling where there was no station platform, but in the meantime, some passengers opened the train windows and climbed out. As a result, it took about 10 minutes to evacuate all passengers after the train stopped at Kokuryo Station. Railway companies do not recommend passengers use the emergency lever because of the possibility people could fall from the train or be struck by other trains in the area. For example, East Japan Railway Co. only foresees use of the lever during natural disasters when trains come to a stop between stations. Company employees have been instructed to first confirm no other rail traffic and then use a ladder to help passengers climb down. In most locations between stations, there is about a one-meter drop from the train car floor to the tracks. One JR East official said, “The precondition is that a train staffer operates the lever, not a passenger, and we want passengers to obey the instructions of staff.” But other companies also admit to a dilemma that may force passengers to operate the lever. A similar stabbing incident occurred in August on a train operated by Odakyu Electric Railway Co. A company official said it was difficult to say to never use the lever especially when passengers feel threatened. Keio officials also said there was no ban, but they hoped the lever would not be used “needlessly.” All train companies agree that the emergency call button should be the first option for passengers. Seiji Abe, a professor of transportation policy at Kansai University, said the emergency levers were installed primarily for use during earthquakes and fires and not to flee from criminals. “There is a need for railway companies to compile manuals about when passengers can use the emergency lever, including for situations of having to open the door because their lives are in danger from an approaching assailant,” Abe said. (This article was written by Takashi Ogawa, Masanori Isobe and Natsuki Edogawa.) Source  https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14484154

November 19 at 05:30 AM

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Alstom inaugurates Asia’s largest components manufacturing facility in Coimbatore; details

Financial Express  November 17, 2021 (India) The company's industrial presence in the city of Coimbatore has evolved across three sites since the year 1978. Boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative with new components manufacturing facility! Alstom, green mobility solutions major from France, has recently inaugurated its new components manufacturing facility in the city of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The inauguration of the new facility was done in the presence of Emmanuel LENAIN, Ambassador of France to India and Alain SPOHR, Managing Director of Alstom India and South Asia. According to the French firm, this is Asia’s largest components manufacturing facility and it is dedicated to improving industrial efficiency in producing components for various prestigious national as well as international projects. The company’s industrial presence in the city of Coimbatore has evolved across three sites since the year 1978. Spread over a total area of 15 acres, this new site has an installed capacity of 2.1 million hours, that will offer a higher degree of production diversity and complexity – cubicles, auxiliary convertors, integration and testing of tractions, driver desks as well as Rolling Stock looms. The site will generate as many as 10,000 direct as well as indirect jobs. At present, the site has a gender diversity rate of 20 per cent. Currently, the Coimbatore site delivers to Alstom’s Indian sites. Besides, it delivers to major sites across five continents – Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Australia. Some of the key countries where the site delivers include – France, Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Germany, Belgium, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, etc. In line with the firm’s Sustainability Goals for the year 2025, this site has undertaken several sustainability measures such as targeting 80 per cent of regular activities to be run on green energy, rainwater harvesting, utilize 100 per cent of natural light during daytime, reusing 100 per cent of the sewage treated water, etc. Also, the factory boasts of a stellar record in safety. The factory has successfully achieved over 10 years of accident-free man days cumulatively. Alstom has also said that with the objective of reaching out to a total of over 100,000 direct beneficiaries, the firm has pledged Rs 3 crores for various CSR projects in the next three years. Some of these activities include – sustainable rural living, water conservation and youth skilling. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/alstom-inaugurates-asias-largest-components-manufacturing-facility-in-coimbatore-details/2370931/

November 18 at 09:46 AM

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NSW calls in KPMG, BCG, PwC, EY to create new agency

Australian Financial Review  16 November, 2021 (Australia) The NSW government has forked out at least $6 million to four consulting firms as the professional services industry cashes in on the state’s continuing push to create a multibillion-dollar rail asset agency. KPMG, Boston Consulting Group, PwC and EY have completed, or are doing work, for the new Transport Asset Holding Entity, as well as for Transport for NSW concerning the entity. This is alongside continuing KPMG advice to NSW Treasury about TAHE. Source https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/nsw-calls-in-kpmg-bcg-pwc-ey-to-create-new-agency-20211116-p599a2

November 18 at 07:13 AM

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Good news for Vegetarian passengers! Now enjoy fresh & pure veg food in Indian Railways

Financial Express  November 17, 2021 (India) The Sattvik Council of India along with IRCTC recently introduced the Sattvik Certification scheme as well as the first in the world and one of its kind "Passenger- Locomotive Continuous Audit Module". Enjoy fresh and pure Vegetarian food in Indian Railways like never before! For the first time, the Sattvik Council of India, an organization committed to providing a vegetarian experience to Indians, has joined hands with the catering arm of Indian Railways- the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Cooperation (IRCTC) to offer a veg certification to trains in India. The Sattvik Council of India along with IRCTC recently introduced the Sattvik Certification scheme as well as the first in the world and one of its kind “Passenger- Locomotive Continuous Audit Module” at the IRCTC Executive Lounge, located on Platform Number-16, New Delhi Railway Station. According to the Sattvik Council of India, starting with the Vande Bharat Express train, and eventually 18 other trains, this certification is primarily targeted to Indian Railways’ trains travelling to the country’s religious destinations. The certification ensures a truly vegan experience for veg travelers by making sure the food is pure vegetarian and also that the utensils as well as any utility that enters the kitchen have been washed with items that have been certified vegetarian. The Sattvik Council of India said that often, it is seen that “veg” food is not truly vegetarian because of multiple factors, so in order to ensure the purity of the food, there will be no non-veg food prepared alongside in the kitchen, which means there will be no mix-ups. Furthermore, in order to ensure that Vegetarian passengers are comfortable as well as to promote their cause, a handbook (operations manual) has been jointly developed by the IRCTC and the Sattvik Council of India on all the veg destinations as well as kitchens in association with Bureau Veritas- its Global Audit Partner. In order to ensure “vegetarian-friendly travel” the Sattvik certification is not just limited to Indian Railways’ trains, but also to IRCTC base kitchens, budget hotels, executive lounges, food plazas, tour and travel packages, Rail Neer plants, etc., the Sattvik Council of India claimed. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/good-news-for-vegetarian-passengers-now-enjoy-fresh-pure-veg-food-in-indian-railways/2370939/

November 18 at 07:00 AM

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Companies skittish about rail link between Poland, Belarus

Global Times  November 16, 2021 (China) As Poland considers cutting off its rail link to Belarus due to their heightened diplomatic tensions, many Chinese companies are concerned its knock-on effects because border crossings are a vital channel for China-Europe freight trains.  Following Poland's closure of the Kuznica border crossing and Belarus' threat to cut gas transit to the EU, Poland is reportedly to block railway traffic with Belarus, said the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration of Poland Mariusz Kamiński on the air of the radio station RMF FM. According to RailFreight.com, more than half of the cargo volume carried by Belarussian Railway was in transit between Europe and China last year. The losses arising from closing Belarus' rail link on the Polish border would be massive for China-Europe freight trains, and alternative routes would be time-consuming, companies warn.  "Over 300 China-Europe freight trains are currently en route to Brest, and more than 50 trains are waiting to cross the port," Tommy Tan, president of Shanghai EPU Supply Chain Management Co, a veteran agent of China-EU railway freight trains, told the Global Times on Tuesday. A prolonged cargo backlog would result at the border port if the railway traffic is cut, Tan said.  "What I am also worried about is the lower number of workers at border checkpoints, leaving cargo unloaded at the ports," he added.  Xu Yuanyuan, manager of Shaanxi Further Strategy Supply Chain Management Co, told the Global Times on Tuesday that some of his shipments had been halted in Kazakhstan for about 10 days for unknown reasons.  "Most of the China-Europe rail cargo goes through Minsk. If we cannot get through via this route, other options including transiting via Lithuania and Ukraine would mean going the long way round, and they are not good choices," Xu said, adding the Sławków rail terminal in southern Poland is the popular choice. From January to October, 12,605 China-Europe freight trains carried around 1.22 million standard containers of cargo, surpassing 2020's total annual volume, official data showed.  A person who has knowledge about China-Europe freight train operations, based in the world's largest small commodity market Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, said 24 percent of the cargo shipped from Yiwu to Europe goes through Belarus and Poland.  "So far, there is no big impact," the person said on condition of anonymity. "Right now, both Poland and Belarus are looking for bargaining chips and hopefully they will resolve the disputes through negotiations," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.  "There is little that we can do, but Chinese companies can make pre-arrangements and dispatch the trains in advance before cargo shipments," Cui suggested.  Tan noted that closing all rail links is unlikely, either from a political or economic perspective, and all the Belt and Road Initiative partner economies should have had contingency plans for cross-border cargo trains, should there be any disruptions. "If the ports are suspended, there are other alternatives for the trains, such as through direct shipment from Kaliningrad in Russia to West European countries, but the transportation capacity is limited," Tan said. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202111/1239127.shtml

November 18 at 06:24 AM

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RZD-REC ‘Agro Express’ Train Departs Russian Federation for Uzbekistan

Sputnik News  17 November, 2021 (Russia) First Agro Express, an accelerated container train service for the swift shipments of agro-industrial goods between Russia and Uzbekistan, departed Russia on Monday, with a return run expected in late November, Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said at the Russia-Uzbekistan Interregional Cooperation Forum.   “On Monday, the first batch of products left for Uzbekistan; we expect a return trip with fresh fruit by the end of November,” Reshetnikov said. He noted that the main task of the project is to increase rail freight turnover between the countries to 1 million tonnes by 2030. Reshetnikov recalled that the Agro Express project is implemented by the Russian Export Centre JSC jointly with JSC Russian Railways Logistics, and integrates the railways of Uzbekistan, Russia, and Kazakhstan.   “This project covers not only the development of agricultural enterprises in our countries but also specific territories,” Reshetnikov added. According to him, a route is created at the governmental level and all the procedures are worked out. Next, regions of both countries will have opportunities to build logistics, distribution centres, to involve the maximum chain of suppliers and to build up volumes.   In turn, Russian Railways said on Wednesday that JSC Russian Railways Logistics jointly with REC sent by Agro Express train from Tambov to Tashkent frozen poultry meat produced by Resource Group of Companies, one of the largest Russian exporters of the agro-industrial complex. The cargo will travel in refrigerated containers on a freight train from Tsna railway station (South Eastern Railway) to Sergeli station (JSC Uzbekistan Temir Yullari), transiting through Kazakhstan.   “Plans are to work out the technology and cut down on formalities during the test delivery. In the future, the participants expect to reach regular traffic on this route,” the press release stated.   Agro Express, a special-purpose container train service of RZD Logistics and REC for the swift delivery of agro-industrial goods to China, Turkey and CIS countries. The service is constantly being improved by expanding the list of routes and applying modern transportation solutions, using refrigerated containers and flexitanks. In June, RZD Logistics, the Russian Export Centre and Uzbekistan's agro-logistics operator Uzagrologistics Centers have signed an agreement to implement this service. Transportation of goods according to the “green corridor” principle ensures a maximum delivery time of no more than five days for products from Uzbekistan to the Russian Federation.   “This is the sixth route of the Agro Express project, which operates according to the ‘green corridor’ principle and shortens the delivery time for agricultural products. Regular 'Agro Express' trains now deliver agribusiness products of Russian exporters from Moscow and Russian regions to major Chinese cities, as well as from Moscow to Vladivostok and on to ports in China, Japan, and South Korea,” REC Chief Executive Veronika Nikishina said.   Source https://sputniknews.com/20211117/rzd-rec-agro-express-train-departs-russian-federation-for-uzbekistan-1090807137.html

November 18 at 06:19 AM

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HS2 rail extension to Leeds set to be scrapped

BBC  16 November, 2021 (UK) The government is set to scrap the eastern leg of HS2 between the Midlands and Leeds, sources have told the BBC. The Transport Department will instead announce a new rail plan on Thursday, involving £96bn of funding for new routes in the North and Midlands. Sources said the impact of scrapping the Leeds leg of HS2 would make journeys longer by 20 minutes. But the government is set to argue the new plans will deliver comparable benefits more quickly and cheaply. A source told BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley they would show an "enormous amount of common sense". High Speed 2 is a planned new high-speed railway line, originally meant to connect London with the city centres of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59292120

November 18 at 06:12 AM

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Train derails and spills coal into Mississippi River

AP  November 15, 2021 (Montrose, Iowa, US) A train struck a barge in southeast Iowa late Saturday night, knocking several cars off the tracks and spilling coal into the Mississippi River. BNSF railroad officials told the Burlington Hawk Eye that two coal cars landed in the river and three others were partially in the water after the collision near Montrose, Iowa that also knocked over two locomotives. One other car that left the tracks remained upright. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said several hundred gallons of diesel fuel also spilled out of the locomotives. No injuries were reported, but the train’s crew was taken to an area hospital as a precaution, said Jason Dinwiddie, director of Lee County Emergency Management. The railroad said it will work to remove any coal that ended up in the river. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said it is working with local emergency responders and the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor the cleanup effort. Source https://apnews.com/article/mississippi-river-iowa-c46f220beece68ea5408628983a4cd66

November 17 at 06:44 AM

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Danbury aims to connect to paved trail in NY - if it doesn't hurt plans for faster train ride to NYC

News Times  November 15, 2021 (Danbury, US) The city already hopes a faster train ride can connect Danbury to New York. Now, Danbury is exploring creating a recreational trail that would connect to an existing trail in Putnam County, N.Y. Danbury is applying for a state grant to cover the $50,000 cost to study the feasibility of linking New York’s paved Maybrook Trailway, which ends at the state line at Farrington Woods, to the Ives Trail and Tarrywile Park in Danbury. Part of what the study would explore is whether this trail could safely be built along the abandoned Maybrook train tracks — the same line that could be reopened to create that faster ride to New York City. Other routes would be considered. “We want to make sure a trail and a train can co-habitat without difficulties,” Mayor Joe Cavo said. “We don’t want the trail to jeopardize the rail.” Cavo expects the city will hear in a couple months the findings from a study on the feasibility of reopening the Maybrook line. If the project is viable, it could be one of the main priorities for the $5.38 billion Connecticut will receive in federal infrastructure funding. For Cavo, both the trail and rail line are priorities. “I would love to see both,” he said. “The recreational portion is valuable, and I think the train from Danbury to New York is extremely valuable, and I would hope that this study comes back and says the trail can certainly co-exist with the rail.” The Maybrook Trailway is part of New York’s Empire State Trail, while the Ives Trail extends 20 miles through Redding, Bethel, Danbury and Ridgefield. ‘Tremendous asset’ The project excited City Council members at a recent meeting, with members unanimously approving Danbury to apply for the grant. Council member Irving Fox said he uses the Maybrook trail often and described it as popular at all times. “Something like that extended into our city would be a tremendous asset for the community, especially with the large number of people moving in on the west side,” he said at last Thursday’s meeting. “Not only for people in the region, but locally, this trail will get an extensive amount of usage once it’s complete.” Danbury is seeking funding from the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Grant Program to hire a consultant who would study the appropriate route and uses for the trail. The grant would cover 80 percent of the cost, so the city would contribute $10,000. Sharon Calitro, the city’s planner, told council that she expects the study could be complete by the early part of 2023. The study would include public outreach. The city would ask the consultant to explore the various ways a trail could go from Farrington Woods to Danbury’s downtown and Tarrywile Park, she said. This could mean the trail could go on Mill Plain Road, state land or even a right-of-way connected to the Interstate-84 project, she said. “So, how do you get from point A to point B?” Calitro said to the council. “That’s what we’re going to be looking at.” Officials with the Putnam County Department of Planning, Development & Public Transportation couldn’t be reached for comment. This is one of few trail projects connected to Danbury. Brookfield looks to bring its Still River Greenway to Danbury and New Milford. Brookfield is waiting to see whether it received a $229,000 state grant to study the project. New Fairfield is pushing for the Margerie Reservoir Trail to be built between that town and the Hat City. The state recently approved $484,000 to the project New Fairfield officials have said they want to create an advisory committee with Danbury for the effort. Cavo said he’s waiting to hear more information from New Fairfield before the city joins onto the committee. He said he’s excited about the opportunities to provide more recreational opportunities for residents. “Everywhere there are trails they seem to be widely used by many different groups, bicyclists, walkers, joggers, sightseers, bird watchers,” he said. Source https://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Danbury-aim-to-connect-to-paved-trail-in-NY-16616691.php#photo-21708279

November 17 at 06:26 AM

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Regulators seek to suspend Trump rule on railway natural gas

The Seattle Times  November 16, 2021 (Omaha, Nebraska, US) Federal regulators have proposed suspending a Trump administration rule that would have allowed railroads to haul liquefied natural gas while they take a closer look at the potential safety risks. The rule, which was backed by both the natural gas and freight rail industries, had already been on hold because several environmental groups and 14 states filed lawsuits challenging it. The federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said the uncertainty about the rule also kept companies from investing in the specialized rail tank cars that were required, so railroads haven’t actually handled any shipments of the flammable and odorless liquid known as LNG since the rule was issued last summer. The rule would have required enhancements — including a thicker outer tank made of steel with a greater puncture resistance — to the approved tank car design that, for decades, has been approved for shipments of other flammable cryogenic materials, such as liquid ethylene and liquid ethane. But in their lawsuit, environmental groups argued that those new railcars, which have yet to be built, were untested and might not withstand high-speed impacts, increasing the threat of an explosive train derailment along rail lines that cross directly through the heart of most cities. “We don’t believe that LNG by rail should have ever been authorized in the first place, so we look forward to the authorization being suspended,” said Bradley Marshall, who is a senior attorney with Earthjustice which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the environmental groups. A spokesman for California Attorney General Rob Bonta also praised the Biden administration’s decision to suspend the rule. Bonta’s office said he would continue the challenge to the rule started by his predecessor because he believes “this rule is unlawful” and regulators didn’t properly evaluate all the environmental risks. Besides California, the other states that challenged the rule included Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Washington D.C. was also part of the lawsuit. The lawsuits have all been put on hold while federal regulators review the rule, which could take until the summer of 2024. Before this rule was issued last summer, federal hazardous materials regulations allowed shipments of LNG by truck, but not by rail, except with a special permit. The move to abandon the rule allowing LNG shipments by rail comes as natural gas prices and exports are surging in the United States. And ongoing court and regulatory battles have slowed development of pipelines that would help deliver the nation’s world-leading gas production to markets. The long-term growth in LNG exports has continued to set records, according to the latest federal figures. U.S. LNG exports averaged 9.6 billion cubic feet per day during the first six months of this year as the economy continued to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. A spokeswoman for the Association of American Railroads trade group defended the rail industry’s safety track record and said railroads would be able to handle LNG shipments if given the opportunity. “Railroads continue to be the safest way to move hazardous materials over land with 99.99% of all hazmat shipment arriving at their destination without incident,” said Jessica Kahanek with the railroad group. “The rail industry remains confident that DOT’s ongoing research will affirm that with the right precautions rail is a responsible transportation solution for moving LNG if their customers request it.” One of the industrial backers of the idea of shipping LNG by rail included a proposed project from a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy that wanted to use rail to haul LNG from northern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas fields to a yet-to-be-built storage terminal at a former explosives plant in New Jersey, along the Delaware River near Philadelphia. The Trump administration had issued a special permit to that project in 2019. If it were built, most of that LNG was expected to be exported to foreign markets for electricity production. Source https://www.seattletimes.com/business/regulators-seek-to-suspend-trump-rule-on-railway-natural-gas/

November 17 at 06:18 AM

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6 amazing Asia train journeys for food, scenery and culture

CNN  17 November 2021  (Taiwan's historic Alishan Forest Railway travels to the island's highest train station.) The Covid-19 pandemic has derailed many family reunions, destination weddings and long-awaited trips. And while some would-be globetrotters miss the hyper pace of travel circa 2019, others plan to adjust their travel style completely.   According to the 2021 Global Travel Trends survey of 3,000 travelers worldwide by American Express, 68% expressed interest in more sustainable travel; 78% said they were looking for travel experiences that relieve stress; and 61% said they wanted slower, longer trips than in the past.   A train journey could be just the ticket for those who have their eyes on Asia for a 2022 trip.   From zig-zagging up the rugged mountains of central Taiwan to a Rajasthan rail journey fit for a maharaja, these scenic train routes showcase some of Asia's most beautiful landscapes and provide a much-needed opportunity to rest and reconnect with loved ones. Belmond Eastern and Oriental Express, Bangkok to Singapore You've probably heard of the Orient Express -- an oft-romanticized long-distance rail journey between Paris and Istanbul (though the route varied) that ran from 1883 to 2009.   After the rail service ceased operation, the Belmond hotel group purchased the train carriages and created its own collection of romantic rail adventures that channel the grace and splendor of the namesake.   In Asia, travelers can enjoy old-world charm aboard Belmond's Eastern and Oriental Express, which runs a four-day journey between Bangkok and Singapore with stops at the River Kwai (a poignant World War II landmark), Kanchanaburi and Kuala Lumpur.   The train feels like a roving hotel thanks to its fine-dining experiences, panoramic windows, handsome cherry wood-paneling and Malaysian silk embroidery.   The observation cart at the back of the train is another highlight. On this teakwood deck, guests can enjoy a cocktail in a rattan chair as the scenery glides past on this teakwood deck.   Day to day, the journey also weaves in many cultural experiences. One day, passengers might be admiring Peranakan architecture in George Town; the next, banana plantations or biking through Thai paddy fields.   Back on board, breakfast in bed starts the day on the right foot. Afternoon tea, cocktail hour with live piano music and four-course dinners evoke the romance and luxury of the original Oriental Express. Seven Stars, Kyushu, Japan There are several contenders for the best rail journey in Japan. But if it's scenery and comfort travelers are seeking, the Seven Stars is hard to beat.   Unlike Japan's famous bullet trains, Seven Stars takes a much slower pace, cruising gracefully across Kyushu's seven prefectures so passengers can take in the dramatic mountain and ocean views in peace.   The island lies just south of the Japanese mainland and is a treasure trove of natural beauty.   On the four-day journey, guests will get to warm up in an onsen (hot spring bath) in Beppu, experience a five-star ryokan (Japanese inn), learn about local crafts in the city of Oita, and much more.   Designed to be an intimate experience, the wine-red train can accommodate up to 26 people per journey, spread across 12 suites in five train cars.   Some find the suites charmingly retro; others would call them dated. But there's no arguing with the panoramic views from each cabin.   The other train cars host the "Blue Moon" bar and lounge and the "Jupiter" dining car, where master chefs celebrate Kyushu's bounty of fresh, seasonal ingredients.   In true Japanese fashion, the train serves as a living museum of art and craftsmanship. Guests will be surrounded by beauty and details, from elaborate kumiko woodwork to aritayaki, the art of Japanese porcelain.  Sri Lanka Main Line, Kandy to Ella The link between the former kingdom of Kandy and Ella, a mountain village to the south, lives up to its reputation as a must-do in Sri Lanka. And it's perfect for travelers who don't mind a little chaos.   The first-class carriage on the bright-blue train features air conditioning and panoramic windows so that passengers can relish the sweeping green views of rolling hills, stone bridges, cliffs, jungles and grand estates.   Second- and third-class cabins will be more crowded with no assigned seating. But it's in these cabins where travelers let their legs dangle out of an open train doorway or stick their heads out a window to feel the mountain breeze in their hair.   Along the journey, vendors squeeze between the crowds, offering an array of samosas, baked sweets and tea. The trip takes seven to nine hours, and tickets range from $0.80 to $20, depending on the fare class: all in all, an unforgettable way to spend a day.   Palace on Wheels, Rajasthan, India   Few rail experiences can compare with the Palace on Wheels, which rolls across the former princely states of northern India.   Let's start with the train itself: Launched in 1982, it features cars used privately by Rajasthan royalty pre-independence that were renovated in 2009.   Channeling the opulence of the Raj, guests can expect a tapestry of silk and gleaming wood, ornate furniture and silver tableware.   Two dedicated dining carriages, a Royal Spa, and a bar and lounge round out the luxurious experience in the common areas.   The 14 guest coaches, each named after a former princely state of Rajputana, give five-star hotels a run for their money when it comes to accommodations.   Each brims with regal details like chandeliers, oil paintings, handicrafts, intricate silver embroidery and plush carpets with enough room to include a mini pantry, library and lounge.   The majority of the cabins have twin beds, aside from the Super Deluxe Cabins, outfitted with queen-sized beds.   Operating between September and April each year, the eight-day itinerary begins in the capital of Delhi before heading into northwestern India, where historical forts, palaces, bazaars, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and sprawling national parks await.   Stops in Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and more ensure passengers have time to explore the history and heritage of the region.   It's all about slow travel and immersive experiences, offering travelers a chance to spot tigers in Ranthambore National park, enjoy a royal Udaipur's City Palace, sip sundowners in the dunes outside Jaisalmer and explore Keoladeo National Park.   Before circling back to the capital, the train makes a final stop in Agra, home to the Taj Mahal.   The train has been on hold since March 2020 due to Covid-19, but is slated for a major renovation in May 2022, followed by regular operations by September 2022. Alishan Forest Railway, Central Taiwan Rail journeys have long been a calling card in Taiwan, home to a stunning mix of forest, mountain and ocean scenery.   One of the most beautiful routes is the Alishan Forest Railway, a century-old line initially used by the logging industry but relaunched as a tourist experience in 1933.   The historic diesel locomotives run 44 miles from Chiayi city in central Taiwan into the Alishan mountains, zig-zagging up to Chushan Station, the highest station in Taiwan.   During the three-hour journey, passengers will pass through more than 50 tunnels, 75 bridges and varied natural gems, from rivers and waterfalls to dense cypress woodlands and misty mountain tops.   It's also a favorite among train enthusiasts, who praise the line's impressive route track, which essentially corkscrews up the mountain to ascend the steep gradients.   Unlike some train journeys, passengers can hop on and off independently for detours -- think short hikes to an observatory, a visit to an oolong tea plantation, or a lakeside picnic.   The Vietage, Vietnam  Travelers may have heard about the Reunification Express in Vietnam -- a 1,000-mile link that connects Ho Chi Minh City in the south with Hanoi in the north. What the 30-hour journey lacks in amenities and luxuries, it makes up for in scenery, passing through Hai Van Pass, the beaches of Lang Co and near-ubiquitous rice paddy fields.   But this bare-bones ride isn't for everyone. For travelers seeking a more comfortable experience, The Vietage offers a stark contrast -- and a price tag to match at $350 per person one-way.   Launched by Anantara Hotels in 2020, the six-hour train ride carries no more than 12 passengers through Central Vietnam between Da Nang and Quy Nhon, formerly the seat of the Cham Kingdom.   The scenery is as peaceful as it is lush: water buffaloes graze in wide-open fields, humble villages flit by and impossibly green fields beg to be photographed.   Onboard, marble tables, rattan screens and private booths evoke the romance of vintage rail travel.   Tickets also include a complimentary three-course French meal with Vietnamese influences, free-flow wine and beer, plus a head and shoulder massage. Source https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/asia-best-train-journeys-cmd/index.html

November 17 at 05:45 AM

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TRC receives 44 freight wagons for central line

Daily News  07 October, 2021 (Tanzania) Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) on Wednesday received 44 freight wagons as part of a project to upgrade the country's central line to improve cargo transportation. Works and Transport Minister, Prof Makame Mbarawa, said at a ceremony to receive the wagons in Dar es Salaam that the wagons will streamline TRC services and make its operations more efficient. The 44 wagons were procured with a World Bank soft loan, as part of the Tanzania Intermodal and Rail Development (TIRP) project to revamp the central line, for which, the Bank has provided a loan of approximately 680bn/-, he stated. He noted that the project entails rehabilitating the railway line as well as purchasing locomotives, wagons, and tamping machines, stating that wagons will boost freight services and reduce loading and offloading times from Dar es Salaam port to Isaka dry port to 24 hours. “Like past government phases, the sixth phase government is focused on improving various infrastructures, especially railway transportation, to promote the country's economy,” he stated. Prof Mbarawa emphasized the necessity of TRC taking proper care of the wagons for them to be used by future generations, as well as the corporation's increased efforts in collecting revenues. The TIRP project that involves the rehabilitation of Tanzania meter gauge railways includes, among other things, the rehabilitation of railway tracks from Dar es Salaam to Iskar (970 km) to increase freight capacity from 13.5 tonnes axle load to 18.5 tonnes axle load, the construction of new 80-pound rail covering 312 km, the rehabilitation of 658 km of railway, and the replacement of 442 bridges and culverts. According to the Minister, the project has resulted in the completion of a 326-kilometre railway upgrade from Dar es Salaam to Isaka, 374 bridge renovations, architecture work for the Dar es Salaam railway upgrade, Isaka dry port, and Ilala yard. TRC Director-General, Mr Masanja Kagosa said the wagons were made in China by CRRC International Corporation Limited with each having a capacity for 46 tonnes.  “Since one locomotive can pull 20 wagons at once, one trip will carry 920 tonnes, which is equivalent to 30 trucks with a capacity of 30 tonnes each. “As a result, we are confident in our ability to use these 44 newly purchased wagons to expand TRC's capacity to transport and unload cargo at the port. Furthermore, rail freight movement will greatly reduce road damage,” he added. According to him, the agreement's implementation began on October 9, 2019, and the contract was due to be completed on June 5, 2020, but the execution was impeded by the outbreak of Covid-19, which forced the CRRC factory to close and then slow operations. Mr Kadogosa further said under the projects seven locomotives for cargo trains have been refurbished at the TRC workshop in Morogoro for 13bn/- by local engineers. He said earlier TRC did not have the freight locomotives; however, it was compelled to use larger locomotives for hauling freight thereby increasing operational costs. Currently, Tanzania has two railway systems: a central line extends towards Kigoma and Mwanza on Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria respectively, run by TRC and a southern route extends from Dar es Salaam into Zambia, operated by the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority  Source https://dailynews.co.tz/news/2021-10-07615e99107f02b.aspx

November 17 at 05:13 AM

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World's first all-electric freight locomotive to be used in western PA

Yahoo News  November 12, 2021 (Australia) Roy Hill, an iron ore mining, rail and port operation in western Australia, was the first announced buyer of Wabtec's new FLXdrive, a battery-electric locomotive built in Erie. The company's second order, however, promises to put the innovative new locomotive — which creates a hybrid train when paired with one or more diesel locomotives — on a stage closer to home. Canadian National has announced plans to purchase Wabtec's 100% battery-electric locomotive to operate on its Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, which runs from the PIttsburgh suburb of Penn Hills to Conneaut, Ohio. Noi sale price was announced for the purchase, which was supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. While Wabtec has tested a FLXdrive with a capacity of 2.4 megawatt-hours, CN is expected to take delivery in 2023 of a model with a capacity of 7 megawatt-hours. CN expects the addition of the battery-electric locomotive to reduce fuel consumption and emissions on its trains by up to 30%. Rafael Santana, CEO of Wabtec, said in a statement that the FLXdrive represents a defining moment for the freight rail industry. "Wabtec is proud to partner with CN to accelerate the industry toward low- to zero-emission locomotives,” he said. Source https://news.yahoo.com/worlds-first-electric-freight-locomotive-030018885.html

November 16 at 09:58 AM

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Red wall commuters to get rail revolution

The Times  November 14, 2021 (UK) High-speed lines and upgrades will cut journey times between cities in the Midlands and the north in ‘levelling up’ Nearly £100 billion will be spent on England’s railways outside London, including the construction of three new high-speed lines that will cut journey times in half. The investment, due to be announced later this week, is intended to make good on Boris Johnson’s “levelling-up” pledge — despite confirmation that the 120-mile eastern leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds will be scrapped. Rather than focusing on quicker links from northern England to the capital, a 20-year programme of new lines and upgrades will halve journey times between cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/red-wall-commuters-to-get-rail-revolution-qd3nqjcb9

November 16 at 09:43 AM

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Railway goods transport between Vietnam, China surges

Vietnam Plus  November 15, 2021 (Hanoi, Vietnam) The total volume of goods traded between Vietnam and China going through the two border-gate railway stations of Lao Cai and Dong Dang reached more than 838,000 tonnes in the first nine months of 2021, up 43 percent year-on-year, according to statistics of the Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR). The total volume of goods traded between Vietnam and China going through the two border-gate railway stations of Lao Cai and Dong Dang reached more than 838,000 tonnes in the first nine months of 2021, up 43 percent year-on-year, according to statistics of the Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR). In the third quarter, although the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in many provinces and cities, affecting the volume of domestic freight transported on the North - South railway route, the volume of goods transported by rail between Vietnam and China reached more than 258,000 tonnes, a rise of more than 57 percent against that of the same period in 2020. Pham Duc Khai, head of Dong Dang Railway Station in the northern border province of  Lang Son , said that despite the complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, freight trains run normally between Vietnam and  China , so the volume of international freight imported and exported through  Dong Dang  station reached more than 400,000 tonnes in the first ten months of 2021. Dieu Khac Minh, an official at Lao Cai station in the northern border province of Lao Cai, stated that the average volume of goods transported by railway between  Vietnam  and China is about 650,000 to 700,000 tonnes each year. During January-October this year, the station’s freight volume rose by 17 percent year-on-year. The growth was attributed to close coordination between Vietnamese and Chinese railways, Minh stressed. Vietnam Railways is working with Kunming Railways of China in order to increase the railway market share, and handle about 1 million tonnes of import and export goods a year between the two sides through Lao Cai station. Nguyen Hoang Thanh, Deputy General Director of Railway Transport and Trading Joint Stock Company (Ratraco), stressed the need to invest in infrastructure in order to achieve good growth in international railway goods transport./. Source https://en.vietnamplus.vn/railway-goods-transport-between-vietnam-china-surges/215495.vnp

November 16 at 09:32 AM

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Section in Henan of Zhengzhou-Jinan high-speed railway undergoes final check

Global Times  November 16, 2021 (China) Staff members inspect a section of Zhengzhou-Jinan high-speed railway, in central China's Henan Province, Nov. 15, 2021. The Zhengzhou-Puyang section in Henan Province of Zhengzhou-Jinan high-speed railway are undergoing the final check and acceptance Source  https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202111/1239044.shtml

November 16 at 09:21 AM

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India-Bangladesh railway line likely to be completed by next year; details here

Financial Express  November 15, 2021 (India) The railway project will link Gangasagar under the Akhaura sub-division of the Brahmanbaria district of the neighbouring country with Nischintapur in India, and from there to the Agartala railway station. India-Bangladesh Railway Line: The much-awaited Agartala-Akhaura rail line, which is 15.6 kilometres long, connecting the Northeast region of India with Bangladesh, is likely to be completed by September-end of 2022. To review the work underway for the project, which was taken up in the year 2013 after the two countries inked a memorandum, Northeast Frontier Railways’ Divisional Manager, J S Lakra visited Nischintapur yard on Friday. The Divisional Manager said that goods will be shipped from one nation to another via the network, and later, the service can also be availed by people to travel. The railway project will link Gangasagar under the Akhaura sub-division of the Brahmanbaria district of the neighbouring country with Nischintapur in India, and from there to the Agartala railway station, a PTI report said. Nischintapur in India has a transshipment yard. It is the first one in the country’s northeastern part, and the passengers coming from the neighbouring country, Bangladesh would be de-boarded there. Also, the incoming goods will be offloaded at Nischintapur. The railway project work on the Indian side is almost complete. On the Bangladesh side, construction of the rail project has resumed after a long gap due to Covid induced lockdown, an official of IRCON International Limited was quoted saying in the report. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/india-bangladesh-railway-line-likely-to-be-completed-by-next-year-details-here/2369632/

November 16 at 09:17 AM

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Cando Rail & Terminals Is Said to Explore $800 Million Sale

Bloomberg  November 11, 2021 (Canada) Cando Rail & Terminals Ltd. is exploring a sale that could value the Canadian provider of railway services at about C$1 billion ($800 million), according to people familiar with the matter.  The Brandon, Manitoba-based company is working with an adviser to solicit interest from potential suitors, which include infrastructure and pension funds, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. Representatives for Cando and TorQuest Partners Inc., a private equity firm that has owned a stake in the company since 2018, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Cando comes to market just as global shipping gridlock heightens the focus on transportation and logistics firms that play a critical role in moving goods. It also follows a monthslong takeover battle for Kansas City Southern, a U.S. railroad that ultimately agreed to a $27 billion sale to Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. Founded in 1978, Cando Rail provides specialized rail services, helping shippers connect with railways. With eight terminals in Canada and 45 rail services locations, the company provides railcar staging, material handling, fleet management and train assembly, according to its website.   Cando Rail & Terminals changed its name in April from Cando Rail Services Ltd.  Source https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-11/cando-rail-terminals-is-said-to-explore-800-million-sale

November 15 at 04:47 AM

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German railway resumes service to valley devastated by flood

AP  November 8, 2021 (Berlin, Germany) Germany’s national railway on Monday resumed train service to a western valley that was devastated by flooding in mid-July following extensive repair work. The narrow Ahr valley, near Bonn, suffered the worst destruction in the July 14-15 floods which left more than 180 people dead in Germany and also claimed lives in neighboring Belgium. Heavy rainfall turned small streams into raging torrents, sweeping away houses, bridges and cars. Railway operator Deutsche Bahn said that, starting Monday, two trains per hour are running each way between the valley’s main town of Ahrweiler and Remagen, on the Rhine river. A further section will be reopened in December, but Deutsche Bahn said it will take much longer to reopen the line as far as its terminus further upstream at Ahrbrueck — a stretch on which eight bridges will have to be replaced. The company said it had to replace a kilometer (over half a mile) of rails, 5 kilometers (over 3 miles) of cables and 1,500 ties to get one track open again. It is still working to repair the second track. The German government put in place a roughly 400 million-euro ($474 million) package of immediate aid for flood victims. In August, it agreed to provide 30 billion euros ($36 billion) in longer-term aid to help rebuild the affected regions. On Friday, the local administration in Ahrweiler said that more than 300,000 metric tons (330,000 tons) of bulky waste have been recovered from the area since the floods — equivalent to 40 years’ worth of junk under normal circumstances. Source https://apnews.com/article/floods-business-europe-germany-05a6f42eb0be52aecf2b5b03fd2bd82f

November 15 at 04:39 AM

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‘It opens up our town’: Dartmoor line hopes to lead to rail renaissance

The Guardian  13 November 2021 (UK) Campaigners in Devon celebrate return of passenger trains after 50 years, a first step to reversing the Beeching closures On the rugged northern edge of Dartmoor, a small army of workers in high-vis vests is readying Okehampton station to welcome the first regular passenger train since 1972. The canopies and picket fences are being repainted in the original dark greens and warm yellows of the long-departed Southern Railway. It’s a historic moment for local campaigners, who have been fighting for decades to reconnect the Devon town to the national network and open up this lesser-visited part of the national park. “It’s quite extraordinary – almost unbelievable,” says Tom Baxter, 68, the secretary of the Dartmoor Railway Association ,  watching the painting from a gleaming green bench on the platform. “I used to travel on the line when it was British Rail and I was here when it closed in the 1970s. Local railways were seen as a bit of a nuisance at the time – they wanted to get rid of them.” The Exeter to Okehampton line – known as the Dartmoor Line – is the first reopening under the government’s £500m Restoring Your Railway programme, which aims to reinstate some of the services that were lost in the aftermath of the 1963 Beeching report commissioned by the Conservative government of the time, resulting in the closure of a third of the country’s track network and more than half of all stations. There are also plans to reopen the Northumberland line, which closed to passengers in 1964 as part of the Beeching era, when the automobile industry and roadbuilding lobby had the ear of successive governments. And there is a feasibility study on reinstating the Fleetwood-Poulton line in Lancashire. Overall, 38 schemes around the country have been given up to £50,000 to develop businesses cases, with further funding available if they are approved. On the other side of the track, Stuart Calvert, who has overseen the Dartmoor Line restoration for Network Rail, is checking the station before its reopening this week. “This is a real community project – and people are genuinely excited and delighted. It is opening up a part of the country that has not been well served: north Dartmoor rather than south Dartmoor,” he says. “For leisure or business travellers or school or college students, it creates a world of possibilities.” The £40m project, which has taken nine months, has involved the laying of 29,000 tonnes of ballast and 24,000 sleepers as well as the installation of five new radio masts and the clearing of miles of vegetation from the track. Although regular passenger services ended in the 1970s, freight trains continued to move stone from a quarry until 2011. Some passengers were able to travel on a limited Sunday service from the late 1990s. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/13/it-opens-up-our-town-dartmoor-line-hopes-to-lead-to-rail-renaissance

November 15 at 04:26 AM

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'Derailment' at Wolverhampton causes disruption

BBC  14 November 2021 (UK) A derailed engineering train is set to cause disruption to rail services until the end of the day. The train has blocked the line immediately north of Wolverhampton station in the West Midlands. The issue is "causing major disruption to trains" due to call at the station and services may be cancelled or diverted, National Rail said. Avanti West Coast cannot get trains out of its depot near Wolverhampton and will have fewer trains in service.   Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-59280556

November 15 at 04:21 AM

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Government to finally drop plan for HS2 link to Leeds – reports

The Guardian  14 November 2021 (UK)  Ministers said to be poised to fund disparate projects that favour Tory constituencies instead The government has refused to confirm or deny reports that it will finally cancel plans for the HS2 link to Leeds this week, and instead fund a hodgepodge of disparate projects which favour Conservative constituencies and leave mysterious gaps in the rail network. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, is expected to announce the outcome of the long-delayed integrated rail plan on Thursday. The Sunday Times suggested he would commit to building HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester but not Leeds, which has earmarked a large part of the city centre to accommodate a new station. To soften the blow, Shapps is expected to announce two shorter high-speed routes, the paper said. One would run between Leeds and Sheffield and another from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway, which is in the Conservative constituency of Rushcliffe, 10 miles south of Nottingham. There would apparently be a puzzling non high-speed gap of 50 miles between the two new lines. According to the Mail on Sunday, Leeds will receive its own tram system “in consolation” for not being connected to HS2. The director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership thinktank, Henri Murison, said: “Without the benefits to areas such as Yorkshire and the north-east, HS2’s status as a project to drive the whole of the UK is undermined considerably. “Will this be a government that levels up, or levels down and walks away from the northern powerhouse they promised with city leaders across the north?” Behind the scenes in the northern mayoralties, there are also major jitters about Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a new trans-Pennine railway line from Liverpool to Leeds via Bradford. Details about the line were conspicuously absent from Sunday’s newspaper leaks, though building it was one of Boris Johnson’s first pledges as prime minister. Three days into the job in 2019, he gave a speech at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum, saying: “I want to be the prime minister who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did for Crossrail in London.” He committed in February 2020 to bringing HS2 to the north of England, building “a rapid connection from the West Midlands to the northern powerhouse, to Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds”. Crossrail is a new £18.6bn east-west rail line in London. It is currently three years behind schedule and £3.8bn over budget, but seen as a key driver of economic growth in the capital. NPR is the brainchild of Transport for the North (TfN) , a statutory body set up to advise ministers on the region’s transport needs. It says NPR would reduce road usage by 58,000 car trips per day, and create 100,000 jobs in the urban north. TfN has been adamant the line should include a new through-station in Bradford, which was named last week as Britain’s worst-connected major city. The Mail on Sunday said other announcements expected this week included the £78m electrification of the line from Wigan to Bolton, which now has two Tory MPs, and a reinstatement of a passenger service from Sheffield to Stocksbridge, which in 2019 elected its first Tory MP since 1935. Murison said the government’s priority should be to build HS2 south from Leeds “as well as securing a new station in Bradford on the critical new line across the Pennines”. The Guardian asked TfN what the point of its existence was, if the government ignored its key recommendations. Its chief executive, Martin Tugwell, said it would be premature to comment before Thursday. “What does remain clear though, is our commitment to securing the best possible rail connectivity for the 15.2 million people of the North, and fundamental to that connectivity is the work we have done to date on Northern Powerhouse Rail as a co-client with government and the way it integrates with the rest of the rail network, including with HS2,” he said. A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Work is continuing on the integrated rail plan. We will publish it shortly and do not comment on speculation.” Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/14/government-to-finally-drop-plan-for-hs2-link-to-leeds-reports

November 15 at 04:12 AM

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First metro stirs hope Vietnam can match regional peers

VnExpress  November 8, 2021 ( Vietnam ) The first metro route Vietnam has stirred hopes that the country will soon catch up with its regional peers, popularize public transportation and reduce traffic congestion. Experts, however remain cautious and skeptical, saying such optimism is unwarranted at the moment. "If I close my eyes I can’t tell whether I’m on a metro train in another country or in Vietnam," said Tran Ngoc Quynh, one of the first passengers to use the Cat Linh – Ha Dong Metro Route after it began operating last Saturday. Quynh, a 70-year-old engineer, couldn’t sleep the night before as he had been waiting for the metro to run for 10 years. His family and friends are among those who had been relocated during the land acquisition process for the project. "The train shows that Vietnam is not far behind other countries in development. We are moving in the right direction." The Cat Linh – Ha Dong Metro Route, the latest public transport addition in Hanoi, where 8.3 million people reside, has kindled hopes and desire among local residents that the city ups its public infrastructure to the level or other ASEAN countries. Nguyen Huu Khanh, who lives one kilometer away from a metro station, said that he was thinking about making metro his main means of transportation to and from work. "I arrived 10 minutes earlier than usual with the metro. There was no traffic jam, and it was warmer than riding the motorbike," said the 30-year-old, who works for a startup. The experience is similar to that of Thailand where he had worked for a couple of years, Khanh said. Several Southeast Asian countries have had a head start over Vietnam in establishing metro networks. Source https://e.vnexpress.net/news/business/economy/first-metro-stirs-hope-vietnam-can-match-regional-peers-4383013.html

November 12 at 07:16 AM

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Suspended Metro trains are rolling through the transit system, but it’s only a test

Washington Post  November 8, 2021 (US) Two of the 7000-series trains will run empty as the agency tries to get the series reinstated. Metro riders saw a familiar sight Monday as a pair of 7000-series trains made their way through the system during service hours for the first time since Oct. 17, when the series was sidelined for a safety issue that has caused a severe train shortage. The trains are stopping at stations but not picking up passengers, part of a test to get all 748 of the series’ cars reinstated. Train doors are marked with stickers that say, “No passengers, test train.” Inside, heavy boxes sit in rail car aisles meant to simulate the weight of passengers. Metro officials have indicated testing could run about two weeks. If successful, the data will be part of a plan that transit officials will submit to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to request reinstatement of a series that makes up about 60 percent of Metro’s fleet. When that could happen, however, isn’t known. “We haven’t put a time frame on any of this,” Metro spokeswoman Kristie Swink Benson said. “Again, it’s about safety. It’s about doing this right.” Source https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/11/08/metro-trains-test-ntsb-investigation/

November 12 at 07:03 AM

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Revival of rail travel a potential weapon to combat climate change

Irish Times  November 11, 2021 (UK) Italian example shows how investment in rail can drastically cut traffic on air routes In the 19th century, rail travel rapidly supplanted most other forms of transport. Could it be about to do so again? With all eyes on Glasgow and the Cop26 summit, British chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a tone-deaf budget that slashed tax on domestic flights and declined to fund an eastern leg of the already beleaguered High Speed 2 train line. Sunak’s decision to incentivise air travel over rail is all the more confusing when contrasted with the experience of another European nation of similar size, population and geography. Last month, Italy’s former flag carrier Alitalia made its last flight. Having struggled for a decade, Alitalia was eventually renationalised and liquidated during the pandemic. Although various factors are responsible, one leaps out: the rise of high-speed rail. In 2008, Italy’s high-speed trains carried 6.5 million passengers. By 2018, they carried 40 million. Government investment in rail infrastructure has been vital to this, but so too has market liberalisation. Private operator Italo now competes with government-owned Trenitalia, and prices have become competitive with low-cost airlines. Passengers travelling from Rome to Milan now make the journey by rail 80 per cent of the time, compared with 36 per cent in 2008; flights account for just 14 per cent of journeys on the route, down from 50 per cent. Remarkably, this could be the second time that rail has supplanted another established mode of transport. In the 18th century, rapid industrialisation created demand for new modes of transport that could cope with large amounts of materials and goods. In 1731, work began on canals to link the Tyrone coalfields to the Irish Sea and to Dublin, so that local collieries could compete financially with imported British coal. The Grand Canal (completed in 1804) and Royal Canal (1817) linked Dublin with the Shannon. By 1820, Ireland’s major industrial and commercial centres were connected to each other and to the sea by a network of inland waterways. Source https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/revival-of-rail-travel-a-potential-weapon-to-combat-climate-change-1.4718229

November 12 at 06:38 AM

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MRTA readies bidding for for Purple Line extension

Bangkok Post  12 November 2021 (Thailand) The Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) is gearing up to invite companies to submit a tender for the extension of the Purple Line electric rail services, which will connect Tao Poon and Rat Burana. The process will be carried out under International Competitive Bidding (ICB) procedures, and bid envelopes can be purchased until Dec 24, the MRTA said. The decision to start the bidding process was taken after the MRTA assessed the public's opinion on the project, as well as recommendations from the Comptroller General's Department. The project, which will see the Purple Line extended by 23 kilometres, is worth 78 billion baht. Work on the extension will be divided into six phases, the first of which will see the line extended by three stations, or 4.8km, beyond its current terminus in Tao Poon to the National Library of Thailand. In the second phase, three more stations will be built between the National Library of Thailand and Phan Fa, over a distance of 2.4km, while the next phase of work will see three additional stations built between Phan Fa with Phra Phuttha Yodfa Bridge. The fourth and fifth phases will see the line further extended to Dao Khanong and Khru Nai, while work on the sixth phase mainly concerns the railway signalling system along the extension. Once completed, the line will connect Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan, via Thon Buri and Phra Nakhon districts. While construction is expected to begin next year, the extension is projected to open in 2027. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/2213959/mrta-readies-bidding-for-for-purple-line-extension

November 12 at 06:11 AM

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Public Transit Use Must Double to Meet Climate Targets, City Leaders Warn

Bloomberg  November 10, 2021 (US) As COP26 events focus on electric vehicles, a new report calls for $208 billion in annual public transit investments to decarbonize transportation.  With the transition to zero-emission vehicles headlining a slate of transportation-related events at the COP26 conference in Glasgow on Wednesday, a chorus of city officials, labor leaders and policy experts are urging climate negotiators not to lose sight of public transit as a key tool for decarbonizing the transport sector.  “If national governments do not back mayors and invest to protect and expand public transport then they won’t be able to meet their own carbon targets,” Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities, a network of sustainability-focused global mayors, said in a statement.  Underscoring that warning is a new report by C40 Cities and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that states global public transit use must double by 2030 if nations are to meet the 1.5°C emissions targets necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. To meet that goal, the organizations are calling for $208 billion   in annual investments for the nearly 100 cities in the C40 network, which together make up about 25% of global GDP. The report highlights how electrifying transit fleets, expanding bus and rail infrastructure, and improving system accessibility would not only slash transport emissions and air pollution but also boost quality of life and economic opportunities, particularly for low-income urban residents. It estimates that those investments would create 4.6 million new jobs in a sector badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. And it points to examples of ambitious infrastructure expansions in several C40 member cities, including Austin, Texas, where last year voters approved a $7.1 billion plan to add new rail lines, bus rapid transit and all-electric vehicles to the city’s transit offerings; and Jakarta, Indonesia, which is on track to provide access to transit within 500 meters of 95% of residents’ homes by 2022. “Without a revolution in public transport the world will miss the bus on tackling climate change,” Anies Baswedan, governor of Jakarta, said in a statement. “Time is running out.” Source https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-10/transit-use-must-double-to-meet-1-5-c-goal-mayors-warn

November 12 at 05:36 AM

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Japan train driver sues over 49 cents in docked wages

BBC  10 November 2021 (Japan) A Japanese train driver is suing his employer after he was docked 56 yen ($0.49; £0.36) in wages for causing a brief delay to the country's famously punctual rail system. Train company JR West fined the man after a work mix-up in June 2020 caused a one-minute delay to operations. It argued that no labour had been performed during the stoppage. The employee is seeking 2.2 million yen ($19,407; £14,347) in damages for mental anguish caused by the ordeal. According to the Japanese news site, Soranews24, the unnamed man was scheduled to pilot an empty train to Okayama station in the south of the country, but arrived at the wrong platform while waiting to take over from the previous driver. By the time he realised his mistake and had rushed to the correct platform, the transfer between the two drivers had been delayed by two minutes, leading to a one-minute delay in the train's departure and a one-minute delay in warehousing the train at the depot. JR West initially docked the man 85 yen ($0.75; $0.55), but later agreed to reduce the fine to 56 yen after the driver took the case to the Okayama Labour Standards Inspection Office. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-59232785

November 11 at 07:34 AM

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Bengaluru: K-RIDE ready to float suburban rail civil work tenders, says MD; first tender will be for Kanaka line

Times Of India  09 November 2021, (Bengaluru, India) Under fire for the delay in implementing the long-pending Rs 15,657-crore Bengaluru suburban rail project, K-RIDE MD Amit Garg said they are now ready to float civil work tenders. The Rail Infrastructure Development Company Karnataka Limited (K -RIDE), a special purpose vehicle formed by the Karnataka government and the railways ministry, is executing the 148-km project. Source https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bengaluru-k-ride-ready-to-float-suburban-rail-civil-work-tenders-says-md-first-tender-will-be-for-kanaka-line/articleshow/87592117.cms

November 11 at 07:24 AM

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Train maker Alstom's shares surge as cash hit softer than feared

Reuters  November 10, 2021 (France) Alstom's(ALSO.PA) shares soared on Wednesday after the French train maker reported a softer-than-expected cash hit as it integrates projects inherited as part of its deal with Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO). The shares jumped as much as 10% in early trading and were on track for their best performance since March 2020, boosting the company's market value by more than one billion euros, based on Refinitiv data. Analysts from Credit Suisse and JP Morgan welcomed Alstom's the cash outflow as "reassuring" and "better than feared". Alstom had finalised its purchase of Bombardier Transportation early this year - a 5.5 billion euro deal that should make the French train maker the second-biggest player in its sector behind China's CRRC (601766.SS). But stabilising some legacy projects had caused Alstom to predict "significant" cash outflows for its current financial year. Alstom reported a negative free cash flow of 1.46 billion euros ($1.69 billion) for April to September 2021, beating consensus forecasts and the negative 1.6-1.9 billion euros it had guided in July.   A year earlier, Alstom had reported half-year outflows of just 253 million euros. In a call with analysts, Chief Executive Henri Poupart-Lafarge said the group's cash had benefited from more downpayments and a ramp-up in production. Alstom reported "no material impact" from supply chain problems in its first half, but Poupart-Lafarge said that delays could have an impact in the next six months. The CEOadded the integration of the rail business and stabilisation of its projects was "fully on track" and that projects were now being managed at a local level, following a period of central assessments. The company, which makes trains and signalling systems for urban and regional rail networks, confirmed its forecast that it would begin to generate cash from the second half onwards, as well as its mid-term financial targets. It reported a 14% increase in half-year sales, adjusting for acquisitions and foreign exchange rates, while its adjusted net profit for the period edged up to 172 million euros. ($1 = 0.8655 euros) Reporting by Sarah Morland. Editing by Jane Merriman Source https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/train-maker-alstoms-half-year-cash-outflow-smaller-than-expected-2021-11-10/

November 11 at 06:53 AM

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IRCON International gains on emerging L-1 bidder for Rs 5142-cr tender

Business Standard  November 9, 2021 (India) IRCON International added 2.90% to Rs 49.70 after the company emerged L -1 bidder in a tender valuing approximately Rs 5142 crore floated by National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL). The tender involves design, supply and construction of track and track related works including testing and commissioning for double line high speed railway between Zaroli village at Maharashtra-Gujarat Border and Vadodara in the State of Gujarat and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli for the project for construction of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail. "The completion period of the project is approximately 6.5 year, the company said in a statement. Letter of award (LoA) is yet to be issued by NHSRCL, it added. IRCON International is an engineering and construction, specialized in transport infrastructure and is wholly owned by the Ministry of Railways. As of 30 June 2021, the Government of India held 73.18% stake in the company. On a consolidated basis, the company posted a 158% rise in net profit to Rs 88.99 crore on a 116% rise in net sales to Rs 1,140 crore in Q1 FY22 over Q1 FY21. Source https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-cm/ircon-international-gains-on-emerging-l-1-bidder-for-rs-5142-cr-tender-121110900990_1.html

November 11 at 06:39 AM

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The gleaming metro system built under the desert

CNN  3 November, 2021 ( Doha, Qatar ) It's fast. It's driverless. It has a Gold Class for premium passengers. And it's one of the most advanced metro train systems ever built.   This is the Doha Metro, a gleaming transportation system that will carry fans to their destination in next year's soccer World Cup and, it's hoped, will go on to revolutionize transport in Qatar.   Constructed mostly underground and across the Qatari capital and its suburbs, the network has been operational since 2019, providing a reliable transportation alternative in a rapidly expanding city where residents have long relied on cars and traffic is frequently gridlocked.   Phase one of the project saw the creation of 37 stations, with three lines -- Red, Green and Gold -- running along a 76-kilometer (47-mile) network.   The fully automated, 60-meter-long trains have a 416-passenger capacity and are divided into three sections: Standard, Family (for lone females and males or females commuting with children aged 11 or younger) and Gold (Goldclub Travel Card holders) class.   Clean and spacious, the trains can cruise at up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph) and are fully equipped with CCTV and public Wi-Fi systems. They even have USB ports so that Gold class travelers can charge mobile phones and tablets while in transit. Source https://www-cnn-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.cnn.com/travel/amp/qatar-doha-metro/index.html

November 11 at 06:31 AM

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French group Alstom wins EUR 262 mln contract in Romania for 20 electric trains

Romania Insider  05 November 2021 (Romania) Romania’s Railway Reform Authority (ARF) has designated French company Alstom Feroviaria as the winner of a public tender procedure for the purchase of 20 inter-regional electric trains. The value of this contract is RON 1.3 billion (EUR 262 mln) , without VAT, according to Ziarul Financiar. The financing of this project is ensured from the Large Infrastructure Operational Program - POIM and the state budget. The contract covers the purchase of 20 electric trains and their maintenance for 15 years, with the possibility of doubling the quantity and the maintenance period. The trains will be delivered within 31 months of signing the contract. Alstom will also provide staff training on train operation, operation and software applications. The Railway Reform Authority - a specialized structure subordinated to the Ministry of Transport – is responsible for implementing the reform in the railway sector under the General Transport Master Plan. Source  https://www.romania-insider.com/alstom-electric-trains-romania-contract

November 10 at 07:40 AM

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Train driver shortage forces Renfe to cancel 28 local passenger services

Sur in English  8 November 2021 (Spain) This Monday, 8 November, some 28 trains on the Fuengirola and Álora lines will not operate "for technical reasons" according to the national rail operator The problem of local train cancellations and delays on the Renfe Cercanías service in Malaga is on the way to becoming chronic if the necessary staff are not soon put in place to allow trains to return to normal service. Despite complaints from users, the Diputación de Malaga provincial government and the Junta de Andalucía regional government there has been little improvement and passengers continue to suffer the daily cancellations of trains and altered timetables. To illustrate the situation, this Monday, 8 November, Renfe will cancel "for technical reasons" a total of 28 trains on the lines between Malaga and Fuengirola and Malaga and Álora. Although it is common for there to be cancellations every day, such a high number is not normal on a day on which no workers' strike is called. The company has announced the cancellations on its app, a new service that it launched recently in response to passengers’ demands, who previously could only obtain information on cancellations on the information panels or through the public address announcements in the stations, so they didn't know in advance whether their train was going to leave or not. Source https://www.surinenglish.com/malaga/train-driver-shortage-20211108102125-nt.html

November 10 at 07:31 AM

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Fast train concept plan linking Perth to WA's regions presented to state planners

ABC News  10 November 2021 (Australia) Fast trains connecting Western Australia's regional cities to Perth and each other are part of a bold rail concept submitted to state planners. The "rapid rail network" concept, which would stretch from Geraldton to Esperance with stops in major cities and small regional towns, has been submitted to Infrastructure WA by former PR executive, teacher at Edith Cowan University and self-declared "railway obsessive" Kevin McQuoid. Under the plan, the trains able to travel up to 180 kilometres per hour could deliver passengers from Bunbury to Perth in under an hour along the Forrest Highway corridor. Thousands of kilometres of railways would link the Midwest, metropolitan Perth, South West, Great Southern, southern Wheatbelt and southern Goldfields. Mr McQuoid told the ABC's WA Regional Drive program a paper on metropolitan rail he published a decade ago was the inspiration for the state government's Metronet plan. He said the idea would be an extension of Metronet into regional WA and should be built ahead of forecast population growth in the regions. "My sole purpose is to seed this idea, which I believe is years decades overdue in the regions, and a lot of people in the regions also believe that," he said. "I'm handing on the baton to the people in the regions if they get behind hit. They're the ones that can drive it." Mr McQuoid said WA was built around an automobile culture. "One of the problems is that Perth is getting so much bigger. When country people get to the edge of the metro area, it becomes a battle," he said. "I used to live in the Darling Range. Coming to Perth, you had to pick the times because it's difficult to get around." It comes amid a bid by some Great Southern local governments to reopen the former passenger service from Albany to Perth, which closed in 1978. Currently, the route is now solely used for freight.  Fast rail is a better option Curtin University sustainability expert Peter Newman said the rapid rail network idea would make travel much quicker to Perth than using the existing freight network. "I went on it before it closed in 1978, and it was an overnight trip," he said. "The way through Bunbury is quicker. I would think it would have other freight benefits as well. "The opportunity for creating it in WA is more likely because we're going to have a very fast-growing regional economy." The state government is investigating a fast rail link from Perth to Bunbury, with a spokesperson for WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti confirming $8 million is to be spent on viability studies over the next three years. "The outcomes of this work will help inform government around potential timing and priorities for further investigations and provide guidance about when such a significant initiative may be warranted," the spokesperson said. Source https://amp-abc-net-au.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.abc.net.au/article/100607176

November 10 at 06:33 AM

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Low-cost high-speed AVLO to run Madrid-Valencia route for 'Fallas' fiesta

Think Spain  26 October, 2021 (Spain) A CUT-PRICE no-frills version of Spain's express AVE train, launched earlier this year, is set to run a new route ahead of spring 2022 – between Madrid and Valencia. High-speed AVE rail links, covering long distances in less than half the time it would take to drive them – the 350 kilometres between Valencia and Madrid, for example, takes just 90 minutes – is very convenient and comfortable, but quite expensive for those who simply want to get from A to B without ceremony; these passengers would be more likely to take the  Larga Distancia  'snail rail', which makes this same journey in six hours with a change midway and costs around half the price. Now that Spain's train services have been opened up to competition for the first time in their history, rail board RENFE will have to work harder to keep customers, and one of its key strategies is the AVLO, or low-cost AVE. The first-ever AVLO train set off on June 23 from Figueres-Vilafant station in the province of Girona at 05.35, stopping at Barcelona Sants station en route to Madrid Atocha, whilst another left Atocha for Figueres via Barcelona at 06.20. One-way tickets back then started at €7, and have barely risen since, although full-facility peak-time trips can cost as much as €65. AVLO trains have no buffet car, although they do have vending machines, and the fare covers a small cabin bag and personal bag. Extras, such as on-board Wi-Fi, seating with plugs for charging phones and laptops, flexible travel times and dates, and additional luggage attract a further fee. At present, the AVLO only runs on the Madrid-Barcelona route – Spain's busiest long-distance commuter trek by rail, road and air – with four connections in either direction daily which stop in Guadalajara, Calatayud (Zaragoza province), Zaragoza, Lleida and Tarragona. One train daily runs from Madrid as far as Girona and Figures, and one other starts from Figueres and stops at Girona on the way to the capital. The journey takes around two-and-a-half hours. Next year, though, a second route will be added, between Madrid and Valencia, in time for the latter's huge mid-March  Fallas  fiesta. This is celebrated all over the province of Valencia and in a handful of towns in those of Alicante and Castellón, ending late at night on March 19, although the events and monuments in Valencia city are on a much larger scale than elsewhere in the region and the festival runs for about a week, rather than four days as in other towns. It is not yet clear whether the AVLO  Fallas  link will only be in place for the duration of the fiesta, or whether it will continue – albeit at a reduced frequency – year-round. Minister for mobility, transport and urban agenda, Raquel Sánchez, presented a preliminary analysis report on the high-speed line from Madrid to Valencia, which takes in Castellón, this week, but more details are expected to be revealed nearer March. Two other low-cost express rail connections are set to cover the Valencia-Madrid route from next year – one of which is Ouigo, the French no-frills line owned by the SNCF, due to start operating from spring 2022, and the other is Ilsa, although no dates have as yet been confirmed. Source https://www.thinkspain.com/news-spain/33110/low-cost-high-speed-avlo-to-run-madrid-valencia-route-for-fallas-fiesta

November 10 at 05:39 AM

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Germany: Rail operator Deutsche Bahn to get multi-billion euro bailout

Deutsche Welle  01 November, 2021 (Germany) Germany's rail operated racked up over €3 billion in loses during the coronavirus pandemic. Now it's set to get a bailout, with most of the emergency funds expected to go to rail infrastructure subsidiary DB-Netz. Germany's rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, is set to receive some €2.1 billion ($2.4 billion) in bailout cash, the government confirmed on Monday. Most of the money is going to subsidiary DB-Netz, which handles rail infrastructure. The emergency funds come after a catastrophic 18 months for Deutsche Bahn, with the coronavirus pandemic resulting in plummeting passenger numbers. DB's losses reached €2.9 billion in 2020 and €1.4 billion for the first half of this year. The company had already announced a major fare hike as of December 2021 in an attempt to bridge the gap. Enak Ferlemann, parliamentary state secretary for transport, confirmed that an initial deal had been reached in July. Responding to a request for information from the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP), Ferlemann said that DB-Netz had already received €537 million by mid-October. According to Ferlemann, the EU has approved a total of €3.77 billion if necessary. Aid not coming fast enough for unions Deutsche Bahn has a near total monopoly on Germany's rails, particularly for long-distance passenger travel. Competitors Flixtrain and Austrian national rail service ÖBB run just a tiny fraction of journeys in the country. The bailout is also expected to help Deutsche Bahn's competitors in the cargo and logistics branches, as their businesses also rely on the quality of rail infrastructure. For workers and unions, the aid is not arriving fast enough. They staged a walk-out in August in protest, which cost DB some €100 million euros a day and left millions of passengers stranded. DPA material contributed to this report . Source https://www.dw.com/en/germany-rail-operator-deutsche-bahn-to-get-multi-billion-euro-bailout/a-59683828

November 10 at 05:29 AM

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Several injured in knife attack on German train

Reuters  November 6, 2021 (Frankfurt, Germany) Several people were injured in a knife attack on an express train between the south German cities of Regensburg and Nuremberg on Saturday and a male suspect has been arrested, police said. "There has been an attack on an ICE (Intercity-Express) train and police shortly afterwards arrested a male person, and several people were injured," a spokesman for the Oberpfalz police authority said. The online edition of the daily Bild said earlier that three people were injured on the train. There was no evidence that other attackers were at large, the police spokesman said. Police said the attack happened around 0800 GMT in the district of Neumarkt and the train was stationary at Seubersdorf southeast of Regensburg. Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Gareth Jones and Giles Elgood   Source https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/three-injured-knife-attack-german-train-2021-11-06/

November 09 at 06:39 AM

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Empty Blue Train derailed at Union station

IOL News  November 8, 2021 (Cape Town, South Africa) The luxurious Blue Train derailed at Union Station in Germiston, Gauteng. According to reports on Sunday, the train derailed overnight and had no passengers on board. Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) confirmed to Citizen that it was investigating the cause after 19 empty coaches of one of the Blue Trains derailed at the Union Station in Germiston, just after midnight on Sunday. “This was a staged (unmanned) train with no passengers on board. No injuries were reported on-site,” Transnet was quoted as saying. Source https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/empty-blue-train-derailed-at-union-station-4f03d5b2-e87b-459a-be05-66fca82d0615

November 09 at 06:32 AM

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Dartmoor train line is back after 50 years – here’s what to do and see along the route

The Guardian  8 November 2021 (UK) Later this month the line will deliver walkers, cyclists and wild campers to the northern edge of the national park. Here’s a brief guide to the area   Many are the legends of lost walkers tricked by swirling mists, pixies or ghosts on the northern edge of Dartmoor, one of Devon’s more isolated corners. In the 18th century, when stage coaches rattled over rough tracks, it was a harsh and dangerous place to travel. There is still a sense of remoteness - this is where the Atlantic winds arrive unhindered, and it is at once bleak and bracing, dramatic and drear. But if you haven’t got wheels, it has been harder to reach in recent times than it was for generations past. That is set to change on 20 November, when the Dartmoor Line will reopen almost 50 years after it was axed. Now local shoppers and workers, as well as walkers and climbers, cyclists and campers, will be able to travel from anywhere in the UK, via Exeter, and reach the top of Dartmoor easily and without driving. The £40.5 million line, the first to be reinstated as part of the Department for Transport’s “Restoring your Railway” initiative, is a significant national moment as well as great news for the tourism-reliant south-west. Stations at Ivybridge and Totnes have opened up the east and south moor. The new line to Okehampton – described by one campaigner as an “oasis in a rail desert” – could be a boon for the north moor as well as parts of Cornwall. It will also take some traffic off the often jammed A30. Locals campaigned for the reopening for more than two decades, working alongside councillors, railway experts and Great Western Railway, even running three special “protest” trains from Okehampton to Paddington, Stratford-upon-Avon and Weymouth to force the government’s hand. When it opened in October 1871, the 15.5-mile line from Exeter was the initial stage in a series of two major railway extensions that continued west to Launceston in Cornwall and, in 1890, down to Tavistock and Plymouth via the Tamar valley. Though not scheduled to close as part of the initial Beeching cuts of the 1960s, the last regular train ran back in 1972. A Sunday service operated in the summer months from the late 1990s but the line was largely for transporting – ironically enough – railway ballast from Meldon Quarry. West Devonians are still calling for a restoration of the complete route down to Plymouth, their case strengthened in 2014 when a storm destroyed the GWR tracks at Dawlish. For now, though, we’ll have to make do with the new line, which will make the journey from Exeter to Okehampton in 40 minutes with a single stop at the tiny bishopric of Crediton along the way. Trains will run every two hours (hourly from 2022). Source https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/nov/08/dartmoor-train-line-reopen-50-years-after-axed-walkers-cyclists-wild-campers

November 09 at 06:25 AM

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9 things you might not know about the TGV as France’s high-speed train turns 40

The Local  17 September 2021 (France) France's high speed intercity train is celebrating its 40th birthday, so here are some more unusual facts about the much-loved TGV. In 1981, President François Mitterrand officially inaugurated the first high-speed rail line connecting Paris and Lyon. A few days later, a bright orange TGV ( Train à Grande Vitesse , French for “high-speed train”) raced down the tracks at over 200km/h. In celebration of the TGVs landmark birthday, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Pierre Farandou – President of the SNCF, France’s national railway company – were on Friday at the Gare de Lyon in Paris to unveil the ‘TGV of the future’. In front of a full-scale model of the new TGV M, Macron hailed a prime example of “French genius” and promised to unlock €6.5 billion to develop the TGV network, including new lines serving cities such as Nice and Toulouse. “We’re going to continue this grand adventure with new industrial commitments,” since more people are looking beyond metropoles to smaller cities – an apparent allusion to post-Covid prospects. “We see clearly that life and work are going to be restructured, and that our fellow citizens today want to organise their time for living and time for working differently,” he said. The streamlined version of the bullet train promises to carry more passengers – up to 740 passengers from 600 – while using 20 percent less electricity. It will continue to whiz people between cities at a top speed of 320 km/h, making most door-to-door trips shorter and cheaper than on airplanes. To celebrate the birthday of the TGV (which in French is pronounce  tay-shay-vay ) blowing out its 40 candles, here are a few fun facts about the super-speedy trains. Patrick   – That’s the name of the first TGV. Built in 1978 and set into action in 1981 on the Paris-Lyon line, the bright orange Patrick travelled some 13.5 million kilometres before taking his well-earned retirement last year. 574.8 km/h  – That’s the world rail speed record, held by the Alstom V150 TGV. Although Japan’s superconductor-powered Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains travel faster – with a record of 603 km/h – they technically don’t run on rails. 3  – That’s how many times the TGV has set the world rail speed record: in 1981 (380 km/h), 1990 (515.3 km/h) and 2007 (574.8 km/h).  2,734 km  – That’s the total length of France’s high-speed rail network, with even more lines set to be constructed in the future. This means France has the fourth-longest high-speed rail network in the world, behind China, Spain, and Japan.  0  – That’s how many passengers sit aboard the IRIS 320, which travels some 1,500 km every day. Laden with cameras and scanners, this 200-metre-long TGV rapidly inspects the state of the TGV’s train lines in order to ensure travellers’ safety and security. €7 –  That’s how much it costs to take a small pet – including a snail – on the TGV. Animals, even tiny ones, need their own tickets. In 2008 a TGV passenger fined for carrying live snails in his luggage without a ticket for his animals, although the fine was later waived after the story received national attention. 240  – That’s the number of stations served by the TGV network. 183 of these stations can be found in France. The others are located in Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.  3 billion  – That’s how many travellers the TGV had hoped to reach by the end of 2021. The pandemic may have derailed their plans slightly, but the service is still looking strong. The network served it’s 2 billionth passenger in 2012, just over 30 years after its launch. 1947  – the last year without a single recorded strike on the rail network in France. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that pre-1947 was a golden age of industrial relations – just that SNCF’s records are incomplete before then. Source https://www.thelocal.fr/20210917/9-things-you-might-not-know-about-the-tgv-as-frances-high-speed-train-turns-40/

November 09 at 06:16 AM

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Ukraine, Switzerland sign memo of cooperation in Ukrainian railway transport development

Kyiv Post  August 26, 2021 (Ukraine) The Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure, JSC Ukrzaliznytsia and Stadler CIS AG, Stadler Rail AG (Switzerland) and the Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which defines the basis for cooperation and a mechanism for joint work of the parties on the development of the railway transport sector in Ukraine, according to the presidential press service. It is noted that the signing of the document gives a start to the opening of export financing of the Swiss Confederation for Ukraine. Funds in the amount of up to 500 million euros will be used to develop the Ukrainian railway transport sector. “The cooperation involves not only the purchase of trains, but also the localization of Stadler production due to the construction of a new plant on the territory of Ukraine,” the President’s Office said. It specifies that within the cooperation with Stadler, it is planned to purchase 30 suburban electric trains produced by this company for Kyiv, another 30 will be distributed between Kharkiv and Dnipro. “In addition, the memorandum speaks of 20 new regional electric trains and 10 long-distance electric trains produced by Stadler to renew the rolling stock of Ukrzaliznytsia,” the President’s Office said. Source https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/ukraine-switzerland-sign-memo-of-cooperation-in-ukrainian-railway-transport-development.html

November 09 at 06:08 AM

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Motorbike-clogged Hanoi rolls out first urban railway

Straits Times (AFP)  November 6, 2021 (Hanoi, Vietnam)  It is a city of more than five million motorbikes, but Hanoi on Saturday (Nov 6) opened its first ever urban railway line as the authorities try to cut traffic and pollution that have long dogged the Vietnamese capital. After years of delays and a near-doubling of construction costs, a train eased out of Cat Linh station, close to the centre of the city, to begin its 13km journey towards the densely populated east. "I decided to give this a try because I was curious," Ms Nguyen Thi Thu told AFP inside a busy carriage of the Chinese-made train. "I am very happy to be able to take a ride after all the postponements." Other passengers showed up early to strike a pose in front of the shiny new train, while young children on board stared in wonder out of large windows at the Hanoi skyline rushing past. The buzzing capital of nine million people is known the world over for its dense crowds of motorbikes that fill the city's streets and make life perilous for pedestrians attempting to cross. The number of bikes on the roads has soared from two million in 2008 to 5.7 million last year, according to the police. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/motorbike-clogged-hanoi-rolls-out-first-urban-railway

November 08 at 07:48 AM

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Job aspirants duped of Rs 40 lakh in fake railway recruitment drive

Times Of India  November 7, 2021 (Nagpur, India) Around half-a-dozen job aspirants were duped to the tune of Rs 40 lakh in a fake railway recruitment racket which came to fore following the registration of FIR at Sonegaon police station. The racketeers had promised the aspirants a hassle-free employment after greasing the palms of their “good contacts” in the railways. Source https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/job-aspirants-duped-of-rs40l-in-fake-rly-recruitment-drive/articleshow/87560104.cms

November 08 at 07:29 AM

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IRCTC plans series of Shri Ramayana Yatra train tours to promote religious tourism

Financial Express  November 06, 2021 (India) "IRCTC has planned the train tour packages utilising its Pilgrim Special Tourist Trains and Deluxe Tourist Trains duly understanding the requirement of the budget and premium segment tourists,” it said in a statement. To promote religious tourism, the IRCTC has planned a series of Shri Ramayana Yatra Tours, which will mark a gradual resumption of domestic tourism by trains in view of the improved COVID-19 situation. One such tour will begin from November 7, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) said on Saturday. “IRCTC has planned the train tour packages utilising its Pilgrim Special Tourist Trains and Deluxe Tourist Trains duly understanding the requirement of the budget and premium segment tourists,” it said in a statement. “The first departure on the Ramayana Circuit train will commence on November 7 from New Delhi followed by four other departures in the subsequent month,” the IRCTC said. Other packages include 12 nights / 13 days Shri Ramayana Yatra Express-Madurai, which will depart on November 16. To meet the requirement of the pilgrim tourist market of south India, IRCTC will be operating Shri Ramayana Yatra Express-Madurai with its budget-segment train comprising of sleeper class coaches, the statement said. The train will start from Madurai with boarding points at Dindigul, Tiruchchirappalli, Karur, Erode, Salem, Jolarpettai, Katpadi, Chennai Central, Renigunta, and Cuddapah. It will cover Hampi, Nasik, Chitrakoot, Allahabad, Varanasi and will return to Madurai. The statement said that there is also the 16 nights / 17 days package of the Shri Ramayana Yatra Express-Sri Ganganagar and the train will depart on November 25. For budget segment tourists of North India, the IRCTC is operating the Shri Ramayana Yatra Express-Sri Ganganagar with its pilgrim special tourist trains, it said The train will start from Sri Ganganagar with boarding and de-boarding points at Abohar- Malout, Bhatinda, Barnala, Patiala, Rajpura, Ambala Cantt., Kurukshethra, Karnal, Panipat, Delhi Cantt, Gurgaon,Rewari, Alwar, Jaipur, Agra Fort, Itawah and Kanpur, the statement said. It will cover Ayodhya, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayagraj and Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi and Rameswaram, Kanchipuran and will return to Sri Ganganagar. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/irctc-plans-series-of-shri-ramayana-yatra-train-tours-to-promote-religious-tourism/2364142/

November 08 at 07:10 AM

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Salisbury train crash: Driver suffers 'life-changing injuries'

BBC  02 November, 2021 (UK) The driver of one of two trains involved in a crash has suffered injuries believed to be "life-changing", police have said. Passengers described being thrown from their seats when the Great Western and South Western Railway services crashed in Salisbury on Sunday evening. Thirteen people were taken to hospital with minor injures, while a passenger said a three-week-old baby was rescued. The injured driver remains in hospital, along with one other person. Rail services continue to be disrupted, with more cancellations going ahead in the next few days. The crash involved the Great Western Railway (GWR) service from Southampton to Cardiff and the South Western Railway (SWR) train running from London to Honiton, Devon, British Transport Police (BTP) said. It happened as the trains entered the Fisherton Tunnel, close to London Road, at 18:46 GMT as many families were out trick or treating nearby. The trains were travelling in the same direction on different tracks but collided at a Y-shaped junction approaching the tunnel, with one hitting the side of the other causing it to derail, BTP said. A carriage was initially thought to have derailed after hitting something, and the second train then crashed into it, but Supt Lisa Garrett, of BTP, told a press conference "there was nothing to suggest" the train had struck an object. Passengers: 'A lot of people were looking out for our safety' She said of the 92 passengers on board the two trains, 30 people attended a casualty centre set up in a nearby church, with the majority "walking wounded". Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-59116800

November 08 at 06:58 AM

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Government ‘hopeful’ inner west light rail will return sooner than first feared

The Sydney Morning Herald  November 8, 2021 (Sydney, Australia) Sydney’s faulty inner west light rail could return far sooner than first feared, according to a senior transport official, but Premier Dominic Perrottet has acknowledged the service’s suspension could hinder the return of workers to the CBD as the government attempts to revive the city. Transport for NSW chief operations officer Howard Collins said he was confident the light rail would not be out of action for 18 months, with the government now looking at an alternative facility to repair the 12 cracked trams faster. “I’m hoping that it will be a lot less than 18 months, I’m pretty confident,” Mr Collins said. He added the system could resume in a reduced capacity between Lilyfield and Central Station once a handful of trams were repaired. “If we get four to six vehicles back, we’ll start to shuttle Lilyfield to Central, but we’re not sure when that will be yet.” The  Herald  revealed last month that cracks had been discovered on several trams, which forced the suspension of the service. Cracks were subsequently found on every tram, prompting the government to cancel the service for more than a year. The massive outage comes as the government works to entice workers back into Sydney’s suffering CBD after the months-long Delta-lockdown. Mr Perrottet on Sunday described the system-wide cancellation as “terrible” and said the government would provide ongoing bus services to the commuters impacted by the outage. “It’s not helpful, clearly, and it’s something that we will work through,” he said. “We do need people to come back to the Sydney CBD. I want a thriving city. “Obviously it’s unacceptable. But what I can do as premier what my team can do is ensure that there are public transport options available to minimise any disruption.” About 10,000 daily trips were taken on the service in mid-October, compared to 30,000 pre-COVID. About 5000 daily trips were taken on the replacement bus services last week, Mr Collins said. Cracks in the Spanish-built tram fleet have occurred across the world, with the West Midlands public transport network dealing with a similar problem in the United Kingdom. Transport for NSW is now exploring whether it can find other facilities where a production line can be set up to repair the trams in a more efficient way. The government also considered whether it could split the CBD light rail trams in half to be able to run on the inner west line, but decided it was too complicated to make the necessary changes, given the different wheelbase of the two vehicles. The floors of the trams needed to be stripped back to reveal the true extent of the cracking on the inner west trams. Mr Collins said once they were identified, the cracks could be seen moving once the tram was in operation. “The vehicle has been out on tests and the cracks have been seen to move. The vehicles weren’t unsafe at the time of operation, but the advice I’ve been given is if we’d left them as they are, the cracks would have propagated further,” Mr Collins said. “It looks like it wouldn’t have failed in a way that would have injured anybody, but it likely would have got lower and lower until the body scraped on the ground.” Transport Minister Rob Stokes last Friday said the serious flaws found in the inner west trams were likely to be “far broader in scope” than those in Sydney because thousands of the same tram types operated around the world, including Europe and the US, as well as in Newcastle and Canberra. The inner west trams were made by Spanish manufacturer CAF, whereas those used on the $3.1 billion eastern suburbs light rail line were built by French company Alstom. Opposition transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said the light rail’s closure would likely deter inner west residents from returning to the CBD. “The inner west light rail line’s closure has become an economic handbrake on the post-COVID recovery across the inner west, Pyrmont, and Chinatown,” she said. “It’s now harder for workers to get to work, students to get to school, and for patrons to get to restaurants, bars and retail businesses all desperately in need of customers.” Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/government-hopeful-inner-west-light-rail-will-return-sooner-than-first-feared-20211107-p596qt.html

November 08 at 06:51 AM

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China-Europe freight trains reach 11,343 from Q1-Q3, up 29%

Global Times  November 04, 2021 (China) Freight trains between China and Europe reached 11,343 trips in the first nine months of 2021, transporting 1.903 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), up 29 percent and 37 percent, respectively year-on-year, China Railway said on Thursday, emphasizing the key role of China-Europe rail in stabilizing international supply chains. China-Europe freight trains have become a component of cross-border logistics in ensuring the smooth operation of the supply chain in Central Europe and Central Asia, as well as providing one more option for enterprises suffering from the soaring prices of international sea and air freight, experts said. According to China's top economic planner, in September, China-Europe freight trains reached 1,291 trips, transporting 127,000 TEUs, representing a year-on-year increase of 9 percent and 16 percent, respectively. The data also showed that September marks the 17th consecutive month that bilateral freight trains surpass 1,000 trips. At present, the number of China-Europe freight trains in Ji'nan city, East China's Shandong Province approached the total number seen last year. On October 29, the first "Jinbo" China-Europe freight train arrived in Shanghai, transporting exhibits to be displayed at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) from Hamburg, Germany with a total of 35 containers. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202111/1238116.shtml

November 05 at 06:45 AM

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Shanghai Electric Announces Metro Train Turnback Time Record Achieved Using TSTCBTC®2.0

TASS  1 November 2021 (Shanghai, China) Oct. 29. /PRNewswire/ Shanghai Electric (the "Company") (SEHK: 02727, SSE: 601727) announced that the record for the turnback time of metro trains has been smashed by the TSTCBTC ® 2.0 signaling system in a live demonstration carried out by THALES SEC Transport (TST), Shanghai Electric's joint venture with Thales. The new record in a verified test was 86 seconds, 26 seconds shorter than the average turnback time of trains operating on Shanghai Metro Line 5.   "Though 26 looks like a simple number, it represents a huge technological innovation in urban rail transit. The shorter turnback time allows higher frequency of train services, shorter headway, as well as increased stability and safety, making the overall metro system more energy efficient. It not only fulfills the need to increase the operational capacity of urban rail systems fueled by ever-growing passenger volumes but also marks a milestone of TST's innovation in CBTC signaling," said Liu Huiming, CTO of TST. A solution tailored to the needs of Chinese markets and users, the TST-developed TSTCBTC ® 20 is a disruption-free mobile blocking system with high operational efficiency and low cost. It can drastically boost the departure density of metro trains and help them operate at the highest speed, bringing the efficiency of metro lines to a maximum level. As the first signaling system featuring a dual CBTC (Communication Based Train Control) architecture with full redundancy ever deployed in China, TSTCBTC ® 2.0 inherits the key advantages of the SelTrac™ CBTC signal system, including true moving block, two-way ATP/ATO and the ability to provide flexible operational support, while the high availability and reliability of its unique dual CBTC architecture greatly reduces life cycle costs and facilitates maintenance. On top of applying the highest safety standards, TSTCBTC ® 2.0 eliminates the need for a traditional backup system, therefore, removing the potential safety risks posed by the switchover between the different systems. Certified by Bureau Veritas and TÜV SÜD and China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), the system has also received the China Urban Rail Certification, making it the first certified CBTC product in China. The high stability and efficiency of TSTCBTC ® 2.0 have been tested and proven in the operation of Shanghai Metro Line 5. Since it was commissioned as a new signalling system for the metro line in 2018, it has helped the trains of Shanghai Metro Line 5 achieve Grade-of-Automation 3 (GoA3) with zero operational interruption. Liu Huiming said in the demonstration that the new record means that the CBTC signal system and the "resource-centric" RET technology have become two crucial breakthrough points when it comes to upgrading and transforming transportation capacity. Building upon the groundbreaking achievements in the development of urban rail transport, Shanghai Electric will continue to make audacious moves to explore the applications of smart trains as well as the next-gen "resource-centric" signal system in an effort to boost the safety and efficiency of urban rail transit. Shanghai Electric is committed to becoming a pioneer in China's urban rail CBTC signal system, providing world-leading solutions to improve urban mobility. About Shanghai Electric Shanghai Electric Group Company Limited (SEHK: 2727, SSE: 601727) is principally engaged in the design, manufacture and sale of power equipment and industrial equipment. It focuses on new energy business, including the manufacture and sale of wind turbines and components as well as nuclear power equipment; clean energy business, including the manufacture and sale of thermal power equipment, power transmission and distribution equipment; industrial equipment, including the production and sale of elevators and electric motors; and modern service industry, including the contracting of construction of power generation plants, power transmission and distribution projects as well as other businesses. Source https://tass.com/press-releases/1356407

November 05 at 06:40 AM

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Salisbury train crash: Service ran through red light after wheel slip

BBC  03 November 2021 (UK) Investigators say "low adhesion" between the track and train wheels was the most likely cause of the crash between two trains in Salisbury. The trains collided on the approach to a tunnel near Salisbury station at about 18:45 GMT on Sunday. One of the drivers is believed to have suffered "life-changing" injuries. Investigators say the GWR train was "protected by a red signal" before being hit by a South Western train. Andrew Hall, from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, said the South Western train was "required to stop" but "it did not stop". Initial evidence was that the driver did attempt to brake at a red signal before the train suffered "wheel slide". "Unfortunately, it did not stop and struck the side of the Great Western train at an angle such that both trains derailed and ran alongside each other into the tunnel. "We are continuing to pursue this as a line of investigation amongst others," he added. The Rail Delivery Group said low adhesion can be caused by "moisture on the rail mixing with the film produced by 'leaves on the line' or other contaminants, such as rust or grease." They add the problem can be worse in autumn and that "it can also cause safety risks, such as signals passed at danger and station overruns". Mr Hall said the initial results of the investigation would be made public later in the week. The crash has caused major disruption, with lines through the city expected to remain closed until at least the end of Monday. Of the 92 passengers on board the two trains, 14 required hospital treatment for minor injuries. The South Western Railway (SWR) train was running from London to Honiton, Devon, while the Great Western Railway (GWR) service was travelling from from Southampton to Cardiff as they both collided at Fisherton Tunnel. Both trains had passed a Y-shaped junction, close to the entrance of the tunnel, before the collision. Martin Frobisher, Network Rail's safety and engineering director, said: "Sunday's accident was incredibly frightening for everyone involved and our thoughts are with everyone injured or affected in any way. "Initial findings suggest that low adhesion played a key part in causing the collision. "It's an issue that affects railways across the world and is something that we, and our train operator colleagues, work hard to combat - so that we can run trains safely and reliably throughout autumn, and why incidents such as the one in Salisbury at the weekend are incredibly rare." Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris paid tribute to those injured in the crash. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-59130769

November 05 at 06:31 AM

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FG promises to expand rail transport infrastructure

The Guardian  05 November 2021 (Nigeria) The Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, has said that the government is committed to reviving multimodal transport infrastructure in the bid to boost the economy. Saraki, at the inauguration of the Transport Trade Group of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), said the government would continue to expand railway lines and other mode of transportation to further ease movement of persons and goods. The Minister, who was represented by the Assistant Director Rail Department, Ministry of Transportation, Ayodele Omole, said the government is focusing on bridging infrastructural deficit because no economy can grow sustainably without adequate infrastructure. “Presently, Kaduna-Abuja, Lagos-Ibadan and Itakpe-Warri railways are completed and fully functioning, while the ground breaking of Kaduna-Kano Railway, Kano-Maradi and Itakpe-Baro-Abuja have taken place and work has commenced on these routes.” While inaugurating Olawale Rasheed as Chairman of the Transport Trade Group, the President, ACCI, Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, recounted the good old days, noting that Nigeria has invested so much in the transport sector because that is the soul of the economy, adding that “we of the private sector are major partners of the government in this push to provide necessary trade and transport logistics for the economy to thrive.” “I commend the Ministry of Transportation, Aviation, Works, Digital Economy and other Ministries and Agencies handling logistics and transport sectors of this country. We remain your partner in progress while calling on relevant MDAs to partner with the Chamber of commerce for investment opportunities in the transport and logistics value chain. “Roads, Railways, Airports and Ports are strong economic facilitation platforms and we must develop the value chains along these sub-platforms, as a way of boosting our national economy.” The newly inaugurated Chairman of the Trade Group, and a Council member of ACCI, said the group is planning programmes in railway conference, aviation mart and blue economy in the nearest future. Source https://guardian.ng/features/travel/fg-promises-to-expand-rail-transport-infrastructure/

November 05 at 06:11 AM

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The gleaming metro system built under the desert

CNN  3 November, 2021 (Qatar) It's fast. It's driverless. It has a Gold Class for premium passengers. And it's one of the most advanced metro train systems ever built.   This is the Doha Metro, a gleaming transportation system that will carry fans to their destination in next year's soccer World Cup and, it's hoped, will go on to revolutionize transport in Qatar.   Constructed mostly underground and across the Qatari capital and its suburbs, the network has been operational since 2019, providing a reliable transportation alternative in a rapidly expanding city where residents have long relied on cars and traffic is frequently gridlocked.   Phase one of the project saw the creation of 37 stations, with three lines -- Red, Green and Gold -- running along a 76-kilometer (47-mile) network.   The fully automated, 60-meter-long trains have a 416-passenger capacity and are divided into three sections: Standard, Family (for lone females and males or females commuting with children aged 11 or younger) and Gold (Goldclub Travel Card holders) class. Clean and spacious, the trains can cruise at up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph) and are fully equipped with CCTV and public Wi-Fi systems. They even have USB ports so that Gold class travelers can charge mobile phones and tablets while in transit. The stations were all designed to represent a vision of both modernization and preservation, fusing traditional features of regional architecture with a contemporary approach.   "It was important that the design would relate to its context, to the city of Doha and to Qatar," Ben van Berkel, co-founder of UNStudio, a Dutch architecture firm that joined forces with the Qatar Rail Architecture Department to create the stations, tells CNN Travel. Source https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/qatar-doha-metro/index.html

November 05 at 06:06 AM

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Bagpipes, soccer louts and zombies: all aboard the climate train

Australian Financial Review  October 31, 2021 (Glasgow, Scotland) A rail trip from London to Glasgow for COP26 had a lot more colour than just green, as our correspondent inadvertently discovers. When I booked my transport to head up to Glasgow for COP26, I just picked out the train that seemed the most convenient: the 1.30pm from London Euston on Saturday, for a breezy 4½-hour trip that would rock in just in time for dinner. As it turned out, though, this wasn’t just any old train. The 1.30pm from Euston was part of The Climate Train: it had been picked out by Youth for Sustainable Travel, a Dutch campaign group, as an official service of “Rail to the COP”, an itinerary for young activists to travel together from as far afield as Amsterdam. Source https://www.afr.com/world/europe/bagpipes-soccer-louts-and-zombies-all-aboard-the-climate-train-20211031-p594of

November 03 at 07:44 AM

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Railway construction puts 7,000-year-old hill at risk: MP

Tehran Times  November 2, 2021 (Iran) Damghan’s Tepe Hesar, a 7,000-year-old archaeological hill in northcentral Iran, is on the verge of destruction due to the passage of the railway through it, an Iranian parliamentarian has said.  One of the oldest civilizations of Iran, Tepe Hesar, exhibits urbanization, but the railway runs through the heart of this complex, Ali Akbar Alizadeh, who represents Damghan city in Majlis, said on Tuesday, IRNA reported. Plans have been made for the relocation of the railway, but a final decision and a decisive order from the President is needed, he said.  Among the main demands of the people of Damghan and all history lovers is the preservation of this ancient hill, and it is hoped that the government will prevent further destruction of this valuable historical complex as soon as possible, the MP added.  Situated on the southern outskirts of Damghan, Tepe Hesar is one of the world’s five archaeological hills of the Iron Age, and the hill is also considered as of the oldest prehistorical sites in the Iranian plateau. Identified in 1880, Tepe Hesar was excavated in 1925 and 1931-1932 when the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway cuts through the main mound. It was one of the first Chalcolithic and Bronze Age excavations in this area, and the stratigraphy has been very important to date similar sites. In 1976, research was briefly resumed and radiocarbon measures were taken. The oldest layer, Hesar I, belongs to the Copper Age (Chalcolithicum; after 3800 BC); it is about as old as Susa and resembles Sialk III, by which it appears to have been influenced, according to livius.org, a website on ancient history written and maintained since 1996 by the Dutch historian Jona Lendering. Hesar II, which starts in about 3600 BC, is marked by the appearance of burnished grey pottery and the first objects made of bronze. Among the finds are long-shaped bottles. The next phase, Hesar III, began in about 2800 BC and saw nice metal work and grey pottery similar to Turan Tepe, which is on the other side of the Alborz mountain range. Some three centuries later, when Hesar IIIb ended, a part of the town was violently destroyed. The ruin that is now known as the "Burnt Building", situated in the western part of the hill, is the most recognizable remainder of this catastrophe. Archaeologists have found stone arrowheads and charred battle victims. After this period, the site was abandoned and there was a hiatus for about five or six centuries. After about 1350 BC, people returned and settled on smaller mounds in the neighborhood of the ancient mound. If the main hill was occupied, those recent layers have eroded. ABU/AFM  Source https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/466603/Railway-construction-puts-7-000-year-old-hill-at-risk-MP

November 03 at 07:39 AM

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