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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 gibelabursaries@communityrail.co.za 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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Train collision in southwest Britain injures several people

Reuters  31 October, 2021 (London, UK) Two trains collided at Fisherton Tunnel in the southwestern English city of Salisbury on Sunday, injuring a number of people, police said, declaring the crash a major incident. "A number of people have been injured, but thankfully no one has died," British transport police said. While most of the people are "walking wounded", a small number of injured people, including the driver, have been taken to the hospital, the police said in a statement. Fire trucks and ambulances were at the scene near Salisbury station, police said. The Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said it has helped evacuate approximately 100 people. The BBC quoted a spokesman for Network Rail, a track operator, as saying the rear carriage of one train derailed after striking an object on its approach to Salisbury station and the incident disabled all signalling in the area. The second train then collided with the first one. The collision involved a South Western Railway and a Great Western service, according to the BBC report. Great Western Railway (FGP.L) said the crash involved a train travelling between Portsmouth and Bristol and another travelling from London's Waterloo Station to Honiton. The operator added that it would cooperate with the police in their investigation. South Western Railway said in a post on Twitter that train service disruptions were expected to last until Nov. 2. "Officers are continuing to respond to the incident alongside our emergency service colleagues and the line is expected to be shut for some time," police said.   Reporting by William Schomberg in London and Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Peter Cooney and Himani Sarkar Source https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/trains-collide-southwestern-england-police-2021-10-31/

November 03 at 07:19 AM

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Commuter rail service now in Bulawayo

The Herald  03 November, 2021 (Zimbabwe) Zupco and the National Railways of Zimbabwe have extended their peak-hour commuter rail services to Bulawayo after the successful launch in Harare and the first extension to Gweru, with commuters finding the services affordable and significantly quicker than bus services on congested rush-hour roads. Zupco on Monday launched the first Bulawayo route from the city centre to Siphaziphazi.  As with the other services, the train has the standard 10 coaches, with each coach having a carrying capacity of 100 passengers, which means the whole train can carry 1 000 passengers per trip. The fare for boarding the train is the same $80 which passengers pay when boarding Zupco buses and kombis. On its way to Siphaziphazi, the train stops at Westgate, Mpopoma, Nguboyenja, Luveve Cowdray Park Level Crossing and Green Roof Esigodweni before its final destination. The train leaves the Bulawayo Railway Station at 4:10am and arrives in Siphaziphazi at 5:25am, then returns at 7am. Source https://www.herald.co.zw/commuter-rail-service-now-in-bulawayo/

November 03 at 06:43 AM

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'Incredible' Roman statues unearthed in England's HS2 rail excavation

CNN  29th October 2021 (UK) Archeologists have uncovered a set of "incredible" rare Roman statues while excavating a site in England ahead of a high speed rail project, the rail company said in a statement. Two complete statues of a woman and a man, along with the head of a child, were found at the site of the old St Mary's Norman church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, south east England, while archeologists were excavating a ditch around the foundations of an Anglo-Saxon tower.   As experts working on the High Speed 2 (HS2) project dug down, they found the three "stylistically Roman" busts, a discovery which archeologists have described as "astounding."   "For us to end the dig with these utterly astounding finds is beyond exciting," Rachel Wood, lead archaeologist for Fusion JV, who is working on the project, said in a statement.   "The statues are exceptionally well preserved, and you really get an impression of the people they depict -- literally looking into the faces of the past is a unique experience," Wood added.   "Of course, it leads us to wonder what else might be buried beneath England's medieval village churches. This has truly been a once in a lifetime site and we are all looking forward to hearing what more the specialists can tell us about these incredible statues and the history of the site before the construction of the Norman church."   Two of the busts were made up of a head and torso which had been split apart, which experts say "is not entirely unusual," because statues were commonly vandalized before being torn down.   Experts also retrieved an "incredibly well-preserved" hexagonal glass Roman jug -- which, though it is presumed to be over 1,000 years old, had large pieces intact -- as well as large roof tiles, painted wall plaster and Roman cremation urns.   The team believe that the site -- a natural mound, covered with soil to make a taller mound -- may have been a Bronze Age burial site. This was later replaced by a square building, which experts think is a Roman mausoleum.   "Roman materials found in the ditch around are too ornate and not enough in number to suggest the site was a domestic building," HS2 said in a press release.   The findings will be transferred to a specialist laboratory, where they will be cleaned and examined. Source https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/roman-bust-hs2-intl-scli-gbr/index.html

November 03 at 06:15 AM

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11 once-in-a-lifetime train journeys for 2022

New Zealand Herald  1 November, 2021 ( New Zealand) An epic rail journey may be just the ticket when we are free to travel again, writes  Patricia Maunder Are you ready to blow that long-accumulated travel kitty on a bucket-list rail journey loaded with luxurious decor, five-star food and cinematic scenery? Get in quick for next year's departures as places are already selling out, or play it Covid-safe with a 2023 booking on one of these storied trains. Approximate per-passenger prices are in New Zealand dollars.   Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Where: Numerous European routes From: $5700 belmond.com Since the Express d'Orient first travelled from Paris to Istanbul in 1883, this name and its various permutations have been synonymous with luxury rail journeys. Today's Venice Simplon-Orient-Express comprises 17 restored carriages from the 1920s and 30s – the train's heyday. From Art Deco frosted-glass panels to white-gloved dining-car waiters, it's a nostalgic celebration of a slower, more glamorous era of travel. Limited, old-fashioned bathing and toilet facilities no longer cut it, so most journeys are now one night. However, once a year the Paris-Istanbul experience is revived across six nights, mostly spent in hotels (departing August 26, 2022), and Grand Suites complete with the train's first showers, introduced in 2018. Early this year, new Grand Tour routes taking in cities such as Amsterdam, Rome and Geneva added to the temptation of seeing Europe in vintage style.   Rocky Mountaineer Where: Mostly western Canada From: $2500 rockymountaineer.com Been there, done that? Think again, because North America's most celebrated train service offers four routes, and options have evolved since it began in 1988. An all-American journey was introduced for the first time in August. From Moab to Denver, Rockies to the Red Rocks takes in canyons and mountains, the Colorado River and dramatic desert rock formations including arches and hoodoos. The classic Canadian two-day journeys head from Vancouver up into the Rocky Mountains' jagged, snow-capped peaks, coniferous forests, wild rivers and glacial lakes. Less well known is the three-day Rainforest to Gold Rush, which lingers in this wild landscape, taking in Jasper National Park and Whistler. It's contemporary comfort and spaciousness all the way on all routes, especially aboard GoldLeaf Service glass-domed carriages, and nights are always passed on terra firma.   The Ghan Where: Australia, north to south From: $1200 Covering nearly 3000 kilometres between Adelaide and Darwin, this three-day outback adventure is one of the world's longest rail journeys. The train itself – named after Afghan cameleers formerly seen in Australia's deserts – is also long, at 747 metres. So there's ample room for passengers in sleek mid-century-meets-contemporary carriages fitted out in earthy tones. The Ghan's excursions include scenic flights over Uluru, and the Nitmiluk Gorge cruise to an Aboriginal rock-art site. To maximise such off-train experiences, including a visit to underground mining town Coober Pedy, book the four-day Expedition. There are also one-night journeys starting or ending in the Red Centre town of Alice Springs for minimalists. A new day trip between Adelaide and the Clare Valley wine region was recently announced, with limited departures until November 26. It's selling fast, so may return in 2022.   Maharajas' Express Where: North-west and central India From: $5500 the-maharajas.com Travelling in India can be grimy and chaotic. Not on this train, named the World Travel Awards' Leading Luxury Train seven times since it launched in 2010. Twenty-three carriages accommodate just 88 passengers, each of whom are treated royally with butler service and red-carpet welcome ceremonies at each stop. In the Presidential Suite, comprising an entire carriage, service is turned up to levels worthy of maharajas and maharanis. The four Maharajas' Express journeys focus on the state of Rajasthan, which means Land of Kings, so itineraries are rich with palaces, palatial forts and that famous palace for the dead, the Taj Mahal. Between cultural excursions in fabled cities such as Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur, relax in the lounge and restaurant cars among red-turbaned waiters, mirror mosaics and Limoges plates, ostentatiously edged with gold.   Royal Scotsman Where: Mostly Scotland From: $7900 belmond.com Scotland isn't a big place, but somehow time drifts by for up to eight days on this train reminiscent of an Edwardian country house. Rest and revel among shelves of books, marquetry and tasteful textiles, with subdued tartans only appearing here and there, including the waiters' waistcoats. From the welcome by a bagpiper in full regalia, to sipping single malts in the lounge-observation car as Highland scenery slips by, you're never in doubt this is Scotland though. There are also bonny excursions to castles, whisky distilleries and historic sites, or perhaps a round of golf. Among the Royal Scotsman's journeys are those dedicated to whisky, or heritage homes and gardens, and an annual Grand Tour of Great Britain (departing September 29, 2022) which also explores English cathedrals and a Welsh steam-train adventure. After all that, you may want to recuperate in the onboard spa.   The Blue Train Where: South Africa From: $4100 bluetrain.co.za Fancy taking a bath on a train with a flute of Champagne? Even The Blue Train's standard accommodation has baths, in en suites with gold-plated fittings and Italian marble. Among other decadent touches are butlers for all, complimentary Cuban cigars (smoking in the Club Car Lounge only) and heavy silverware, gleaming like fond memories of grand old hotels. From daily high tea to dinner that might include ostrich and oysters, it's the good life on wheels. The main 31-hour journey is between Cape Town and Pretoria, where masses of purple jacaranda flowers bloom in spring. In between see Table Mountain, vineyards, flamingos and the Big Hole during a stop at a Kimberley diamond mine and museum. A 19-hour overnight trip from Pretoria to Kruger National Park was introduced in 2016, bringing together five-star luxury and the safari Big Five.   Seven Stars in Kyushu Where: Japan From: $4700 cruisetrain-sevenstars.jp/english Best known for its bullet trains, Japan launched this much more sedate option in 2013. Exploring the large island of Kyushu, it's all about elegance and exclusivity with just 14 suites including two deluxe options larger than many Tokyo hotel rooms. Prospective passengers must apply for tickets and hope for a lottery allocation. Although constructed recently, Seven Stars in Kyushu evokes East-meets-West tradition with endless polished wood and golden lighting. Service is impeccable and meals, especially the exquisite Japanese dishes, are worthy of Michelin stars. Choose from two- and four-day journeys, with one night spent at a ryokan (Japanese inn) on the latter. Excursions along the way include a porcelain workshop, Edo-period castle and an active volcano.   Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express Where: Mainly Russia From: $26,000 goldeneagleluxurytrains.com The Trans-Siberian Railway is the world's longest train route, stretching 9289 kilometres, across eight time zones, from Moscow to Vladivostok. It has inspired travellers' tales about sharing cramped quarters with locals, who become friends over vodka during endless days crossing the Russian steppes. Or, you could take this once-in-a-lifetime journey on the Golden Eagle. It's like a high-end cruise on wheels, with a Bar Lounge Car pianist and fine food, including caviar served in a restaurant carriage with Imperial-inspired decor. Cultural lectures are offered during the 13 days on board. Excursions include a tour of the Mongolian capital, Ulaan Baatar (the one non-Russian stop), and drinking Champagne in the Ural Mountains, with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. On the steam-powered Winter Wonderland journey introduced last year, off-train excitement includes horse-drawn sleigh rides and ice-fishing on Lake Baikal.   Eastern and Oriental Express Where: Southeast Asia From: $3400 belmond.com You may have travelled on this Japanese-built train in the 1970s when it was New Zealand's own Silver Star. Utterly transformed into the Eastern and Oriental Express in 1993, it's now an idyllic evocation of colonial Indochina with patterned silks, parquetry and a piano-bar car. Another pleasant spot for cocktails is the indoor-outdoor observation carriage, where vistas of lush jungle, tea plantations and temples are enhanced by tropical breezes. Back inside, air-conditioning is among this elegant train's many modern comforts. There are also en suite bathrooms with showers in all cabins, where passengers are gently rocked to sleep between Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The full three-day route stops at the Bridge on the River Kwai, where options include a floating Thai cooking class. The New Year's Eve package (departing December 29, 2022) pauses in Penang instead.   El Transcantábrico Where: Spain From: $9700 renfe.com/es/en You could be virtuous and walk the Camino de Santiago's northern route between San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela like the pilgrims of old, or give into vice and take this indulgent train instead. For eight days, the El Transcantábrico gently wends its way along northern Spain's Atlantic coast. Excursions include Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum, prehistoric cave art and of course, the medieval cathedral town of Santiago de Compostela at the start or finish. Being a special Spanish experience, El Transcantábrico offers outstanding food from Asturias, Cantabria, Galicia and the Basque Country, fine local wines, live music and dancing. This train evokes the golden age of rail travel with a little modern Iberian brio, from restored 1923 Pullman lounge cars, to suites that offer another chance to soak in a bath while riding the rails.   TranzAlpine Train Where: Christchurch to Greymouth, New Zealand From: $110 - $150 greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/tranzalpine Sit back and relax for a 223km ride of the rails between Christchurch and Greymouth (or vice versa should you be wrapping up a holiday on the West Coast) aboard the acclaimed TranzAlpine Train. Just under five hours in total, settle into your bump-proof reclining seat and get ready for the show. You'll have plenty of time to press your forehead against the panoramic windows and gaze across the views. You know the ones - jaw-dropping NZ landscapes the rest of the world raves about. Kissing the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River; the Southern Alps a constant (yet well-received) intrusion and up to eight stops at remote stations en route, once the locomotive pulls into Greymouth, we bet you'll be giddy with adoration, too Pack your comfiest noise-cancelling headphones for in-seat audio commentary as well as your spiffiest camera. The open-air viewing carriage always leaves a lasting impression and more so if you catch every highlight on "film". There's also a fully licensed cafe loaded with hot meals, sandwiches and because this is New Zealand, big pies and barista-made coffee. For extra special dining, The TranzAlpine's popular Scenic Plus Class is currently on hold while a brand new experience is fine-tuned for 2022. Rumour has it there will be an extended tasting menu featuring West Coast and Canterbury flavours. Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/11-once-in-a-lifetime-train-journeys-for-2022/YS2BFUV46X4LSBCEVDF6YGMUI4/

November 02 at 05:32 AM

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Many railway schools likely to be closed in 2022

The Hindu  October 31, 2021 (India) Move to close down decades-old schools follows recommendations of Principal Economic Adviser When the academic year begins in 2022, many railway schools across the country are likely to be closed. The Indian Railways has decided to go ahead with the closure of its schools and merge students with either Kendriya Vidyalayas or State Government schools as feasible. General Managers of Zonal Railways have been told to identify schools with a relatively smaller number of railway wards that could be merged with and intimate the probable date of closure. Where it is absolutely essential to retain the schools, a detailed justification would have to be furnished to the Railway Board. In an official communication issued early this week, the Railway Board, while asking its General Managers to assess the situation and take a call, said that efforts should be made not to cause discomfort to the families of the children studying in the schools that would be closed/merged. It was also emphasised that no promotions in the Group-B/Senior Scale/Junior Administrative Grade be processed where rationalisation of schools were being done. No further indents should be placed to the Railway Recruitment Board as regards the schools planned for closure. The move to close down the decades-old railway schools follows the recommendations of Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal on the rationalisation of government bodies under the Ministry of Railways. The action on the recommendations got expedited after the Cabinet Secretariat, Rashtrapati Bhavan, called for a monthly update on the PEA’s report. In his report, Mr. Sanyal said the railways were running 94 schools providing education for children of not only railway employees but others too. However, as of 2019, only 15,399 railway wards were enrolled in these schools which was less than half of other non-railway students who constituted 34,277. The Railways also supported 87 Kendriya Vidyalayas where 33,212 railway wards and 55,386 other students were enrolled. Of the total eight lakh children of railway employees in the 4-18 age-group, less than 2% were enrolled in railway schools. Mr. Sanyal noted that operating railway schools consumed a large amount of time of the railway management whose core competence was in operation and maintenance of trains. “Thus, we recommend minimising the time of railway management in running schools, except where absolutely necessary…” he said. Source https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/many-railway-schools-likely-to-be-closed-in-2022/article37273754.ece

November 02 at 05:13 AM

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Cracked trams take Sydney’s inner west light rail out of action for at least a month

The Sydney Morning Herald  November 2, 2021 (Sydney, Australia) Services on Sydney’s inner west light rail will be suspended for at least a month due to the extent of cracks found in all 12 tram sets which operate on the line from the city centre to Dulwich Hill. Transport Minister Rob Stokes also told a budget estimates hearing on Tuesday that an investigation by the state’s Office of Transport Safety Investigations into the cracked trams will begin shortly. “We’ll be asking them also to undertake a review into this incident. I’m obviously concerned because it affects the entirety of the fleet,” he said. Tram services were suspended on the light rail line on Thursday after cracks were discovered during routine maintenance inspections. Under questioning from Labor MLC Daniel Mookhey, Mr Stokes said it was “obviously a concern” when route maintenance had uncovered a problem with the entire inner west tram fleet. “We will hold Transdev to their contractual obligations,” he said of the private operator of the line. Significant cracks were discovered in the bogey box body – otherwise known as the wheel arch – of the trams after the floors of the vehicles were removed. It came after inspections in early October uncovered cracks in other areas of the trams which are more easily fixed. Transport for NSW secretary Rob Sharp said the timing of a return to full service on the 12.8-kilometre line would depend on feedback from engineers due later this week. Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/cracked-trams-take-sydney-s-inner-west-light-rail-out-of-action-for-at-least-a-month-20211102-p59570.html

November 02 at 05:05 AM

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Rail commuting in Great Britain at less than half pre-pandemic level

The Guardian   30 October, 2021 (UK) Number of commuter trips made in mid-October was just 45% of pre-Covid figure, industry says The number of train journeys made by commuters in Great Britain remains at less than half of pre-pandemic levels, figures show. The industry body Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said in mid-October the number of railway journeys made by those going to work was just 45% of what it was before the coronavirus crisis. That represents an increase from 33% in late August but highlights the difficulty city centre businesses face in attracting customers as many people continue to work from home. The slowest recovery in commuting trips was in the capital, with demand in London at just 41% of pre-Covid levels compared with 54% across the rest of Great Britain. Meanwhile, leisure journeys are at about 90% of what they were before the pandemic, accounting for 55% of all rail journeys, compared with 33% in autumn 2019. The rail industry is running a marketing campaign with the strapline “let’s get back on track” to encourage more people on to trains. It is aiming to create a “sustainable, more passenger-focused future” for the railways, particularly within the commuter market. Operators were continuing to conduct enhanced cleaning of trains, the RDG said. They are also providing information to help passengers avoid the busiest times to travel. It added that four out of five carriages on the railways had systems that refreshed the air every six to nine seconds. The RDG commissioned research by the consultancy firm WPI Economics, which estimates that before the pandemic, train passengers travelling for leisure or work spent an average of £94 a trip excluding their train fares, such as in shops, restaurants, hotels and galleries. That totalled an estimated £133bn a year. Andy Bagnall, the RDG director general, said: “Rail connects people to jobs and opportunities, helps tackle congestion, and leaves the air in towns and cities cleaner than other forms of transport, so we’re keen to welcome more people back onboard. “Train companies are working hard to meet the changing needs of our passengers, including new flexi season tickets to give commuters more choice, while continuing to prioritise ventilation and extra cleaning, because as Britain recovers, every passenger delivers more than a journey.” People in England have been told they no longer have to work at home, but concern has been raised that this could change if there is a Covid surge this winter. If the NHS struggles, the government’s Covid plan B could start, including advice to stay out of offices again for “a limited period”. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/30/train-rail-commute-great-britain-less-than-half-pre-pandemic-levels

November 02 at 04:59 AM

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France's Thales maintains 2021 targets as Q3 sales slip

Channel News Asia  26 October, 2021 (Paris, France) French defence group Thales reaffirmed full-year financial forecasts as it reported a 1.4per cent dip in underlying third-quarter sales, dampened by comparisons with the easing of a first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns a year earlier. The maker of radars for fighters and airport control towers, as well as biometric identity systems, also reported a 9per cent pick-up in quarterly orders on a like-for-like basis, led by its satellite business and a partial recovery in commercial flying. The gradual rebound in short-haul and domestic air travel helped push Thales' Aerospace unit sales up 4per cent in the third quarter, while its 'Digital Identity and Security' division also ticked higher as more people start to travel after shunning flights during the pandemic. "For long-haul, the recovery will take much longer," Chief Financial Officer Pascal Bouchiat told reporters. Overall, Thales' group sales slipped 1.4per cent to 3.555 billion euros (US$4.1 billion) in the third quarter because of a tough basis of comparison with the same period a year earlier, while new orders rose by an underlying 9per cent to 2.992 billion. Thales said it continued to implement the sale of its GTS railway signalling business after announcing advanced talks in August to sell it to Japan's Hitachi. The proposed deal values the division at 1.66 billion euros. On Tuesday, it said it expected to sign a definitive deal in the first quarter of 2022. For now, the group's 2020 and 2021 numbers have been adjusted to remove the outgoing unit. Thales expects 2021 sales between 15.8 billion and 16.3 billion euros based on its structure as of August 2021, and an operating margin of 9.8per cent to 10.3per cent, with orders topping revenues. The Paris-based company, which owns 35per cent of France's state-run Naval Group military shipyard, reiterated it did not expected a significant financial impact from the cancellation of a contract to supply Australia with French submarines. Australia last month said it would scrap a US$40 billion deal for Naval Group to supply conventional submarines and would instead build at least eight nuclear-powered subs with U.S. and British technology after striking a trilateral security pact. It remains unclear whether Thales could still pick up any business for the replacement subs via its presence in the UK. "As to what a new submarine contract would look like, and whether our activities could be involved, that's much too early to say," Bouchiat said. Asked about widespread concerns about growing labour shortages and logistical bottlenecks, Bouchiat said Thales faced "a battle for talent" alongside many other companies. He did not see significant supply chain bottlenecks, though a shortage of semi-conductors has cost the company some 20-30 million euros that it expects to recoup in the fourth quarter. (US$1 = 0.8593 euros) (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta) Source https://www.channelnewsasia.com/business/frances-thales-maintains-2021-targets-q3-sales-slip-2269022

November 02 at 04:52 AM

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Hochul tests rail route from Long Island to Grand Central

AP  31 October, 2021 (New York, US) The long-anticipated and long-delayed rail route from Long Island to Grand Central Terminal is nearing reality. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority took a 27-minute test ride on the train Sunday morning from the Jamaica station into Grand Central. The MTA’s East Side Access project links the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central. Currently, the LIRR terminates at Penn Station on Manhattan’s west side, forcing Long Island commuters who work on the east side of town to backtrack on other modes of transportation to get to work. More than 150,000 customers per day are expected to use the service when it begins next year. Opening up access to Grand Central had been talked about since the 1950s, and construction finally began more than a decade ago. The project was initially estimated about $2 billion but has wound up costing more than $11 billion. Crews have blasted eight miles of tunnels through prehistoric-era bedrock and built a 350,000-square-foot concourse under the terminal. Hochul spoke Sunday about how the new service would address quality of life issues. The Democrat also talked about the need to improve Penn Station to match the adjacent Moynihan train hall, a project championed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo. “Now you get to Penn Station and you kind of put your head down,” Hochul said. “I want people to look up. Everybody deserves to have that type of experience.” Source https://apnews.com/article/technology-lifestyle-business-nyc-state-wire-new-york-5a4e6a95c53a73c48afdbcf45f8ef855

November 01 at 06:30 AM

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Russia should use its potential to lay railways in Africa — Afreximbank president

TASS  October 27, 2021 (Moscow) Professor Benedict Oramah also noted Russian companies' great potential in mining, information technologies, medicine and industry Russian companies have a number of advantages over their competitors in Africa in a number of fields, such as the construction of railways, the President of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah told TASS in an interview. "There is quite a number of areas where we believe Russians have capacities and, we believe, comparative advantage. Let me take the railway network. Russian Railways is a solid company with long experience in rail construction. Africa because of the AfCFTA is building its railway network. Sometimes it is difficult to understand why the Russians are not taking advantage of it? Because today you have the Chinese, you have the Americans, you have the Germans who are in all these projects…That is a very, very promising area," Oramah said. He sees Russian companies' great potential in mining, information technologies and medicine. Vast opportunities exist in industry as well. Oramah said Africa in the near future would be moving towards value addition and this will require investments in processing facilities. "The era of commodities is disappearing. Everywhere you go engineering services are required, Africa is building its infrastructure. It is very much behind and it’s trying to catch up," Oramah said. In this connection, he stressed, Russian businesses may enjoy the benefits of the Russian industrial zone the Russian Export Center is creating on the Suez Canal in Egypt. It is a special territory with lax taxation for Russian resident enterprises, which will be entitled to preferential lease terms and tariffs and sites ready for operation. Goodwill and new relations of partnership Oramah said one of Russia's major advantages was goodwill. He remarked that even young people in Africa knew how Russia helped African people fight for independence. "So an emotional link is there," he said. "You have the political will demonstrated through the actions of HE Vladimir Putin. And of course, our relationship that EXIAR (the Russian Agency for Export Credit and Investment Insurance - TASS) has with Afreximbank. Afreximbank is a key player on the African market. That's a big advantage for Russia," Oramah stressed. The full text of the interview is available at: https://tass.com/economy/1354969 Source https://tass.com/economy/1354921

November 01 at 06:25 AM

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China's first hydrogen fuel cell hybrid locomotive starts trial run

Global Times  October 29, 2021 (China) The first China-developed hydrogen fuel cell hybrid locomotive started a trial run on Friday on a railway line for coal transport in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The hydrogen energy locomotive project was jointly launched by the Inner Mongolia subsidiary of the State Power Investment Corporation Limited (SPIC), CRRC Datong Co., Ltd., and the Hydrogen Energy Co., Ltd. of SPIC. Compared with traditional diesel locomotives, the new-energy locomotive is expected to cut carbon emissions by about 96,000 tonnes a year running on the 627-kilometer coal railway linking the Baiyinhua coal mine in Inner Mongolia with the port of Jinzhou in northeast China's Liaoning Province. Li Lingtao, deputy chief engineer with CRRC Datong Co., Ltd., said that the hydrogen fuel cell hybrid locomotive has a design speed of 80 km per hour. It can run continuously for 24.5 hours when fully loaded with fuel and its maximum traction load on straight roads reaches 5,000 tonnes. The new-energy locomotive has broad market prospects for use in large factories, mines and ports. With the emission of water, the hydrogen-fueled locomotive can realize zero pollution during operation. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202110/1237650.shtml

November 01 at 06:13 AM

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Salisbury train crash: Major incident as two trains collide

BBC  01 November 2021 (UK) A major incident has been declared after two trains collided in Salisbury, leaving several people injured. The collision happened near London Road and involved a South Western Railway and a Great Western service. A train driver, who was trapped, was treated by paramedics. In total, 17 people were taken to hospital. The crash happened at 18:46 GMT when one train hit an object in a tunnel, and the second train then collided with it due to signalling problems. Angela Mattingly, who was on the train, said: "Everything went black and there were red flashes and everything. "There was suddenly a lot of jostling, possessions being thrown around and I think a few people went forward and hit their heads. You just don't know for a couple of seconds what's happening. "People started to panic but nobody was seriously injured." Lucy Gregory added: "We were just pulling into Salisbury station and the train felt a bit juddery. "I'd just stood up and put my coat on and my phone in my pocket when there was this massive impact and I fell across the table. "The table came off the wall and I ended up underneath another table. They smashed the windows and we got out of the window. It was really scary." Corinna Anderson, 51, from Derby, was on the train from London Waterloo to Salisbury, where she was due to visit a friend. She said: "I was thrown against the wall and there was a massive rumbling. "The first thing I was worried about was is anybody hurt. I'm a trained first aider, so I wanted to help. "There was a lady in the carriage I was in and she was thrown off her seat and into the wall by the door. "I did hear and see that on the Temple Meads train there was a three-week-old baby that was rescued off the train by the fire service and thankfully she is doing ok. "As I climbed off my train I saw the fireman cradling the baby in his arms and then I saw the mother get given the baby and they were escorted away for medical attention." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-59114569

November 01 at 06:04 AM

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Climate-friendly travel plans to COP summit hit by UK weather chaos

Reuters  31 October 2021 (Milton Keynes, England) Delegates, campaigners and journalists travelling by train to the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow fell victim to a weather-related delay on Sunday - a toppled tree on a railway line. All tracks on the main rail route between London and Glasgow were blocked near the town of Milton Keynes due to the tree which fell into overhead electric power lines as England was hit by stormy weather. London's Euston station was closed to people trying to enter as crowds built up inside and passengers were urged to delay their travel plans. A Reuters reporter on a cancelled train service said several passengers were instead booking flights to Glasgow in Scotland where the United Nations COP26 climate conference kicks off on Sunday. Claire Sheppard, a Green Party activist who was walking her dog near Luton Airport where frustrated rail travellers were trying to find flights to Scotland, said the chaos was an embarrassment for Britain as host of the summit. "We look great," she said, ironically. "Well done, the UK." Reporting by Mark John and Katy Daigle Writing by William Schomberg Editing by Alison Williams and Mark Heinrich Source https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/climate-friendly-travel-plans-cop-summit-hit-by-uk-train-chaos-2021-10-31/

November 01 at 05:55 AM

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Why we need a new golden age of European rail : Timothy Garton Ash

The Guardian  27 October, 2021 (UK) About half of flights around the continent are short-haul, with a heavy cost in carbon emissions. Trains are the answer As we approach the start of the Cop26 conference in Glasgow, I have been considering what I can do to help combat the climate crisis. Eat less meat? Buy an electric car? Swap the old gas boiler for a heat pump? Take the train instead of a short-haul flight? All of the above, to be sure. But as someone who has spent much of his life flying around Europe, the last seems especially pertinent. About half of all flights in Europe are short-haul, defined by the EU as journeys of less than 1,500km. One detailed study showed that short flights on selected routes across Europe can cause up to 19 times the CO 2  emissions of the equivalent train journey. (Nineteen is Zurich to Milan: the shorter the flight, the greater the excess). Britain’s Campaign for Better Transport recently staged a “race” from central London to Glasgow city centre. The train passenger arrived just two minutes later than the person who came by plane, and the CO 2  emissions were an estimated 20kg, compared with 137kg for the flight. But, this being Britain, the train ticket cost twice as much. That is not true everywhere. For example, in December I have to get from Bremen, in north Germany, where I am speaking on a Thursday evening, to Bavaria, where I have an engagement the following night. Until recently, I would automatically have booked a flight. Now I find that there is an excellent intercity train connection which gets me from Bremen to Munich in under six hours. Yes, it takes a little longer than the flight, which would be just one and a quarter hours – and Lufthansa offers no fewer than five direct flights that day. But that does not take into account the car journey to the airport, check-in and waiting time, and then the long drive into town from Munich’s faraway airport. Unlike London to Glasgow, the train is also cheaper: €27.99 at the supersaver price. Moreover, the train journey will almost certainly be more enjoyable. None of those traffic jams on the way to the airport. No sweaty striptease at airport security, and weary standing around waiting for your flight to be called. No need to cram yourself into a narrow seat, packed into a metal tube filled with pressurised, recycled air. From the train, I will be able to watch the gradually changing German landscape pass by my window; to read and write comfortably, with good wifi (although a patchy mobile signal); to get up, take a stroll and have lunch in the restaurant car. Then I can step out at journey’s end, straight into central Munich. I recently came across notes I made at a meeting of the parliamentary party of the then youthful German Greens in October 1984. Green MPs, I recorded, would in principle not use domestic flights inside Germany. “Here we are, protesting against Startbahn West [a new runway at Frankfurt airport],” said one, “and then we fly from it!” My notes have a tone of mild amusement, especially when someone confesses: “I do take a Bundestag-chauffeured car to the pub in the evening!” But now I think to myself: if only the Greens’ approach had prevailed 40 years ago. Imagine that we had spent the past four decades prioritising European rail connections over short-haul flights. Today, as the Greens prepare to take their place in a new German government, you can bet your bottom euro that airlines are quietly lobbying away, explaining the cost – also in lost jobs – of too rapidly slashing all those short-haul flights. Italy shows what can be done and the possible cost. In the past two decades, it has  built up  an impressive network of comfortable, high-speed intercity trains. You can do Rome to Milan in two hours and 59 minutes. The old national airline, Alitalia, however, is no more. (Yes, I know the story of Alitalia is more complicated – but you get the point.) In a public opinion poll conducted last year for my research team in Oxford, respondents across the EU27 and the UK were asked: “To help combat climate change, would you support a ban on short flights to destinations that could be reached within 12 hours by train?” Almost two-thirds (65%) agreed. One reason for the high level of support may be that relatively few Europeans actually do much intra-European flying: 76% said they fly within Europe once a year or less. It’s the frequent travellers like me who are the problem. On our project website, we have a map showing how far you can get from Berlin, Brussels and Paris in a train journey of up to 12 hours, including transfer time: from Brussels to Barcelona, for example, or from Paris to Berlin. That 12-hour goal may be overambitious. But a radius of, say, six hours time distance, established as a norm by individual travellers and employers, is surely not unrealistic. To move more rapidly from short-haul plane to train we need change on the demand side (that’s us), the supply side and the regulatory framework. The EU is trying to play some role here. I bet you didn’t know that 2021 is the European Year of Rail. Brussels recently sent a Connecting Europe Express around the EU, although this rather highlighted some of the problems, since it needed three different trains, one for the main European gauge, another for the Iberian gauge, and a third for the Baltic (ie post-Soviet) gauge in the Baltic states. At least as important will be train operators, booking agencies and consumer pressure groups. It is still much easier to book flights across Europe than it is to book train journeys. However, one of the best places to start is a mildly eccentric website, seat61.com, run by a British train fanatic called Mark Smith. It tells you where to go online to make your reservation for almost any trip across Europe, adding some connoisseur’s advice on the actual trains. For pan-European train bookings you could try raileurope.com and trainline.com, but both have significant geographical limitations. All too often, you end up having to book on the individual national rail sites, with the attendant sign-up hassle. Another positive development would be to revive long-distance overnight trains. The night train was once part of the great romance of European travel (brilliantly and amusingly evoked in the Stephen Poliakoff-scripted film Caught on a Train). There are few of them left. Bring back the night trains – and make those couchettes more comfortable while we are about it. “Let the train take the strain” was a great advertising slogan of the 1980s. Forty years on, the condition of the planet urgently requires us to do it – and, by and large, it should also be a pleasure. Source https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/27/why-we-need-a-new-golden-age-of-european-rail

October 29 at 06:56 AM

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Washington subway to continue reduced service through at least Nov. 15

Reuters  October 28, 2021 (Washington, US) The Washington-area subway system said on Thursday subway service will stay sharply reduced through at least Nov. 15 as it works on restoring railcars to service after a derailment on Oct. 12. On Oct. 17, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission ordered the subway system to indefinitely remove about 60% of its railcars following inspections after the derailment. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), known as the Metro, serves the U.S. capital and parts of Maryland and Virginia. It has urged commuters to take buses or use other transit modes. WMATA said it was working to boost the number of trains available for daily service from 31 to 50. WMATA general manager Paul Wiedefeld said he did not want to put out a date for improving service. "That's going to be ready when it's safe," Wiedefeld said on Thursday. Average Metrorail weekday ridership fell about 25% in the days after the reduced service began, WMATA said last week. The commission ordered WMATA's 748 7000-Series trains removed from service after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) "identified safety concerns related to the spacing of wheels on 7000-Series railcar axles." The NTSB said WMATA had been aware of wheel assembly issues since 2017. It was a 7000-Series train that was involved in the derailment two weeks ago outside Washington in Arlington, Virginia. The derailment did not injure any of the 187 passengers onboard, but NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said the incident could have been "catastrophic." WMATA has had sharply lower ridership during the pandemic. It said on Thursday it estimates in the 2023 budget year it will see total ridership at about 53-55% and total revenue at 47-48% of pre-pandemic levels. WMATA predicts current year ridership will be about one-third of pre-COVID levels and forecast usage returning to pre-pandemic levels by 2025. Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio Source https://www.reuters.com/world/us/washington-subway-continue-reduced-service-through-least-nov-15-2021-10-28/

October 29 at 06:49 AM

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Auckland transport: Government unveils latest plan for light rail costing $15b

New Zealand Herald  28 October, 2021 (New Zealand) The Government's flagship light rail project in Auckland looks set to cost at least $15 billion, with a good chance the price tag will rise. Transport Minister Michael Wood has unveiled three shortlisted options for the 22km light rail route from the central city to the airport with indicative costs of between $9b and $16.3b. The options are light rail, which runs at street level and mingles with traffic; light metro that runs down a dedicated route above or below ground; and a tunnelled option which is a hybrid of the two. An establishment unit set up by Wood in March to get the troubled project back on track, has recommended the tunnelled option to the Government costing $14.6b, not light rail costing $9b and light metro costing $16.3b. These costs are "indicative" and have a 50 per cent chance of rising once detailed design work is undertaken. The unit also considered a number of alternative options for high-frequency rapid transit along the corridor, including heavy rail and trackless trams, but ruled them out. The proposal to tunnel from the central city and through the isthmus to Mt Roskill has several advantages. It gets around limited road space, avoids years of disruption to businesses and gives flexibility to connect with high-speed transit from the North Shore and West Auckland in future. The tunnelled option would begin at Wynyard Quarter, have stops in the central city and near the university campuses and a total of 18 stations, many of which will not be known until the detailed design stage. From Mt Roskill, the tunnelled option would run as a light rail line alongside State Highway 20 to Onehunga, Mangere and the airport. The establishment unit has presented an indicative business case for light rail to Wood and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, along with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and deputy mayor Bill Cashmore. Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/auckland-transport-government-unveils-latest-plan-for-light-rail-costing-15b/WW6EDSIBNJ3NU2U53CKCK362JM/

October 29 at 06:34 AM

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Inner West light rail services suspended after cracks discovered in trams

The Sydney Morning Herald  October 28, 2021 (Sydney) Sydney’s Inner West light rail service has been suspended for several days amid safety concerns after cracks were discovered in several trams. Buses are set to replace trams along the entire L1 Dulwich Hill Line until Sunday, according to a Transport for NSW alert, while staff were told “minor cracking to welding on a limited number of vehicles” was the reason for the suspension. “We do not believe that the identified cracks pose an immediate threat or major risk to the network,” the memo, seen by the  Herald , said. “As a precaution we will be suspending all services on the line while more detailed inspections take place.”   The cracks were found during a routine maintenance inspection, according to the memo. A spokesman for Transdev, the private operator of the light rail network, confirmed a mechanical fault had been found on the vehicles during recent inspections. “We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by this issue and thank customers for their patience during this time,” the spokesman said, adding the fault posed little risk. “Buses are replacing light rail services on the L1 Dulwich Hill Line. Extra customer service staff are on hand to advise passengers of the service disruptions and guide them to replacement buses. We have made the decision to suspend services on the line while more detailed inspections are undertaken by the maintenance teams.” Opposition transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen criticised the government’s overseas procurement of public transport assets. “Once again, the NSW government’s overseas built transport infrastructure has broken down and failed passengers, leading to safety issues and delays across the light rail network,” she said. “Years of poor purchasing decisions by the NSW government means new trains don’t fit the tracks and new ferries can’t operate at night. Now we’ve got light rail carriages that are cracked.” Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/inner-west-light-rail-services-suspended-after-cracks-discovered-in-trams-20211028-p5944d.html

October 29 at 06:28 AM

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Cause of Montana Amtrak derailment still under investigation

AP  October 27, 2021 (Helena, Montana,US) A preliminary report on an Amtrak train derailment in Montana last month that killed three people and injured dozens more offered no clues about what triggered the accident, but said the train’s emergency brakes were activated and that Amtrak estimated the damage at more than $22 million. However, one attorney whose client is suing Amtrak and BNSF Railway said he wanted to learn more about the crash-worthiness of the train’s observation car and an attorney for a crew member said she reported seeing a 30-foot dip along the railroad, where it appeared the track bed had given way. The National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report Tuesday on the Sept. 25 derailment of the westbound Empire Builder just west of Joplin, in north-central Montana. It was mostly factual, saying there were 154 people on board and that 44 passengers and crew were taken to area hospitals with injuries. Passengers without serious injuries were bused to the nearby town of Chester, where residents provided food and other aid. Source https://apnews.com/article/business-montana-accidents-transportation-amtrak-c9ae69ffebb55ebeac0fc2d3a1664f7c

October 29 at 05:28 AM

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Fewer accidents and security incidents for SA rail in year of low traffic

Sunday Times 20 October 2021 (South Africa) The Railway Safety Regulator recorded fewer operational occurrences, such as derailments, on the country's rail network in 2020/21, but this is as rail operators produced significantly fewer kilometres as a result of lockdown restrictions. There were fewer operational occurrences and security-related incidents on the railways during the 2020/21 financial year compared to 2019/20. However, this should not be cause for celebration as the combined traffic levels of the train operators declined by 38% during that period compared to the previous year. Deputy transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga made this remark on Wednesday during the release of the Railway Safety Regulator’s (RSR) annual state of safety report. She said this year’s report was presented against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact which led to major operators producing significantly fewer rail kilometres in the 2020/21 year. Chikunga said during 2020/21, the combined traffic levels of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Gautrain declined by 38% compared to 2019/20 and by 53% since 2010/11. While security-related incidents were also down year-on-year, the deputy minister denounced the ongoing destruction of rail infrastructure and highlighted the importance of implementing security plans aimed at curbing the scourge. She said 10,076 negative events were reported during the 2020/21 reporting period, with 2,024 relating to operational occurrences and 8,052 attributed to security-related incidents. Operational occurrences decreased by 40% in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20 and security-related incidents decreased by 19% compared to 2019/20. Operational occurrences include fatalities and injuries to employees, contractors, passengers and members of public. Chikunga said there was a 15% decrease in total train derailment and 13% decrease in level crossing occurrences in 2020/21 when compared to the previous year. Chikunga said long-term level crossing occurrences had decreased by 52% overall since 2010/11. “Even though collisions and derailments depict a year-on-year decrease, when you consider the normalised figures which take into consideration the train kilometres, this shows an increase.” She said people struck by trains and platform train interface indicated a significant decrease. “However this happens during the year when passenger activity was restricted across the railways.” For people illegally crossing railway lines, there was a reduction of of 84.79%, which translates to 426 incidents in 2020/21 compared to 2,801 incidents in 2019/20. “These numbers attest to the fact that we must stay focused and ensure that through our collective efforts, we concretely drive down the number of occurrences and prioritise the safety of both commuters and workforce in our operations,” Chikunga said. RSR chairperson Johannes Nobunga said when the lockdown was imposed early last year, there was a significant increase in security-related vandalism and theft of rail infrastructure. Gautrain Management Agency CEO William Dachs said the impact of the lockdown has largely been in terms of the lower number of passengers using its service. He said Gautrain has been able to keep its safety and security levels intact. Prasa Group CEO Zolani Matthews said the lockdown has seen it suffer large-scale incidents of theft and vandalism of its infrastructure. TFR CEO Sizakele Mzimela said although the service was affected during lockdown level 5, it was able to operate as it was moving essential goods and saw few incidents of theft and vandalism during level 5. However, TFR saw an increase in theft and vandalism when lockdown restrictions were lifted, she said. Mzimela said over the past five years TFR has seen an increase of 177% in theft and vandalism on its lines. In the past year, TFR spent in excess of R1.6bn to protect the lines. Source https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-10-20-fewer-accidents-and-security-incidents-for-sa-rail-in-year-of-low-traffic/

October 28 at 06:29 AM

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Spain's Renfe plans to run high-speed trains between Paris and London

Reuters  October 27 (Madrid, Spain) Spanish state-owned railway operator Renfe said on Wednesday it plans service on the Paris-London high-speed link and has started talks with Getlink which operates the cross-Channel tunnel. Renfe said slots are available to run high-speed trains though the tunnel to compete with Eurostar, a unit of French state-owned rail operator SNCF. The monopoly enjoyed by Eurostar on transporting passengers through the tunnel linking Britain and the continent since 1994 is set the end as France is gradually opening its rail industry to competition. Some 7 million travellers boarded Eurostar trains between Paris and London in 2019, Renfe said, adding it is confident the demand, which collapsed with the pandemic, will recover in 2022 making the route “viable and profitable” for its service. In a second phase, Renfe also plans service to “new French and international destinations”, (Reporting by Corina Pons; editing by Jason Neely) Source https://www.reuters.com/article/renfe-getlink/spains-renfe-plans-to-run-high-speed-trains-between-paris-and-london-idUKL1N2RN0J0

October 28 at 06:03 AM

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End of the line looms for hawkers, rough sleepers at Bangkok station

Channel News Asia  27 October 2021 (Bangkok, Thailand) An uncertain fate awaits the hawkers, drivers and rough sleepers who have made a second home under the ornate arched ceiling of Bangkok's century-old central railway station. The elegant Italianate columns and stained glass windows of the station at Hua Lamphong will soon echo no more to the constant rattle of trains arriving and departing. The vast majority of services will move to a new rail hub on the capital's northern outskirts later this year, with plans for eventual fast services to China through neighbouring Laos. The coronavirus pandemic has already bought a year's reprieve for the current station, near the city's Chinatown district - its replacement is almost finished but currently being used as a vaccination centre. But movement restrictions and a lack of foreign visitors have crippled the kingdom's tourism-dependent economy and the dozens of people eking out a living are already feeling the pinch. "We have to be very frugal - I'm using my savings to cover living expenses," said Boonkerd Khampakdi, who has sold food to hungry travellers at the station for the past 20 years. The 51-year-old told AFP she now makes only 1,000 baht (US$30) per day, a tenth of what she made before the pandemic and barely enough to cover monthly rent for her stall. Nearby, tuk-tuk driver Wutthisak Inthawat waits patiently for what few potential fares pass through the station's entrance. He said it had been increasingly difficult to cover the hire fees for his vehicle, pay rent and feed his family. "I have two young daughters - a three- and nine-year-old," said Wutthisak, 34. "If I can't manage to pay off my debts I will have to return to my home province." Source https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/hawkers-drivers-bangkok-hua-lamphong-train-station-move-2141531

October 28 at 05:47 AM

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The $3.50 go-anywhere ticket to fight climate change

CNN  27th October 2021 (Austria) You wake up in suburban Innsbruck, the snowcapped peaks of the Austrian Tyrol glistening in the distance. After breakfast you hop a tram to Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof, the city's main railway station and climb aboard an Austrian Railways ÖBB Railjet bound for Vienna.   After more than four hours crossing some of the prettiest scenery in central Europe, you arrive beneath the undulating zig-zagged roof of Wien Hauptbahnhof, from where you head down into the curving tunnels of Südtiroler Platz metro station.   After rumbling through six stops of the city's U1 metro line, you reach Praterstern, not far from the shores of the Danube River. From there, it's a short stroll to catch a regional train on the S4 line, heading north a further nine stops to Korneuburg. We're not done traveling yet.   Here you climb aboard bus 853 for the final leg, a gentle 20-plus minute trundle through quiet, leafy streets, past compact one-story homes, until it's time to finally disembark beside the plain clocktower in the village of Enzersfeld.   Give or take the occasional stop for refreshments -- perhaps a bosna sausage and a cream-topped Viennese coffee -- you've been on the go, on public transport, for more than eight hours, clocking up hundreds of miles across bus, rail, tram and metro services.   And how much has this epic ride cost you? Just $3.50 (or €3).   Fifteen years after it was first proposed, Austria's new Klimaticket, or climate ticket, goes live on October 26. Offering seamless travel across all modes of public transport it is intended to galvanize the Alpine nation's fight against climate change.   The annual pass, priced at $1,267 (€1,095), works out at just $24 (€21) per week or $3.50 a day. If all goes according to plan, it should encourage people to swap their cars for more climate-friendly forms of getting around. Source https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/austria-klimaticket/index.html

October 28 at 05:35 AM

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Greater Jakarta LRT to continue trials despite ongoing crash probe

The Jakarta Post  October 26, 2021 (Indonesia) Mechanics examine a Greater Jakarta LRT carriage that crashed into a parked train between the between Harjamukti Station in Depok and Ciracas Station in East Jakarta on Oct. 25, 2021.(Antara Foto/Asprilla Dwi Adha) The Greater Jakarta LRT is set to continue operational trials, despite an ongoing probe into a recent non-fatal crash, as developers of the nationally strategic project race to meet deadlines. Budi Noviantoro, president director of state-owned train manufacturer PT Industri Kereta Api (INKA), said on Monday evening that the company would wait for the results of the National Transportation Safety Committee’s (KNKT) investigation before halting the trial process. The KNKT opened the investigation after a Greater Jakarta LRT carriage crashed into a parked train on the same rail line during a trial run on Monday. The incident happened in Cipayung, East Jakarta, between Harjamukti Station in Depok and Ciracas Station in East Jakarta. Source https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2021/10/26/greater-jakarta-lrt-to-continue-trials-despite-ongoing-crash-probe.html

October 28 at 05:12 AM

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D.C. to offer free Capital Bikeshare rides as reduced Metro service continues

Washington Post  October 25, 2021 (US) The news that the Metrorail system in the nation’s capital will continue to operate at reduced levels this week prompted the District to offer a transit perk to city residents: free bike rides. Starting Monday, all D.C. residents can get a free 30-day Capital Bikeshare membership, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced. Bowser said the offer should give residents another option to get around as the region navigates the ongoing Metro crisis. The transit agency said last week that it expects to continue operating with reduced service levels at least until Oct. 31, creating crowded conditions, and for a second week in a row, leaving many commuters in search of other ways to travel. Trains will be operating every 15 to 20 minutes on the Red Line and every 30 to 40 minutes on other lines. [Federal investigation into suspended rail cars puts focus on inspections, maintenance] The service reductions come after the transit agency pulled 60 percent of its rail cars from service because of problems with wheel assemblies implicated in a Blue Line derailment this month. The reduced rail service has caused disruption and anxiety in the region. Metro riders and elected officials, including Bowser, have expressed frustration over what the investigation could mean for the transit agency’s future and a lack of information about when service levels might be back to normal. “We encourage [Metro] leadership to clearly articulate their steps and timeline to fully restore Metrorail service,” Bowser said in a statement Friday, calling the service disruptions “deeply troubling” for the city and the region. She said the city needs a fully functioning transit system for workers, children and visitors. The mayor said D.C. residents should take advantage of the free one-month membership. To participate, users can go to the Capital Bikeshare or Lyft apps and select a 30-day membership for $0 on the “Ride Plans” section. Five hours after the free membership became available, more than 900 people had signed up, Bowser said at a news conference. “People who want to use the bikes should use the bikes and they will have a few extra dollars in their pocket," she said. "Some people haven’t tried the bikes and maybe they will try the bikes because they are free.” Capital Bikeshare is available in the District, Alexandria and Falls Church, as well as in Arlington, Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The bikes and stations are public property, and jurisdictions subsidize them, contracting with Lyft to manage and operate the system. Bike use is on the rise in the Washington region, initially spurred by workers staying home during the pandemic. With employees looking to alternate methods of travel as they return to offices, officials have been touting Capital Bikeshare, the region’s public bike-share system, as an option. Bicycles have been widely used as an alternative during other Metro meltdowns. In 2016 when the rail system had a one-day emergency shutdown, many commuters took to bicycling. More than twice as many bicyclists and pedestrians as normal crossed the Key Bridge between Rosslyn and Georgetown that day. For some residents it may be a good option to avoid delays and other changes, city leaders say. The service cuts have created some of the most crowded Metro conditions since the start of the pandemic. With the membership, users can take 45-minute rides free on the distinctive red bicycles. Additional minutes cost 5 cents per minute. Members can also use the electric bikes at a discounted price of 10 cents per minute, which applies to the entire trip. Bowser said free bike rides aren’t a solution to having more than half of Metro’s railcars out of service, but she said the city is trying to do even “the little things” to ease the burden and inconvenience riders are experiencing. She said she expected to talk to Metro leaders Monday to get an update on how their rail car inspections are proceeding. [Capital Bikeshare raises fees, with eye on growth and e-bike maintenance] No one was injured in the Oct. 12 derailment, which prompted the evacuation of 187 passengers outside the Arlington Cemetery station. Metro pulled all 748 7000-series cars out of commission Oct. 17. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the investigation of the derailment, said last week that wheels on a car that came off the tracks had shifted outward on their axle. The board is continuing to investigate. Source https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/10/25/dc-metro-crisis-free-bike-rides/  

October 27 at 06:44 AM

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Heritage NZ backs down over colour of Wellington train station ticket machines

New Zealand Herald  19 September, 2021 (New Zealand) Greater Wellington Regional Council wants to trial contactless Snapper cards on one of the city's train lines. Heritage New Zealand has backed down over its concerns new ticketing machines at Wellington's central train station are not in keeping with the building's colour palette. Greater Wellington Regional Council wants to trial contactless Snapper cards on the Johnsonville train line. Currently a paper ticket system is used and only cash is accepted on board, which some have labelled a Victorian payment system. For the 18-month-long trial to go ahead, temporary validator posts need to be installed at the train station so passengers can tag on and off for their journeys. Correspondence previously released under the Official Information Act showed Heritage New Zealand kicked up a fuss during consultation. Concerns were raised in June about the posts being intrusive and too bulky. The heritage recommendation was for any new elements to be in keeping with the railway station's historic colours and "recede in prominence ie dark brown, black". But in a letter from July, obtained by the Herald, area manager Alison Dangerfield said Heritage New Zealand fully supported the installation. "Heritage New Zealand has looked at the proposed validators for the Wellington Railway Station and is of the view that there will be no adverse heritage effects from their installation, size, design or colour." Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/heritage-nz-backs-down-over-colour-of-wellington-train-station-ticket-machines/WOG26F643EIBGMIUFY3RHTVJCI/

October 27 at 06:26 AM

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Plante pledges to kick in $500 million for REM de l'Est light-rail line

Montreal Gazette  October 25, 2021 (Canada) By promising more cash up front, Montreal administrators will expect to have more say in how it is developed, the incumbent mayor says. Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante pledged that, if elected , her party will invest at least $500 million in the REM de l’Est light-rail project to ensure the city has more say in how it will cut through Montreal. While the city welcomes the $10-billion, 32-kilometre system and its transit benefits, there’s a growing chorus of citizens and municipal politicians concerned the raised tracks perched on concrete pylons could disfigure parts of the city and separate neighbourhoods rather than bring them together, Plante said. The project is being run by the CDPQ Infra, the arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec responsible for building the Réseau express métropolitain. “For the REM to integrate into a neighbourhood, it’s going to need a lot of reflection on the planning,” Plante said at a campaign news conference Monday. “It’s going to take moving streets and sidewalks, sewers, creating intermodal stations. … What we want is that these new developments be exceptional, and that they make the lives of citizens easier and make them proud.” The city has been pressing for more of the rail line to be built underground to minimize disruption of the cityscape and neighbourhoods through which it will run. Roughly nine kilometres, or one-third of the line is slated to be underground. The city will contribute close to $200 million for the first 67-kilometre REM light-rail line, which will connect downtown to the west of the city and to points north and south of the island, Plante said. Contrary to the first REM, which runs mainly alongside existing train lines and highways, the REM de l’Est will carve through residential neighbourhoods in the eastern and northern sectors of the city, having far more impact on the urban landscape. The city has called for the creation of an advisory committee of experts to oversee the integration of the project and has organized citizen consultation sessions. “We want to replicate the model used in Quebec City, where the city is an involved party in the new tramway system (being built there)”, Plante said, noting that the developers involved in that project ceded to pressure to put some of the tram line underground. Quebec City is contributing $300 million toward the $3.3-billion price tag. While developers at CDPQ Infra are experts in transit projects, the city of Montreal is experienced in urban development and needs to be involved, Plante said. By promising $500 million, city administrators will expect to have more say in how it’s developed, she said. Some of the changes the city wants to see include: Building more of the train line underground in the downtown core. Putting the line on Sherbrooke St. E. in Mercier underground or using an alternative route that would connect with Radisson métro station. Extending the tunnel leading to Montreal North as far as Rivière-des-Prairies, to reach the 55,000 people living there who are poorly served by public transit. Source https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/plante-pledges-to-kick-in-500-million-for-rem-de-lest-light-rail-line

October 27 at 06:20 AM

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JR group offers all-you-can-ride passes for older couples in 'Full Moon Couple Green Pass' deal

Japan Today  1 October, 2021 ( Tokyo, Japan) The JR Group has announced special passes for older married couples available for a limited time. The Full Moon Couple Green Pass gets you and your loved an all-you-can-ride pass to use the Green cars on the JR lines (with some exceptions) for five, seven, or ten consecutive days. If you’re not familiar, Green cars are considered premium train cars with slightly more perks than your average seating, and so they come with a higher price tag. Not all Green cars are the same, though. While a shinkansen Green car has perks like fewer seats for a more spacious and peaceful riding experience, other express trains simply guarantee you an assigned seat in a train that may not otherwise have assigned seating. Either way, though, in the end they’re supposed to offer you a more comfortable riding experience. To be eligible for the Full Moon Couple Green Pass, you must be a married couple with a combined total of at least 88 years of age. You can even get a slightly sweeter deal if at least one of you is over 70 years old! Each pass if usable by two people, with the five-day pass costing 84,330 yen, the seven-day pass 104,650 yen, and the 10-day pass 130,320. If you qualify for the Silver Pass (at least one of you is over 70 years old), they’ll cost you 79,330 yen, 99,650 yen, and 125,320 yen, respectively. That may seem like a lot upfront, but let’s put it into perspective: a round-trip for two Green car tickets from Shinagawa Station in Tokyo to Sendai Station in Miyagi Prefecture will cost you 30,140 yen, per person. That means a round-trip for two would be 60,280, which means you’d get more than your money’s worth with just a pair of two-person round-trip journeys on the Full Moon pass. It is important to note that the Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen routes aren’t applicable, so you’ll still have to pay full price if you want to ride in the Green car to places like Osaka or Hakata in Fukuoka. If you’re looking for a special deal to celebrate your love in your “full moon” phase of life, consider getting the pass! You can purchase tickets at JR train stations or travel centers until May 31, 2022, and you’ll be able to use it between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. Sources: Net Lab, JR Group Source https://japantoday.com/category/features/travel/jr-group-offers-all-you-can-ride-passes-for-older-couples-in-%27full-moon-couple-green-pass%27-deal

October 27 at 05:20 AM

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China’s vast high-speed rail is a big emitter but down the line leads to greener freight: study

South China Morning Post  26 October 2021 (China) When passengers opted out of slower trains in favour of high-speed rail, road freight moved to fill the much greener conventional trains Beijing-Shanghai line led to the highest overall drop in greenhouse gas emissions – more than 3 million tonnes per year on average – according to paper China’s  rapid expansion of high-speed rail  has indirectly cut  greenhouse gas emissions  by creating capacity for freight on conventional trains, according to a new study. Electricity-powered high-speed rail (HSR) produces more emissions than cars on highways and conventional railway in China where  coal power  dominates  electricity production . However, the network’s massive growth between 2008 and 2016 has led to an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) equal to about 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – or 1.33 per cent of China’s total transport sector emissions – compared with the pre-high-speed rail era. When passengers opted out of the slower conventional trains in favour of high-speed rail, road freight moved to fill the much greener conventional trains, causing a drop in emissions, according to the researchers. China, the world’s biggest energy user and greenhouse gas emitter, has been expanding its high-speed railway network in the past decade to connect major cities, with 38,000km of rail operating by the end of 2020, compared with 19,800km in 2015. The flow of passenger vehicles on highways dropped 18.5 per cent, while that of goods vehicles fell by about 14.5 per cent following high-speed rail connection, analysis of new passenger and freight traffic data from all highways and national roads in China from 2009 to 2016 showed. “Since HSRs are not designed for freight transportation, one likely explanation is that the opening of HSRs has helped relieve some of the capacity on conventional rail lines, which serve a mixture of both passenger and freight transportation,” the researchers wrote in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature  Climate Change  on Monday. For example, the opening of the Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR line lifted the annual freight capacity of the parallel conventional railway by 87.6 million tonnes, and 84 million tonnes on the Shanghai-Nanjing HSR line, which combined translates to 5 per cent of national freight volume in 2010, according to the study. Among high-speed railways, the Beijing-Shanghai line led to the highest overall drop in greenhouse gas emissions – more than 3 million tonnes per year on average – the study found. Carrying the same weight over the same distance, the high-speed railway may emit more than twice as much as cars on highways, more than four times as much as road goods vehicles, or about 70 times as much as the conventional railway, according to the study. “At first glance, these estimates might appear counterintuitive, but they are less surprising if we consider the structure of electricity production in current China,” the researchers said. “The GHG-emission level of HSR is highly dependent on the supporting electricity grid system. However, GHG emissions from electricity production are very high in China because of the dominance of coal power,” they said, pointing out that thermal power accounted for around 70-80 per cent of total electricity production in China. “HSR’s potential in decarbonising the transport sector in China is constrained by the country’s current power-generation structure,” the researchers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore said. But the situation could change as China shifted towards generating electricity from cleaner sources, they said. The researchers predicted that if China adopted France’s electricity structure of 70 per cent nuclear power, the overall greenhouse gas emission reduction from the system could almost double to more than 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or about 3 per cent of China’s transport sector’s emissions. Similar hypothetical big reductions could also be seen when considering the electricity structures of Canada and Denmark, which are dominated by hydro and wind power respectively, according to the predictions. Corresponding author Qin Yu, an associate professor in the department of real estate at the National University of Singapore, said the high-speed rail network would continue to be key to China’s economy. “High-speed rail is more than an important form of transport in China. It also boosts the economy by encouraging investments and attracting talent to different parts of the country. As China expands the network it should take its environmental impacts into account, which our study shows are positive. “With cleaner electricity conditions, the network can contribute more to, rather than hinder, carbon reduction from the transport sector,” she said, referring to China’s goals of hitting peak carbon emissions by 2030 and  carbon neutrality by 2060 . Source https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3153767/chinas-vast-high-speed-rail-big-emitter-down-line-leads-greener

October 27 at 05:03 AM

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Cop26: Delegates face transport chaos after rail union rejects pay deal

The Times  October 26 2021 (UK) Crisis planning is taking place in an effort to keep train services running through the Cop26 climate conference after one trade union held out against a new pay offer. Delegates at the RMT’s annual meeting in Leeds rejected a deal for workers in Scotland to receive a 4.7 per cent pay rise over two years without balloting its members. The offer is equivalent to equivalent to between £1,700 and £2,600 over two years. Union officials said that delegates had "fully consulted" members before the vote. Three other unions - Aslef, Unite and TSSA - accepted the offer. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cop26-delegates-face-transport-chaos-after-rail-union-rejects-pay-deal-n0vqlsc2r

October 26 at 06:15 AM

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Post COVID-19, Pakistan restores rail link to Sindh’s town near India border

Gulf News  October 16, 2021 (Karachi, Pakistan) Pakistan Railways has restored the service of Marvi Express to connect Mirpurkhas city in Sindh with Khokhrapar Railway Station in the province that is situated near the Pakistan-India border. The rail link with the border town in Sindh has been restored in view of the repeated demands of the people of desert area of Thar. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Sindh Affairs, Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, re-launched the Marvi Express service at the Mirpurkhas Railway Station. The service of the Marvi Express was suspended on March 24, 2020 when a complete lockdown was imposed in Sindh against the spread of coronavirus infection. The Marvi Express train was especially decorated while rose petals were showered on its passengers and sweets were distributed on the occasion of revival of the passenger rail service. The Marvi Express was originally launched in 2005 jointly by the then railways minister and Dr Rahim, who was Sindh chief minister at that time. Earlier, the passenger rail service was used between Hyderabad and Khokhrapar. The Marvi Express after its revival contains five economy class carriages that have the capacity to carry 500 passengers. The one-way journey from Mirpurkhas to Khokhrapar will cost Rs160. Some 17 passenger stations will come on the 125km-long railway track. The Marvi Express will start its journey from Mirpurkhas Station at 5pm and will reach Khokhrapar at 8.40pm. The return journey of the train from Khokhrapar will begin at 6am and the train will end its journey at 9.40 am. The railway link to the border town has been vital for the supply of essential goods and services to the people of Thar, including water, due to absence of road network in the underdeveloped desert regions of Sindh. Source https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/post-covid-19-pakistan-restores-rail-link-to-sindhs-town-near-india-border-1.82990691

October 26 at 06:07 AM

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KL-Johor Baru HSR route without Singapore not viable, says Umno leader

The Straits Times (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK)  October 23, 2021 (Johor Bahru, Malaysia) Reviving the high-speed rail (HSR) project without Singapore would be a waste of resources and has no economic value, says a former Johor mentri besar. Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who is also the Umno vice-president, said that the government's plan to implement the HSR project to Johor Baru was not viable as the city was not an economic powerhouse like its island republic neighbour. "During the pandemic, Johor Baru sat still in terms of growth and resilience, without tourists, investors and (economic) players from Singapore. "I hope that the government will not waste time and money with unviable plans such as implementing the Kuala Lumpur-Johor Baru route for the HSR with the exclusion of Singapore," he said in a statement on Saturday (Oct 23). He said this in response to the government's consideration about going ahead with the HSR project, linking Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru, replacing the earlier planned Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project. Singapore and Malaysia announced the termination of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore project after both countries were unable to reach an agreement on changes proposed by Malaysia, The Straits Times reported in January. The agreement had lapsed on Dec 31 last year. Mr Mohamed Khaled criticised Malaysia's economic planners, saying that they "did not possess an overreaching strategy to implement a high-impact, cross-country and exceptionally successful project such as that". "Meanwhile, in various international trade forums and negotiations, Malaysia has been going on and on with its rhetoric of regional economic integration through trade connectivity, and consumer and labour mobility. "However, we cannot even link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, both metropolises being the most dynamic in South-east Asia," he said, adding that the excuses of cost and government abilities were those given by the unimaginative. "When Malaysia built the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Putrajaya and the North-South Expressway, we were not a rich country then. "But we still did it with economic planners who had vision and were ahead of their time," he added. Mr Mohamed Khaled reiterated that in the era of fast connectivity, high-speed rail infrastructure was what Malaysia needed - whether it was Kuala Lumpur-Singapore or Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok. "The country also needs economic planners who can unearth Malaysia's true strength and our economic plans can no longer be inward looking. "I hope that the Prime Minister will not repeat the mistakes made by Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional. I am confident that he wants to revive the country's economy through competitive and fruitful projects. "Otherwise, Malaysia will become a third-world country that is only slightly better than other third-world countries," he said. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/kl-johor-baru-hsr-route-without-singapore-not-viable-says-umno-leader

October 26 at 05:18 AM

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The train will shortly be arriving in 1983: a boyhood rebuilt in Britain’s biggest model railway

The Guardian  24 October 2021 (UK) Six years, £250,000 and 5,000 brass leaves: how Simon George’s lockdown project took on a life of its own As lockdown projects go, it doesn’t get much bigger than a 60-metre long model railway. When Simon George set about re-creating his favourite childhood spot from 1983, he had no idea it would expand to become the biggest of its kind in Britain. “I suppose all of us as kids always had somewhere that we’d go to, whether outside a corner shop or in a park,” said 53-year-old George, who lives in Ripon, North Yorkshire. “But where I used to go when I was a kid was a railway junction, just near Mirfield in West Yorkshire. I used to spend a lot of time there, watching the trains go past, and it left an indelible impact on my memory.” Six years and an estimated £250,000 later, this image has been translated in minute detail into model form – including a miniature version of 12-year-old George – and will be exhibited in Wakefield Market Hall from 4 to 19 December. Having never built a model railway before, George began the model in 2015 as a hobby. But after selling his share of a supercar driving experience company two and a half years ago, he threw himself into the project and worked on it doggedly during lockdown. He said: “I don’t think there’s anybody daft enough to go to the extremes I’ve gone to in some of the detail that’s built-in.” To get it exactly right, he downloaded hundreds of images of that stretch of the line in the 80s and used them to create a map that became his guide for the project, called Heaton Lodge Junction, built in O gauge or 7mm to 1ft. The detail that came from that includes a tiny 1980s Tesco carrier bag caught in a tree and 5,000 custom-made brass fern leaves, which were individually put in place and bent to the right shape. The model trains even emit fake diesel fumes and have speakers that produce the sound of real trains. “I think if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to give it 100%,” he said. Those who have seen it so far have been “gobsmacked”. “As people walk through the door, they’re confronted by a really well-lit basement with an enormous model as far as the eye can see. It does knock them back sometimes. It’s a nice reaction,” he said. “It’s funny because when it’s up and running and you glance up, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up because it’s just like being back in 1983.” After Wakefield, George plans to take the layout on the road to cities all over the UK, although it needs three articulated trucks to transport it. “It’s just finding somewhere big enough,” he added. George Dent, the editor of  Model Rail  magazine, said that although the Yorkshireman’s model is likely to be the biggest of its type in the UK, lots of people are shy about their passion for the hobby, and there may be larger ones in barns or large houses all across the country. He said: “We know of some very famous people who have a closet interest in model railways, but they don’t seem to be keen on sharing it. Rod Stewart might be open about his passion, but not everyone else is willing to admit to it, which is a real shame – especially in the present climate, when we’re all realising the benefits of crafts and hobbies.” George kept his own project secret, he said, and for a long time did not even tell his girlfriend what he was up to. But he is keen to do his bit to dispel the idea that the hobby is only for nerds. “I just really want to play a very small part to improve the image of the hobby, which has suffered. It’s been a bit of a figure of fun the last few decades,” he said. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/24/the-train-will-shortly-be-arriving-in-1983-a-boyhood-rebuilt-in-britains-biggest-model-railway

October 26 at 05:11 AM

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Light Rail Manila Corp. receives safety seal for LRT-1

The Manila Times  October 25, 2021 (Philippines) PRIVATE operator of LRT-1 Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) recently received the Safety Seal for its train stations and depot from the local government unit of Pasay City, highlighting the commitment of the company to provide a safe transportation system by using best-in-class safety protocols. The Safety Seal certification assures the public of the establishment's compliance with the minimum public health standards set by the government to effectively contain the spread of Covid-19. "In LRMC, safety is part of our mission for our dear commuters and employees. We are not just their partners in efficient and comfortable journey, but for safety as well. The Safety Seal that we received from the City of Pasay is just a testament that we are one with the government's effort in encouraging safety of the public as the country gradually opens the economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. We treat this as a milestone putting on top of mind the safety of our commuters as we slowly increase the capacity of our trains in line with guidelines set by the government," said LRMC Head of Health, Safety, Environment, and Quality Department Louernie De Sales. The ceremonial installation of the Safety Seal at the LRT-1 Baclaran Station was led by LRMC Head of Health, Safety, Environment, and Quality Department Louernie De Sales; LRMC Head of Operations Andrea Madrid together with DILG Local Government VI Rommel Cena; Pasay City Business Permits & Licensing Office (BPLO) Officer-in-Charge Michelle Talavera-Pardo; Acopo Lt.Col. Lepron Platon; and Fire Inspector Alejandro Ramos of the Pasay City Bureau of Fire and Protection. Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/10/25/public-square/light-rail-manila-corp-receives-safety-seal-for-lrt-1/1819574

October 26 at 05:03 AM

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Aurizon buys One Rail freight group for $2.35b

Australian Financial Review  Oct 22, 2021 (Australia)  Rail group Aurizon has capped off another huge week of mergers and acquisitions with a $2.35 billion cash acquisition of freight rail group One Rail Australia that will help to haul more of the commodities used in a low carbon world, such as manganese and rare earths. “This actually puts us into a situation where we’re freighting the commodities that are talked about and play a part of the future in a low zero emissions-type environment,” Aurizon chief executive Andrew Harding said. Source https://www.afr.com/companies/infrastructure/aurizon-buys-one-rail-freight-group-for-2-35b-20211022-p5928a

October 25 at 06:05 AM

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Clean rail travel is vital to the UK’s future: now we need a government that can deliver it

The Guardian  24 October, 2021 (UK) Electrification of lines is key to a low-carbon system. Yet project after project has been scrapped orking on the railway, we see our industry as part of the solution to the climate emergency, as it provides one of the most efficient, low-carbon forms of transport. Right now in the UK, you can reduce the CO 2  output from a journey by roughly 70% by switching from car to train. On an electric train, you can save 90%. That’s pretty good, especially with road haulage struggling – and petrol prices spiking. I started my railway career as a teenager volunteering on the Mid-Hants steam railway and I’ve been a full-time railway employee for five years. I now work in a consultancy where we design everything from re-signalling schemes down to the connections in a control box. It’s a long way from my childhood playing trains on the kitchen table. Each major project needs dozens of engineers, project managers and trackside workers, most of them skilled specialists, and each project takes years of planning and the application of sustained political will. But for years now we’ve seen railway upgrades stalled and cut back, as Westminster shortchanges passengers and does away with the jobs needed for a just transition to a low-carbon industry. This transition needs a long-term national strategy, and Network Rail does make strategic plans over five-year blocks called control periods. Unfortunately, though, recent UK governments have preferred to announce grand transformations followed by drastic cutbacks and U-turns. For example, the Transpennine route upgrade between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York – announced in 2012 – was going to be a total route modernisation with better services running on new track, new signalling, and in particular electrification. But it was paused during 2015, and it’s  still  not been announced whether electrification will reach the section that actually crosses the Pennines. Despite its power to cut transport emissions, electrification has officially been cancelled on several other projects: the Midland Main Line between Kettering and Sheffield, the Windermere branch in Cumbria, and most infamously the Great Western route. The Great Western Electrification Project – GWEP to those in the know – was to have been Britain’s first significant electrification project since 1994. It was described as “the biggest overhaul of the Great Western route since Brunel started work on the line more than 175 years ago” by the government in 2018 – and more recently as “the project from hell” by Network Rail chair, Peter Hendy. The ambition was to electrify from Paddington to Swansea, Bristol and Oxford, taking polluting diesel trains off a swathe of the network. But the UK lacked the experience and the supply chain needed for such a huge project, and as a result it was poorly specified and planned. Costs rose until in 2017, the then transport secretary, Chris Grayling – having used the project to justify repeated fare increases – announced that electrification was “no longer needed” for most routes. Electrification stopped at Cardiff, and passengers and communities were saddled with the inefficient stopgap of bi-mode trains that run for long stretches on dirty diesel power. With GWEP stunted, and its companion projects largely cancelled, boom turned to bust. The newly developed skills and specialist workforce were surplus to requirement, including 150 of my industry colleagues at Swindon, who faced redundancy. Thankfully, the workers and organisers of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) and its sister unions averted mass layoffs as employers agreed to redeploy staff and offered voluntary redundancies. But even so, the skilled Great Western team was broken up and these jobs, central to the just transition to low CO 2 , abruptly ended. Planning one grandiose project every decade or two, training a workforce from scratch each time and then abandoning them halfway through is no way to invest in infrastructure. The Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) Electrification Cost Challenge, partly a response to the chaos of GWEP, contrasts this feast-or-famine approach with the successful rolling programmes of electrification in Germany and Scotland. These retain experience, skills and low-carbon jobs without the risk or spiralling costs that plagued GWEP. Long-term infrastructure strategy doesn’t excite many people. Apparently not everyone gets excited about trains, either. But steady investment and planning ahead are vital if we’re to see through the projects that will make a difference to the climate emergency. We all deserve that certainty – not least the people who are, quite literally, doing the groundwork. Aneurin Redman-White Source https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/24/clean-rail-travel-uk-government-electrification-low-carbon

October 25 at 05:59 AM

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Climate-driven train M&A goes off the rails

Reuters  October 22, 2021 (Melbourne, Australia) When the picks-and-shovels providers start departing, it’s usually a bad sign. That’s not the case with Aurizon’s (AZJ.AX) attempt to extricate itself from coal. The A$7.2 billion ($5.4 billion) Australian goods-train operator has unveiled two deals to reduce its reliance on transporting the fossil fuel  The first is an agreed A$2.35 billion purchase of One Rail Australia, which will increase the amount Aurizon’s so-called bulk division ships of commodities crucial to the global energy transition like copper and rare earths. Boss Andrew Harding is paying 10.5 times the target’s EBITDA, a lower multiple than plenty of recent deals. Second is a plan to offload a coal-freight unit, East Coast Rail. Trouble is, the net result only reduces coal revenue by around 7 percentage points to at least 50%. That comes at the expense of a couple of percentage points off the EBITDA margin, and takes the net debt load to 3.1 times EBITDA at the end of June, a fivefold increase. Meanwhile, Harding reckons bulk earnings will need a decade to double. That’s one slow-moving climate M&A train. (By Antony Currie) Source https://www.reuters.com/breakingviews/climate-driven-train-ma-goes-off-rails-2021-10-22/

October 25 at 05:51 AM

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Railway plan delays efforts to create bike trail in Maine

AP  October 22, 2021 (Portland, Maine) An agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation and a railway company could delay community efforts to create a multi-purpose trail between a 25-mile stretch of railroad connecting Portland and Auburn. The state wants to extend an abandonment agreement it has with the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad to use the railroad line for transportation. The stretch of track is a key location that is in a plan to link cities and towns in part of a loop-like trail, The Portland Press Herald reported. Richard Woodbury, a leader with the Casco Bay Trail Alliance, said the Maine DOT allowed permissions for the bike trail to move forward. But Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note said the department has to keep future options for the land open, including potentially extending an abandoned agreement. Source https://apnews.com/article/business-lifestyle-maine-portland-transportation-320fe5459f81efd988455710b3052719

October 25 at 05:10 AM

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China Rail expands coal transportation for upcoming winter and spring

Global Times  October 24, 2021 (China) China State Railway Group said on Sunday that it has significantly expanded transportation of coal across the country ahead of the upcoming winter and spring seasons, as Chinese authorities stepped up efforts to ensure coal supply to address power shortages. As of October 20, 363 power plants across China had reserves of 35.04 million tons of coal directly transported by rail, an increase of 18 percent compared with the end of September, according to data released by China Railway. The data also showed that on average coal inventory could last 16.6 days, compared to 14 days at the end of September. Entering September, the country saw severe power shortages in some areas, caused by soaring coal prices and policies aimed at reducing energy consumption. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, said on September 29 that rail operators and responsible authorities should prioritize coal transportation to secure supplies for domestic power generation. Since October, China Railway has opened green channels for fast loading and transportation, in order to guarantee supply for winter heating and normal operation of the economy and society, as the government has stepped up efforts to ensure a stable supply of coal and crack down on soaring prices. According to data, from October 1 to 20, China Railway loaded 52,357 cars of coal per day, an increase of 17 percent year-on-year. Moreover, rail operators have strengthened coal security for power generation and heating in the Northeast, as well as ensuring the transportation of imported coal via the ports of Manzhouli and Suifenhe in Northeast China. From October 1 to 20, coal loaded on average each day in Northeast China reached 11,145 cars, a year-on-year increase of 8 percent. On October 20, the State Council, the cabinet, called for an all-out effort to ensure coal production and transportation for residential heating, as well as cracking down on coal market speculation, a clear and firm signal to make livelihoods the national priority. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202110/1237116.shtml

October 25 at 05:01 AM

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New London to Edinburgh rail service begins

BBC  21 October, 2021 (UK) A new train operator says it wants to offer an alternative to cheap flights with a new London to Edinburgh service. From Thursday morning, Lumo will run on the East Coast mainline and offer two services a day with fares starting from £15. The first Lumo journey to Edinburgh Waverley left London King's Cross at 10:45 BST. It will take about four-and-a-half hours, stopping at Newcastle and Morpeth. The full London to Scotland route on the East Coast mainline is currently served only by the existing state-owned operator London North Eastern Railway (LNER).   Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-58992509

October 22 at 06:55 AM

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Surge in goods from China strains Russia's railway network

Reuters October 19, 2021 (Moscow, Russia) Explosive growth in sea shipping costs is prompting Chinese manufacturers to send more goods to Europe by rail across Russia, but the growth in demand is creating bottlenecks and straining network capacity. With countries frantically replenishing stocks and exporting finished goods as they recover from the pandemic, global sea ports are snarling up, making rail an attractive alternative. State monopoly Russian Railways said total container traffic transiting Russia jumped 40% in the first nine months of 2021 to 782,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit), and could hit a record 1 million TEU this year. "At the beginning of the year the cost of shipping goods in containers by rail between Asia and Europe was twice as low as by sea. Now it is 3.5 times (lower)," the rail company said. Most of the growth has come along the China-Russia-Europe route, where transit volumes for the first nine months rose 47% to 568,700 TEU. But transport operators and analysts say the rapid growth has exposed infrastructure problems that could limit transit flows significantly. These include shortages of staff - including managers and crane operators - and of rolling stock, said Alexey Bezborodov, head of Infraproject, a consultancy that analyses data and trends in transport and infrastructure. "No one believed in such a sharp increase in transit traffic before the pandemic, and no one was ready for it," he said. Transport and logistics group Delo told Reuters cargo flows were constrained by low capacity on the main railway lines and bottlenecks near ports and border checkpoints. Another container transport source cited bureaucratic delays and technical problems at border crossings where containers have to be transferred from one train to another because of differences in the gauge of the track. LONG-TERM PLAN The government has set a long-term plan to increase rail capacity. In 2018, President Vladimir Putin ordered it to boost container transit to 1.7 million TEU by 2024, a four-fold increase from 2017 levels. A draft transport strategy seen by Reuters sees flows rising to 3.7 million TEU by 2035, raising Russia's share in Asia-Europe cargo traffic to 15% from 4%. To achieve these goals Russian Railways is investing 200 billion roubles ($2.8 billion) from 2019 to 2024 in its "Transsib in 7 days" project, which aims to reduce cargo transit time from the eastern to western borders of the world's biggest country to a week, compared with the usual 11-14 days. This is part of a bigger project worth more than 700 billion roubles which Russian Railways and the government are financing from 2013, aimed at boosting exports of coal, metals and other commodities to Asian countries by expanding the BAM and Transsib lines that run across Siberia. This money is being spent on additional tracks needed to bypass slow-moving or oncoming trains, on building and increasing the capacity of stations and on strengthening electricity supply, the monopoly explained. In a statement in response to questions from Reuters, transport operator Delo welcomed the investments. "But for objective and subjective reasons the implementation of these measures is not carried out as quickly as we would like," a company representative said. ($1 = 71.3230 roubles) Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; additional reporting by Maria Vasilyeva; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Andrew Cawthorne Source https://www.reuters.com/business/surge-goods-china-strains-russias-railway-network-2021-10-19/

October 22 at 06:51 AM

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Grand Central’s New Rail Hub to Be Managed by MTA Unit

Yahoo Finance (Bloomberg) October 20, 2021  (US) New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is creating a subsidiary corporation to oversee a new rail facility below Grand Central Terminal that will connect Long Island commuters to Manhattan’s east side. The East Side Access project is estimated to cut commuting times by extending the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central. The commuter line runs between Long Island and Penn Station, located on midtown Manhattan’s west side. The MTA’s board voted to approve the new subsidiary at its monthly board meeting on Wednesday. The new rail terminal is set to open December 2022 as the MTA struggles to bring ridership back to pre-pandemic levels. The LIRR carried 153,700 riders on Monday, a 47% drop from 2019. “All signs seem to be pointing to expectations that work from home will have some -- we don’t know exactly how much, but it’s going to have some -- ridership impact and it’s going to be years before we work our way to 100%,” Janno Lieber, the MTA’s acting chief executive officer, said during Wednesday’s meeting. “So we do need to find new sources of revenue in tandem with our partners in the legislature and other major stakeholders.” The MTA is the largest public-transportation system in the U.S. and includes New York City’s subways and buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Rail Road, which connects the city to its northern suburbs. The MTA already has subsidiaries that manage those systems. This action would create another entity just for the new terminal underneath Grand Central. New Positions The subsidiary will oversee the new 350,000-square foot terminal, which includes eight new rail tracks and 25,000 square feet of retail space within a concourse below Grand Central. A private operator will manage and maintain the hub. Long Island Railroad employees will take care of the rail work, creating about 210 new positions. Source https://finance.yahoo.com/news/grand-central-transit-hub-overseen-123523380.html

October 22 at 06:44 AM

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Rail-Yard Congestion Holds Down Shipping Volumes

The Wall Street Journal  October 21, 2021 (US) CSX and Union Pacific say higher prices are helping revenue, but shortages of workers and equipment have them turning down business The chief executives at CSX Corp. and Union Pacific Corp. say a lack of truck drivers, equipment and warehouse workers are causing congestion in their yards, forcing the railroad operators to turn down some business during a time of high demand for shipping companies. The railroads are also facing issues within their own operations, from damaged bridges to difficulty hiring conductors, that they say are hampering them from transporting more goods. Source https://www.wsj.com/articles/rail-yard-congestion-holds-down-shipping-volumes-11634843056

October 22 at 06:32 AM

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Nigeria rail company says explosion damages passenger train

Reuters  October 21, 2021 (Kaduna, Nigeria) Nigeria's national rail company said on Thursday an explosion had rocked one of its passenger trains, damaging its fuel tank and forcing it to stop but there were no casualties or injuries. The Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) said the explosion occurred on its passenger train on the Abuja-Kaduna line on Wednesday night and that the damaged train had been taken for assessment and repairs. "We are also pleased to inform the public that there were no reported casualties on either the passengers or the train crew," NRC said in a statement. Pictures circulating on social media showed a shattered front window of the train, damages to the coaches and people who were inspecting destroyed parts of the rail line. Some travellers are opting to travel by rail after several people were kidnapped by armed bandits on some of Nigeria's highways, especially in the northwest of the country. A Reuters witness on board the train said he heard a loud bang, which forced the train to stop and lights and the air conditioning system immediately went off. Writing on Twitter, Shehu Sani, a Nigerian senator who said he was on the train, attributed the explosion to the work of "terrorists" but did not provide evidence. Nigeria is battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and armed bandits who have kidnapped hundreds of students, travellers and villagers for ransom, leaving the population terrified. Reporting by Garba Muhammad in Kaduna and Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Sandra Maler Source https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/nigeria-rail-company-says-explosion-damages-passenger-train-2021-10-21/

October 22 at 06:26 AM

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Green hydrogen hub in Mississippi to be largest in US

AP  20 October, 2021 (Jackson, Mississippi, US) A Jackson-based company has announced plans to build a green hydrogen hub in Mississippi it says will be the largest of its kind in the U.S. and create an easier pathway for hard-to-decarbonize manufacturing industries to move away from fossil fuels. Connected across multiple sites traversing approximately 200 miles (320 kilometers) in southern Mississippi, Hy Stor Energy’s Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub will produce, store and deliver green hydrogen that is 100% carbon-free and can be used to create green electricity, substitute or complement natural gas and replace diesel or other gasoline for heavy-duty trucks, ships, and trains, said Laura L. Luce, Hy Stor Energy’s CEO. In addition to regularly producing and delivering to customers across Mississippi and surrounding states, Hy Stor will house green hydrogen in caverns developed in Mississippi’s naturally occurring salt domes that can be stored for months and years at a time, Luce said. That way, it can be used when needed, such as during extreme weather events, like hurricanes, when power can be out for days and weeks, she said. It can also be accessed at times when renewables like solar panels and wind turbines can’t produce energy. Source https://apnews.com/article/technology-business-environment-and-nature-mississippi-jackson-957015f59f50d4c34fd8acc5fd841570

October 21 at 06:09 AM

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Cable damage causes delays to Cambridge rail services

BBC  21 October, 2021 (UK) Rail passengers have had their journeys disrupted for much of the day after an overhead power cable was damaged at Cambridge. Cables have now been repaired and the disruption has ended, National Rail Enquiries said. Thameslink had advised people to delay travel from Cambridge to London as journey times were increased by about two hours. The power cable came down on Tuesday, leaving passengers stranded on trains. British Transport Police said it assisted Network Rail in "evacuating passengers from several stranded trains", working with operators Great Northern, CrossCountry and Greater Anglia. Network Rail repaired the damaged electrical cables and Greater Anglia apologised for the delay and inconvenience to passengers. Other services affected included cancelled trains between Cambridge and London Stansted Airport. No Thameslink trains were running between Cambridge and Royston, with a significantly reduced service between Foxton, Royston and London, until at least 13:00 BST, the operator said. An hourly train shuttle was offered between Cambridge North and King's Lynn, the rail firm added. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-58977469

October 21 at 06:03 AM

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UPDATE 1-Hedge fund TCI up 17% over first nine months Of 2021, helped by CN Rail stake -source

Reuters  October 20, 2021 (Toronto,Canada) Chris Hohn’s hedge fund firm TCI Fund Management rose over 17% in the first nine months of year, a source close to the firm told Reuters on Wednesday, as the activist investor benefited from its stake in Canadian National Railway Co. TCI, which owns a 5% stake in CN, has been agitating for change at Canada’s biggest rail road operator since August after it entered into a bidding war with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd for U.S. rail operator Kansas City Southern. CP finally clinched the $27 billion deal for Kansas last month after CN bowed out. On Tuesday, CN’s Chief Executive Officer Jean-Jacques Ruest announced he would retire at the end of January after facing consistent pressure from TCI. TCI’s double-digit returns exceeded the average hedge fund gains of 9.8% over the same period, according to data from Hedge Fund Research. TCI managed $40 billion in assets under management at end-June. The source declined to be identified as the information is not public. Shares in CN have risen 16.2% since TCI first suggested a change of senior management and a shake-up of the board, advocating for former Union Pacific executive Jim Vena to helm the company. But TCI on Tuesday said despite the success of the campaign, the firm will continue to advocate for further changes. The hedge fund had also advocated for more railroad experience on the board, suggesting former Illinois Central Railroad Chairman Gilbert H. Lamphere be appointed as director. While TCI has held a position in CN since 2018, the campaign marks the hedge fund’s first foray into shareholder activism in Canada. A spokesman for TCI declined to comment. (Reporting by Maiya Keidan; editing by Diane Craft) Source https://www.reuters.com/article/hedgefunds-tci/update-1-hedge-fund-tci-up-17-over-first-nine-months-of-2021-helped-by-cn-rail-stake-source-idUSL1N2RG1WU

October 21 at 05:58 AM

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Sydney rail network goes green with renewable energy deal

The Sydney Morning Herald October 21, 2021 (Australia) Sydney’s train network has become the first in Australia to transition to net zero emissions after the NSW government moved to power the massive transport system with renewable energy. The government has committed to a four-year agreement with Snowy Hydro-owned Red Energy for the electricity used by the network, which produced close to 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide last financial year. Former transport minister Andrew Constance in June revealed the government would push to power the train network with green energy by 2025. His successor, Rob Stokes said the latest agreement means the state will have “smashed” the target by more than four years in “becoming the first heavy rail network in Australia to transition to completely green energy”. The Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink networks represents about 1.3 per cent of the state’s electricity usage, with the government now purchasing renewable energy certificates from Red Energy, which generates clean energy from wind and solar. The certificates provide evidence that the source of the energy is renewable. Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said the agency was preparing to go to market in 2024 to “test solutions” to maintain net zero into the future. A Sydney Trains spokeswoman said the certificates were identified as the best available strategy for the agency to achieve net-zero, though that could change “following further engagement with the market”. Sydney Trains will also reduce energy consumption by at least 10 per cent by 2025 through solar energy generation at close to 30 locations across the network. While the government seeks to offset its public transport network, a $500 million budget commitment it made to incentivise the take-up of electric vehicles will come into effect from November after new laws passed Parliament on Wednesday. Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/sydney-rail-network-goes-green-with-renewable-energy-deal-20211020-p591n1.html

October 21 at 04:58 AM

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CN Rail Sees Hydrogen Train Shipments Potentially Rivaling Crude

Bloomberg  October 21, 2021 (Canada) Canadian National Railway Co. expects hydrogen shipments in tank cars could grow to the size of the crude-by-rail business as energy companies plan to ramp up production of the clean-burning gas.  Companies including Air Products & Chemicals Inc., Suncor Energy Inc. and ATCO Ltd. have announced plans to build hydrogen-production plants in Alberta that would use carbon capture and storage to reduce or zero out carbon emissions.      Source https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-20/cn-rail-sees-hydrogen-train-shipments-potentially-rivaling-crude

October 21 at 04:36 AM

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Australia: Several injured after train derailment at Kembla Grange near Wollongong

New Zealand Herald  20 October, 2021 (Wollongong, Australia) A train has derailed south of Sydney leaving several passengers injured. The incident occurred in Kembla Grange, near Wollongong, after the derailed passenger train crashed into a car. Twelve people were evacuated and the driver, who was trapped for a short time, and at least three others including passengers were taken to hospital. The front carriage of the train has completely detached. NSW Police said emergency crews were called to the scene just after 4am. "Police have been told the train struck an unoccupied vehicle that was on the track, before the front carriage of the train rolled onto its side." Trains between Wollongong and Waterfall are still running but buses will replace trains in certain route with delays expected. "A shuttle train service is operating in both directions between Albion Park and Kiama," NSW TrainLink South tweeted. "Buses are on site and are operating a replacement service between Wollongong and Albion Park in both directions." "Passengers are also advised to allow plenty of extra travel time, listen to announcements and check information displays for service updates," Transport for NSW said. Source https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/australia-several-injured-after-train-derailment-at-kembla-grange-near-wollongong/YKHMSSXEBZ4ESVDPW6PQS4XIOA/

October 20 at 05:50 AM

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Dream of Karachi Circular Railway revival inching towards reality

Dawn  October 17, 2021 (Karachi, Pakistan) The scheme to restart the 44-km Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) by constructing three underpasses, a flyover and an elevated 6.4-km structure along with the laying of new rail tracks on most part of the route for running electric trains at a revised cost of over Rs207 billion still looks like a pipedream. However, this highly ambitious plan, for which substantial ground work has already been done albeit on paper, may go a long way in transforming Karachi’s public transport problem. There are many sceptics, including those in the Sindh government, who believe the federal government is still not sincere in reviving the KCR, which has remained off track for well over 20 years. However, those like the prime minister, who had inaugurated the project earlier this month, railways minister and some senior officials of Pakistan Railways are pretty confident that they will be able to complete this project in three years. Initiated in 1964, the old KCR route started from Drigh Road and ended in downtown Karachi. After suffering losses for years, it ceased operations in 1999. Source https://www.dawn.com/news/1652421

October 20 at 05:38 AM

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Pipavav Rail Corp begins independent container train operation in India

Economic Times  October 19, 2021 (India) Pipavav Rail Corporation Ltd (PRCL) has commenced its independent container train operation in India with the launch of a direct container train service to Jodhpur Inland Container Depot (ICD) on the electrified route, according to a statement by APM Terminals Pipavav. To ensure faster delivery of cargo and return of containers, Pipavav Rail Corporation Ltd has sought to relieve the congestion with this commencement of a weekly direct regular service from Pipavav Port to Bhagat Ki Kothi on on electric traction, it said. PRCL is a joint venture between Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd and the Indian Railways. Jodhpur imports solar panels and white cement clinkers. The recent surge in imports at the city has seen the trade experience congestion-linked backlogs at various points of the supply chain, according to the statement. Source https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/transportation/railways/pipavav-rail-corp-begins-independent-container-train-operation-in-india/articleshow/87139339.cms

October 20 at 05:28 AM

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Japan’s 1937 gasoline-turned-diesel train car to be important cultural property

The Japan News (The Yomiuri Shimbun) October 16, 2021 (Japan) A train car built in 1937 has been recommended for designation as one of the nation’s important cultural properties. Displayed at the Kyushu Railway History Museum in Kitakyushu, the 19-meter-long passenger train car bears lettering and numbers indicating it as unit 41 of the diesel-powered KiHa 07 series. The original unit number when it was powered by gasoline was KiHa 42055. The body, interior design and mechanical transmission have been preserved as they were. The train car was evaluated as an important record of the technological development of diesel cars in Japan’s railway history. In the wake of Friday’s recommendation by the Council for Cultural Affairs, the train will soon be designated an important cultural property by the education, culture, sports, science and technology minister. Regarding other properties that show the development of transportation, the council also recommended that a passenger bus from the early Showa era (1926-89) operated by the then railway ministry be designated as an important cultural property. Source https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007884777

October 20 at 05:01 AM

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Railway to connect Laos to China, world

Manila Times  October 13, 2021 (Vientiane,Laos) The sunshine in October is still burning in a railing base in the northern outskirts of Lao capital Vientiane, but what Sida Phengphongsawanh, a trainee for China-Laos railway train driver, cares for is the jingle of the train maintenance which sounds like music. The crisp sound in the China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group (CREC-2) of the China-Laos railway seems to celebrate her for one more step closer to fulfilling her wish. The 22-year-old looks gentle while holding a determined "steel locomotive dream": being a train driver. To this end, as soon as she heard that the China-Laos railway was to be built, she thought about working on it in the future. The China-Laos Railway, which connects Kunming in China's Yunnan Province with Lao capital Vientiane, is the first railway project built with Chinese investment, jointly operated by China and Laos and directly connected to China's railway network. As the project enters the completion acceptance phase, Sida is getting more and more excited and earnest. "I heard about the Laos-China railway for the first time in 2015. In 2016, I went to Kunming to study the knowledge of railways. After returning home, I went straight to the Laos-China Railway Co. Ltd. to apply for a position. I hope to be an excellent female driver on the Laos-China railway," Sida told Xinhua recently. Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/10/13/business/foreign-business/railway-to-connect-laos-to-china-world/1818180

October 20 at 04:51 AM

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All you need to know about UAE's National Rail Network - Etihad Rail Project

Gulf News  October 11, 2021 (Dubai, UAE) The railway will redefine logistics and transport in the region, providing a modern, safe, efficient and sustainable network which will connect the seven emirates of the UAE to its neighbouring GCC countries. The national railway system is expected to increase the country’s GDP by Dh3.5b by 2030 In a vision to bring all the emirates together, Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network, was launched in 2009. The rail network was instigated to connect all of the UAE’s major ports with distribution centres and will link industrial hubs with urban and suburban communities. Over the years, Etihad Rail has signed a series of agreements throughout the UAE to secure the rail network’s transport corridors in all the emirates. Emphasising the importance of developing the Etihad Rail network, Srinath Manda, programme manager for transportation and logistics practice for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia at Frost and Sullivan's, said that the project can definitely be considered a "landmark" in the UAE's transportation sector with an estimated cost of Dh146.8 billion. Connecting the GCC "Once completed, it is expected to transform logistics and transport not only in the UAE but also the wider GCC region," said Manda, adding that Etihad Rail is expected to provide a safe, efficient and sustainable transport network that will link all corners of the country and eventually link the UAE to other countries in the GCC with 1,200 kilometre track. Source https://gulfnews.com/uae/year-of-the-50th/all-you-need-to-know-about-uaes-national-rail-network---etihad-rail-project-1.1630825366768

October 19 at 06:05 AM

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Farmers’ protest hits coal trains

The Hindu  October 18, 2021 (India) Most rail disruptions were experienced in the Northern Zone, which saw about 150 locations affected by protests during the day At least 10 goods trains carrying coal to power plants were stuck, and about 25 passenger trains cancelled, as farm unions under the banner of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha held a nationwide rail roko agitation on Monday. Protesters squatted on rail tracks and hindered train movement to demand the immediate dismissal and arrest of Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra for his alleged involvement in the deaths of four farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month. “About 10 rakes were affected due to untimely rains and rail roko,” Power Ministry officials told  The Hindu . They noted that despite the blockage, 290 coal rakes were loaded on Monday in comparison to 279 on the previous day. This comes at a time when the country is on the verge of a power crisis, with some power plants holding critically low reserve stocks of coal and some States already experiencing partial load-shedding. Most rail disruptions were experienced in the Northern Zone, which saw about 150 locations affected by protests during the day. According to a Northern Railways spokesperson, the operations of 60 trains were impacted and 25 short distance passenger trains were cancelled. By 5 p.m., train services were resumed. Source https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rail-roko-affects-130-locations-in-northern-railway-zone-hinder-running-of-50-trains/article37050905.ece

October 19 at 05:58 AM

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Transport chaos predicted for Sydney ahead of train strike

The Sydney Morning Herald  October 19, 2021 (Australia) Sydney’s public transport network will be thrown into disarray on Wednesday with rail workers refusing to staff close to 70 per cent of the city’s trains amid an ongoing industrial dispute with the state government. NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union members will not staff any privately built trains on the state’s rail network on Wednesday, meaning more than two-thirds of the rolling stock will be taken out of service. Transport for NSW chief operations officer Howard Collins warned the strike would result in serious delays and disruption across the train network, and would likely have a knock-on effect for bus services. “There’s probably only going to be about 30 per cent of the train service running,” Mr Collins said, urging commuters to avoid the peak hour.   “There will be delays. We’ve got a few extra buses on board, but we need thousands of buses to replace a train service.” Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary Alex Claassens said the government had refused to rule out further privatisation of transport services, prompting the latest industrial action. “We don’t want to have to take any action, but rail workers have absolutely no choice but to try to make management listen to them, and industrial action is the only tool they have,” Mr Claassens said. “This state government has a shocking record of dismantling, privatising and selling off our public transport, a policy they have enthusiastically continued under cover of the COVID pandemic. The union is also 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/transport-chaos-predicted-for-sydney-ahead-of-train-strike-20211019-p591b6.html

October 19 at 05:54 AM

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Even with a tunnel, new ECRL route will cost S’gor 11ha in forest reserves

Malaysiakini  8 October, 2021 (Malaysia) Selangor’s forest reserves will be 11ha smaller should the new proposed “northern alignment” of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) go ahead. Environmentalists are cautiously optimistic and commended the use of a long tunnel to avoid the need to clear more forests. They also noted measures in the project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) report to mitigate the potential impact on wildlife and sources of drinking water. Source https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/594570

October 19 at 05:42 AM

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Indian Railways’ game-changing Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project in J&K to be completed by 2023

Financial Express  October 04, 2021 (India) The Udhampur - Srinagar - Baramulla rail link project is the most ambitious railway project in the country post-Independence and the national transporter is working at full capacity to meet all deadlines, Jardosh said. Indian Railways’ Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail line project is all set to be a game-changer for Jammu and Kashmir! So far, 80 per cent of the work on the ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link has been completed while the rest of the work will be completed by the year 2023, Union Minister Darshana Jardosh said on Saturday, on her visit to Kashmir as part of the central government’s public outreach programme. The Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail link project is the most ambitious railway project in the country post-Independence and the national transporter is working at full capacity to meet all deadlines, Jardosh was quoted saying in a PTI report. According to the minister, other than providing relief to the people, the rail line, from the security point of view, is of strategic importance especially in a place like Kashmir. Jardosh said that Kashmir is a challenging terrain because of its topography but Indian Railways is fully equipped to meet all challenges with the latest technology as well as a dedicated workforce. As the route is mountainous, the Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail link project is challenging. Several bridges as well as tunnels had to be made to complete the project, she said. The minister examined the work progress at the ground and said the work has been going at a faster pace. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/indian-railways-game-changing-udhampur-srinagar-baramulla-rail-link-project-in-jk-to-be-completed-by-2023/2343193/

October 19 at 05:34 AM

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How Italy's high-speed trains helped kill Alitalia

CNN  14 October, 2021 (Italy) Over a decade ago, when Francesco Galietti had to travel from his native Rome to Milan for work, he used to fly the nearly 400-mile route. Today, he takes the train. Galietti -- CEO of Rome-based political risk consultancy Policy Sonar -- is not alone. Figures released in 2019 by Italy state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato show that the number of passengers taking the train on the country's main business route, between Rome and Milan, has almost quadrupled in a decade, from 1 million in 2008 to 3.6 million by 2018. Over two thirds of people traveling between the two cities now takes the train. It's a remarkable endorsement of Italy's high-speed rail network, which debuted in 2008.   Traveling those near-400 miles between Milan and Rome takes as little as 2 hours and 59 minutes. And, of course, the train stations are in the city center, and there's no need to turn up long before your train -- the doors close two minutes before departure.   Contrast that to a minimum half-hour drive to Rome's Fiumicino, checking in 90 minutes before departure, an hour in the air and then landing outside Milan -- Linate airport, the closest, is about 20 minutes' drive into town -- and it's obvious why people are opting for the train. Which leads you to wonder, as Italy's national airline prepares to shut down on October 15 -- did the high-speed railways kill Alitalia? Galietti thinks so. "Alitalia was a bird with its wings very much clipped from the start -- for an international carrier, it was very much focused on the domestic market," he says. Source https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/italy-high-speed-trains-alitalia/index.html

October 18 at 11:28 AM

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Punggol LRT system resumes after signalling fault disrupts train services

The Straits Times  17 October, 2021 (Singapore) Train services on the Punggol LRT line were disrupted by a signalling fault for about 45 minutes on Sunday (Oct 17) morning. The disruption was first announced by rail operator SBS Transit in a tweet at 12.02pm. In a follow-up tweet at 12.14pm, it announced that train services had resumed. At 12.25pm, SBS Transit said bridging buses and free bus rides at designated bus stops had ceased. It apologised to all passengers for the inconvenience caused. Senior vice-president of SBS Transit corporate communications, Ms Tammy Tan, said that five light rail vehicles (LRVs) had stalled on the tracks due to the fault.  Passengers could not be evacuated via the tracks to get to the station due to lightning warnings, said Ms Tan. She added that air-conditioning and lighting continued to be available on board the LRVs and that SBS Transit staff had remained in contact with the passengers. The cause of the fault is being investigated. Ms Diantha Chong, 24, a market research associate, was on her way to a fitness class when her train stopped. "My ride to Punggol MRT station is usually only 10 minutes. They said the delay would only be 15 minutes, but I was stuck on the LRT train for almost an hour and missed my fitness class," she said. "There were no clear instructions given during the disruption - it made me pretty upset as my fitness studio charges fees for missing classes," she added. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/services-resume-after-signalling-fault-disrupts-punggol-lrt-services

October 18 at 06:54 AM

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Mexico City prepares criminal charges, urges settlements in probe of Metro collapse

Reuters  October 15, 2021 (Mexico) Mexico City officials on Thursday said they were opening criminal cases against people and companies involved in building a stretch of Metro rail that collapsed, killing 26 people, and urged the firms to quickly come to settlement deals. The accident occurred in May when an overpass and train carriage on Metro Line 12 plummeted onto a stream of cars in the southeast of the city. An independent auditor found that missing bolts and poor welding contributed to the crash, findings confirmed in a separate investigation by the Mexico City Attorney General's Office. "This prosecutor's office has the evidence to charge a number of people and companies who were in charge of ensuring there would never be cause for a collapse," Mexico City's Attorney General, Ernestina Godoy, told a news conference. The suspected people will face charges of homicide, causing injuries and property damage, she added, without providing details. She urged companies to reach agreements with the city to avoid legal processes and help provide reparations to victims. "Some companies that participated in Line 12 showed from the very beginning their interest in participate in the mitigation and repair of effects from the collapse," Godoy said. Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has said his construction firm, Grupo Carso, which helped build the section that collapsed, will repair the line at no cost to the government. Without naming Grupo Carso, Godoy said she hoped companies would contribute to a fund to support people injured in the accident and the families of victims. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-city-prepares-criminal-charges-urges-settlements-probe-metro-collapse-2021-10-15/

October 18 at 06:47 AM

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Indonesia Turns to State Budget for Rail Project on Cost Overrun

Bloomberg  13 October, 2021 (Indonesia) Indonesia plans to allocate the budget to help fund the Jakarta-Bandung fast train project as investment costs jump, reversing a decision six years ago to not use state money when it granted the contract to a China-led consortium. Source https://www.bloomberg.com/search?query=Indonesia%20Turns%20to%20State%20Budget%20for%20Rail%20Project

October 18 at 06:40 AM

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Southeastern train services taken over by government

BBC  17 October 2021 (UK) Southeastern's train services have been taken over by the government (UK). Franchise holder Govia was informed of the decision last month after failing to declare more than £25m of taxpayer funding. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the Operator of Last Resort would take over the running to protect taxpayers' interests. Passengers are unlikely to see any immediate changes as trains, timetables and fares will stay the same. Southeastern's vast network includes London, Kent, East Sussex and the High Speed 1 line. The franchise was owned by Govia - a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group and Keolis. The government stepped in after an investigation by the Department for Transport (DfT) identified Govia had not declared millions of pounds of historic taxpayer funding. The DfT said the money had since been reclaimed. Further investigations are being conducted and the government is considering more action, including financial penalties. Anthony Smith, chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Passengers will want a punctual, reliable, clean train, with enough room to sit and stand, and value for money fares." Cat Hobbs, director of public ownership campaign group We Own It, said "privatisation is failing our railway" and called for the whole rail network to be brought into public hands "where it belongs". Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-58939209

October 18 at 04:33 AM

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DC Metro pulling 60% of trains out of service due to defect

AP  18 October 2021 (Washington,US ) Metro trains in Washington D.C. will only run every 30 minutes on Monday while local authorities investigate an issue with axles on its newest rail cars, officials said Sunday. A defect was discovered in a car that derailed on the Metro’s Blue Line last week, and the same issue was found in several other 7000-series railcars, according to a statement by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Because of the defect, described as an out of compliance axle, the Washington Metro Safety Commission mandated that all of the 7000-series railcars had to be taken out of service by 5 a.m. Monday. The National Transportation Safety Board said it would hold a news conference to give an update on the derailment at 10 a.m. Monday. The affected rail cars make up about 60% of the fleet, leaving 40 trains. According to the safety commission, the amount of time needed to inspect all other trains has not been determined. All lines will operate a “basic service pattern,” the transit authority said, meaning trains would only depart about every 30 minutes. Metro encouraged patrons to consider alternate forms of travel on Monday, and the D.C. public school system advised parents to expect impacts to school operations. “Please leave additional time for your journey to and from school,” DCPS wrote in a statement on Sunday. “Late student arrivals will be marked as excused.” Source https://apnews.com/article/baa94b1a3f9c5810388cf1339c31b966

October 18 at 04:28 AM

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Germany: Hamburg gets first fully automated tram

Deutsche Welle  11 October, 2021 (Germany) Deutsche Bahn and Siemens have premiered a new, digitally automated train, hailing it as a "blueprint for digitalizing the rails in Germany, Europe and the world." DB has promised that the new system will make service more reliable and efficient German rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) and high-tech partner Siemens unveiled their new fully automated, "Digital S-Bahn Hamburg" tram on Monday. The premier coincided with the opening of this year's Hamburg-hosted installment of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress, which showcases mobility solutions and ideas. DB said it plans to expand use of its new digital trams to service all of Hamburg, claiming that by 2030 and beyond many of its local, regional and national lines will use similar technology. The company said fully automating the trains and controlling them digitally will allow more to run at shorter intervals, as well as increase energy efficiency and cut operating costs. The €60-million ($69.4-million) project, financed equally by DB, Siemens and the city-state of Hamburg, combines two operating systems — Automatic Train Operation (ATO) and the European Train Control System (ETCS) — that can be retrofitted onto existing trains and tracks. These flexible systems allow a driver, who will still remain on board, to manually operate trains when they move to stretches of track that are not outfitted with corresponding control technology. All other operations, such as starting, accelerating, decelerating, stopping and shunting will be fully automated. At Monday's unveiling, Siemens CEO Roland Busch praised the new project as a "blueprint for digitalizing the rails in Germany, Europe and the the world." Source https://www.dw.com/en/germany-hamburg-gets-first-fully-automated-tram/a-59470896

October 13 at 07:26 AM

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Greater Manchester rail timetable aims to 'unclog bottlenecks'

BBC  12 October, 2021 (UK) A new rail timetable aimed at ensuring Greater Manchester stays connected while "bottlenecks become unclogged" has been approved by transport bosses. The timetable follows a consultation by the government to address the poor performance of the area's rail network. Government, council and rail operator representatives hope it will reduce passenger delays in the region by 25%. Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the new timetable was part of the work "to fix Manchester's railways". The core of the new services will be rolled out across the area by December 2022. 'Cutting delays' The timetable was produced by the cross-industry Manchester Recovery Task Force, which includes representatives from the Department for Transport, Transport for the North (TfN), Transport for Greater Manchester, Network Rail and operators Northern and TransPennine Express. TfN said the improvements will ensure "the wider Manchester area remains closely connected whilst bottlenecks become unclogged" in a number of congested "hotspots" such as Castlefield in Manchester. It said the changes will benefit about 150,000 passengers returning to the region's rail network in the coming months. The new timetable will include retaining direct routes from Manchester Airport to Liverpool, Chester and North Wales and hourly daytime service between Southport, Wigan and Manchester Oxford Road and Southport, Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-58886535

October 13 at 07:15 AM

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ST Engineering to collaborate with LTA unit for overseas rail projects

Straits Times (THE BUSINESS TIMES)   October 12, 2021 (Singapore) Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with MSI Global - a wholly owned subsidiary of the Land Transport Authority - to collaborate in rail projects around the world. Both companies will jointly provide rail electronics solutions and services for rail projects overseas under the collaboration, they said in a joint press statement on Tuesday (Oct 12). The MOU also includes developing joint go-to-market activities to grow Singapore's rail global footprint. ST Engineering will contribute its technical and domain expertise in advanced smart metro solutions, while MSI Global will provide its expertise in ticketing and payment systems software solutions, systems integration for rolling stock, signalling, power supply systems, depot planning and project management. Mr Chew Men Leong, president of urban solutions at ST Engineering, noted that the MOU serves as a platform for the group to extend its smart mobility expertise - which is also its key focus area in its smart city growth strategy - to new international markets. "The complementary capabilities and synergies that both organisations intend to forge will further strengthen our combined rail offerings and position us as a strong contender amongst global competition," he said. The MOU will relate only to collaboration outside Singapore, said MSI Global chief executive Sim Wee Meng. Shares of ST Engineering were trading at $3.90 as at 10.33am on Tuesday, down one cent or 0.3 per cent. Source https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/st-engineering-to-collaborate-with-lta-unit-for-overseas-rail-projects

October 13 at 07:08 AM

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Dubai: Students who frequently use Metro, tram get free laptops

Khaleej Times  September 6, 2021 (UAE) The initiative coincided with the start of the new academic year last week Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has given away free laptops to students who are frequent users of the Metro and tram. The students use the services to reach their schools and universities. The initiative coincided with the start of the new academic year last week. “This initiative is part of the RTA’s commitment to encourage various segments of the community like the youth and students to use mass transit means like the Metro, tram, buses and marine transit means in their daily commute across Dubai,” said Rowdah Al Mehrizi, director of Marketing and Corporate Communication, Corporate Administrative Support Services Sector, RTA. Source https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/dubai-students-who-frequently-use-metro-tram-get-free-laptops

October 13 at 06:57 AM

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EU giving away 60,000 free Interrail tickets

Deutsche Welle  12 October 2021 (EU) From Tuesday, 18- to 20-year-olds can apply for tickets that grant free train travel across Europe. The initiative is providing travel opportunities to young people as the pandemic wanes. The European Commission is handing out 60,000 Interrail tickets to young people from Tuesday. The ticket allows for free train travel across Europe for up to a month. During the coronavirus pandemic, young people "showed true solidarity and missed valuable and formative moments of their youth for doing so," Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said, announcing the contest on Monday. The purpose of the initiative, he said, is to "rekindle mobility in Europe." How do I get a ticket? The application process opens at midday on Tuesday, October 12, and remains open until October 26. Applicants must be 18 to 20 years old and have nationality of a European Union member state. They will have to take a quiz with questions about the EU to be eligible. Winners will be able to travel around all EU countries for free for up to 30 days between March 2022 and February 2023. Ticketholders will also be able to take buses and ferries. The scheme is usually only open to 18-year-olds, but this time, 19- and 20-year-olds will get to apply because the last two rounds were suspended amid the pandemic. Young people from the United Kingdom will also get a chance to apply for one last time. Despite Brexit, UK nationals were eligible in 2020 when the round was canceled due to COVID-19. Funding for that year was moved to 2021. Why is the EU handing out free tickets? The initiative, called "DiscoverEU," started as a preparatory action initiated by the European Parliament between 2018 and 2020. The plan was to provide traveling and mobility opportunities to young people turning 18 years old, the age of legal adulthood. The action specifically targets 18-year-olds, "as this age generally marks a major step to adulthood and to European citizenship," the Commission states online. In the first round in 2018 and 2019, 350,000 young Europeans applied for 70,000 travel passes, according to the Commission. Around 66% of participants said they were traveling abroad by train for the first time. Additionally, two-thirds of respondents said they could not have financed the travel themselves. kmm/aw (dpa, KNA) Source https://www.dw.com/en/eu-giving-away-60000-free-interrail-tickets/a-59476656

October 13 at 06:46 AM

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Anti-HS2 activists evicted from Wendover protest camp

BBC  12 October, 2021 (UK) Four people have been evicted from an anti-HS2 protest camp site in Buckinghamshire, campaigners said. The eviction at Wendover Active Resistance camp began on Sunday and is expected to last weeks. The environmental activists have dug a tunnel, built treehouses and erected a 15m high tower on the site. Veteran protester Dan Hooper, also known as "Swampy", said the eviction had been "quite chilled" so far. The camp, which features an unknown number of protesters, is on a narrow area of land between the A413 and the local Chiltern railway line south of Wendover. Heading north, the HS2 line will pass over the road and railway on a low viaduct before entering a tunnel to pass to the west of the town. Mr Hooper said he expected the eviction to take "quite a while" and estimated he and other activists would be there into December. Anglo-Saxon church found at HS2 excavation site Charges against women in HS2 tree protest dropped Next phase of HS2 rail network gets green light A HS2 spokesman said: "HS2 has a legal right to possession of this land which is needed for the safe construction of the railway. "We are currently working to safely remove a number of illegal trespassers who have put themselves into dangerous positions." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-58873882

October 12 at 07:46 AM

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Tokyo trains crowded but little other damage day after strong quake

Reuters  October 8, 2021 (Tokyo, Japan) Tokyo area commuters faced packed trains on Friday on some lines due to delays, but there was little other impact after a strong quake rocked the Japanese capital late the night before, although authorities warned of aftershocks for up to a week. The quake struck at 10:41 p.m. (1341 GMT), centred just east of Tokyo and registering as a "Strong 5" on Japan's intensity scale, which can cause power cuts and damage to buildings. The Japan Meteorological Agency revised down the magnitude to 5.9 from an initial 6.1. There were scattered reports of water main breaks and about 250 buildings in downtown Tokyo briefly lost power. One of the biggest commuter train stations, Shinagawa, lost power as well, forcing people into long lines for cabs as they tried to get home on Thursday night. Several dozen people were injured, mainly by falls or being struck by falling objects. Most of the injuries were minor. By Friday morning everything was back to normal except on some train lines that were running late or with limited capacity. Waiting commuters overflowed into the streets outside due to crowding. The Japan Meteorological Agency said aftershocks, possibly of similar strength, could occur for up to a week. The hashtag "Because of the Quake", in Japanese, was trending on Twitter as Tokyoites, normally inured to tremors, tried to put the quake behind them by jokingly blaming it for everything from missing glasses to terrified cats. Many, though, said they hadn't slept. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/tokyo-trains-crowded-little-other-damage-day-after-strong-quake-2021-10-08/

October 12 at 07:40 AM

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Envoy: Turkey is keen to invest in Bangladesh Railway

Dhaka Tribune  October 10, 2021 (Bangladesh) Bangladesh is looking for foreign investment in the railway sector, says Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Osman Turan on Sunday expressed his country’s keenness to invest in the railway sector in Bangladesh. The envoy expressed the willingness when he paid a courtesy call on Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan at the minister’s office at Rail Bhaban in Dhaka, said a press release. “Railway is an environment friendly, easy and affordable communication system in any country,”  Turan said and hoped that opportunities for investing in the railway sector would be created in the future as an important bilateral relation exists between Bangladesh and Turkey. Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan apprised the Turkish ambassador about the government projects and plans undertaken for development of the country’s railway sector and said: “We are looking for foreign investment in the sector.” Noting that there are many projects which are being implemented currently in the railway sector and more projects would be taken in the future, the minister said: “We have a master plan for the development of the railway sector and we are taking different projects as per the plan.” Railways Secretary Md Salim Reza, Bangladesh Railway Director General Dhirendra Nath Mazumder and Commercial Counsellor of Turkish Embassy Kenan Kalayci were present at the meeting. Source https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2021/10/10/envoy-turkey-is-keen-to-invest-in-bangladesh-railway

October 12 at 07:36 AM

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Ban UK domestic flights and subsidise rail travel, urges transport charity

The Guardian  11 October 2021 (UK) Exclusive: Campaign for Better Transport calls on government to end ‘climate disaster’ of internal flights Domestic flights should be banned and long-distance train fares subsidised, transport campaigners have urged, highlighting the relative environmental and financial costs of air and rail travel. The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) called on ministers to outlaw internal UK flights if an equivalent train journey took less than five hours and to resist calls for any cut in air passenger duty. Mandatory emissions labels on tickets and a frequent flyer levy should also be introduced, the charity said. The demands came before the 27 October budget, in which the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, may decide to cut taxes on domestic flights in response to pressure from the aviation industry, a possibility mooted by the prime minister earlier this year. Such a move could, however, prove an embarrassment a week before the UK hosts the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow. The proposed ban would not affect isolated communities or the longest UK air corridors, but would hit flights such as Manchester to London, London to Edinburgh and Birmingham to Glasgow. Passengers should be offered cheaper train tickets, while anyone taking more than three international flights a year would be required to pay a frequent flyer levy, the campaign proposes. Paul Tuohy, the chief executive of CBT said: “Cheap domestic flights might seem a good deal when you buy them, but they are a climate disaster, generating seven times more harmful greenhouse emissions than the equivalent train journey. “Making the ​train cheaper will boost passenger numbers and help reduce emissions from aviation, but any cut to air passenger duty – coupled with a rise in rail fares in January – will send the wrong message about how the government wants people to travel and mean more people choosing to fly.” British Airways now offsets carbon emissions on all domestic flights and there are hopes that short-haul electric planes could operate internally within 15 years. However, “jet zero” ambitions remain some way from reality and CBT argues that major internal routes are feasible by direct train instead, with similar journey times once airport journeys and formalities are factored in. However, ticket prices are often prohibitive. In a staged “race” carried out on Friday from central London to Glasgow city centre, Tuohy took the plane and – including airport transfers and check-in – arrived in five hours 17 minutes, two minutes before the former transport minister Norman Baker, who travelled by train. CBT said the train journey emitted less than one-sixth of the carbon emissions of the flight – 20kg compared with 137kg – but cost twice as much at £109 v £52. Rail fares have risen steadily above inflation for well over a decade. A walk-up return ticket to travel on morning train services between London and Manchester now costs £369.40, while an off-peak return is £94.50 between the capital and northern England’s biggest city. The government has not announced a decision on further rail fare increases, but should they follow the RPI+1% formula the cost could increase by another 4.8% in January. Ministers are keen to reduce rail subsidy after spending an additional £8bn to cover lost revenue during the pandemic. Passenger numbers have returned to around 65% of pre-Covid levels, according to the latest Department for Transport figures. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/11/ban-uk-domestic-flights-and-subsidise-rail-travel-urges-transport-charity

October 12 at 07:28 AM

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MRT operations back on track after fire incident

Manila Times  October 11, 2021 (Philippines) THE Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3) resumed full operations on Sunday, hours after one of its cars caught fire on Saturday. All 17 trains are running, the MRT management said. At least four passengers were injured on Saturday when a coach caught fire between Buendia and Guadalupe stations. In a statement, MRT's maintenance provider Sumitomo Corp. said it is investigating the cause of the incident. It assured the public it is taking countermeasures to ensure the safety of MRT 3 operation. "All angles are being thoroughly examined. Again, we express our apologies for those injured and wish for their speedy recovery," it said. In November 2019, an MRT 3 train car emitted smoke while moving south from the Santolan station. Over 500 passengers had to be unloaded. Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/10/11/news/national/mrt-operations-back-on-track-after-fire-incident/1817955

October 12 at 05:47 AM

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Is there a dark side to China’s high-speed rail network?

South China Morning Post  10 October 2021 (China) Researchers say bullet trains could mean lower economic activity in some western parts of the country The conclusion is based on analysis of satellite data showing changes in night light High-speed rail could be hurting rather than helping local economies in western China, with some cities becoming darker at night after a station comes to town, according to new research. In a study published in the peer-reviewed domestic journal  Geographical Research  on Friday, the researchers said that on average, each high-speed rail station in western China corresponded to a more than 1.5 per cent drop in the intensity of local economic activity. Source https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3151775/there-dark-side-chinas-high-speed-rail-network

October 11 at 08:30 AM

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Railway west zone to get 40 new locomotive engines from US

Dhaka Tribune  October 8, 2021 (Bangladesh) The new engines are being purchased at a cost of Tk1,123 crore The West Zone of Bangladesh Railway will be given 40 new locomotive engines aimed at improving the standard of passenger services through infusing dynamism into railway services. Chief Mechanical Engineer of the zone Kudrat-E-Khuda said the engines will be procured from the US. Eight of those have already reached the country and the remaining 32 will be brought in four phases. Only the broad gauge (BG) locomotives operate in the zone and there are 92 engines with a 20-year life span. Of those, economic lives of 43 have already expired. Engineer Khuda said the operation cost of the outdated engines is more compared to the good ones. Besides, spare parts of the old engines are not available in the local markets. To remove the existing problems, the new engines are being purchased at a cost of Tk1,123 crore under the Bangladesh Railway's Rolling Stock Operation Project. Each of the engines costs TK28.39 crore. Taking the overall situation into special consideration, the railway authorities signed an agreement with the US-based "Progress Rail Locomotive Incorporation" related to the purchase of 40 new BG engines in January 2019. The engines are being purchased with the joint financial collaboration of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Bangladesh government.  Project Director Mijanur Rahman said each of the diesel-electric engines contains 3,250 BHP along with 18.8 tonnes of excel load and they are capable of commercial running speed at 130-kilometer per hour. He said they are very much hopeful of adding all 32 engines to the WZ railway by June next year. Engineer Kudrat-E-Khuda said the WZ will enter a new era of ensuring quality passenger services with addition of the new engines. He said the WZ, covering Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions, has been operating 159 trains, including 50 intercity and some inter-country ones, on different routes, including the capital city of Dhaka and Kolkata of India at present. Forty-six local or shuttle and sixty-three commuter or mail trains are also being operated on various routes which are very popular among the passengers, he added. He stated that the number of passengers of intercity trains on various routes has increased significantly in the last couple of years. Considering the benefit of the passengers in general, he said 31 major stations have been brought under the modern computerized seat reservation and ticketing system. Some of those including Rajshahi have launched ticket selling and seat reservation through online systems. Source https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/development/2021/10/08/bangladesh-railway-west-zone-to-get-40-new-locomotive-engines

October 11 at 08:24 AM

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Visualizing the Fastest Trains in the World

Visual Capitalist  October 8, 2021 The World's Fastest Trains Japan’s L0 Series Maglev is the fastest train in the world, with a speed record of  374 mph  or  602 km/h . It could go the distance from New York City to Montreal in less than an hour. China has  half  of the eight fastest trains, and the world’s largest high-speed railway network. Visualizing the Fastest Trains in the World Ever since the invention of the steam locomotive in 1802, trains have been a driving societal force. Invented in  Britain  at the height of the Industrial Revolution, steam trains gave the empire an unparalleled advantage in transporting goods and people. Soon it spread around the world as other nations scrambled to build their own railway networks to facilitate growth and commerce. But just as nations rushed to build more railways, they also tried to build faster trains.  Japan ’s Tōkaidō Shinkansen or “bullet train” in 1964 was the first high-speed rail system, achieving a speed above  124 mph  or  200 km/h . How do other countries and trains compare? Let’s dive into the fastest trains in the world using data from Travel and Leisure magazine. Who Has The Fastest Trains in the World? Japan started the high-speed train revolution in earnest, and it’s still at the top of the charts. Though it’s fastest regular operating bullet trains (the N700A Shinkansen) can reach a top speed of 186 mph or 300 km/h, the country’s new development in magnetic levitation (maglev) is breaking speed records. In fact, the top two fastest trains in the world are maglev, using two sets of magnets to elevate the train and propel it forward without friction to slow it down. Japan’s L0 Series Maglev is still in production, but with a land speed record of  374 mph  or  602 km/h  it is the fastest train in the world. China’s Fastest Trains Look to Pass Japan Japan is facing stiff competition from  China , which already has the world’s longest high speed railway network and is investing heavily in infrastructure. China already has a maglev train in operation, the Shanghai Maglev, which connects the city center with the international airport. The country’s latest unveiled train in July 2021 achieved a land speed of  373 mph  or  600 km/h . When it was unveiled, the new maglev train was announced as the fastest operating train in the world as it enters full production. But until full operation actually begins, its test speed record is still under that of the L0 Series. In fact, China has  half  of the eight fastest trains in the world. Including Japan and South Korea, Asia accounts for the bulk of high-speed rail networks and record speeds. Though it’s not all maglevs and Asia dominance. Conventional electric trains in Europe also made the list, with  France ’s TGV POS and  Italy ’s Frecciarossa 1000 reaching speeds of 357 mph (575 km/h) and 245 mph (394 km/h) respectively. Source https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-the-fastest-trains-in-the-world/

October 11 at 06:24 AM

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Dubai Metro’s Route 2020 to Expo site wins sustainability award for saving resources

Gulf News  October 09, 2021 (UAE) RTA’s dedicated line to Expo 2020 Dubai achieves ‘LEED Gold Certification’ Dubai Metro has been recognised for sustainable construction practices for its Route 2020 to the Expo site Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has achieved ‘LEED Gold Certification’ for the seven stations of Route 2020, the dedicated Dubai Metro line to Expo 2020 Dubai. It was awarded under the rating system ‘LEED V4 BD+C’ following the US Green Buildings Council (USGBC), which is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programme. Abdul Redha Abu Al Hasan, Executive Director, Rail Planning and Projects Developments at RTA’s Rail Agency, said: “The [USGBC] had confirmed that RTA has the world’s highest number of LEED v4 BD+C: NC certified Transit projects. This achievement reflects RTA’s standing commitment to leadership and excellence in delivering Route 2020 project for the region and the world over.” Reasons for the award He added: “This achievement is credited to the selection of the best locations for stations, and the implementation of strategies for saving the consumption of power and water. Such strategies are also aimed at curbing carbon emissions, using suitable and recyclable building materials, and reducing construction waste.” Al Hasan said the RTA is keen on implementing green building technologies as part of its endeavours for a sustainable urban environment for saving costs and preserving resources. Source https://gulfnews.com/uae/transport/dubai-metros-route-2020-to-expo-site-wins-sustainability-award-for-saving-resources-1.82834834

October 11 at 06:08 AM

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ADBI study suggests India not yet ready for High Speed Railways

National Herald  15 September 2021 (India) Construction of one kilometre of high-speed railway track costs anything between Rs 100 to Rs 140 crore, 10 to 14 times higher than cost of laying standard railway tracks. COVID-19 struck India in early 2020, and the country was put under general lockdown on March 24. The passenger traffic on railway tracks was immediately stopped. On May 1, India restarted running first special passenger train for migrant workers. One by one, special trains restarted, but railways passenger trains are yet to open completely. It caused unprecedented damage to the growth of the railways. In such a situation, a reassessment is required on passenger traffic even for the proposed patchwork high-speed Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, not to talk about a high-speed railways network for the country. The “Frontiers of High-Speed Rail Development” just published by Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) is worth mentioning in this regard which gives insights into the various issues involving the high-speed railways (HSR). It has tried to answer three important questions: (i) When is a country ready to introduce HSR? (ii) What should be the total length of HSR? (iii) How can investment in HSR be justified? The empirical review indicates that when a country has a GDP per capita that is more than $5,000, it is suitable for HSR introduction. However, during 2014 general elections, BJP had voiced its desire to build the Diamond Quadrilateral high speed rail project, which would connect the cities of Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai via high-speed rail. After Modi came to power, a high-speed project was approved between Mumbai-Ahmedabad, which was to be completed by December 2023, but it is now not likely to be completed before 2028. In 2014, India’s per capita GDP was $1,574, and in 2020 it was $1,901, a decline of 9.52 per cent from $2,101 in the pre-pandemic year 2019. It is clear from the first criteria that India was not ready when it was conceived, and it was not ready even in the pre-pandemic year. COVID-19 has exacerbated the economic conditions, and hence, we need a fresh assessment to know if we can even sustain our proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR. Source https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/opinion/wasting-precious-public-money-on-high-speed-railways-is-unacceptable-when-most-trains-dont-even-run-on-time

October 11 at 05:58 AM

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New chief of controversial rail corporation pockets $575,000 a year

The Sydney Morning Herald  October 1, 2021 (Australia) About $40 billion of rail assets including trains are owned by the government’s Transport Asset Holding Entity. The third chief executive of a controversial rail corporation in just over 14 months is paid $575,000 a year, it was revealed at an inquiry on Friday as NSW public servants came under pressure to explain the rationale for the entity. Under questioning on the first day of a parliamentary inquiry, the new chief of the Transport Asset Holding Entity Benedicte Colin revealed she is paid about the equivalent of the NSW Treasury secretary’s salary. She began as TAHE’s permanent chief executive last month, replacing David Jurd who had been interim CEO since April. The state-owned corporation, which has just 20 staff, is under  serious scrutiny  from both the inquiry and the NSW Auditor-General who is conducting two separate reviews. Labor tabled documents to the inquiry showing that Mr Jurd was paid “towards the maximum end” of the pay scale proposed in a report by adviser Mercer due to the short-term nature of his role, while Ms Colin was expected to receive a lower salary as his permanent replacement. The government had previously refused to reveal what the TAHE chief executives were paid, saying it would be disclosed in the corporation’s annual report later this year. Ms Colin, a former boss of public transport group Keolis Downer, was approached for the role at TAHE in about February this year, shortly before its inaugural CEO Anne Hayes took planned sick leave. The revolving door of CEOs at TAHE since July last year has raised questions about its future, as internal documents have shown the government has considered winding up the entity which owns nearly $40 billion of the state’s trains, stations and other rail assets. A  Herald  investigation revealed in June that TAHE was set up in 2015 to enable the government to hide the costs of the rail system by shifting billions of dollars of expenses off the books and into the state-owned corporation. Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/new-chief-of-controversial-rail-corporation-pockets-575-000-a-year-20211001-p58wgj.html

October 08 at 08:17 AM

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India, Nepal sign agreements to boost cross-border train services

Hindustan Times  October 07, 2021 (India) The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a final location survey (FLS) for a proposed broad gauge railway line between Raxaul and Kathmandu. This proposed link is aimed at boosting connectivity between the two countries, the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Thursday. India and Nepal have signed two agreements aimed at boosting cross-border train services and reviewed ongoing railway projects as part of efforts by the two countries to improve regional connectivity and trade.   The agreements were inked as the two sides held the fifth meeting of a joint working group and the seventh meeting of a project steering committee in New Delhi during October 6-7 to review the implementation of cross-border railway links and bilateral cooperation in the railways sector. The signing of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for starting passenger train services on the Jaynagar-Kurtha section will help finalise the technical aspects of running passenger trains in this region. The SOPs will also serve as a guiding document for the early start of services in upcoming cross-border railway links. The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a final location survey (FLS) for a proposed broad gauge railway line between Raxaul and Kathmandu. This proposed link is aimed at boosting connectivity between the two countries, the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Thursday. Source https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-nepal-sign-agreements-to-boost-cross-border-train-services-101633627744104.html

October 08 at 08:11 AM

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The ‘Orient Express’ is a real train — and taking a ride is not cheap

CNBC   October 7, 2021 (EU) Before the dawn of private jets and business class flights, royalty and high society members traveled through Europe onboard luxury trains. Now anyone can do it — if they are willing and able to spend £1,700 ($2,300) for a one-night trip.   That’s the starting rate to go from Florence to Paris aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a historic luxury train operated by the LVMH-owned Belmond travel brand. Other routes cost more — much more.   The prices, however, don’t seem to deter rail enthusiasts. Many journeys sell every seat.   “2019 was a record year for Venice Simplon-Orient-Express that saw our revenue increase by 70% compared to those in 2015,” said Gary Franklin, vice president of Belmond’s trains and cruises. When passenger journeys restarted in June, travelers again booked some routes solid.   “We are certainly seeing a revival of rail travel post-pandemic,” Franklin told CNBC. “With more and more travelers discovering ... slow travel, we anticipate that this rise in demand and interest will continue. The historic Orient Express service The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express comprises 11 sleeping cars, three restaurant cars, one bar car and two staff cars, making it the longest passenger train in Europe, said Franklin.   But it’s not just an ordinary train. Each of the 17 carriages was once part of Europe’s iconic Orient Express, a train service that connected Paris to Istanbul beginning in 1883. The service later expanded to cities across Europe, reaching its “heyday” between World War I and World War II, said Franklin.   Source https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/07/where-does-the-orient-express-go-train-has-new-european-routes.html  

October 08 at 08:05 AM

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U.S. to tell critical rail, air companies to report hacks, name cyber chiefs

Reuters  October 6, 2021 (US) The Transportation Security Administration will introduce regulations that compel the most important U.S. railroad and airport operators to improve their cybersecurity procedures, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Wednesday. The upcoming changes will make it mandatory for "higher-risk" rail transit companies and "critical" U.S. airport and aircraft operators to do three things: name a chief cyber official, disclose hacks to the government and draft recovery plans for if an attack were to occur. The planned regulations come after cybercriminals attacked a major U.S. pipeline operator, causing localized gas shortages along the U.S. East Coast in May. The incident led to new cybersecurity rules for pipeline owners in July. "Whether by air, land, or sea, our transportation systems are of utmost strategic importance to our national and economic security," Mayorkas said. "The last year and a half has powerfully demonstrated what’s at stake." A key concern motivating the new policies comes from a growth in ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure companies. "It’s the first of its kind with respect to the cyber focus," said a senior homeland security official, who declined to be named, about the railway security directive and an update to aviation security programs. Rafail Portnoy, Chief Technology Officer with the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it is "constantly vigilant against this global threat, and will ensure compliance with any TSA regulations." The industry group Airlines for America said the issue is important to them and noted they already work closely with the TSA and other agencies on cyber security and noted they want to "reduce any potential duplicative reporting." Source https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-us-tell-critical-rail-air-companies-report-hacks-name-cyber-chiefs-2021-10-06/

October 08 at 05:43 AM

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Rail freight should be ‘front of the queue’ for vaccines

Australian Financial Review  September 8, 2021 (Australia) Pacific National chief executive Paul Scurrah says some rail freight workers in regional NSW are waiting up to two months to get their first Pfizer jab and that they should go to the front of the queue. “The vaccination needs to be prioritised for those that are keeping the supply chains of Australia running as the pandemic spreads throughout NSW,” Mr Scurrah told  The Australian Financial Review. Source https://www.afr.com/companies/infrastructure/rail-freight-should-be-front-of-the-queue-for-vaccines-20210908-p58psg

October 08 at 05:31 AM

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High Localisation, Job Creation: Here's How Alstom Contributed To India's Economy

NDTV  September 30, 2021 With its sustainable mobility solutions, Alstom helped in reducing carbon-di-oxide emissions by over 10 times compared to other modes of passenger and freight transport. Multinational rolling stock manufacturer Alstom contributed €438M indirectly to the Indian economy in the last five years, according to a recent Ernst & Young report. Alstom has been involved in several Indian Railway and urban metro transport projects for the production and induction of electric locomotives, rolling stock, and trainsets. By the end of March 2021, Alstom has an order backlog of €4.1 billion from its India operations. (Also Read: Alstom Begins Manufacturing Of Trains For India's 1st Rapid Rail Corridor ) In the last five years, Alstom helped in supporting more than 161,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs supported in the country and aims to increase women employees to 28 per cent, according to the report. With its sustainable mobility solutions, Alstom helped in reducing carbon-di-oxide emissions by over 10 times compared to other modes of passenger and freight transport. Here are some of the major contributions by Alstom to the Indian economy:   High localization, building a supply chain ecosystem:  Alstom India buys €331 million worth of goods and services, out of which 75 per cent is manufactured with the suppliers in India. Overall, the company has invested ₹ 12,556 million locally in the last five years. The company has also conducted 21 technology transfers across Alstom locations, to suppliers and other partners.   Job creation: By March 2021, Alstom had 7,634 direct employees in India. The company has supported around 71,340 indirect and 27,770 induced jobs across the country. Alstom seeks to include 28 per cent women in the management, professional, and engineering roles by 2025.  Reduction in carbondioxide (CO2) emissions: Alstom's metro trains in India emit 7.9 gCO2/ passenger kms, compared to high CO2 emissions from cars which is around 79.5 gCO2/passenger km. Similarly, the electric locomotives deployed for the high-speed freight transportation emit 13.4 gCO2/ton.km of carbondioxide, while goods trucks account for 92.3 gCO2/ton.kms.   Sustainable products and services: Alstom follows an environment friendly approach in manufacture of transport and mobility solutions. For example, the materials and components used in manufacturing the rolling stock for Mumbai Metro Line 3 are 96 per cent recyclable and 99 per cent recoverable. Reducing environmental impact of installations: Alstom is investing in linking renewable energy production systems to its locations, such as at the Sri City facility - where 1 MW of solar energy generation capacity has been built. The project will result in an annual reduction of 1,132 tonnes of CO2 emissions and reducing non-renewable energy consumption by 30 per cent by the end of this year, according to the report. In the current line of projects, Alstom recently delivered the fist trainset for Kanpur Metro. It is also involved in manufacturing trains for the country's first regional rapid transit system (RRTS) project coming up in the national capital region.  In 2020, as part of the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) project in the Indian Railways sector, Alstom delivered the 100th electric locomotive of 12,000 horsepower (HP) to the national transporter.  Source https://www.ndtv.com/business/multinational-rolling-stock-manufacturer-alstom-contributed-438m-in-indirect-to-indias-economy-gdp-report-2558559

October 07 at 09:14 AM

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Ethiopian inks partnership with AccessRail to provide intermodal transportation

Ajot  October 06, 2021 (Ethiopia) Ethiopian Airlines has signed Codeshare and Interline Agreement with AccessRail to widen connectivity options for its passengers destined to Western Europe, United Kingdom, Scandinavian, Japan and Canada. The agreement avails AccesRails’ wide rail destinations to passengers of Ethiopian Airlines through seamless connectivity with all journey segments contained on a single Ethiopian Airlines ticket. Regarding the partnership, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said, “I am glad that we have entered into such a monumental agreement with AccessRail, the world’s leading provider of air-rail intermodal solutions. Each year, we are growing in terms of customer service excellence through collaboration with key partners across the globe. As rail travel is becoming popular, especially when traveling regionally or locally, our collaboration with the worlds renowned flight and rail connection provider helps our customers access extra convenience and better connectivity options. In view of expanding our service to markets where Ethiopian has no direct operations to, our partnership with rail services is a great strategic move in enhancing our customer service. I hope the success of the partnership between AccesRail and Ethiopian would be felt throughout our customers.” Ethiopian Airlines has further developed its air-rail strategy by partnering with the world’s leading provider of air-rail intermodal solutions, AccesRail (9B). This new partnership provides Ethiopian Airlines with the ability to expand its network of destinations and to feed ET flights in both interline and codeshare format. In addition, this partnership will offer agents as well as consumers’ new options to book Ethiopian Airlines journeys which include surface sectors via a single process and workflow thus enabling Ethiopian Airlines to extend its value proposition and offer greater content options. Andrew Popescu, Vice President Business Development, AccesRail, said: “We are excited about our Ethiopian-AccesRail intermodal cooperation which will enable Ethiopian Airlines to offer an important amount of entirely new destinations all over the world to their passengers. Ethiopian Airlines have embraced at a global level the concept of network expansion through air- rail partnership and we are thrilled to help make this strategic vision into a reality.” Intermodality is becoming a growing part of airline network planning and demand for the service is also increasing with the inception of high-speed rail services. AccesRail is the world’s leading provider of air-rail intermodal solutions that specializes in intermodal travel and GDS distribution for passenger railways. Source https://ajot.com/news/ethiopian-inks-partnership-with-accessrail-to-provide-intermodal-transportation

October 07 at 06:45 AM

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Borders Railway extension to Carlisle would be 'best solution'

BBC  06 October 2021 (UK) Extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle has been described as the "best solution" to the area's transport connectivity issues. A new prospectus from the Borderlands Partnership - made up of councils across the Scotland-England border - has backed the move. The route, opened in 2015, currently runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. The recommendation to extend it will form the basis of future talks with the UK and Scottish governments. The Borderlands Partnership - composed of the local authorities for Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Cumbria, Northumberland and Carlisle - has looked at the potential of extending the line. It found that taking the Borders Railway on from Tweedbank to Carlisle was the "best solution" to solve transport connectivity issues across the whole area. However, it stops short of saying where any stations on the extended route should be positioned. Scottish Borders Council (SBC) leader Shona Haslam said the re-establishment of a line between Edinburgh and her region had brought "immense and wide-ranging" benefits. "SBC has made a case for the extension of the line to Hawick and on to Carlisle for some time, and together with the other local authority partners we are reaffirming and strengthening that case in the prospectus," she said. The prospectus described the extension as the "missing link" in reconnecting the area. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-58814938

October 07 at 06:40 AM

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Ravin Group bags ₹50-cr. railways’ order to supply fire survival cables

The Hindu  October 06, 2021 (India) Ravin Group said it has bagged a ₹50-crore order for supply of specialised fire survival cables for the Indian Railways’ Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link, which was declared as a national project in 2020. The group will provide 33 kV and 11 kV medium-voltage specialised fire survival cables along with low-voltage cables and control cables to the longest tunnel (T13), which has a length of 9.3 km, located in the Katra-Dharam section, near to the Chenab Bridge. Vijay Karia, CMD, Ravin Group said, “We are committed to providing safe and advanced technology with a greater range of cables. We are thankful to the Indian Railways and Tata Group for showing their trust in us. It is a matter of pride to be associated with such a prestigious project.” Source https://www.thehindu.com/business/ravin-group-bags-50-cr-railways-order-to-supply-fire-survival-cables/article36865927.ece

October 07 at 05:33 AM

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Vietnam urban rail projects fall years late as payments lag

Nikkei Asia  October 6, 2021 (Hanoi, Vietnam) Stalled Ho Chi Minh City line leaves Hitachi and other contractors hanging Vietnam's first urban rail projects have fallen years behind schedule as payments to contractors are held up by risk-averse political decision-making. Construction began in 2012 on the first section of Ho Chi Minh City's planned rapid transit network, with service originally slated to start in 2018. But the opening of the Japanese-funded Line 1 eventually was pushed to the end of 2021, and further delays to late 2023 or 2024 are now expected. Two lines in Hanoi -- one funded by China -- were expected to open in 2015 but have not begun service. One may open this year, while the other is expected to debut in 2023 or later. Japanese contractors that saw the Ho Chi Minh City project as a can't-miss opportunity have contended with repeated delays. "We hope to overcome the various problems and complete it as soon as possible," said a manager at civil engineering company Nippon Koei, which heads the consulting consortium for the rail project. Source https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Transportation/Vietnam-urban-rail-projects-fall-years-late-as-payments-lag

October 07 at 05:17 AM

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Mersin Metro Tender Won by the Firm Submitting the 3,3 Billion Bid

Rayhaber  26 August, 2021 (Turkey) Mersin Metro, which is one of the vision projects that Mersin Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Vahap Seçer will bring to the city in the field of transportation, has reached the most important stage. On April 13.4, 11, the technical and financial qualification phase of the underground metro construction tender between the "Mezitli Old Town Hall-Train Station", consisting of 28 km and .2021 stations, was completed The winner of the tender has been announced As a result of the examinations made by the Metropolitan Municipality Transportation Department Tender Commission, Dillingham Cont. int. Inc + Kiska- Kom İnş. Inc. won the joint venture. The second most advantageous offer in the  .tender is Doğuş İnş. ve Tic. Inc. and Yapı Merkezi İnş. and San. Inc. was a joint venture Source https://en.rayhaber.com/2021/08/mersin-metrosu-ihalesini-33-milyarlik-teklifi-veren-firma-kazandi/

October 07 at 05:12 AM

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In Indian mining hub, farmers bring polluted land back to life

Sunday Times  20 September, 2021 (India) Freight trains are loaded with iron ore at a railway station at Chitradurga in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Iron ore mining blights farmland, hitting food production, but pilot project helps revive degraded fields to grow crops For years, Indian farmer Chape Hanumaiya struggled to grow anything on his tiny plot of land - it was caked in the thick, red dust drifting from the iron ore mines that surrounded it. But today, Hanumaiya and his wife are about to harvest pearl millet and sesame crops, thanks to a pilot project that seeks to fight migration and boost food security around the southern city of Hosapete, the heart of India’s iron ore industry. “My father grew millet and cotton on this land decades ago,” said Hanumaiya, 46, sitting in the shade of a tree near his 0.4-hectare (1 acre) smallholding. “Then the mining grew and over the years, when we came to the field, our clothes, the grains and everything would be covered with mine dust. We slowly gave up farming.” India is the world’s fourth-biggest producer of iron ore, the key ingredient in steelmaking, and demand for the commodity is expected to grow as the global construction sector rebounds from Covid-19. That could prompt a surge in output, putting additional strain on local farmers and fuelling environmental damage in mining areas. More than 6,000 hectares (about 15,000 acres) of private and community-owned land have been blighted by iron ore mining in India, affecting nearly 30,000 people, according to data research agency Land Conflict Watch. Hanumaiya’s land was revived under a sustainable co-operative agriculture scheme led by the Sakhi Trust non-profit, which works with communities affected by mining in the area and encourages organic farming. So far, it has helped bring more than 200 hectares of barren farmland back into production, creating a safety net and shielding local people from the ups and downs of mining. “When the mines closed and agriculture failed, it forced people to migrate,” said Nagesh R Sannaveer, a coordinator at Sakhi Trust. “People were looking for food security and we started helping them get back to farming - from getting plots ready to cultivate to organising collective farming for the landless,” he added. The mineral-rich, red earth in the twin districts of Ballari and Vijayanagara, where Hanumaiya lives, has been mined since colonial times. But a decade ago, the supreme court banned mining in the region in an effort to stem illegal mines. Many pits closed, including those near Hanumaiya’s plot, though villagers said activity was slowly picking up again. Conveyor belts ferrying ore from the pits to factories cut across the hills and long lines of trucks snake in and out of the mines. Like hundreds of other farmers from his district, Hanumaiya went to work in the iron ore mines when business was booming. Many found jobs as loaders, drivers or machine operators, leasing their fields to mining companies to build factories, dump debris or for use as storage yards. But when the court ruling led to a huge slump in activity, some found their degraded land could no longer support their food needs, forcing them to join the ranks of India’s migrant labour force. “Mining was booming, both legally and illegally, and it swallowed up fertile land,” said M Bhagyalakshmi, founder of Sakhi Trust. “People had no choice but to join the workforce at these mines. But when the illegal mines were suddenly closed after court orders, it left thousands jobless. It triggered a livelihood crisis that still haunts many families.” Bringing contaminated agricultural land back into production is a slow process, said G V Ramanjaneyulu, executive director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, a research organisation. Source https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times-daily/world/2021-09-20-in-indian-mining-hub-farmers-bring-polluted-land-back-to-life/

October 06 at 06:02 AM

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Stadler Rail wins 2 bln Sfr order from SBB

Reuters  October 5, 2021 (Berlin, Germany) Swiss train manufacturer Stadler Rail won a contract to deliver trains worth 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.16 billion) to Switzerland’s national railway group SBB, SBB said on Tuesday. Stadler had been competing for the order to supply 286 new single-decker regional trains against rivals Alstom and Siemens, SBB said in a statement, adding that the first trains are expected to enter operation from December 2025. ($1 = 0.9262 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska Editing by Riham Alkousaa) Source https://www.reuters.com/article/stadler-rail-wins-2-bln-sfr-order-from-s/stadler-rail-wins-2-bln-sfr-order-from-sbb-idUSL8N2R124P

October 06 at 05:28 AM

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ScotRail engineers plan strikes during Glasgow climate summit

The Guardian  5 October, 2021 (UK) Union lines up strikes during Cop26 over pay and says rail firm risks national embarrassment ScotRail engineers are planning strike action that they say is likely to severely disrupt travel to the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow next month, as unions accuse management of risking “national embarrassment”. Unite said workers had been left with no choice by the Abellio ScotRail management’s failure to make what it called a meaningful pay offer despite repeated action short of a strike since 24 September. The planned 24-hour stoppages will take place on 18-19 October and 1-2, 10-11 and 12-13 November, and will affect stations including Glasgow Queen Street, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley. Global leaders and campaigners are due to gather in Scotland for the UN climate summit from 31 October. Pat Mcilvogue, Unite’s industrial officer, said: “The talks have been spun out and cynically used as a delaying tactic to avoid the national embarrassment of having strike action during the Cop26 climate change conference, which is being held in Glasgow. “We want the Scottish public to know that we have exhausted the process. Unite’s members have been holding action short of strike in an attempt to get Abellio ScotRail to wake up and to recognise the storm that they have created, to no effect. Now strike action will severely disrupt events and the Cop26 climate change conference due to this shambolic company.” There are continuing disputes over pay, lack of investment and services cuts, and the RMT is also balloting on industrial action against ScotRail after a lengthy dispute over conductors’ pay. On Monday Aslef, the RMT, the TSSA and Unite issued a joint statement saying that investment in Scotland’s railways, valuing staff, expanding services and making rail travel more affordable were essential to meeting environmental targets. The Scottish government’s transport secretary, Graeme Dey, told BBC Radio Scotland that he was “actively encouraging” a resolution and that unions needed to “step back from some of the rhetoric dominating the agenda”. He said: “I understand that later today the unions and ScotRail are meeting and a fresh offer is likely to be tabled. It’s one I hope that the unions will view in the spirit that it is going to be made and consider settling these disputes.” A ScotRail spokesperson said: “We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s railway, but the scale of the financial situation ScotRail is facing is stark. We will continue to engage with the rail trade unions to find an agreement on pay and conditions.” Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/05/scotrail-engineers-plan-strikes-during-glasgow-climate-summit

October 06 at 05:03 AM

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York to bid for Great Britain Railways headquarters

BBC  05 October 2021 (UK) York is to bid to become the home of a new national body for the country's railways. The city's council leader Keith Aspden said it would make "perfect sense" for Great British Railways (GBR) to be based there. A competition to find a host for the new body was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Monday. The headquarters would go to a place "with a rich railway history", said the government announcement. Mr Aspden and the leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Carl Les, had already written earlier this year to Mr Shapps about York's potential. The new, state-owned GBR was announced in May in a plan to reform the railway system. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-58799571

October 06 at 04:22 AM

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What Happened To China’s BRI Projects in Malaysia?

The Diplomat  October 05, 2021 (Malaysia) Of the slew of BRI megaproject deals signed over the first five years of the initiative, most have either been canceled or come to a standstill. It has been nearly a decade since China’s first Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project gained a foothold in Malaysia, and despite the slew of megaproject deals signed in the initial five years, many have either come to a standstill or were cancelled. Among the few BRI projects left standing is the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the country’s third premier since Najib Razak was voted out of office in May 2018, vowed to resume and complete under the 12th Malaysia Plan. The 50 billion Malaysian ringgit ($11.9 billion) rail project linking the east and west coast of the Malaysian peninsula was subjected to multiple renegotiations and realignments following its suspension in 2018 by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The ECRL was one of many BRI projects put on ice amid allegations that Najib’s administration intentionally agreed to lopsided deals with China at inflated prices to bail out debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Both China and Najib have denied the bailout claim. The suspicions, however, were later confirmed after Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan government gained access to classified documents, known as the “red files,” which indicated that a number of China’s BRI projects, such as the ECRL and two pipeline projects, contained dubious terms. Mahathir made it clear that the ECRL was inflated by up to 30 billion ringgit to pay down 1MDB’s debts, and that only 15 percent of the project’s construction had been completed while 20 billion ringgit or 33 percent of the railway link’s initial 60 billion ringgit price tag had been paid. Source https://thediplomat.com/2021/10/what-happened-to-chinas-bri-projects-in-malaysia/

October 06 at 04:16 AM

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Still no arrival time for €1 billion-plus rail project

The Times  October 05, 2021 (UK) An opening date has still not been set for the government’s flagship rail project. The multibillion-euro MetroLink connecting Swords with Dublin Airport and the city centre was due to be completed by 2027, but Eamon Ryan, the transport minister, said last week that it could be delayed by up to 2034. In the government’s revised National Development Plan (NDP), launched yesterday, the Dublin metro project is listed in the €1 billion-plus price band but has no cost estimate or completion date. The blueprint sets out a record €165 billion in capital spending over the next ten years including €35 billion on transport projects, with the government allocating a 2:1 spending ratio in favour of sustainable transport over new roads. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/still-no-arrival-time-for-1-billion-plus-rail-project-8b6cbpmgr  

October 05 at 05:19 AM

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Gunfire on Amtrak Train: D.E.A. Agent Killed, 2nd Agent Is Critically Wounded

The New York Times  October 4, 2021 (US) A suspect was dead and a Tucson officer wounded in the shooting, which erupted during a drug sweep of the train at a stop in Arizona, the police said. A federal drug enforcement agent was killed and another was critically injured in a chaotic scene of gunfire aboard a crowded Amtrak train while it was stopped at a station in Tucson, Ariz., on Monday morning, the city’s police chief said. A city police officer was also shot and was in stable condition, Chief Chris Magnus of the Tucson police said at a news conference on Monday afternoon. The three law enforcement officers, members of a joint task force from the Drug Enforcement Administration and local police, were conducting a routine sweep of the train when two people on board reacted to their presence and one opened fire, the chief said. “They were checking for illegal guns, money, drugs,” Chief Magnus said. “This is something they do, as I said, routinely at pretty much all transit hubs.” Source https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/04/us/tucson-shooting-amtrak.html

October 05 at 05:13 AM

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P777-B railway project to generate jobs

Manila Times  September 25, 2021 (Philippines) THE P777.55-billion Philippine National Railway Clark Phase 2 project has been envisioned to stimulate further development in Central Luzon's economic climate as growth and recovery are expected to happen when its operations begin. This was announced recently by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, who assured the North-South Commuter Rail (NSCR) project will create needed jobs that will augment the region's economic growth and recovery efforts in light of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. "The DoTr (Department of Transportation), in all of its projects, has always aimed to revitalize the country's economy," he said, noting the project will improve transport connectivity and mobility across the Central Luzon region and spur employment in various sectors. "A transport infrastructure project like the NSCR will spur economic growth in Central Luzon, particularly the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga," Tugade added. Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/09/25/news/regions/p777-b-railway-project-to-generate-jobs/1815956

October 05 at 05:08 AM

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Malaysia pledges spending, green goals in 5-year economic plan

Reuters  September 27, 2021 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) PM Ismail Sabri tables 12th Malaysia Plan Expects 4.5%-5.5% average annual GDP until 2025 Govt to spend over $95 bln on developments in 2021-2025 Carbon tax, no more coal power to reach 2050 carbon neutral goal Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Monday tabled a new five-year economic plan, boosting infrastructure spending and committing to a carbon tax under climate change goals as the country looks to chart its way out of a pandemic-induced slump. Launching the 12th Malaysia Plan in parliament, Ismail Sabri said the country's financial position was expected to improve in 2023, with the economy targeted to grow 4.5%-5.5% per annum in the next five years. Malaysia posted average annual growth of 2.7% between 2016-2020, dragged down by a 5.6% contraction last year due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the premier said. Gross national income per capita rose to 42,500 ringgit ($10,150) in 2020, about 20% lower than the level required to become a high-income country. Malaysia now expects to reach that target by 2025, Ismail Sabri said. Plan includes new highways and rail networks linking rural areas with urban and industrial hubs, more affordable housing, as well as improvements in health, education, and broadband connectivity. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/malaysia-targets-gdp-growth-45-55-per-annum-until-2025-pm-2021-09-27/

October 05 at 04:58 AM

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7 passengers on derailed train sue Amtrak, BNSF Railway

AP  04 October, 2021 (Helena, Mont., US) An Illinois law firm filed lawsuits Monday against Amtrak and BNSF Railway on behalf of seven passengers who were on an Amtrak train when it derailed in north-central Montana late last month, killing three and injuring dozens of others. The lawsuits were filed in federal court in Illinois on behalf of a Massachusetts couple, a Pennsylvania couple, an Indiana couple and a Montana man who were all injured in the Sept. 25 derailment of an Empire Builder train near Joplin, Montana, Clifford Law Offices said. The lawsuits allege negligence in failing to prevent the derailment and seek damages for injuries and psychological trauma suffered when the train went off the tracks. They also seek to challenge a mandatory arbitration agreement Amtrak put in effect in January 2019. Sean Driscoll, a partner at Clifford Law Offices, said the agreement denies passengers their constitutional right to a trial by jury if they are injured on an Amtrak train and sets a maximum of $295 million in damages per incident for Amtrak. Source https://apnews.com/article/business-massachusetts-illinois-pennsylvania-indiana-bf707c6eb3a56b3361150e21df1ca8f6

October 05 at 04:35 AM

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Payday for train leasing giant Porterbrook despite pandemic hit to railways

The Times  October 03 2021 (UK) One of Britain’s biggest train leasing companies paid out £80 million in dividends to its largely foreign-based investors last year as it made profits despite the skeleton service on the rails during the pandemic. Porterbrook, owner of about a quarter of the UK’s rolling stock, shrugged off the effects of Covid-19, reporting a mere 6 per cent dip in turnover to £454 million. Leasing companies are paid by the train operating companies (TOCs) regardless of whether their trains actually run. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/payday-for-train-leasing-giant-porterbrook-despite-pandemic-hit-to-railways-j6cgpgz3p

October 04 at 07:56 AM

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Four northern trains suspended after flooding

Bangkok Post  3 October 2021 (Thailand) Four Bangkok-Chiang Mai trains have been suspended and routes of eight other trains on the northern line restricted after the rail tracks between Ban Mo and Nong Don stations in Saraburi were flooded, State Railway of Thailand (SRT) governor Nirut Maneephan said. The service suspensions and curtailments took effect from Oct 2 until further notice. The four suspended round-trip trains are: - Special express trains Nos 9/10 (Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Bangkok);  - Special express trains Nos 7/8 (Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Bangkok). The routes of eight other trains have been shortened: - Urban trains Nos 301/302 (Bangkok-Lop Buri-Bangkok) have been restricted to Bangkok-Ban Mo-Bangkok; - Rapid train No 109 (Bangkok-Chiang Mai) to Lop Buri-Chiang Mai; - Rapid train No 102 (Chiang Mai-Bang Sue) to Chiang Mai-Lop Buri; - Ordinary trains Nos 201/202 (Bangkok-Phitsanulok-Bangkok) to Lop Buri-Phitsanulok-Lop Buri; - Ordinary trains Nos 211/212 (Bangkok-Taphanhin-Bangkok) to Lop Buri-Taphanhin-Lop Buri. Mr Nirut said the rail tracks between kilometres 113/5-116/1 in Saraburi were on Saturday about 25 centimetres under water, the tracks and the traffic signal system had been damaged, and the water level was rising, forcing the service suspensions and restrictions. Affected passengers can seek refunds at all ralways stations nationwide or call the SRT's public relations centre at hotline number 1690 for more information, he said. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2191659/four-northern-trains-suspended-after-flooding

October 04 at 07:51 AM

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Rio Tinto’s iron ore rail cars to be built in WA to boost local jobs

Business Wire  October 02, 2021 (Melbourne, Australia) Rio Tinto is supporting iron ore rail car manufacturing in Western Australia with a commitment to use local suppliers to build ore rail cars for its Pilbara mining operations. A tender will soon be released to the local market for an initial purchase of 50 ore rail cars, followed by an ongoing commitment of 10 ore cars a year for the next five years. The tender will be released through the Rio Tinto Buy Local portal, a resource dedicated to making local suppliers aware of opportunities to partner with Rio Tinto and be part of our supply chain. Western Australia has been an important part of Rio Tinto’s history for more than 50 years as the company built a world-class iron ore business. In 2020, the company spent AUD$7.5 billion with more than 2,000 local businesses based in Western Australia. Rio Tinto is also part of the WA Government’s iron ore rail car action group, launched as part of the WA Recovery Plan to develop a competitive iron ore rail car manufacturing industry in Western Australia. Rio Tinto’s commitment to bring ore rail car manufacturing back to WA supports the action group’s vision to develop WA’s ore rail car manufacturing capability and support the State’s economic recovery. Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott said: “Building Rio Tinto’s ore rail cars here in WA will support local manufacturing and create jobs for West Australians. “Rio Tinto is proud to lead the way in building iron ore rail cars in WA, in line with the vision of State Government’s iron ore rail car action group. “I look forward to partnering with local businesses to support and grow the local manufacturing industry in WA. “Ore cars are a critical part of our mining operations and building capacity to manufacture ore cars locally in WA will deliver significant benefits for Rio Tinto and the WA economy.” Premier Mark McGowan said: “This is a pleasing outcome and I commend Rio Tinto for taking the first step and committing to our local steel manufacturing industry which will support more jobs for Western Australians. “Rio Tinto’s commitment is a positive result off the back of the State Government’s independent pre-feasibility study, which identified initiatives for the manufacture, refurbishment and maintenance of iron ore railcar wagons. “This was about securing an ongoing pipeline of work for the long term manufacture of iron ore wagons and critical rail wagon parts, which will deliver jobs and economic benefit for the State into the future. “Rio Tinto’s purchase of Western Australian made railcars that will be used right here in our State is something I encourage other iron ore companies operating in WA to get on board with and increase local content and local jobs.” Source https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211002005001/en/Rio-Tinto%E2%80%99s-iron-ore-rail-cars-to-be-built-in-WA-to-boost-local-jobs

October 04 at 05:56 AM

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Dry ice to help cut train delays caused by leaves on tracks

BBC  04 October 2021 (UK) A new way of removing leaves more efficiently from railway lines to reduce delays is to be trialled across northern England. The technique, developed by University of Sheffield engineers, involves blasting tracks with dry ice from a passenger train. It will be trialled by operator Northern in the coming weeks. Leaves cause a slippery layer on railway lines, leading to delays as trains must run at slower speeds. Under the new method, pellets of dry ice are fired in a stream of air, making leaves frozen and brittle. The dry ice then quickly turns back into gas, causing it to expand and destroy the leaves. Leaves blamed for rail delay 'misery' New sensor could cut train delays caused by leaves At the moment, leaves are cleared by 61 special trains, which use high-pressure water jets followed by a gel containing sand and steel grains to help with braking. The engineers behind the new system say their method is significantly more efficient as it can be used by passenger trains, which can cover greater distances than the limited fleet of cleaning trains. It also does not leave a residue that can damage rails and train wheels, and can be used on the same stretch of track more than once a day. The method has previously been trialled on test tracks and could be rolled out more widely by 2023. Prof Roger Lewis, who is leading its development, said: "This technology will make a step change in train performance during autumn, improving safety. "It will provide more predictable braking and traction than current technology, and will help to improve train performance, reduce delays, increase passenger satisfaction and support the use of new technologies to enable greater network utilisation of the UK's railways." Rob Cummings, seasonal improvement manager at Northern, said: "One of the biggest risks to our performance during October and November is leaves on the line, but by helping to develop new technology we aim to deliver the very best service for our passengers." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-58783589

October 04 at 05:19 AM

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Cleanliness drive in Mysuru Rly. Division

The Hindu  October 02, 2021 (India) The Mysuru Railway Division on Saturday celebrated the 152nd birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Vana near the Railway Sports Ground. Divisional Railway Manager Rahul Agarwal paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi by garlanding his bust. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Agarwal said that in recent years, the Ministry of Railways has been supporting the government’s cleanliness mission – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – in many ways,.from introducing innovative sanitation in trains to green train corridors and making the tracks zero-discharge-free zone. Mysuru Division observed a special cleanliness fortnight drive – ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’ – across its entire network from September 16 to October 2. Each day was given a special ‘swachh’ theme such as clean food, clean water, clean residential colonies, clean stations, clean toilets, clean workplace, and cleanliness dialogue with the public. The start of the drive was with the theme of Swachh awareness, in which railway staff took the cleanliness pledge, and different activities were held across the division to raise awareness about Swachhta, said the DRM. Later in the day, the DRM administered the cleanliness pledge to officers and staff at Mysuru railway station. The housekeeping staff at the station were felicitated for their dedicated work. Cloth bags were distributed to rail passengers to reduce single-use plastics. Source https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/cleanliness-drive-in-mysuru-rly-division/article36793115.ece

October 04 at 04:54 AM

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UAE: Etihad Rail trains zip across the desert as project completes new milestone

Khaleej Times  29 September 2021 (UAE) The rail project, launched in 2009, had its stage one operational in 2016. Each day, two trains capable of transporting up to 22,000 tonnes of sulphur, run across the country. Each can haul up to 110 wagons on any one journey The latest phase extends 139KM and is connected through Al Ghuwaifat on the border of Soudi Arabia The UAE national railway network project, Etihad Rail, marked a key milestone with the completion of work on Package A of Stage Two. “This significant step brings the company closer to completing the 1,200-kilometre rail project, initially estimated to cost Dh40 billion, on schedule,” the company said. The rail project, which has been designed to connect the hubs of trade and industry in the UAE, will form a vital part of the GCC railway network, connecting the seven emirates to the five neighbouring Gulf nations. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Chairman of Etihad Rail, and the company’s Board of Directors held a virtual meeting to review the progress of the construction works. Sheikh Theyab praised the Etihad Rail team for their achievement, in spite of the challenges they faced due the coronavirus pandemic. Source https://www.khaleejtimes.com/business/uae-etihad-rail-trains-zip-across-the-desert-as-project-completes-new-milestone

October 01 at 08:43 AM

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Alstom India offers world's fastest train for India's private rail ops

Business Standard  September 30, 2021 (India) Eyes EUR 1 billion revenue from India next year Alstom India had held discussions with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), and Megha Engineering, the only two contenders for private train operations in bids called by the Railway Ministry. According to Alain Spohr, Managing Director at Alstom India talks were also held with one more player that did not put in a bid. “We have decided to support private train operations as a partner if the opportunity comes back. We are proposing a special train based on the High Speed technology that is used in France,” Spohr told Business Standard. Spohr said that the proposed train is based on the TGV, a high-speed train that operates all over France. TGV stands for Train à Grande Vitesse (simply translated to high speed train in English). A certain type of TGV, called V150, holds the world record for the highest speed on any national rail system. The current world speed record for a commercial train on steel wheels held by the French TGV is 574.8 kilometres per hour. This record has been in place since April 2007. “We have developed a local solution corresponding to the speed segment in India...We have also started to talk to the Indian Railways if they would be interested in adding this to their fleet of long distance trains (above 1000 kilometres) High Speed Trains,” Spohr said. “They have said they would want some more information about the train and we are going to enter a discussion with them,” he added. Commenting on whether discussions have happened with any private players about these trains, Spohr said, “During the first round of bids, there were three parties which were interested. We had given our offer to Megha Engineering, IRCTC, and one more player that did not put in bids.” Responding to a query on the kind of support, he said, “We were offering only the rolling stock.” Commenting on the revenue outlook from India operations, Spohr said, “We are aiming to achieve a revenue of €1 billion by next year (2022-23), up from about €650-700 million revenue that will be achieved in the current financial year.” Spohr also said that Alstom India will bid for seven major projects worth over €1 billion by next month-end. In a statement, Alstom India said it has an order backlog of €4.1 billion as on March 2021-end. Alstom also released an India Impact Report in partnership with Ernst & Young. According to the report, Alstom India buys €331 million worth of goods and services, among which 75 per cent is made with Indian suppliers. The company has invested close to €142 million in the last five years and conducted 21 technology transfers across Alstom locations to its suppliers. Source https://www.business-standard.com/article/indian-railways/alstom-india-offers-world-s-fastest-train-for-india-s-private-rail-ops-121092900993_1.html

October 01 at 07:11 AM

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Gloucestershire's Severn estuary rail line to get £25m upgrade

BBC  30 September 2021 (UK) A multimillion-pound rescue plan has been announced to revamp a vital rail line ravaged by extreme weather. The Newport to Gloucester line runs along the west bank of the River Severn and is a major artery connecting South Wales with the West Country. In recent years severe landslips have caused major disruption on the tracks. The £25m works, due to begin in summer 2022, will involve bolstering the cliff face along the railway line. The project will be the biggest investment in the Newport-Gloucester line since it was opened in the 1850s. Jess Lippett, senior route freight manager for Network Rail Wales & Western, said: "This is one the busiest and most important freight routes in Wales and Borders, so it's really important to the economy. "As we saw through the pandemic, this route really is a lifeline, and the current shortage in HGV drivers means it's playing an even more vital role." Running alongside the Severn Estuary, its location means the track is often exposed to more frequent extreme weather conditions. In the last two years alone, the line has been hit by five major landslips, leading to extended closures of the railway and temporary speed restrictions, delaying more than 200,000 trains. The works planned for the track are designed to prevent this from happening again. Bill Kelly, route director for the firm, said: "We've seen a huge increase in extreme weather events across our network in recent years. "Climate change is happening here and now, and across Wales and Borders - from the Conwy Valley to the Welsh marches and Severn Estuary - we're responding by building a more resilient railway." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-58739274

October 01 at 07:00 AM

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Indian Railways’ doubling of Rajkot-Kanalus & Nimach-Ratlam rail lines approved; see benefits of these projects

Financial Express  September 30, 2021 (India) The existing goods traffic handled on the section primarily comprises POL, Cement, Coal, Food grains and Fertilizer. PM Modi chaired Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the doubling of Rajkot-Kanalus and Nimach-Ratlam railway lines. According to the Railway Ministry, the total estimated cost of Rajkot-Kanalus railway line doubling project will be Rs 1,080.58 crore and its escalated / completion cost is Rs 1,168.13 crore. The total length of the Rajkot-Kanalus line is 111.20 kilometres. The railway project is scheduled for completion in four years’ period. The existing goods traffic handled on the section primarily comprises POL, Cement, Coal, Food grains and Fertilizer. Besides, future substantial freight traffic is projected by big industries such as ESSAR oil, Reliance Petroleum and Tata Chemical. Presently, the single line BG Rajkot-Kanalus section has become over saturated. The ministry said there is a need for additional parallel Broad Gauge line to ease out operational working. As many as 30 pairs of passenger or mail express trains are plying on the section and existing line capacity utilization with maintenance block is up to 157.5 per cent. Detention to both Freight and Passenger traffic will be significantly reduced after doubling. Once the doubling of the Rajkot-Kanalus section is over, it will increase the capacity, thus, more traffic can be introduced on the system. From Rajkot to Kanalus, the proposed doubling would lead to all round development of Saurashtra region. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/indian-railways-doubling-of-rajkot-kanalus-see-benefits-of-these-projects/2340915/

October 01 at 06:52 AM

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China-based infra bank lends $356mn for Chennai Metro rail system

Hindustan Times  September 30, 2021 (India) China and India are the top two shareholders in the 103-member bank, which was set up in 2016 at Beijing’s initiative, and seen as its answer to an international finance system dominated by western countries Pedestrians pass by a vehicle being used as a mobile clothes store in Chennai, India. The project involves the construction of an environment-friendly new corridor in Chennai’s metro network as part of Chennai Metro Rail Phase 2, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said (Bloomberg) The Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a $356.67mn loan to India for the expansion of the Chennai Metro rail system as part of efforts to expand green public rail transport options in the country. The project involves the construction of an environment-friendly new corridor in Chennai’s metro network as part of Chennai Metro Rail Phase 2, the AIIB said in a statement on Thursday. China and India are the top two shareholders in the 103-member bank, which was set up in 2016 at Beijing’s initiative, and seen as its answer to an international finance system dominated by western countries. The Chennai project is the latest in the transport sector-related loans from the multilateral banking institute. Source https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/chinabased-infra-bank-lends-356mn-for-chennai-metro-rail-system-101633003049362.html

October 01 at 06:39 AM

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CN railroad faces investor pressure after losing rail deal

The Washington Post  29 September, 2021 (Omaha, Nebraska, US) After walking away from its effort to buy Kansas City Southern railroad earlier this month, Canadian National Railway Co. continues to face investor pressure to make changes in its operation. The London-based investment firm TCI Fund — which owns about 5% of CN’s stock — is pressing CN to overhaul its board, get a new CEO and improve its own operations. TCI has said that the new strategic plan CN announced after breaking off merger talks isn’t enough to address its concerns about the railroad, so it is still pressing for a special meeting to elect four new directors who would help pick a new CEO. “CN is not realizing its full potential because of poor management and a lack of oversight from directors who are experienced in railway operations,” TCI said in a document outlining their concerns that it filed with regulators this week. “History has shown that with the right leadership – and a knowledgeable board that holds management accountable – the performance of a railroad can be improved quickly.” Source https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/cn-railroad-faces-investor-pressure-after-losing-rail-deal/2021/09/29/8ff5c37c-216c-11ec-a8d9-0827a2a4b915_story.html

September 30 at 05:56 AM

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FirstGroup to launch budget London to Edinburgh rail service next month

The Guardian  7 September 2021 (UK) The service, branded Lumo, says 60% of seats will cost £30 or less with a max fare of £69 one-way FirstGroup is to launch a budget direct London-Edinburgh rail service next month, which it hopes will lure air passengers to the train as a cheaper and greener alternative. The new service, branded Lumo, will have just one single class of travel and the company hopes it will carry more than 1 million passengers a year on the East Coast line – slightly more than currently fly between the English and Scottish capitals. First has pledged that fares will be substantially cheaper than the level of LNER, which operates most trains on the route, with singles starting at £14.90, roughly half the best lead-in rail fare currently available. It said 60% of seats on Lumo will cost £30 or less, with a maximum fare of £69 one way. Lumo will be run as an “open access” service on the route, in a similar arrangement to that of Grand Central and Hull Trains, limiting it to 10 trains a day. The few open access operators in the UK do not have the contractual obligations of LNER or other former rail franchises to run a full timetable, nor to charge fares as dictated by the government. The services will also call at Newcastle, Morpeth and Stevenage, giving potential alternatives to air passengers using Newcastle or Luton airports. Lumo will stress its green credentials, especially compared to flying, with carbon calculations published for passengers, and a more plant-based catering menu. Although the line from London to Edinburgh is fully electrified, Lumo argues its trains may be fractionally more carbon efficient per seat than rival operators’ – partly because LNER operates bi-mode electro-diesel trains to allow direct services on unelectrified railways in Scotland. Helen Wylde, the managing director of Lumo, said: “Travelling in the UK should not cost a fortune and it certainly shouldn’t be the planet that pays. Whatever your preferred mode of transport, we are likely to be more affordable and kinder to the planet. Source https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/sep/07/firstgroup-to-launch-budget-london-to-edinburgh-rail-service-next-month

September 30 at 05:47 AM

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Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water

The Guardian  29 September 2021 (UK) How do we avoid an expensive winter? Take energy back into public ownership Cat Hobbs Pressing ahead with a green new deal that reverses decades of privatisation is the key to better utilities Cat Hobbs is the founder of We Own It, an organisation that campaigns for public ownership of public services hen Keir Starmer stood for election as Labour party leader, he pledged to continue the party’s support for public ownership. One of the 10 promises he set out was that “public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system”. The privatisation of public services is a 40-year failed experiment that voters have had enough of. Recent polling shows that 74% of potential Labour voters now support a greater commitment to public ownership. Evidence suggests that Labour’s public ownership policies were always popular with the general public, and became even more so from 2017 to 2019. Brexit and the party leadership were the stated factors that stopped people from voting Labour. Even Conservative voters support public ownership of railways and water utilities. That’s because in general, people want to see profits reinvested into better services rather than leaking out to shareholders. On Sunday, Labour conference delegates voted for a green new deal motion that included support for public ownership of energy and public transport. They were backed by shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband, who has repeatedly confirmed Labour’s support for public ownership, as has shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon. Source https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/29/expensive-winter-energy-public-ownership-green-new-deal-privatisation

September 30 at 05:30 AM

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REUTERS IMPACT Tesco lets UK-Spain train take the strain to counter trucker crisis

Reuters  September 29, 2021 (London,UK) Britain's biggest retailer Tesco (TSCO.L) plans to expand its use of a train service to bring goods from Spain into the country which helped it cut emissions and protect deliveries through a truck drivers' shortage, its CEO told Reuters. Ken Murphy said in an interview for the upcoming Reuters Impact conference that the last three months had been "quite challenging" but that the supermarket had coped well due to its close ties with suppliers and detailed planning. The group has also started using a chilled rail service to bring fruit and vegetables into the country from Spain, helping to cut the number of trucks it has on roads and guarantee deliveries. From 65,000 containers a year on rail, Tesco has an ambition to increase that to 90,000 containers by November or December. Source https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/reuters-impact-tesco-lets-uk-spain-train-take-strain-counter-trucker-crisis-2021-09-29/

September 30 at 05:13 AM

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Alstom India eyes over Rs 8,600 cr revenue in next fiscal

The Economic Times  Sep 29, 2021 (India) French mobility company Alstom is eyeing over 40 per cent growth in its revenue to 1 billion euro (about Rs 8,650 crore) from India operations in the next financial year 2022-23, up from expected around USD 700 million (about Rs 6,055 crore) in the current fiscal. "India is the fastest-growing market for Alstom, and we are the only multinational supplier in the country to deliver a broad portfolio of rail solutions for urban and mainline. "In short, we grow when India grows. The demand for sustainable mobility solutions is increasing and this sector is bullish," Alain Spohr, managing director of Alstom India (NSE 2.14 %), told reporters here. The company's expected turnover in the current financial year is about 650 million-700 million euros. Source https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/engineering/alstom-india-eyes-over-rs-8600-cr-revenue-in-next-fiscal/articleshow/86612199.cms

September 30 at 04:48 AM

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Sirajganj-Bogura Rail Link Project: BR inks deal with Indian firm for preparatory work

The Daily Star  September 27, 2021 (Bangladesh) Bangladesh Railway (BR) today signed a contract with an Indian joint venture firm for preparatory work on Sirajganj-Bogura Rail Link Project. Under the Tk 97.56 crore contract, the firm led by RITES Ltd of India will work for updating the project's feasibility study, detailed design, and preparing tender documents. They will also provide construction subversion services when the physical work of the project will start. Representatives of BR and the Indian joint venture firm signed the contract in presence of Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami at Dhaka's Rail Bhaban. BR is implementing Tk 5,579.70 crore project to establish 86km direct link between Sirajganj and Bogura. Source https://www.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/transport/news/sirajganj-bogura-rail-link-project-br-inks-deal-indian-firm-preparatory-work-2185121

September 29 at 04:34 AM

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UK seizes control of Go-Ahead's Southeastern rail franchise

Reuters  September 28, 2021 (London, UK) Go-Ahead repays 25 mln stg to UK due to financial errors CFO Elodie Brian steps down immediately UK says could be further fines for Go-Ahead Shares down 11% Britain said it would seize control of Go-Ahead Group's (GOG.L) Southeastern rail contract after the transport company admitted financial errors and repaid 25 million pounds ($34 million) to the government, the latest failure of the UK's franchise system. Go-Ahead postponed its annual results that were due on Thursday, announced the immediate departure of its finance director, Elodie Brian, and apologised for its conduct on the London & South Eastern Railway contract (LSER). The Department for Transport (DfT) said the government's operator of last resort would take over the running of the service from Oct. 17, criticising the company for its conduct and threatening further action, including fines. Shares in Go-Ahead, which also operates bus services and the Govia Thameslink Railway service, traded down 11% to 947 pence on the news. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-take-control-go-aheads-southeastern-rail-franchise-2021-09-28/

September 29 at 04:29 AM

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The Cause of the Derailed Amtrak Train Remains Unclear

The New York Times  September 28, 2021 (US) Five were still hospitalized on Sunday following the crash in Montana that killed three passengers. Steve Glaser was in sleeper car No. 730 on Saturday, watching “The Great British Baking Show” on his cellphone and looking forward to the moment his Amtrak train would leave the flat prairie of central Montana for the high mountain passes of Glacier National Park, when the train jerked violently. Instantly, he realized it had derailed. “If it stays upright,” he thought to himself, “I’m OK.” His car did, but others toppled over, sending passengers flying through the cars. When the train, which also included two locomotives, came to a stop, Mr. Glaser, 66, and another passenger worked together to pry open a window. He grabbed his briefcase and stepped outside to find train cars strewn along the track and other passengers injured. Eight of 10 passenger cars had jumped off the tracks when the train carrying 145 passengers and 13 crew members derailed near Joplin, Mont., killing three people and injuring dozens more. As of Sunday afternoon, five people from the crash remained hospitalized at Benefis Health System in Great Falls, all in stable condition. Officials have not released any information on what they suspect caused the train to derail as it was traveling through an apparently flat and straight section of the route. The wreck is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. Source https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/26/us/derailed-amtrak-train-cause-unclear.html

September 29 at 04:20 AM

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Pakistan: Imran Khan performs groundbreaking for Rs250 billion Karachi Circular Railway project

Gulf News  September 27, 2021 (Pakistan) Infrastructure for the project is likely to be completed in next two years Karachi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the Rs250 billion Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project that will provide modern electric-powered intra-city metro rail services to the residents of the provincial capital. Khan was accompanied by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Federal Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati, and Federal Information & Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain. Speaking on the occasion, Khan said the mega development projects like the KCR required political will of the government to complete them in time. He said that any delay in implementing these projects would also increase their cost and ultimately the project could become financially unfeasible to complete them. He said that both the federal and Sindh governments were required to pay full attention to the KCR project. Khan reiterated that the federal government had the resolve to undertake the project, hoping that the provincial government would also extend due cooperation. Source https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/pakistan-imran-khan-performs-groundbreaking-for-rs250-billion-karachi-circular-railway-project-1.82564780

September 29 at 04:12 AM

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New train rolls off line

Global Times  September 27, 2021 (China) A new urban fast rail train developed by CRRC's subsidiary in Tangshan, North China's Hebei Province is displayed on Monday at a transit industry summit in the city. The train will use fully autonomous driving technology, and its materials and components can be recycled and reused up to the 96 percent level. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202109/1235241.shtml

September 29 at 04:03 AM

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5 World’s most dangerous train routes, know how adventurous these are

Kalinga TV  September 27, 2021 (Photo: Chennai – Rameswaram Route, India) Most people like to travel through trains, it is both time and cost-effective. Many of us also like to capture the beauty of the nature that passes by throughout our travel. Scenic views, rivers, mountains, forests, food onboard, great time with family, friends, or other passengers, and a lot more we can think of- are possible during a train journey. However, certain railway tracks in the world can take our rail journey up a notch and leave you spellbound. Read more to know about these world’s most dangerous train routes. Cape Town Railway Track, South Africa There is a railway track in South Africa, that is popularly known for being stopped for loot and vandalism. Often the incidents of robbery and harm reportedly comes in news from Cape Town railway track. Each day, some of trains are also cancelled due to these dangerous event. Chennai – Rameswaram Route, India The Chennai – Rameswaram connecting railway track in India, is considered as one of the most dangerous and adventurous railway route in the world. This route is also known as ‘Pawan Bridge’. This bridge is located above the Indian ocean, and is about 2.3 kms long. Initiated at 1914, this route gets even more dangerous when the water level of the sea rises. Salta-Polvorilla, Argentina Situated in Argentina, Salta-Polvorilla is one of the most dangerous railway routes in the world.  The construction of the railway started in 1921, to connect the North of Argentina with Chile across the Andes, and to serve the borax mines of the area. This 217 km long railway track is not only dangerous but also adventurous. It took 27 years to complete this track, and from 1948 the trains started running on it. This train route consists of 29 bridges and 21 tunnels. Japan Aso Minami Route Aso Minami Route in Japan is one of the world’s most dangerous railroads owing to its proximity to Mount Aso – the nation’s biggest active volcano – passes through the region of Kumamoto, connecting Takamori to Tateno Station in Minamiaso. A beautiful adventure within the cusp of nature can be experienced while journeying in the Japan trains that crosses through this path. In this route, the trains takes an inclination of about 300 foot high, which itself is quite an experience. As dangerous as it seems, people with the spirit of adventure won’t go home disappointing. Devil’s Nose train Ecuador Located 9000 feet above the sea level, this railway track’s construction was completed 33 years ago. A  hair-raising trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through some of Ecuador’s most breathtaking scenery, the so called “Devil’s nose” is an impressive section of the entire route. Source https://kalingatv.com/offbeat/5-worlds-most-dangerous-train-routes-know-how-adventurous-these-are/

September 29 at 03:58 AM

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NSW train strike disrupts rail services

Canberra Online News  September 28, 2021 NSW train services are being disrupted throughout the state as drivers strike and commuters are told to make alternative arrangements. Commuters can expect massive disruptions to all regional and city services on Tuesday as drivers strike for better pay and conditions.  Train drivers will stop working across Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink from 9am until 1pm as part of ongoing industrial action, but services are expected to be affected from 7am until at least 3pm. Commuters can also expect delays on Sydney’s Inner West Light Rail as workers at the Pyrmont depot stop work between 7am and 9am and 3pm and 5pm. Unions say they planned the action for weeks, especially around getting essential workers to and from work.  The strike comes during negotiations for a new enterprise agreement, where the parties remain at loggerheads over pay and safety issues. Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary Alex Claassens said there could be more industrial action in the next month if the government continued to workers’ demands. Transport for NSW chief operations officer Howard Collins urged Sydney commuters to avoid using all public transport if possible. “Please find alternative means to travel, if you don’t have to travel tomorrow please ensure you stay at home or use alternative means,” he said on Monday. Mr Claassens said the enterprise agreement expired in May. “All we’re asking for is a clean, safe and efficient transport system to work in and to be paid fairly for the work we’re doing,” he said. “At the moment, the NSW government is refusing to even send someone to the negotiating table to discuss our concerns.” The union is asking for a 3.5 per cent wage rise while the NSW government is offering 0.3 per cent for the first year of a new enterprise agreement. Other issues include restructuring people into other roles, outsourcing of COVID-19 cleaning jobs, and the absence of mandatory on-site virus testing. AAP Source https://canberraonlinenews.com.au/nsw-train-strike-disrupts-rail-services/

September 28 at 06:04 AM

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Driver involved in Boston rail crash now facing charges

Toronto Star (The Associated Press)  September 24, 2021 (Boston, US) The operator of a light rail train that crashed into the rear of another train on the Boston area’s public transit system in July, sending more than two dozen people to the hospital, now faces criminal charges, according to court records. Owen Turner, 50, is charged with gross negligence of a person in control of a train and gross negligence of a person having care of a common carrier, The Boston Globe reported Thursday. Turner declined to comment to the newspaper. The crash on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Green Line B branch on July 30 near Boston University sent 27 passengers and workers to the hospital with minor injuries. According to a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report released this week, Turner had his train on “full power” and was traveling 31 mph when he struck a train going 10 mph. According to court records, Turner told police that he received a signal light indicating he was cleared to proceed but that “he does not remember anything” before impact. Turner has a history of operating trains at excessive speed, according to the police report. An MBTA spokesperson said this week that the agency is moving to fire Turner. Source https://www.thestar.com/news/world/us/2021/09/24/driver-involved-in-boston-rail-crash-now-facing-charges.html

September 28 at 05:29 AM

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Farmers blocks roads, rail tracks in nationwide protest in India

Times Of Oman  27 September, 2021 Indian farmer unions launched a nationwide protest on Monday to mark one year since the parliament passed three contentious farm laws that they say threaten their livelihood. The 10-hour protest began early morning with tens of the thousand of farmers blocking state and national highways as well as train tracks, effectively bringing road and rail traffic to a halt. Source https://timesofoman.com/article/107241-farmers-blocks-roads-rail-tracks-in-nationwide-protest-in-india

September 28 at 05:23 AM

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Ireland’s newest railway station opens in Dublin

The Irish Times  September 26, 2021 (Ireland) Pelletstown station will help State achieve climate goals, Eamon Ryan says Louis O’Donoghue and Mary Rose Murphy could hardly be happier that Ireland’s newest railway station has opened at Pelletstown, Co Dublin. Located on the westward Dublin to Maynooth line, between the Ashtown and Broombridge stations, the station “will give great access for walks in the Dublin mountains, for instance”, said Mr O’Donoghue, “and to Howth. Mary Rose likes to go swimming in Howth on Sundays.” A Tipperary man, he is partial to Dublin’s southside. “We can [now] get out to Bride’s Glen with just one switch on the line,” he said. Both Mr O’Donoghue and Ms Murphy are members of the Irish Ramblers Club, and the new station will make it “much easier to access the Dublin mountains, than by car or bus”, he said. On Sunday afternoon the two took the train “from Pelletstown to Broombridge and walked back by the canal. It’s a great facility,” Mr O’Donoghue said. Source https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/ireland-s-newest-railway-station-opens-in-dublin-1.4684251

September 28 at 05:16 AM

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Indian Railways creates milestone; runs 1st electric train between Pipavav Port-Bhagat Ki Kothi on High Rise OHE

Financial Express  September 23, 2021 (India) On 21 September 2021, Western Railways operated the first electric train from Pipavav Port of Bhavnagar Division, making it the country's first Indian Port connected with High Rise OHE. In continuation with the Modi government’s prestigious mission of 100 per cent electrification of the Indian Railways network, the Western Railway zone has made another historical achievement. On 21 September 2021, Western Railways operated the first electric train from Pipavav Port of Bhavnagar Division, making it the country’s first Indian Port connected with High Rise OHE. According to Western Railways, with the flagging off this train, a new customer, i.e., Pipavav Rail Corporation Limited has been added as Container Operator. It further said the first rake was loaded from Pipavav Port siding to Bhagat Ki Kothi in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Now, this port is directly connected with the Dedicated Freight Corridor with AC Traction of High Rise OHE. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/indian-railways-creates-milestone-runs-1st-electric-train-between-pipavav-port-bhagat-ki-kothi-on-high-rise-ohe/2336288/

September 28 at 04:42 AM

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German company pips Chinese firm to win high-speed rail project in Egypt

Economic Times  September 26, 2021 (Germany) In what would raise hopes of avoiding Chinese debt trap in the developing world, a consortium led by the German engineering multinational Siemens NSE -0.72 % pipped the Chinese and has been awarded a 4.5-billion-euro contract to build a high-speed rail line in Egypt, a key state in the Arab world. The railway line will be built from Ain Sukhna at the southern end of the Suez Canal, to Alexandria and the port city of Marsa Matruh – from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt, according to a special report in the leading German magazine Der Spiegel. Siemens reportedly outsmarted a Chinese competitor for the project, according to Der Spiegel report. “The project, which is backed by a Hermes loan guarantee from the German government, has broad political support in Berlin…,” according to the report. There are millions of Egyptians who will benefit from this railway project. The line is scheduled for completion in 2027 and will later be extended upriver to Luxor and the resort city of Hurghada, according to Der Spiegel. It will also provide economic stimulus and create jobs for around 15,000 people in Egypt in the first stage, according to estimates provided by project leader Siemens. Two Egyptian companies have been commissioned with the construction of the route, and the project is progressing quickly, according to the report. Source https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/german-company-pips-chinese-firm-to-win-high-speed-rail-project-in-egypt/articleshow/86524064.cms

September 27 at 09:59 AM

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Moving cargo on rail must make sense for importers

Business Daily  September 27 2021 (Kenya) Linking the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) to the old metre gauge railway will create a critical line that offers the multi-billion shilling project a lease of life. The 23.5 kilometre rail connecting the standard gauge railway (SGR) line to the old track in Naivasha is complete and will allow seamless travel between the Mombasa port and Kisumu. Rehabilitating the Naivasha-Malaba line and building another short track connecting the SGR at Naivasha was a quicker option than building another SGR. The government abandoned plans to extend the SGR line to Kisumu and later on to the Ugandan border after failing to secure a multi-billion-shilling loan from China, which had funded the first and second phases of the line. However, the issues that have been plaguing SGR will still exist even with the connection to the port city of Kisumu. Since its launch in 2017, the new railways has struggled to earn enough revenues to sustain the business after the Jubilee administration spent billions of shillings on the project. The State resorted to forcing importers to use the railway to enhance revenues. Source https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/opinion-analysis/editorials/moving-cargo-on-rail-must-make-sense-for-importers-3563960

September 27 at 07:01 AM

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Amtrak train derails in Montana, killing three and injuring dozens

BBC  26 September 2021 (US) At least three people have been killed and 50 others hurt after a train came off the tracks in the state of Montana. Several carriages from the Amtrak Empire Builder passenger service derailed at about 16:00 local time (22:00 GMT) near the town of Joplin. Images on social media show train cars on their sides and luggage strewn on the ground with people standing nearby. Amtrak said there were some 141 passengers and 16 crew aboard the Chicago to Seattle service. Passenger Megan Vandervest, who was heading to see a friend in Seattle, told the New York Times she was woken up by the derailment, which felt like "extreme turbulence on a plane." Wayne Freed said that he was in the lounge car, one of those that flipped on its side, but was able to grab hold of a coffee table bolted to the floor. "I just held onto that, and my legs were dangling down below and the windows broke out down below and which is how we eventually escaped after the train stopped," he told CBS. "But I'd hate to think what would happen if I hadn't been able to hold onto my table." Rescuers have been working to evacuate passengers, Amtrak said. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58696143

September 27 at 06:19 AM

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South Africa’s vaccine train takes doses to poor areas

AP  September 25, 2021 (SWARTKOPS, South Africa) When Wongalwethu Mbanjwa tried to get a COVID-19 vaccination and found his local center closed, a friend told him there was another option: Get one on the train. So Mbanjwa did. Not any train, but South Africa’s vaccine train — which has now made its way to the small town of Swartkops on the country’s south coast. Carrying doctors, nurses and, crucially, vaccine doses, it has a mission to bring vaccines closer to people in small towns and poorer parts of South Africa, which has the continent’s highest number of coronavirus infections at more than 2.8 million. The train is parked at the Swartkops rail station, the first stop on a three-month journey through the poor Eastern Cape province. It will stay for about two weeks at a time at seven stations in the province to vaccinate as many people as possible. State-owned rail company Transnet launched the program to aid the government’s rollout. The initiative aims to meet head-on two of the government’s biggest challenges: getting doses out beyond big cities to areas where health care facilities are limited and trying to convince hesitant people in those areas to get vaccine shots. Source https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-business-africa-health-coronavirus-vaccine-601ac7f397fe20562505b9b1f5bc3b32

September 27 at 06:14 AM

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‘Lagos Blue, red rail lines will be ready in 2023 1st Quarter’

The Guardian  26 September 2021 (Nigeria) Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, promised that Lagos blue and red rail lines would commence operation between the last quarter of 2022 and first quarter of 2023. The Governor, who disclosed this, after inspecting the on-going blue and red line projects, said his administration is committed to realising the rail projects in the last two years.   He said work has commenced extensively on the red rail line at the Ikeja iconic station, which is the meeting point of the project, adding that the construction work has really progressed in Ikeja, the biggest station outside the Marina station. Source https://guardian.ng/news/lagos-blue-red-rail-lines-will-be-ready-in-2023-1st-quarter/

September 27 at 06:10 AM

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Rolling Stocks Market is anticipated to Grow at a Steady Growth Rate over the Forecast Period, Key Players – Hebei Huaxu,Naturesupplies,Douglas,Hebei Kanlong

Global Banking And Finance Review  24 September, 2021 (UK) The Rolling Stocks Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.2 % and is poised to reach $XX Billion by 2027 as compared to $XX Billion in 2020 New York, United States :  As one of the most valuable additions to  Decisive Markets Insights,  the  Rolling Stocks Market  covers a broad range of topics. Analyzes key components of the global market in a comprehensive way. In this report, analysts describe the growth drivers, challenges, trends, and opportunities for each market segment, and provide detailed information about these drivers, constraints, and challenges. Analysis of market dynamics can help participants prepare for future challenges and formulate effective advanced strategies. Market analysts carefully analyze and study every trend in this market. Source https://www.globalbankingandfinance.com/rolling-stocks-market-is-anticipated-to-grow-at-a-steady-growth-rate-over-the-forecast-period-key-players-hebei-huaxunaturesuppliesdouglashebei-kanlong/

September 24 at 06:06 AM

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Tourists climb aboard to visit scenic unstaffed train stations

The Asahi Shimbun  September 23, 2021 (Japan) Shimonada Station in Iyo, Ehime Prefecture, is an unstaffed, single-track train establishment, which seems to be off the beaten path.   However, on a recent evening, a total of 50 individuals in couples and families showed up at the tiny station.  Just in front of the platform is a broad expanse of the Seto Inland Sea. Gazing upon the ocean from a bench, one feels as if time is passing slowly. What the visitors sought most is the “magical hour” when both the sky and sea are lit up in a beautiful color gradation of blue and red. A pair of female visitors who described themselves as college students were staring at the scenery with dazzled eyes. They said they were stunned by “such a beautiful sunset that can be enjoyed from this site very close to the ocean.” It takes about an hour by train to travel to Shimonada Station from Matsuyama, the prefectural capital, and only a single train stops there every hour. Despite the difficult-to-reach location, the students were rapidly shooting photos to record “the most picturesque landscape worth visiting.” Shimonada Station is among a growing number of unstaffed stations nationwide that rail operators and residents are rediscovering as tourist spots and regional bases. Having no staff members throughout the day, those train stops boast various attractions such as magnificent views and a camping site directly linked to a station. Still, many challenges remain given the current situation facing unmanned stations at which ensuring safety and securing ways for disabled people to travel freely is difficult. SHIMONADA BECAME UNSTAFFED 35 YEARS AGO According to Shikoku Railway Co. (JR Shikoku), Shimonada Station was completed in 1935. Although it once flourished with passenger traffic and also as a center for mikan fruit shipping, the station became unstaffed in 1986 amid the decreased number of riders resulting from the spreading use of automobiles. Source https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14436283

September 24 at 05:53 AM

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In the Herald: September 28, 1953

The Sydney Morning Herald  September 23, 2021 (Australia) Locomotive derailed “Wooden props were used to support a locomotive which was derailed and almost crashed on to the road near Auburn railway station yesterday. The locomotive, which was hauling a railway workers’ special, jumped a set of points. Train services were disrupted for eight hours until two o’clock, and passengers travelling from Liverpool, Parramatta, Granville and Auburn were provided with bus transport.” Source https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/in-the-herald-september-28-1953-20210923-p58u4n.html

September 24 at 05:49 AM

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GLIMPSES: Britain's Johnson rides rails to meet Amtrak Joe

Star Tribune (-Associated Press) (Washington, US)  September 21, 2021  Oh, the conversations that happen when powerful people meet. Could the "very special relationship" between the U.S. and the United Kingdom become even more secure now that President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have bonded over their shared love of trains? Biden famously rode Amtrak almost daily between his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington during his 36 years as a U.S. senator. He rode the rails when he was vice president, too. Johnson hopped aboard an Amtrak train in New York City on Tuesday, after addressing the U.N. General Assembly, to get to a White House meeting with Biden. "Amtrak Joe" — a nickname the president earned for his regular commutes — took note as the leaders exchanged pleasantries while opening their meeting in the Oval Office. Source https://www.startribune.com/glimpses-britains-johnson-rides-rails-to-meet-amtrak-joe/600099500/?refresh=true

September 24 at 05:47 AM

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Victorian ticket ledger found at March railway station

BBC  23 September, 2021 A Victorian ticket ledger has been discovered at a railway station by contractors after it fell through a ceiling they were repairing. The luggage ledger dated back to April 1885, when March Railway Station in Cambridgeshire first opened. Other Victorian items found in the unused loft included a Great Eastern Railway sack and three small log books. Greater Anglia customer service manager Anita Stuart said it was "lovely to have uncovered this link to the past". The contractors were removing rotten woodwork when the hand-written ledger, detailing entries of all the passenger luggage and parcels sent from the station, dropped out of the loft. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-58657984

September 24 at 04:48 AM

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Mum calls for early train to be reinstated for schoolgirls

Knutsford Guardian  19th September SCHOOLGIRLS are struggling with exhaustion because they have to get up too early to catch a train, say mums. Pupils travelling from Knutsford arrive at Altrincham an hour before classes start because an earlier service was cancelled during the pandemic. Mum Amy Hayes has now launched a campaign to get the 8.04am Northern Rail train service reinstated. She will be handing out flyers on the platform urging commuters to support her appeal. Her 11-year-old daughter Alice and friends, all former pupils at St Vincent's Catholic Primary School, have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch a train to get to Loreto Grammar on time. Source https://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/news/19587802.mum-calls-early-train-reinstated-knutsford-altrincham/

September 24 at 04:32 AM

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China or Japan: Govt mulls over Jakarta-Surabaya railway plans

The Jakarta Post  September 20, 2021 (Indonesia) Indonesia’s plan to invite China to submit a proposal for the Jakarta-Surabaya railway project has caught some by surprise, as the project appeared to be earmarked for Japan. Questions emerged when Coordinating Economics Minister Airlangga Hartarto announced in May 2020 that the government had decided to extend the China-backed Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project to Surabaya in East Java, along a route similar to one Japan had begun studying in 2018. In January, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo wanted China to work on the extension. In May this year, Luhut was tasked with meeting representatives from China to discuss the project. Source https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2021/09/20/china-or-japan-govt-mulls-over-jakarta-surabaya-railway-plans.html

September 23 at 06:19 AM

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300 bodies found on Pune railway tracks in past three years remain unidentified

Hindustan Times  September 22, 2021 (Pune, India) The railway police in Pune have recorded around 300 unidentified bodies found on the tracks in the past three years The railway police have recorded around 300 unidentified bodies found on the tracks in the past three years. In 2021, 132 cases of accidental deaths have been reported and of that 30 bodies are yet to be identified. The figure of unidentified bodies in 2020 was 79 in the 250 accidental death cases and it was 191 unidentified bodies of 206 accidental cases in 2019. “It is a major challenge to identify mangled bodies. Most of the cases are related to suicides. Sometimes the victims’ personal belongings that could help in identification are stolen by the time the police are alerted. Hence, it becomes difficult to term the death as suicide or accident or murder in case of such cases,” said railway police station incharge Maula Shaikh. Source https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/300-bodies-found-on-pune-railway-tracks-in-past-three-years-remain-unidentified-101632315697555.html

September 23 at 06:02 AM

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‘Anxiety relief’ train comes back to life in southern Taiwan

Taiwan News  22 September 2021(TAIPEI, Taiwan) The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) will honor vintage rail travel with the revival of a “blue-painted” tourist train in October. The train will run a route connecting Pingtung in the south and Taitung in the east that boasts picturesque coastal scenery of both the Bashi Channel and the Pacific Ocean, according to Lion Travel, the travel agency commissioned to operate the service. It is this fascinating and soothing landscape that has earned the rail service the sobriquet “anxiety relief” train. It will restart on Oct. 23 after an overhaul lasting a year and a half, reported CNA. A single trip costs a minimum of NT$299 (US$10.76). Source https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4294102

September 23 at 05:47 AM

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Indian Railways supplies state-of-the-art passenger coaches to Sri Lanka; details

Financial Express  September 22, 2021  This consignment is a part of USD 82.6 million contract, to supply as many as 160 passenger coaches to the island nation of Sri Lanka, funded under an Indian Line of Credit of USD 318 million. Assisting Sri Lanka in the development of its railway infrastructure, Indian Railways supplied a consignment of 20 passenger coaches to Sri Lanka Railways recently. According to a statement issued by the High Commission of India in Colombo, the state-of-the-art coaches have been transported to the neighbouring country by Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES). On 17 September 2021, these 20 passenger coaches reached Colombo Port. This consignment is a part of USD 82.6 million contract, to supply as many as 160 passenger coaches to the island nation of Sri Lanka, funded under an Indian Line of Credit of USD 318 million, it further said. So far, 60 out of 160 passenger coaches have been supplied to Sri Lanka Railways while 20 more passenger coaches are ready to be shipped from India. These ‘India-made’ coaches have been custom made and manufactured as per the requirements of Sri Lanka Railways by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. The PSU- RITES Limited is also scheduled to supply two air-conditioned DMUs to Sri Lanka under the Indian Line of Credit of USD 318 million. The first air-conditioned DMU set consisting of 13 coaches is ready to be shipped from India and is waiting for nomination of ship by Sri Lanka. Some of the other projects under this line includes railway line’s upgradation from Maho to Omanthai (128 kilometres long), Signalling project from Maho to Anuradhapura, Double Tracking of rail line from Polgahawela to Kurunegala, etc. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/indian-railways-supplies-state-of-the-art-passenger-coaches-to-sri-lanka-details/2335065/

September 23 at 05:33 AM

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Isle of Wight rail line set to reopen after 10-month closure

BBC 22 September 2021 A railway line is expected to reopen 10 months after its closure for a £26m overhaul, following delays due to the pandemic and flash flooding. The Isle of Wight's Island Line service closed on 4 January and had been expected to reopen in March. Its trains have been replaced by London Underground trains, and tracks and platforms have been upgraded. South Western Railway (SWR) said it would reopen on 1 November if its final train safety tests were successful. Claire Mann, managing director of South Western Railway, said: "We are sorry that this project has taken longer to deliver than we first hoped, with a series of complications sadly delaying re-opening. "However, we are confident that the transformed Island Line will be worth wait, and we are so excited to welcome locals and visitors back onboard." Source https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-58651466

September 23 at 04:55 AM

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France's Alstom signs €300 million rail contract with Melbourne as submarine crisis deepens

RFI  20 September, 2021 (France Australia) French manufacturer Alstom has signed a contract to supply 25 commuter trains to Melbourne for €300 million. The contract comes amid the ongoing nuclear submarine row between France and Australia that erupted last week after Australia pulled out of a provision contract with France. Alstom said in a statement that it will supply 25 six-car X'trapolis trains to Australia's second most populous city in a €300 million deal. The trains will be built in the state of Victoria with at least 60 percent local content, the company said. Alstom has a manufacturing plant in Ballarat, near Melbourne. The order is part of a two-year design process with the Victorian Department of Transport, which includes Melbourne and Canberra. "Alstom is delighted to continue its long-term partnership with the Victorian Government and the local supply chain that will ensure we continue to build trains for Victoria, in Victoria," said the company's managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Mark Coxon. Source https://www.rfi.fr/en/international/20210920-france-s-alstom-signs-%E2%82%AC300-million-rail-contract-with-melbourne-as-submarine-crisis-deepens

September 22 at 06:24 AM

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Passenger rail service in full throttle

The Herald  21 September 2021 (Zimbabwe) The commuter service introduced by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) in partnership with the National Railways of Zimbabwe is now in full throttle. The Mufakose train is leaving the station with all its coaches full whilst the Ruwa and Tynwald trains are still building capacity. Zupco is now also providing shuttle services to commuters from bus terminuses in the Central Business District (CBD) to the railway station. Zupco acting chief executive Mr Evaristo Mudangwa said they were happy with the commuters’ response to their rail services. Source https://www.herald.co.zw/passenger-rail-service-in-full-throttle/

September 22 at 06:09 AM

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Gold diggers damage railway lines

News Day  August 24, 2021 (Zimbabwe) THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has expressed concern over a surge in illegal mining activities along railway tracks throughout the country saying the activities were now posing a serious risk to rail traffic. NRZ acting public relations manager Martin Banda told  Southern Eye  yesterday that over 24 dams have been created by illegal artisanal miners along railway tracks. These have become death traps and cost NRZ millions of dollars to repair and replace damaged infrastructure, he said. “Railway reserve land throughout the country is under threat from illegal artisanal miners who are mining gold and chrome ore close to railway lines and in some areas they are digging to the detriment of track stability,” Banda said. “Digging trenches close to the railway line poses a risk to the travelling public and there is a risk of the railway collapsing. Over 24 dams have been created by these illegal artisanal miners who are digging into railway formation at times using heavy earth-moving equipment found within the mining vicinity.” He said the most affected areas were Hambakwe, Chomumvuri and Adams near Zvishavane. Railway tracks have also been damaged in Jumbo, Tatagura in Mazowe, Bindura, Shurugwi, Shamva, Ngezi River, Redfield and in Chiwundura. “The railway reserve land is a strip of 45m wide either side of the track on all main lines. The public must respect this strip of land and stop any farming and mining activities along the railway reserve as it is a violation of the Railway Act,” he said. Source https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/08/gold-diggers-damage-railway-lines/

September 22 at 05:44 AM

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Saudi minister: KSA keen to invest more in Bangladesh

Dhaka Tribune  September 20, 2021 (Bangladesh) The prime minister's Private Industry and Investment adviser proposed setting up a special economic zone for Saudi investors Saudi Arabian Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Sunday said there is potential for more Saudi investment in Bangladesh due to the latter’s investment-friendly climate. The Saudi minister made the remark during a meeting with Salman F Rahman, visiting Private Industry and Investment adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. During the meeting, Salman F Rahman apprised the Saudi minister of the steps taken by the current government to attract foreign investment, read a press release.  He also proposed to set up a special economic zone for Saudi investors, as committed to by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.  The Saudi investment minister welcomed Bangladesh's proposal. The adviser also requested that the minister finalize a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at creating opportunities for Saudi investment under public-private partnerships. Al-Falih informed the advisor that the draft MoU is in its final phase and he hoped it would be signed soon. Source https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/09/20/saudi-minister-saudi-arabia-keen-to-invest-more-in-bangladesh

September 22 at 05:15 AM

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Dhaka-Cox's Bazar train service to start Dec 16, 2022

The Financial Express  September 20, 2021 (Bangladesh) The much-awaited train service on Dhaka to Cox's Bazar section will be launched by December 16, 2022. “We hope that travel-loving people will be able to go to Cox's Bazar by train from next year as construction of the Cox's Bazar section railway line will be completed by December 2022,” Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said on Monday. He said the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken 10 mega projects for expediting the country’s development as well as railway network, reports BSS. “Of the 10 mega projects, two are for railways–one is the rail link with the Padma Bridge and the other is the rail link with Myanmar and China under fast-track project,” he added. The project is scheduled to be completed by June next year but people will be able to travel to Cox's Bazar by train from December 16, 2022, the minister said. The railways minister will visit Cox’s Bazar to inspect construction works of Dohazari and Cox’s Bazar railway section tomorrow. According to ministry information, the 100.831-kilometer-long Dohazari to Cox's Bazar single line dual gauge railway line construction is a mega project of Bangladesh Railway and a sophisticated railway junction at Dohazari. The Dohazari-Cox's Bazar railway project will be extended from Cox's Bazar to Gumdum near Myanmar via Ramu, which will be extended to China in the future as part of the Trans Asia Highways, it added. Construction works for the building of nine stations including iconic stations in Cox's Bazar, at Dulhazra and Islamabad are going on. The overall progress of the project rose to 62 per cent, while financial progress reached at 32.22 per cent till August 31 this year. Ballast for railway tracks is partly imported from India and Malaysia, while necessary railways were brought from China, the information said. Source https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/national/dhaka-coxs-bazar-train-service-to-start-dec-16-2022-1632141904

September 22 at 05:11 AM

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Traveling and consumer consumption show positive signs during Mid-Autumn Festival

Global Times  September 20, 2021 Staff members of Hankou Railway Station remind passengers to follow epidemic prevention rules in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Sep 19, 2021, the first day of the 3-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.Photo:Xinhua The number of passenger trips across China's railways were recorded at 10.48 million on Sunday, the first day of the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in China this year. A total of 10,067 trains running on regular timetables, according to data provided by the China Railway. The data however is down 29 percent compared to the first day of last year's Mid-Autumn & National Day holidays. The number is projected to reach 7.3 million on Monday. The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region saw a railway traveling peak on Sunday, accommodating around 950,000 passenger trips on Sunday, local news site YNET.com reported, citing data from China Railway Beijing Group Co. Before the Mid-Autumn Festival, cross-provincial tourism had already seen improvement, with the number of registered tourists rising steadily, according to a report sent to the Global Times by the online travel booking platform Ctrip on Monday. As of Thursday, short-distance trip bookings for the Mid-Autumn Festival had surpassed the number in 2019 before the outbreak of the COVID-19, with ticket booking number increased about 30 percent over that in 2019, data from Ctrip showed. Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202109/1234679.shtml  

September 21 at 05:05 AM

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CityLab Daily: Philadelphia Is Finally Getting a New Transit Map

Bloomberg  September 17, 2021 (US) Philadelphia’s rail system, SEPTA, hopes to shed its enduring moniker “Inepta” with a $40 million wayfinding improvement campaign. The sixth-largest U.S. transit system by ridership has navigational challenges that stem from the fact that it is an amalgam of technologies and vehicle types, including underground trains and remnants of the city’s legacy streetcar, writes Laura Bliss. The proposed masterplan includes a new map and better signage, redesigned based on international best practices, as well as a rebranding of SEPTA’s various offerings. And it comes as Philadelphia looks to lure riders back from a system that’s losing about $1 million in daily revenue. Source https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-09-17/citylab-daily-philadelphia-finally-gets-a-new-transit-map

September 21 at 04:55 AM

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Egypt is building a $4.5 billion high-speed rail line

CNN  17 September 2021 (Egypt) German company Siemens Mobility has signed a $4.5 billion contract with Egypt's National Authority for Tunnels to deliver the country's first high-speed and electrified train line (pictured in a rendering). The first 660-kilometer line will connect Cairo to new cities.  See   more Egyptian mega projects being built for the country's growing population. Passengers and cargo will soon be able to shoot through the Egyptian desert aboard a high-speed train, in a first for the country.   The high-speed and electrified main rail line will connect Cairo to the New Administrative Capital and surrounding new cities.   German company Siemens Mobility signed a contract with Egypt's National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) earlier this month to build the initial 660 kilometers out of the planned 1,800-kilometer network, creating "a Suez Canal type of link on the tracks." The first line will link the port cities of Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea to Marsa Matrouh and Alexandria on the Mediterranean. According to the company, the first section of this line will be operational in 2023. Siemens, which is partnering on the project with Orascom Construction S.A.E. and The Arab Contractors, says the total contract is worth around $4.5 billion, of which its share is approximately $3 billion.   Source https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/egypt-high-speed-train-spc-intl/index.html

September 21 at 04:36 AM

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State-owned Namibian rail operator to cut a quarter of workforce

NASDAQ  September 20, 2021 (Namibia) WINDHOEK, Sept 20 (Reuters) - State-owned Namibian rail operator TransNamib will cut roughly a quarter of its 1,309 workers in a bid to cut costs amid a slowdown in business, the company's CEO said in a letter seen by Reuters. In a letter to the public enterprises minister, Leon Jooste, TransNamib CEO Johny Smith said the company wanted to make 340 employees redundant, including 154 nearing retirement. Another 186 employees in "non-core business units" have also been targeted for voluntary redundancy. The non-core business units include the former road operations, vehicle maintenance, service delivery and terminals section. "Most of these employees are therefore currently being carried by the company in redundant capacities and can be considered excess to requirements to the core business which is train operations, properties and engineering together with supporting services," Smith said. Source https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/state-owned-namibian-rail-operator-to-cut-a-quarter-of-workforce-2021-09 -20

September 21 at 04:29 AM

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All seamless rails welded along China-Laos railway in Vietnam

Big News Network  17 September 2021 China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group (CREC-2) has welded the last two 500-meter seamless rails for the China-Laos railway in the southern suburb of the Lao capital Vientiane. The seamless rail, also known as continuous welded rail (CWR) which eliminates rail joints, can improve the duration of steel rails, reduce the maintenance costs of locomotives and tracks, improve the stability and speed of trains, as well as enhance travel comfort. According to the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. (LCRC), a joint venture based in Vientiane in charge of the railway's construction and operation, the CREC-2 has completed the welding of all the seamless rails along the over 400-km railway on Thursday, thus laying a solid foundation for the goal to complete the China-Laos railway construction by the end of this year. Xiao Qianwen, the LCRC general manager, told Xinhua on Friday that the Chinese engineers have welded the seamless rails across all the 75 tunnels, 165 bridges and 20 railway stations since May 2020. According to Xiao, most projects of the China-Laos railway are undergoing the final check and acceptance inspection, and the remaining engineering and preparation for operation are progressing steadily. The China-Laos Railway is a docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub. The over 400-km railway will run from Boten border gate in northern Laos bordering China to Vientiane with an operating speed of 160 km per hour. The electrified passenger and cargo railway is built with the full application of Chinese management and technical standards. The construction of the project started in December 2016 and is scheduled to be completed and operational in December 2021. Source https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/271185916/all-seamless-rails-welded-along-china-laos-railway-in-vietnam

September 21 at 04:06 AM

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3 Railroad Stocks to Watch as Industry Continues to Recover

Yahoo Finance  September 16, 2021 (US) When coronavirus gripped the United States last year, economic activities took a hit, which in turn, affected the railroad industry. However, following the gradual easing of restrictions, railroads began to stage a comeback and are continuing their recovery. Per a report by the Association of American Railroads published on Sep 15, for the first 36 weeks of 2021, the total combined U.S. rail traffic increased 10% from last year. The report further stated that for the first 36 weeks of 2021, the cumulative volume of U.S. railroads rose 8.2% year over year while intermodal volumes increased 11.5% from last year. In fact, total North American rail volume, including carloads and intermodal units, increased 8.9% during the first 36 weeks of this year. Per another report by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, North American transborder freight via railways in June 2021, increased 45.5% year over year. It’s also interesting to note that this marked an increase of 3.4% from the pre-pandemic levels witnessed in June 2019. The widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccines has been instrumental in fueling the recovery in the U.S. railroad industry. In recent times, however, the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant has sparked concerns about a potential slowdown in economic recovery. But recent data can be regarded as a silver lining with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) reporting on Sep 10 that the current seven-day moving average of daily new coronavirus cases declined 12.7% from the previous seven-day moving average. Another positive is that 54.1% of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, per the latest report by the CDC as of Sep 15. Such positive developments should continue to fuel the recovery in railroads. Besides, President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan will also look to overhaul the railway infrastructure in the country. The bill consists of $66 billion spending for passenger and freight rail, as mentioned in a CNN Business article. Reflective of these positives, IBISWorld expects the U.S. rail transportation market to grow 9.8% this year. Source https://finance.yahoo.com/news/3-railroad-stocks-watch-industry-111311884.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAFj0NHRqLipzNKPI19p9JZVSECLPuQyeDkgBkCN68eplpITvXHnzTGLForvxgpxqPtMWKytZa1hNPO5fMMXtXxHyff2Z7OUZiX4ts3oFp43PMFpgEopHiD3MNqbYmeO41AscejevQRHnKLqc2PVwY-YdKOy2XHdr77GcqJLcy3zY

September 20 at 05:29 AM

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Hong Kong leader to ‘unveil plans for new rail link’ with Qianhai in policy address

South China Morning Post  16 September, 2021 (Hong Kong) Project will serve as an extension of planned HK$62 billion Northern Link to cater for eightfold expansion of Qianhai Source says order for a new rail link came from Beijing and chief executive is expected to roll out study on it as soon as possible Hong Kong leader  Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is expected to announce the construction of a rail link connecting the northern New Territories and Shenzhen’s burgeoning  Qianhai economic zone in her policy address next month, the  Post  has learned. The rail project, estimated to cost billions of dollars, will serve as an extension of a planned HK$62 billion (US$8 billion) Northern Link to cater for the newly announced eightfold expansion of Qianhai. Source https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3149055/hong-kong-leader-unveil-plans-new-rail-link-qianhai-policy

September 20 at 05:19 AM

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Biden Could Get the Railroads Back on Track

Wall Street Journal  September 16, 2021 (US)  Reciprocal switching can be a win for both railroads and shippers. “Regulator Tackles Competition on Rails” (U.S. News, Sept. 3) provides a solid account of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board’s efforts to tackle freight-rail issues and employ a remedy called reciprocal switching. As a former chairman of the STB, I learned the depth of the issues resulting from the STB’s regulation of the freight-rail industry. Over time, I realized shippers had a compelling case for updating STB policies and creating a more competitive environment. The STB issued a proposed rule more than five years ago that would allow a shipper served by a single railroad to use switching to access a second railroad. The proposal has been stuck in limbo until President Biden’s recent executive order. Source https://www.wsj.com/articles/railroads-reciprocal-switching-shipping-regulation-biden-supply-chain-logistics-11631741027

September 20 at 05:09 AM

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Hua Lamphong to get a makeover

Bangkok Post  17 SEP 2021 (Thailand) The Transport Ministry is conducting a study to develop Hua Lamphong railway station and its adjoining areas for commercial purposes, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said. He said the ministry has a policy to develop the Bang Sue Grand Station into Thailand's rail system hub, replacing Hua Lamphong which will be relegated to a lesser role. He was speaking after meeting state agencies which discussed a plan to develop Hua Lamphong station and areas along the Bang Sue-Hua Lamphong rail route. However, Hua Lamphong and its vicinity have a long history, located in the heart of Bangkok and easily accessible by the MRT Blue Line and the Red Line which is under construction, Mr Saksayam said, adding the areas should be developed and optimised to their full potential. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/2183059/hua-lamphong-to-get-a-makeover

September 20 at 04:25 AM

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JICA Supports India For Capacity Development On Railway Safety

India Education Diary  Sep 16, 2021 (New Delhi, India) 5th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting held in New Delhi Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Ministry of Railways (MOR), Government of India (GOI) held 5th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting for Technical Cooperation (TC) project of Capacity Development on Railway Safety to discuss the ongoing progress and future activities. This TC project commenced in December 2018, being jointly implemented by Indian and Japanese side, is expected to result in enhancing capacities of the Indian Railways (IR), Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) and Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) with respect to safety of railways network in India. The Indian railway network is one of the largest in the world, therefore maintenance of safer and reliable operations is of utmost priority. In 2019, before the Covid-19 outbreak, JICA invited officials from IR, DFCCIL and CRS to attend training programs in Japan, focusing on Track Maintenance, Rail Welding, Rolling Stock Maintenance and Accident Investigation. These training programs in Japan organized by JICA highlighted good practices of Japanese railway maintenance works and Japanese knowledge and experiences for Indian officials. Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, it is difficult for Indian and Japanese side to physically meet and implement the activities together, hence the both sides have been maintaining online discussions. For the same, this JCC meeting was also held on a virtual platform. Source https://indiaeducationdiary.in/jica-supports-india-for-capacity-development-on-railway-safety/

September 20 at 04:13 AM

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Heritage steam engines trade rail for road to get to new home

Times Live  27 August 2021 (South Africa) Motorists on the road between Bloemfontein and Ficksburg in the eastern Free State on Wednesday would have witnessed the spectacle of a 160-ton steam locomotive rattling eastward on the back of a 19-axle lowbed trailer. The locomotive, one of four owned by the Sandstone Heritage Trust, a private collection of locomotives and vehicles based on a farm near Ficksburg, was heading to its new home on the farm after two decades of languishing outside Bloemfontein's former steam locomotive depot. While Transnet's national collection of heritage locomotives and other rolling stock is kept at Bloemfontein behind locked gates, the four locomotives were outside the property and vulnerable to scrap thieves, said Sandstone marketing manager Dave Richardson. “We felt the assets would be safer at the farm,`" he said. With their copper pipes, brass controls and other valuable metal components, many of SA's surviving steam locomotives have been stripped for scrap by metal thieves in recent years. In 2013, locomotives owned by the now-defunct SA National Rail and Steam Museum, kept at unprotected sites near Krugersdorp, had to be scrapped after suffering irreparable damage at the hands of metal thieves. Source https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-08-27-heritage-steam-engines-trade-rail-for-road-to-get-to-new-home/

September 17 at 06:01 AM

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Barnaby says Inland Rail good for the planet, keeps net zero alive

Australian Financial Review  August 31, 2021 (Australia) Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has badged the multibillion-dollar inland rail link a “great” carbon abatement project, raising hopes within the Liberal Party that the junior Coalition partner may yet agree to adopt net zero emissions by 2050. While defending the project in federal Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Joyce said each train on the 1700-kilometre link between Melbourne and Brisbane would remove from the road 150 semi-trailers, each of which uses about 600 litres of diesel. Source https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/barnaby-joyce-says-inland-rail-will-be-good-for-reducing-emissions-20210831-p58nky

September 17 at 05:45 AM

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'Dramatically more powerful': world’s first battery-electric freight train unveiled

The Guardian  16 September 2021 (US) The train, known as the FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive, underwent successful trials in California earlier this year where it was found to have cut fuel consumption by 11%. Photograph: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon (Photo) Wabtec shows off locomotive amid fresh attempt by some US lawmakers to slash carbon emissions from rail transport The world’s first battery-electric freight train was unveiled at an event in Pittsburgh on Friday, amid a fresh attempt by some US lawmakers to slash carbon emissions from rail transport in order to address the climate crisis. Wabtec, the Pittsburgh-based rail freight company, showed off its locomotive at Carnegie Mellon University as part of a new venture between the two organizations to develop zero emissions technology to help move the 1.7bn tons of goods that are shipped on American railroads each year. Perched upon a strip of rail at Carnegie Mellon’s technology campus on the banks of the Monongahela River, the cherry red, 75ft-long train provided a striking background to politicians, rail executives and academics who urged a swifter industry transition away from fossil fuels. Dignitaries were allowed to clamber up a vertiginous ladder on to the train to inspect its confines, which included a small driver’s cabin in front of 500 lithium-ion battery modules, arrayed in stacks in the heart of the vehicle. The new train, known as the FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive, underwent successful trials in California earlier this year where it was found to have cut fuel consumption by 11%, which meant reducing the amount of diesel used by 6,200 gallons .  Wabtec said that the next iteration of the locomotive, to be rolled out within two years, will be able to cut the consumption of diesel, the fossil fuel traditionally used in freight rail, by nearly a third. The company also said emissions will be entirely eliminated through the development of accompanying hydrogen fuel cells. If the technology is used worldwide, Wabtec estimates planet-heating emissions could be cut by 300m tons a year, with nearly half of those saved emissions occurring in the US. Source https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/16/battery-electric-freight-train-wabtec-rail-transport-emissions

September 17 at 05:33 AM

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Dutch rail traffic shut down over train control telephone outage; Limited restart could begin at 7 p.m.

NL Times  16 September 16, 2021 Most train traffic in the Netherlands ground to a halt on Thursday evening due to a telecommunications failure at the traffic control posts, national Dutch railway NS confirmed on its website. The failure with the telephone system meant that "very limited train traffic is currently possible," NS said just before 6 p.m. "Due to a telephone outage, we cannot reliably communicate with the drivers on the trains. As a result, train traffic in the country has come to a standstill," said railroad infrastructure firm ProRail. The complete disruption lasted about an hour, when some trains could begin moving again. The resumption of the train schedule was expected to happen gradually, causing delays through the evenings, ProRail said. The organization and NS both advised passengers not to travel Thursday night if possible, and to pay close attention to online travel planners before going to a train station.   Source https://nltimes.nl/2021/09/16/dutch-rail-traffic-shut-train-control-telephone-outage-limited-restart-begin-7-pm

September 17 at 04:47 AM

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Italy braces for train track protests against covid-passes

News Nation USA  03 September 2021 The Italian government vowed to crack down on demonstrators threatening to block train tracks throughout the country on Wednesday as a rule requiring COVID-19 tests or vaccines takes effect for long-distance domestic public transport. In a bid to rein in transmission of infections now that many have returned from summer holidays, domestic travelers in Italy must now show a so-called “Green Pass.” This certifies that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine more than 15 days ago, have tested negative in the past 48 hours or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months.  The rule, announced weeks ago, applies to domestic flights, train travel between regions and sea travel. Some ferries are exempt, notably those serving many tiny islands which have no other connections to the mainland, and those used by commuters between Sicily and and the southern tip of the mainland in Calabria. Source https://newsnationusa.com/news/usanews/washington/italy-braces-for-train-track-protests-against-covid-passes/

September 17 at 04:38 AM

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N.Korea says it tested new railway-borne missile system to strike 'threatening forces'

Reuters September 16,2021 (SEOUL,South Korea) A missile is seen launched during a drill of the Railway Mobile Missile Regiment in North Korea, in this image supplied by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on September 16, 2021. KCNA via REUTERS The missiles fired by North Korea on Wednesday were a test of a new "railway-borne missile system" designed as a potential counter-strike to any forces that threaten the country, state news agency KCNA reported on Thursday. The missiles flew 800 km (497 miles) before striking a target in the sea off North Korea's east coast, KCNA said. Source https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/nkorea-launches-were-test-new-railway-borne-missile-system-kcna-2021-09-15/

September 16 at 06:19 AM

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Rail industry urges workers not to spurn the train

BBC  10 September 2021 (UK) Unless workers start taking the train again, there could be long-term adverse effects on city centres and High Streets, the rail industry has warned. Train commuting is still just 33% of its pre-Covid rate, while car journeys have reached pre-pandemic levels, said the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). If workers continued to go by road rather than rail, there would be more pollution, it added. Cities could be hit by a double whammy of traffic jams and business closures. A 20% shift from rail to road would lead to 300 million extra hours of traffic congestion, the RDG said. "With more workers set to return to offices this month, encouraging people to take the train for their commute will be vital to avoid empty shop fronts and polluting traffic jams in cities across the country," it added. The RDG said rail journeys to and from work were expected to increase during September, but could take years to return to numbers seen in 2019. It added that train commuters were vital to city centres and High Streets. Research carried out by WPI Economics for the RDG indicated that these commuters spent a total of £30bn a year on food and drink, shopping, entertainment and culture, boosting local businesses. Source https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58502589

September 16 at 06:09 AM

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Construction of Loyang MRT station on Cross Island Line to start in Q4

CNA  13 September 2021(Singapore)  Artist impression of Loyang MRT station on the Cross Island Line. (Image: LTA) Construction of Loyang MRT station on the Cross Island Line is expected to start in the fourth quarter of this year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday (Sep 13). Passenger service at the station is projected to start in 2030, it added.  The underground station will be located along Loyang Avenue, where there are many utilities under the road, said LTA. "Multiple traffic diversions" will hence be needed to realign the utilities. The completion of Loyang station will cut 35 minutes of travel time between Loyang Industrial Area and Hougang, reducing the commute to 20 minutes, said LTA. It will also save 50 minutes in travel time between Loyang Industrial Area and Serangoon North, bringing the commute down to 25 minutes. Source https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/loyang-mrt-station-cross-island-line-viaduct-2173816

September 16 at 06:08 AM

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The Chinese Express Train Running in East Africa

Global Times  September 14, 2021  "My friend, please listen to my long story of the railway. It cements friendship and it brings hope. My hometown is more beautiful day by day, My compatriots are more high-spirited day by day." The railway that Kenyan singer Sudi Boy sings about is the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). Spanning from the port city of Mombasa in the east to the capital city of Nairobi in the west, the SGR is Kenya's first railway since independence. Though the construction took only less than three years, Kenya had awaited it for a long century. I. A railway of development running through East Africa Mombasa and Nairobi were previously connected by a narrow-gauge railway (1-meter gauge) built in 1896. Due to disrepair and aging of equipment, the railway could run at a mere 22 km/h on average and the entire journey would take 21 hours. Besides, its operation was unstable. Any breakdown would keep it out of service for days and there were frequent accidents such as derailments and collisions with animals. The narrow-gauge railway couldn't meet the development needs of the Port of Mombasa, either. Being the biggest port in East Africa, the port of Mombasa has 17 international sea routes and business ties with 80 ports around the world. Most of the cargo going in and out of East Africa is handled here. Yet due to the limited capacity of the narrow-gauge railway, most of the cargo had to be transported by road. To some extent, frequent road traffic overload and cargo delays at the port strained the development of Mombasa and Kenya at large. A new railway was a century-old dream for the country and people of Kenya. Since its operation, the SGR has promoted the growth of the local logistics industry. Goods loaded in Mombasa in the morning will arrive in Nairobi in the afternoon, with logistics costs slashed by up to 40 percent. Transportation of goods from the port to the hinterlands of East Africa has become much more efficient. As the railway network and supporting infrastructure in East Africa improve, the logistics industry throughout the region will be galvanized, and economic cooperation and cultural exchanges between countries will reach a new height. The integrated development of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, the Port of Mombasa and the Mombasa Special Economic Zone is unveiling an exciting scene of industrialization. As President Uhuru Kenyatta said emotionally, the SGR will "reshape the story of Kenya for the next 100 years."  Source https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202109/1234204.shtml

September 16 at 05:57 AM

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Road and rail noise linked to dementia

The Times  September 09, 2021 (Denmark) Transport noise is deemed to be Europe’s second worst environmental risk factor for public health The noise from living next to a busy road or railway could raise the risk of dementia, research suggests. A study found that exposure to rail or road traffic sounds was linked to an increase in the risk of dementia by more than a quarter. The Danish researchers estimated that as many as 1,216 out of the 8,475 cases of dementia in a single year could be attributed to it. After air pollution, transport noise is considered the second worst environmental risk factor for public health in Europe. About 40 per cent of the population is exposed to road traffic noise above 55 decibels (dB), the EU threshold for excess exposure. Source https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/road-and-rail-noise-linked-to-dementia-bn0hml38b

September 16 at 04:52 AM

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Railway corridor linking Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil proposed

The Rio Times  August 30, 2021 (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) Mining entrepreneurs from northern Argentina are proposing the renovation of the C-15 railroad, about 80 kilometers long, which could link Salvador Mazza, Yacuiba, Santa Cruz and Corumbá. Mining companies in northern Argentina are interested in establishing a rail corridor to transport their products to midwestern Brazil using Bolivian railroads, a route that would also benefit Chile, which now exports minerals to Brazil by sea around the southern part of the continent. This would entail the rehabilitation of an unused section in Argentine territory, with a low investment. Source https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/mercosur/argentina/railway-corridor-linking-chile-argentina-bolivia-and-brazil-proposed/

September 15 at 05:30 AM

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro gives go-ahead for monorail at São Paulo’s Guarulhos Airport

The Rio Times  September 8, 2021 (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) President signs addendum to the contract of the country's largest airport, to authorize works of PeopleMover 2.6 km long, connecting all three terminals to the CPTM commuter train station. After participating in demonstrations of supporters with anti-democratic slogans on the September 7 holiday in Brasilia and São Paulo, President Jair Bolsonaro should sign on Wednesday, September 8, an addendum to the contract of the concessionaire GRU Airport, manager of the international airport of Guarulhos, the largest in the country. Source https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/sao-paulo/brazils-bolsonaro-gives-go-ahead-for-monorail-at-sao-paulos-guarulhos-airport-on-wednesday/

September 15 at 05:12 AM

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Right on Track for MRT7

The Manila Times  September 11, 2021 (Philippines) Brand new trains from South Korea are laid on the tracks of the newly constructed MRT 7 along Commonwealth Ave in Quezon City, on Sept. 11, 2021. The trains will run from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan up to the North Triangle Common Station in North Avenue in Quezon City. Source https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/09/11/news/watch-right-on-track-for-mrt7/1814363

September 15 at 05:03 AM

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No more flooding of tracks! Indian Railways’ micro-tunnelling work completed at Masjid railway station

Financial Express  September 13, 2021 (India) In February 2021, a meeting was conducted in coordination with Divisional Railway Manager and Municipal Commissioner where it was decided to go ahead with the project to prevent tracks' flooding during monsoon. Indian Railways completes micro-tunnelling at Masjid station! In a bid to avoid flooding on rail tracks, the Central Railway zone has recently completed micro-tunnelling work at Masjid railway station in Mumbai without disturbing normal train movement. A press release issued by Central Railways said Masjid station is situated at a lower level than the ground level. Thus, to overcome flooding of tracks, the national transporter decided to lay an RCC pipe of 1000 mm diameter by micro-tunnelling method without disturbing the movement of trains, as this tunnelling method has given very good results at Sandhurst Road station area, where an RCC pipe of 1800 mm diameter was laid for 425 meter length, linking west side to east side across rail tracks. In February 2021, a meeting was conducted in coordination with Divisional Railway Manager and Municipal Commissioner where it was decided to go ahead with the project to prevent tracks’ flooding during monsoon. According to Central Railways, the situation worsens during high intensity rainfall coupled with high tide, culvert’s inadequate capacity, lower storm water drainage network carrying capacity. Source https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/no-more-flooding-of-tracks-indian-railways-micro-tunnelling-work-completed-at-masjid-railway-station/2329192/

September 15 at 04:59 AM

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Railway revenue hits all-time low in August

Viet Nam News  September 14, 2021 (HÀ NỘI, Vietnam) Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) reported its revenue fell to an all-time low in August as the COVID-19 social distancing measures dragged on its passenger transport. Revenue of the state-owned railway operator was just VNĐ114.7 billion (US$5 million) in August. The number of passengers boarding trains reached more than 8,600 in August, equalling just 6.5 per cent of the same period last year. The situation worsened when the company was forced to stop the daily trains on the North-South route since end-August due to complicated disease developments, the company reported. Freight transport slightly improved, reaching nearly 414,000 tonnes, up 5.4 per cent year-on-year. However, this segment also showed signs of a slowdown due to the shortage of goods and more complex transportation. Source https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/1030734/railway-revenue-hits-all-time-low-in-august.html

September 15 at 04:59 AM

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Train drama offers lesson

Bangkok Post  13 September 2021 (Thailand) The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has decided to pay 42.5 million baht for shipping 17 diesel locomotive trains, donated by Japanese Hokkaido Railway Co (JR Hokkaido), to Thailand. The decision stirred public controversy as many raise the question of why the debt-ridden railway state enterprise has to spend such a large sum in exchange for "scrap metal". The SRT insists the donated trains, which are 40 years old, remain in good condition. Thailand is getting these trains for free, and they can offer better services to local travellers, it says. SRT's supporters said the donation helps the SRT save money as it will not have to buy new trains which cost a lot more. However, the SRT admitted it needs to invest 16 million baht to modify and refurbish each donated train before it is operational with a total budget of 272 million baht set aside for the 17 trains. The width of Thai railways is 1 metre while the Japanese gauge is 1.067 metres: that causes another problem. Although buying new trains is the best scenario for offering services and convenience to passengers, it is undeniable that a more economic way is to modify the trains donated by the SRT's Japanese counterpart. Most of the SRT's trains and facilities are widely acknowledged as old, uncomfortable and defective. The question is why the SRT has to wait to get donated trains before it can offer better services to travellers? The answer concerns efficiency. The SRT celebrates its 124th anniversary this year but it still ranks among the least efficient of the country's state enterprises. The debt-ridden agency is unable to improve its efficiency and performance unless a major restructuring takes place. This is not the first time JR Hokkaido has donated trains to the SRT. In 2018, the Japanese railway company donated 10 locomotives to Thailand. To date, the SRT has yet to complete modification and refurbishment. This reflects how inefficient the organisation is. Several restructuring plans have been floated in the past two decades to solve the SRT's problems. A key factor behind the failure is internal resistance. There are two solutions which could still offer a way out for the SRT: partial privatisation and commercialising non-core assests, particularly land plots. The SRT is among the largest landlords in the country with an estimated 39,000 rai of land nationwide. The commercial value of the land could be as high as 300 billion baht. The idea of developing land owned by the SRT for commercial purposes has been floated for decades but has not materialised. In April, the SRT set up a subsidiary, SRT Asset Co, to handle this matter. As for privatisation, the SRT has enjoyed a monopoly on the sector since the day it was established. So its current debt-laden position isn't impressive, and plans to partially privatise the agency or grant concessions to the private sector have been raised time and again. Unfortunately, such plans have never been put into practice, once again due to internal resistance. Yet without changes, the SRT will be unable to provide better services or ensure safety to passengers. Thais don't want to see the agency having to rely on train donations just so it can offer better services. Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/2180719/train-drama-offers-lesson

September 14 at 06:20 AM

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Despite S’gor MB statement, ECRL doesn't cut across Kuala Langat forest

Malaysiakini  September 14, 2021 (Malaysia) The current alignment of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) does not cut across the Kuala Langat (North) forest reserve. This appears to contradict the Selangor government’s move to consider maintaining a “small area” of the forest as a degazetted area for the ECRL project. Source https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/591257

September 14 at 05:28 AM

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Kansas City Southern to accept CP Rail offer

The Star  14 September 2021 (Dallas, US) Kansas City Southern (KCS) said it is backing out of a merger agreement with Canadian National Railway Co and plans to accept a competing offer from Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP Rail), the latest step in the fight over which railroad would become the first to operate in Canada, the United States and Mexico. CP Rail’s proposal was declared superior even though at about US$27bil (RM112bil), it’s lower than Canadian National’s US$30bil (RM124bil) offer, which began to unravel last month amid questions over whether it would win regulatory approval. Canadian National has about five business days to negotiate terms that could change the US railroad’s decision, KCS said in a statement. Canadian National said it is continuing to evaluate its options and “will make carefully considered decisions in the interests of all Canadian National shareholders and stakeholders and in line with our strategic priorities.” The months-long saga has now come full circle, after CP Rail and KCS initially agreed to a deal in March, only for Canadian National to swoop in with a higher offer. Source https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2021/09/14/kansas-city-southern-to-accept-cp-rail-offer

September 14 at 05:22 AM

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