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Extensively updated by Anna Cohen Kaminski, the eighth edition of this traveller’s guide to the world’s longest rail journey covers not just the Trans-Siberian main line itself but also the connecting Trans-Manchurian, Trans-Mongolian and Baikal-Amur routes. In over 500 pages, the book provides practical information for travellers using trains in Russia, Mongolia and China. An historical section looks at the development of the route, followed by brief introductions to the three countries and the major cities along the way. The route guide provides 49 strip maps in three languages and a commentary on places along the route. There are also appendices giving summary timetables and fares information, followed by glossaries with a selection of key words in Russian, Mongolian and Chinese. Trans-Siberian Handbook, by Bryn Thomas. ISBN 978-1-905864-36-2 £14.99 from Trailblazer Guides, The Old Manse, Tower Road, Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6SU, UK.
Australia: Fortescue Metals has selected Simmons Machine Tool and Andrew Engineering to build and equip wagon maintenance facilities at Port Hedland, including a robotic wheelset shop. Canada: Metso is to supply Westshore Terminals with a 64 wagon/h rotary tippler for its Roberts Bank coal export terminal. Europe: Eurostar has selected Nomad Digital to provide on-board wi-fi for the mid-life refurbishment of its 28 trainsets. Romania: Bucuresti metro operator Metrorex has appointed a Metroul/Systra joint venture to provide project management services for construction of Line 5. UK: East Midlands Trains has spent £250000 installing 30 Parkeon machines for collecting pre-booked tickets at eight principal stations. USA: Aecom has been awarded a $17m contract to provide technical and management support for the extension of the DART Orange and Blue light rail lines in Dallas.
SERBIA: Plans for a metro in Beograd are to be developed following the signing of a memorandum of understanding by Mayor Dragan Djilas and representatives from Alstom Transport and the Serbian and French governments on November 18. Alstom and the city council have agreed to define a framework for co-operation in planning the project, with the aim of signing a contract once funding is agreed. Alstom envisages being responsible for tracklaying, electrification, signalling equipment and rolling stock. The city said Egis Rail will use French government funding to produce an overall metro concept for the city, and more detailed designs for the initial line. The city's urban master plan for 2012 envisages Line 1 as a Y-shaped route on the south side of the Danube, linking Ustanicka-Novi Merkator to Tvornicka with a branch to Novi Beograd station. This would have a total length of about 15 km and 25 stations. Lines 2 and 3 would follow in the longer term. 'For 40 years the citizens of Beograd have dreamed of a metro', said Djilas. 'We have managed to realise many other dreams for the development of Beograd in recent years. This is the best proof that the metro will not remain just a dream but will become a reality for all citizens and guests of our city'.
USA: The Appropriations Bill setting 2012 funding levels for several government agencies including the Department of Transportation was ratified by both houses of Congress on November 17. The budget sets out the expected level of federal support for existing inter-city rail services run by Amtrak, and outlines funds available for new rail projects. Amtrak faces a tighter operating budget next year, reduced from $561m to $466m, but it will be allowed to increase capital spending to compensate within an overall framework of $1·4bn. Federal grants given to states to support Amtrak services in their region will continue, despite proposals tabled earlier in the year by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee that these be eliminated. The increase in capital funding should allow Amtrak to continue modest enhancements on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington DC, including $15m for preliminary design work on the trans-Hudson Gateway tunnel to increase capacity between Seacaucus and New York Penn Station. However, President Obama’s hopes for fresh funding to launch new inter-city and high speed rail projects have been dashed. Obama had submitted a bill to Congress in February to inject up to $8bn into passenger rail services next year as part of an investment programme worth $53bn by 2018, but the budget agreement includes no money at all in 2012. Existing funding streams mean that preparatory works for a number of projects, including California’s high speed line, can continue for the time being. ‘The bill marks the end of President Obama’s misguided high speed rail programme, but it is not the end of American high speed rail’, commented Bill Shuster, Chairman of the Railroad Subcommittee of the Transportation Committee. Its Chairman John Mica stated in New York last week that in future any high speed rail funding should be spent on raising speeds on the Northeast Corridor. *Read John Mica’s views on the development of high speed rail in the USA in the December issue of Railway Gazette International.
NETHERLANDS: Siemens has been confirmed as the winner of a contract to supply 40 low-floor trams to Den Haag transport operator HTM, after an appeal from rival bidder CAF failed. The contract announced on November 18 is worth more than €100m, including driver training, documentation and spares, and has an option for up to 40 more vehicles. Siemens says this is the first order for the Avenio, its latest generation of steel-bodied tram. This is derived from the Combino Plus cars operating in Almada, Portugal, since 2005 and in Budapest since 2006. The four-section cars for HTM are to be manufactured at Siemens' Wien plant, with deliveries running for a year from February 2014. They will be 35 m long, 2·55 m wide and 100% low-floor, with space for 70 seated passengers and 168 standing at 4/m2. The HTM network is electrified at 600 V DC, and the Avenio cars will have six 120 kW motors driving 12 of their 16 axles, giving a starting acceleration of 1·2 m/s2 and a maximum speed of 80 km/h.
US oil prices rose this week on news that the glut of crude stocks at Cushing Oklahoma, which has depressed the benchmark WTI contract for months, may soon be drained. Enbridge is to buy the Seaway pipeline which runs from the Houston area to Cushing, and plans to reverse its flow.
UK: Infrastructure manager Network Rail purchased the assets of Hydrex Equipment (UK) Ltd's rail division from administrator KPMG on November 17. Noting that Hydrex is a key supplier of on-track plant, Network Rail said the purchase would ensure business continuity and 'brings to an end an extended period of uncertainty for Hydrex's employees, customers and suppliers'. More than 300 road-rail vehicles and 531 rail division staff will transfer to Network Rail (NDS-Plant) Ltd, a new subsidiary, but the remaining contracting and plant divisions will be wound down. Discussions were held with the Office for Rail Regulation, Rail Plant Association, contractors, other Hydrex customers and unions before the deal went ahead. 'This is not a step that Network Rail has taken lightly', said Martin Elwood, National Delivery Service director. 'Our priority in making this purchase is to ensure continuity of works. Once we have set in place a successful transition we will seek input from across the industry, including other on-track plant suppliers, about any impact on the marketplace.'
GERMANY: Bombardier is to supply an Innovia 300 peoplemover to provide access to a satellite facility being built at München airport Terminal 2. The underground line will be 400 m long with a journey time of less than 60 sec. The contract is worth a total of €89m, including 12 vehicles, Cityflo 650 automatic train control, platform screen doors, CCTV, telecoms, power distribution and nine years of operation and maintenance after the opening in 2014. Announcing the contract on November 17, Bombardier said it has supplied Innovia peoplemover systems to more than 20 airports worldwide.
The ambition of this volume is the aspiration that motivates the whole Transition movement: nothing less than to remake industrial civilization from the bottom up and from the local level.
RUSSIA: Alstom and its Russian strategic partner Transmashholding are to develop an 'express' tram for St Petersburg within the framework of a memorandum of understanding signed with city governor Georgy Poltavchenko on November 16. The companies will also advise the city on modernising its 1 524 mm gauge tram network, once one of the largest in the world but cut back in recent years. Under the agreement, Alstom and TMH plan to provide consulting services for the development of a modern urban transport network, bringing expertise in power supplies, infrastructure and signalling, and assisting with project management and passenger flow optimisation. The proposed low-floor modular tram would be adapted to St Petersburg's needs, and particularly the winter weather. Design, production and maintenance would be undertaken at a tram competence centre which Alstom and TMH would establish at TMH's Oktyabrsky Electric Railway Car Repair Plant in the city. OVERZ currently employs 1 000 people and undertakes rolling stock maintenance and refurbishment work.
- The strategic partnership between Alstom and Transmash was described in detail in the November 2011 issue of Railway Gazette International, which subscribers can access in the digital archive.
USA: GE Transportation announced an agreement to acquire transport software provider RMI from The Carlyle Group on November 16. The transaction is expected to be completed once regulatory approval is obtained in early 2012, with RMI becoming part of GE Transportation's Software & Optimization Solutions business. Terms were not disclosed. RMI provides North American railways, shippers and wagon leasing firms with software to improve productivity and efficiency. Founded in 1979, it has 170 staff and offices in Atlanta, Jacksonville and Austin, with annual revenues of $45m. RMI Chairman & Chief Executive Pete Kleifgen said becoming part of GE will expand its reach worldwide.
TURKEY: National railway TCDD has awarded Alstom a €89m contract to supply signalling and telecoms for a project to raise speeds to 160 km/h on the 238 km line west from Eskisehir to Kütahya and Bal?kesir. Announcing the deal on November 16, Alstom said it will design, manufacture and supply its Atlas ETCS Level 1 and 2 technology, including Smartlock interlockings and Iconis controls. It will also supply level crossing, power distribution and uninterruptable power supply systems. ETCS and local onboard equipment is to be installed on 27 TCDD locomotives. The work is expected to take 36 months, coming into service in November 2014.
-A farewell to pavements
-WikiLane - How citizens built their own bicycle network
-Local Economic Implications of Urban Bicycle Networks
Today's show features two guests who were at last week's Truth in Energy conference of the US chapter of ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, in Washington, DC. Jeff Rubin, is former Chief Economist at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the author of Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller. He explains why the price of oil the US media report is $25 too low, why today's triple-digit oil prices show that the days of low unemployment and 3% economic growth are over, and warns that 30-year US Treasury bonds are not as safe an investment as many people think. Jan Lundberg went from being an oil-industry analyst at Lundberg Survey to a self-described "eco-warrior" fighting petroleum pollution, car culture and sprawl development. He writes at Culture Change and promotes sail transport of freight.
By the end of the year Russian Railways is to sell stakes in the Roslavl, Saransk, Barnaul and Vladikavkaz SM Kirov coach repair plants, Petuhovsky Casting & Mechanical Plant, the Ishimsky and Alatyr mechanical plants, NIITKD, TransWoodService and UralTransBank. Siemens’ fourth business sector, Infrastructure & Cities, came into being on October 1, sitting alongside the company’s Industry, Energy and Healthcare sectors. The Mobility division’s business units are now three divisions within the Infrastructure & Cities sector, with the Rail Systems Division covering rolling stock, the Mobility & Logistics Division including rail and other forms of transport automation and the Smart Grid Division including rail electrification and other types of power supply. Indian steel maker SAIL is looking at entering the tracklaying market, possibly in conjunction with a European partner. Electronic display company Messagemaker Displays has become part of Stocksigns. ‘The addition of specialist knowledge and a manufacturing capability in intelligent electronic displays will enhance our existing skills, enabling us to compete in new markets’, said Stocksigns Managing Director Bruce Main. Thales has renamed its German business Thales Rail Signalling Solutions GmbH as Thales Transportation Systems GmbH. Eight years after acquiring Van Dieren Maritime, Samskip has renamed the business as Samskip Van Dieren Multimodal with effect from September 19 to reflect its move into rail logistics. US locomotive modernisation and repowering company Global Locomotive has been relaunched as Sygnet Rail Technologies. Three International Railway Systems rolling stock plants have resumed production following a refinancing in which Romanian politician and businessman Verestóy Attila acquired a 50% stake. Egis has gained a foothold in the Brazilian rail engineering market with the acquisition of a 51% stake in VEGA on September 13, and plans to increase its stake through to 2014. Founded in 1987 and based in Curitba, VEGA employs 270 people and recorded turnover of R$31m in 2012. Rail accounts for 86% of its activities, with current projects including studies for doubling the 900 km Carajás line. Talgo has put plans for a stock market floatation on hold pending better market conditions. The Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia has inaugurated a N$50m concrete sleeper factory in Tsumeb which has been developed by a joint venture of TransNamib, GPT Infraprojects and Dorros Investments. It has an annual capacity of 120 000 sleepers, and is intended to supply neighbouring countries as well as the domestic market.
SPAIN: Vossloh España has begun testing of a prototype Tramlink light rail vehicle at its Albuixech plant outside Valencia. Developed at a cost of €20m, Tramlink is designed for both surface and underground operations; Spanish metre-gauge operator FEVE has ordered four units for the future tram-train network in León. Built from stainless steel, the 32 m long five-section prototype weighs 40?8 tonnes and can accommodate a total of 197 passengers, with seats for 48. There are four double and two single-leaf doors per side. Taking traction current at 750 V DC, Tramlink is equipped with four 105 kW traction motors and has a maximum speed of 70 km/h. FEVE has an option for a further four vehicles, while 13 have been ordered for Rostock in Germany. Valencia regional operator FGV may be among future customers.
UK: Arriva plc confirmed on November 4 it that it had acquired open access operator Grand Central Railway for an undisclosed price. Launched in late 2007, Grand Central runs inter-city passenger services from Sunderland and Bradford to London, with around 700 000 passenger-journeys a year. It is to 'remain a self-contained business with its own unique brand and identity', according Managing Director Tom Clift, who will now report to Bob Holland, Managing Director, Arriva UK Trains. Holland said Arriva believes open access 'will play a valuable part of a balanced portfolio' for its UK Trains division, which holds three passenger franchises and concessions for London Overground and Tyne & Wear Metro services. 'Bringing Grand Central on board means we have a live open access operation up and running, one which is popular with customers and which we believe we can develop to become a key commercial part of our UK rail operations.' Arriva was acquired by Deutsche Bahn in August 2010, and the brand is now used for DB's regional passenger activities outside Germany.
AFGHANISTAN: Plans for east–west and north–south railways are making progress, with Asian Development Bank approving a US$754m multi-tranche package of transport assistance in September. As well as road rehabilitation this includes around US$300m for the extension of the recently-completed 75 km Hayratan – Mazar-i-Sharif railway 225 km west to Andkhoy. The Afghan Infrastructure Trust Fund is providing US$33m, and Japan and the UK are also contributing; further sources of funding are anticipated. The line is likely to be 1520 mm gauge, and construction could begin in 2013. Unlike the previous project, work will be tendered rather than awarded directly to Uzbek railway UTY. Turkmenistan is separately developing plans for a cross-border link to Andkhoy, and the lines could eventually be extended to Herat. Meanwhile, on October 18 the Ministry of Mines announced that studies for a 921 km railway from Kabul to Torkham on the border with Pakistan and north to Mazar-i-Sharif are to be undertaken by China Railway Group, on behalf of Chinese mining firm MCC which holds a concession to exploit copper deposits. On October 15 the Afghan parliament approved the government’s US$20m contribution to the Mazar-i-Sharif project, for which ADB provided US$165m. ADB is also providing funding to establish a railways department within the Ministry of Public Works; planning is currently being overseen by the Ministry of Mines.
EUROPE: With demand for passenger and freight movement by rail projected to rise significantly over the coming 20 years, infrastructure managers and train operators across Europe are facing the challenge of squeezing extra capacity from busy networks and building new lines despite financial constraints. Railway Gazette International held its second live debate on Wednesday November 2, which addressed the capacity challenges confronting the European railway industry. The webinar and associated live wavecast comments are now available to view on our website. Moderated by Editor-in-Chief Chris Jackson, the webinar comprised Elaine Holt, Chairman of UK inter-city operator East Coast, Lord Tony Berkeley, Chairman of the Rail Freight Group and a past President of the European Rail Freight Association, William Barter, a Fellow of the Institution of Railway Operators, and Ted Stephens, Rail & Transit Solutions Executive at Bentley Systems. Key discussion points centred on finding the right balance between competing rail users, especially balancing the demand from freight and passenger operators. Whilst Lord Berkeley expressed concern about the marginalisation of freight at busy nodes, Holt responded that the prospect of pathing more freight trains over the London – Edinburgh East Coast Main Line ‘fills me with horror, to be quite frank’. The panel recognised the importance of grouping services by speed to make best use of capacity, but agreed that this added to the difficulty of serving intermediate market. The speakers were doubtful about the extent to which ETCS and other advanced train control technologies could enhance capacity, although Barter saw real potential for equipping the congested North London Line to improve loadings and help to manage the flow of intermodal freight and high-frequency commuter services. Automated condition monitoring and data analysis were advocated by Stephens as a means of ensuring maintenance becomes more efficient and possessions minimised, with train-borne measuring equipment offering particular benefits. ‘You don’t need to be on the track to monitor its condition — the railway needs to move towards this technology’, Stephens recommended. Register to watch the discussion in full.
FRANCE: The first automatic trains to operate in revenue service on Paris metro Line 1 were officially launched on November 3 by RATP Chairman & CEO Pierre Mongin, at an event attended by Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport & Housing Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, and Jean-Paul Huchon, President of the Ile-de-France Regional Council. The event marks a key milestone in the €600m programme to automate the 17 km Line 1, which is the oldest and busiest metro line in Paris, carrying around 725 000 passengers per day. It follows completion of work to install 954 half-height platform screen doors at all 25 stations along the route, together with new communications systems and CCTV. Line 1 has been equipped with Siemens’ Trainguard MT CBTC under a contract awarded in November 2005. This will allow trains to operate at 85 sec headways, compared with the 105 sec limit with the older signalling, enabling RATP to adjust train frequency more flexibly to serve any sudden peaks in ridership. Parallelling the phased changeover in Nürnberg, where automatic and manual trains operated on the common section of Lines U2 and U3 for several years, RATP expects to operate a mix of automatic and manual trains on Line 1 until December 2012. It says the displaced drivers will be able to move to other lines or retrain and transfer to other duties. The operator is taking delivery of 53 MP05 six-car trainsets from Alstom, which will be phased into service over the next year, displacing the current MP89 stock to Line 4. An initial build of 49 sets was ordered in 2005 under a €474m contract with options for a further 10, of which four were ordered in May 2009 for €50m. Eight trains are now available for service, and the remainder are expected to enter traffic at the rate of two per month.