07/2022 to 12/2022
By Frédéric de Kemmeter, Railway policy observer – Freelance railway contributing writer – Suscribe my blog
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Europe’s first tri-modal train enters passenger service – 30/12/2022 – The Blues train built by Hitachi Rail for Trenitalia, recently exhibited at InnoTrans 2022 in Berlin, is entered into service in Sicily, making it the first tri-mode (battery, diesel and electric) train in regular passenger operation. Hitachi has a framework agreement with Trenitalia to supply 135 Blues trains with a total value of €1.2bn. Of that order, 22 of the trains are planned to run in Sicily.
Blues train is equipped with a new generation of hybrid technology: the train can travel with diesel engines on non-electrified lines, with pantographs on electrified lines, and with batteries, where applicable, to travel the last mile on non-electrified lines or while stopping at stations, avoiding the use of fuel.
Batteries also help to further improve normal power performance. Switching off the engines during the arrival, parking and departure from the stations allows 50% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to current diesel trains as well as helping to reduce noise pollution. The trains can reach a maximum speed of 160km/h with an acceleration of 1.10 m/sec2 and can accommodate up to 300 people seated in the four-cars composition.
The Blues train is equipped with the innovative digital rail traffic management system ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), which was previously only used on high-speed trains. This system helps to reduce the energy and emissions balance of the railway by regulating the speed, acceleration and braking of the trains. ERTMS also improves safety by enabling automatic activation of train safety functions, including emergency braking in case of danger or when trains exceed line speed. ERTMS is recognised as a European railway standard, making the Blues Train highly interoperable and suitable for operation throughout Europe.
Passenger experience – The Blues train offers high levels of comfort to passengers: it is equipped with an innovative air conditioning system that allows optimisation of consumption based on the actual number of passengers on board, USB and 220v power sockets for greater connectivity. It also has large windows, bike areas and high luggage transport capacity. Accessibility is optimised according to the latest Technical Specifications of Interoperability defined in the EU for Persons with Reduced Mobility (TSI PMR) through a height of access to the train at the level of the platform, to the benefit of all travelers, as well as the minimisation of internal steps, which allows maximum usability of the train by passengers.
Andrea Pepi, executive director, line of business vehicles Italy at Hitachi Rail, said, “The Blues train is a great technological challenge that we are proud to have undertaken. Our goal is to deliver innovations that translate both into higher quality travel for passengers and benefits for the environment, and ultimately deliver value to our customers. »
Hitachi Rail aims to become a climate change innovator and is already a world leader in battery train technology. Six years ago, Hitachi Rail introduced the DENCHA train, the world’s first battery-powered passenger train. Hitachi Rail is also pushing ahead with trials of a battery hybrid intercity train in the UK.
(Source : various) 🟧 Back to Italy or Technologies & Energies
The dutch national operator ns renews its trust in caf and awards 60 double-decker trains contract – 19/12/2022 – The Dutch national operator NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen), which operates commuter and intercity trains on the Dutch Main Rail Network , has placed its trust in CAF once again, by ordering a new fleet of double-deck trains for intercity services. This new contract follows the successful SNG-Civity train sets for commuter services, of which the last of in total 206 train sets are currently being delivered. The new contract consists of the supply of 30x 4-car units and 30x 6-car units, as well as technical support for maintenance, with NS carrying out the maintenance itself. The value of the newly signed contract amounts to more than €600M and includes additional options for further units which would increase this amount.
NS is the state-owned operator in The Netherlands and one of the leading companies in the European railway sector. Once again, this project provides evidence of the success of the Civity platform developed by CAF for Suburban, Intercity and Regional services on the European market, as it has been used for various projects performed in countries such as Holland, the United Kingdom, Sweden or Italy.
This new project is in line with the business strategy the Company announced on 1st December during the presentation of its 2026 Strategic Plan, when it stressed how one of CAF’s priorities was the company’s commitment to the European market, given its significant business volume and recurring activity in that market, as well as its strong market position and appropriateness of its range of solutions.
The main features of the units to be supplied by CAF combine high capacity and easy vehicle accessibility. Each train set therefore consists of a combination of single deck and double deck cars, the single deck cars offering level access for persons with reduced mobility. The trains will have a maximum speed of 160 km/h. This contract marks a milestone as this is the first customer to receive double-decker Civity platform units.
The project is part of NS’ ongoing plans to renew its current double-decker fleet, whilst also increasing its service capacity for the next few years. The first units are scheduled for operation on the Intercity routes that cross the entire country by 2028, with the possibility to exercise some of the extension options for additional units, or the implementation of train versions that can run on cross-border routes to other countries such as Germany and Belgium.
It should be stressed that CAF’s relationship with the Dutch operator dates back many years as CAF entered into its first contract with NS in 2014. That contract consisted in the production of 118 Civity platform suburban trains. Subsequently, in late 2018, this contract was extended with an additional 88 units, which, given the significance of the customer and the value of the contract (close to €1 billion) was one of the most significant contracts concluded by CAF in Europe.
(Source : CAF pressroom) 🟧 Back to Netherlands or Industry & Suppliers
One operator rather than several to run the regional service between Copenhagen and Malmö – 13/12/2022 – On 11 December, Skånetrafiken will change its annual timetable. For rail services across the Öresund, this means several changes. Since Sunday’s timetable change, responsibility for Öresund trains across the strait to Malmö, which has until now been shared between Skånetrafiken and the incumbent DSB, will be assumed entirely by Skånetrafiken. Mantena is changing from a subcontractor to a main supplier for vehicle maintenance at the Hässleholm depot.
But who is Skånetrafiken? It is a Swedish public transport company that operates in the south of the country, in Skåne, which is opposite Copenhagen. The company is owned by the county of Skåne and has its headquarters in Hässleholm. Skånetrafiken delegates the execution of transport to various transporters of its choice. Transdev will operate the Öresund trains on the strait between Skåne and Copenhagen. Mantena, a subsidiary of the Norwegian public operator Vy, will take care of maintenance, moving from being a subcontractor to being the main supplier for vehicle maintenance at the Hässleholm depot in Sweden. In short, the Danes no longer have anything to do with this traffic, which is managed entirely by the Swedes.
The agreement with Trandev is a temporary agreement valid until December 2025 and was signed after SJ Öresund and Öresundståg AB terminated the existing service agreement early last spring following a dispute. Another change that was come into effect this weekend is that Mantena, which in the previous agreement was a subcontractor to SJ Öresund for train maintenance and operation of the Hässleholm depot, has signed a direct agreement with Öresundståg AB before the change.
For passengers, the most obvious change is that the number of departures will be upgraded from three to four trains per hour during the day, and many more during peak hours, when there will still be six trains per hour. The change also means that Danish passengers on the line will in future be able to contact Skånetrafiken with their customer questions.
Skånetrafiken is pleased with the change in traffic this weekend and expects it to have a positive effect. The big advantage is that there will be one operator responsible for the traffic and able to manage it as a system. « When there are fewer people involved, things are always better. We find that it is easier when we can take overall responsibility ourselves and we have agreed that the agreement with the Department of Transport needs to be simplified. The starting point is that we want to improve our service to the customer, » says Emelie Fredell, Business Manager at Skånetrafiken.
(Source : newsorensund) 🟧 Back to Denmark or Sweden
Czech public operator launches ČD Night brand for night trains – 12/12/2022 – České dráhy has launched a new ČD Night brand for its night services. As part of this, they have invested almost €10 million in the modernisation of sleeping cars and couchette cars. From the new timetable, which comes into force this 11 December 2022, they will operate a new night route from Prague to Zurich via Dresden. Another connection already exists on this route, but via Linz in Austria. The ČD will thus operate a total of five night routes, the others being operated by their foreign partners.
Under the new brand, the ČD will offer passengers all the information and services related to night travel. « We want to give night travel a new impetus. In this case, it is not just a new image, a logo and some colourful pictures, but also tangible and concrete changes, », Krapinec stressed. He mentioned the modernisation of cars in the Škoda Pars workshop in Šumperk.
According to Mr Krapinec, CEO of ČD, currently the fleet for night train services has a total of 30 cars, which is not huge. Of these, 21 are sleeping cars and only 9 sleeper cars. The sleeping cars, which are more comfortable than the couchette cars, have received new lighting, renovated wall coverings, sanitary facilities, showers and now power sockets or internet connections. Air conditioning, door control units or central power sources have also been replaced. The modernisation of the entire fleet should be completed during the winter. However, expansion of the fleet is not on the agenda. The carrier would first like to invest in a fleet of vehicles for conventional daytime services and evaluate the operation of nighttime services before making a decision.
ČD Railways currently operates daily night trains with sleeping cars and couchettes from Prague to Warsaw, then from Prague via Žilina, from Prague via Bratislava to Budapest and via České Budějovice and Innsbruck to Zurich. Since Sunday, a new connection to Zurich with a route via Dresden, Frankfurt and Basel has be added to the timetable. In total, the carrier is expected to carry around 100,000 passengers per year in sleeper and couchette cars.
(Source : zdopravy.cz) 🟧 Back to Czech Republic or Long distance
Polish operator PKP is considering its dining cars – 09/12/2022 – The national operator PKP runs more than 5,000 trains in practically every month in which there should be restaurant or bar cars. For operational needs, PKP Intercity As of 17 November 2022, PKP Intercity had 82 dining carriages, of which 63 carriages are in working order, 4 carriages are undergoing repair operations. Most of the restaurant cars are in working order, but the carrier wants to sell as many as 15 of these cars. The company also wants to acquire 57 restaurant carriages, but its ultimate aim is to equip Combo carriages with snack machines.
The presence of a catering bar or restaurant car depends on the category of train. In accordance with the Company’s product strategy, the highest category trains, i.e. EIP and EIC, have a restaurant car with an extended catering offer in their line-up, the line-up of IC and TLK category trains includes bar cars, which have a limited offer and lower prices. According the marketing research, it seems that the majority of passengers choosing TLK/IC category trains do not intend to use the catering offer. – These studies also show that passengers are not guided by the availability of the catering service on board the train when choosing the train as their mode of transport.
This does not prevent Poland from investing. As part of its investment strategy with a perspective until 2030, PKP plans to purchase 57 restaurant carriages as part of the ongoing tender procedure for the supply of 300 carriages. The Company’s expected deliveries of new wagons are assumed to take place between 2025 and 2030, according the magazine Rynek-Kolejowy. The new carriages, if the plans shown in the visualisations can be realised, should bring a new quality of catering services to PKP Intercity. On some IC category trains that travel for more than 5h, the Company provides a catering service from a mini-bar trolley. Ultimately, the Company is planning to fill the gaps in the catering offer with a service provided via vending machines.
Interestingly, PKP Intercity is no longer planning to convert older passenger carriages into catering cars. This is different for 95 Combo coaches, which the carrier wants to acquire as a result of the modernisation of old coaches. In total, the company is to have 155 Combo coaches, which is all the more important as they are to be equipped with vending machines. This should provide access to catering on many of the operator’s trains.
Whether and when the company will finally succeed in selecting a supplier for the vending machines is a separate question, as the process has been going on for many months with no final outcome in sight, despite the fact that the machines were due to appear on depots as early as the third quarter of this year. The snack and coffee machines are also to form the catering facilities of the push-pull trainsets, which will not be equipped with the separate carriages or bar segments as from the Darts or Flirts trainsets.
(Source: Rynek-kolejowy) 🟧 Back to Poland or Long distance
Artificial intelligence to ensure loading optimisation in Combined Transport – 01/12/2022 – A new digitalisation project in Combined Transport is to accelerate the assignment of intermodal loading units to rail wagons. How the loading units are transferred onto the wagon will be optimised with the aid of suitable calculation processes and the use of methods from the artificial intelligence (AI) sector. The KIBA project investigating artificial intelligence and discrete loading optimisation models to boost capacity utilisation in Combined Transport launched at the beginning of September 2022.
Federal minister Volker Wissing presented the funding certificate to the project team in the Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMDV) in Berlin last Friday and wished them a successful start to the IT project, which his ministry is supporting to the tune of 2.34 million euros over three years as part of the “Artificial intelligence in mobility” innovation campaign. Participants alongside project coordinator Kombiverkehr Deutsche Gesellschaft für kombinierten Güterverkehr mbH & Co. KG include project partners Darmstadt Technical University, Deutsche Umschlaggesellschaft Schiene-Straße (DUSS) mbH, Goethe University Frankfurt, VTG Rail Europe GmbH, INFORM GmbH and KombiConsult GmbH.
Continental Combined Transport is characterised by enormous heterogeneity in the types of loading unit and the rail wagons used. The great challenge is therefore to determine how assignment of the loading units to the wagons can be appropriately optimised on the basis of various objective criteria. In addition to the static characteristics of the semi-trailers, containers and swap bodies in their different designs and rail wagons on the one side, variable parameters such as the actual weight, the type of payload and the timetable also play a significant role on the other.
The aim of the project is for every enquiry about transferring a loading unit to be answered with a proposal for the optimum placement of the unit on a wagon formation within the shortest possible time – and this even before all the information about which other loading units for the same departure/destination route will still arrive at the terminal up to departure. The AI-assisted loading optimisation is intended to further enhance capacity management for intermodal operators with their extensive networks.
(Source: Kombiverkehr Corporate Communications) 🟧 Back to Germany or Freight & Logistics page
Passenger numbers at UK’s busiest station still less than half of pre-pandemic levels – 27/11/2022 – London Waterloo regained its status as the most used railway station although its total number of passenger entries and exits is less than half of the number from two years ago. The numbers are revealed in the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) estimates of station usage statistics for the year April 2021 to March 2022, which include the annual total of passenger entries and exits at each of the 2,570 stations in Britain.
After a 16-year reign, London Waterloo was knocked off the top by Stratford (London) last year (April 2020 to March 2021), but it finds itself back in pole position following 41.4 million passenger entries and exits in the latest year (April 2021 and March 2022). However, that total is some way short of the estimate of 86.9 million from two years ago.
Eight of the top 10 stations were in London, with Birmingham New Street remaining in eighth place (22·7 million) and Manchester Piccadilly moving up from 18th place last year to 10th place (19·6 million). ORR reported that 24 stations had more than 10 million entries and exits during the year, up from five seen the previous year but well down on the 43 achieving that level two years ago.
(Source: Railway Gazette) 🟧 Back to Great-Britain
Coventry Very Light Rail system could spark transport revolution – 13/11/2022 – The Coventry Very Light Rail (VLR) project could be a game changer for UK transport given its potential to be more affordable than other light rail schemes, a report from the cross-party House of Lords Built Environment Committee suggests.
The Public transport in towns and cities report, published today, says that « while light rail schemes appear to be more effective at generating modal shift from the car than bus-based schemes, their high costs mean that they are unaffordable in many areas ».
However, it adds: « If effective, the VLR system under development in Coventry has the potential to overcome this disadvantage. The government should monitor the trials of this pilot system to assess its effectiveness in achieving the advantages of light rail with reduced capital outlays, with a view to providing further support. »
The VLR technology under development in Coventry combines a battery-electric lightweight train with an innovative trackform which minimises the requirement for deep excavation and the repositioning of services. This means the system can be installed more quickly than a tram.
Installation costs are expected to be £10M per kilometre, compared with the typical costs of £25M to £30M per kilometre for a tram system. Testing is underway on a newly developed test track in Dudley. The first proposed VLR route will connect Coventry city centre to the University Hospital, a 4.5 mile (7.2km) route, and according to the report, Coventry City Council anticipates that other small cities « may eventually wish to develop their own VLR networks ».
The charger has been developed at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in Dudley and will be tested on the prototype Coventry VLR. The adapted, 450kw overhead bus opportunity charger can top-up battery powered VLR vehicles in an estimated three minutes.
(Source: New Civil Engineer) 🟧 Back to Commuters & regional or Great-Britain
After the decision on the 49-Euro-Ticket, industry between euphoria and scepticism – 07/11/2022 – The German’s transport industry is vacillating between enthusiasm and disappointment after the decision on the 49-Euro-Ticket. On Wednesday evening, the Minister Presidents of the federal states had agreed on the successor solution to the 9-Euro-Ticket – and also found a compromise in the dispute over the general financing of local public transport (ÖPNV).
The compromise provides for an increase of the so-called regionalisation funds, with which the federal government co-finances local public transport in the federal states, by one billion euros per year. From 2023 onwards, the regionalisation funds are to be increased by three percent annually. Previously, the increase was 1.8 per cent.
This solution met with a divided response in the transport industry on Thursday. The Pro-Rail Alliance praised the decision as a « historic step » on the way to a modern transport policy, as the association’s managing director Dirk Flege announced on Thursday. « It is a huge step for the climate and a directional decision for the transport turnaround that politicians now actually want to make public transport more accessible, cheaper and more attractive. »
Other associations, however, were much more critical. « This compromise only takes the pressure out of the kettle in the short term, » said Thomas Prechtl, President of the Federal Association of Local Rail Transport. The transport companies do not consider it feasible to launch the new Deutschlandticket for local and regional transport in January. Oliver Wolff, managing director of the Association of German Transport Companies, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Berlin on Thursday that a realistic date for the introduction of the ticket would be 1 March. The ticket could not be implemented in a short period of time. Wolff went on to say that the ticket would also be available in paper form for a transitional period.
The Railway and Transport Union (EVG) also critically assessed the results of the Minister Presidents’ Conference on Wednesday evening. The challenges of expanding services, more staff and more vehicles can only be partially solved with the promised increase in the so-called regionalisation funds of around one billion euros, said union leader Martin Burkert. Either way, it will probably be a while before it is introduced.
(Source: Schiene.de) 🟧 Back to Germany
Space-age laser and plasma train trials zap autumn leaves off the line – 03/11/2022 – Space-age technology using lasers and plasma jets are being trialled as a more sustainable way to vaporise autumn leaves from railway lines and minimise passenger delays in the future.
Throughout October, Network Rail has been carrying out comprehensive testing using its multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) on heritage lines at the East Lancashire Railway. Engineers have been testing if autumn treatment trains fitted with the laser beams and superheated plasma jets are as effective at cleaning rails as the current method using high pressure water systems. During autumn train wheels compress leaves onto rails and form a black Teflon-like residue which makes it harder for trains to brake or accelerate. Suhayb Manzoor, Network Rail project engineer, said: “Leaves on the line are often seen as a joke on the railway but they can cause serious problems and we’re always looking at new ways to tackle this age-old problem. It’s also not unique to Britain, with railways all over the world having issues when trees shed their leaves. For that reason, it’s exciting to be putting some of the newest technology out there to the test with the hope that one day it could help Network Rail keep passengers and freight moving safely at this operationally challenging time of year.”
The two different companies involved in the testing are:
1) Laser Precision Solutions – The ‘LaserTrain’ uses three high powered beams per railhead to treat the rails. When the intensity of the lasers hits the railhead the contamination instantly vaporises (ablates), without heating up the rail.
2) PlasmaTrack – Uses direct current (DC) plasma technology which uses heat and active electrons to split things apart. The high energy electrical plasma beam tears apart the leaf layer as well as heating and burning it off.
Established in 2016, LPS technology helps rail networks run safe, efficient, and reliable services. The LPS LaserTrain prototype was first deployed in the US in 2018, increasing to two active trains running at speeds of 25mph in 2020. Now, in 2022 multiple 60mph LaserTrain’s are being trialled globally. With low energy consumption and no byproducts, the LaserTrain is highly eco-friendly.
PlasmaTrack is a railway technology business which is focused on unlocking predictable and optimised braking for the UK rail network. The technology was born out of an Innovate UK SBRI feasibility study launched by the Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) for Predictable & Optimised Braking. The end goal of this industry calling is to increase the UK rail network capacity through Closer Running. The technology works by superheating compressed gas to form plasma energy, which is then applied to the rail head at approximately 700°C where it thermally ablates the compressed leaf layer. Plasma energy is used throughout industry for cleaning, sterilisation, and material deposition, but this is the first time it has been developed into a robust system suitable for deployment on rail networks.
Currently a fleet of leaf-blasting trains with high-pressure water jets clear Britain’s 20,000-mile railway network in the autumn. This technology could potentially reduce the need for that water, and the fuel needed to transport it around the country, benefiting both the environment and costing the taxpayer less. If the tests find lasers or plasma can clean the rails effectively, further development work will be needed to see if it would work on the complexities of the live railway network. Further studies would also be required to examine the business case for adopting any new technology.
(Source: Network Rail) 🟧 Back to Great-Britain or Technologies & Energies
A real start in 2023 for European Sleeper? – 25/10/2022 – Rail startup European Sleeper aims to start offering its Brussels-to-Prague night train service in 2023, the company writes in an update published on Tuesday. European Sleeper had initially targeted April 2022 for its start of operations. It would appear that rolling stock, including sleeping cars, still needs to be found.
European is set up as a cooperative, and since its last sharefunding round welcomed 1.400 new members, the company says. It now has a total of 1,700 investors participating. Co-founder Elmer van Buuren spoke about the delay at the RailTech Europe event in June, saying that the company experienced setbacks in securing financing for rolling stock and the availability thereof. European Sleeper on Tuesday reiterated that the availability of suitable rolling stock continues to be a factor. The company is currently in negotiation with several companies for train cars.
“Securing access to qualitative sleeper coaches is crucial to get more night trains on track. We are preparing both the acquisition of renovated second-hand coaches, as well as completely new ones. We are looking for comfortable coaches, compatible to operate flexibly in most European countries”, European Sleeper writes on his newsletter. The company is targeting more space as one of its unique selling points. For its luxury sleeping cars European Sleeper wants to offer en-suite bathrooms and toilets. But there is no second-hand rolling stock that offers this kind of comfort. Couchettes cars can be found a little more easily. They will be more suitable for families.
All comfort levels would include comfortable mattresses, more space than the average night train, Wi-Fi, charging options, lockers and reading lights. We will provide wheelchair-accessible compartments, places for bicycles and a variety of catering facilities.
(Source: European Sleeper) 🟧 Back to Long distance or Netherlans or Belgium
German railways tests DB solar panel sleepers – 23/10/2022 – Photovoltaic projects developed along railways to feed electricity directly into the traction current network are not new. German solar project developer Enerparc has built the first photovoltaic power plants in Northern Germany for this purpose. However, such projects are by no means a sure-fire success, as some technical and legal peculiarities have to be observed.
The German Center for Rail Transport Research (DZSF) at the German Federal Railway Authority has, therefore, tasked TÜV Rheinland to investigate the potential for such photovoltaic applications on and in the rail infrastructure through a 14-month research project. An interdisciplinary team of rail and solar specialists will investigate which photovoltaic applications are compatible with the rail infrastructure in order to feed solar power directly into the rail power network. In addition, it should be determined how much photovoltaics could increase the share of renewables in traction current.
“If it is possible to generate energy along the widely ramified traction current network and feed it in directly, thereby making better use of the existing infrastructure and reducing energy losses through repeated conversion and transport, the rail mode of transport could further improve its greenhouse gas balance,” explained Jürgen van der Weem, railway technology expert at TÜV Rheinland. There are various options for photovoltaics to be integrated into railways, such as in the trackbed or on noise barriers, he added. The particular challenge lies in feeding the generated solar power directly into the single-phase 15-kilovolt network. TÜV Rheinland will implement the project in three directions. First, it wants to investigate the market potential for these projects, assess all technical aspects and components for direct feed into the traction current network and analyze existing projects.
(Source: pv-magazine.com) 🟧 Back to Germany or Technologies & Energies
Success for open access operator Lumo, despite the circumstances – 17/10/2022 – Lumo has been a huge success since it launched its inaugural King’s Cross to Edinburgh route, with the first four months of seats being sold out entirely. Lumo is an ‘open access operator’ meaning it is an entirely commercial for-profit business, independent of the main National Rail network, although it is subject to rules and scrutiny from the same regulators. There are only a handful of these in the UK due to the high costs of leasing train rolling stock, running passenger services and ensuring regulatory compliance – the only other open access operators in the capital are Eurostar, Grand Central, Heathrow Express and Hull Trains.
Concerning Lumo (First Group), it aimed to shake up the UK’s rail offering by offering a green (100% of its trains are electric), digital-first, customer-centric alternative to the main National Rail network, with an impressive opening fare of £19.90 return King’s Cross-Edinburgh.
Lumo started lo-cost train service between London & Edinburgh on 25 October 2021 with 2 trains per day each way, ramping up to 5 per day in early 2022. The trains are Hitachi Class 803 trainsets with a standard class. All seat with power sockets & USB ports at all seats, free WiFi and good legroom. There’s plenty of space for luggage, a refreshment trolley and LumoEats, the ability to pre-order food & drink online from known brands like M&S for delivery to your seat. It’s a really smart train – the only thing lo-cost is the price.
According Rail Magazine, total rail journeys between London & Edinburgh in April 2022 up 35% on April 2019 – while LNER have reported separately that they’re now carrying more passengers than pre-pandemic. Which certainly suggests that Lumo have grown the market, not simply pinched traffic from LNER.
So what about the competition with domestic flights? Rail had 35% of the London-Edinburgh rail-air market pre-pandemic. It’s now over 50%, hitting 57% in favour of rail in April-August 2022 – making rail the market leader on this route. These figures confirm, in the midst of economic turmoil, that a well thought-out rail solution brings concrete results and increased traffic.
(Many sources) 🟧 Back to UK
Solidarity Transport Hub – an investment Poland and CEE region needs – 14/10/2022 – The so-called Solidarity Transport Hub (Centralny Port Komunikacyjny – CPK) is a planned transfer node between Warsaw and Łódź, integrating air transport (airport hub), rail and road. As part of this project, Solidarność Airport is to be built on an area of approximately 30 km², approximately 37 km west of Warsaw, which in the first stage will be able to handle 45 million passengers per year. The STH will not be just the largest airport in this part of Europe. It is a huge infrastructure project on an incredible scale that will quickly and efficiently integrate air, rail, and road transportation.
Strategic investment based on four pillars – The first and the most recognisable one is a multimodal transport hub – an airport located in the centre of Poland, integrated with country’s main rail transfer port and connected with the highway network, the Solidarity Airport. The second pillar is the extension and modernisation of the country’s rail transport system comprising the construction of 2,000 km rail lines providing connections between Warsaw and all Poland’s largest cities in no more than 2.5 hours. The third pillar is the construction of 400 km of new roads and the full integration of Solidarity Transport Hub with the existing motorway and expressway system. The last but not least is Aerotropolis – future development of the areas around the Solidarity Port – areas that will become, thanks to the port and country’s new public transport system, the best-connected place in Europe.
Heart of the transport system connecting Europe – The new central airport for Poland is a strategic investment that has been under discussion since the 1970s. However it was the current Polish Government who decided in 2017 to take decisive steps in this direction and turned the concept of building a central airport into a strategic investment on a huge scale, which is expected to change the face of public transport in the country and effectively connect Poland and the CEE region with the rest of Europe. As part of the STH project, new railway lines with a total length of nearly 2,000 km will be built, mainly high-speed lines, which Poland lacks, and the function of Warsaw Chopin Airport, which remains as the main airport for the capital and the country, will be taken over by the new Solidarity Airport.
(Read more: Railwaypro) 🟧 Back to Poland
Amtrak Aims to Achieve Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2045 – 11/10/2022 – As part of Amtrak’s vision for the future, Amtrak has pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the Amtrak Network by 2045. This net zero emissions target focuses on expanding efforts across Amtrak’s entire carbon footprint to reduce environmental impacts from operations while safely moving people.
“Not only are trains convenient and comfortable, they are also one of the most sustainable modes of transportation,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “With new equipment, modernized stations and net zero emissions, Amtrak can lead the drive toward sustainable transportation throughout the nation.”
“We congratulate Amtrak for this ambitious commitment to further reduce its carbon footprint, cementing its place as a leader in the clean transportation revolution,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “As we continue working to implement President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we look forward to working with Amtrak to demonstrate the key role of passenger rail in fighting climate change.”
Climate change requires collective action to curb emissions and mitigate irreversible environmental and societal damage. Amtrak plans to take the following actions, which would provide significant benefits to the customers and communities we serve:
– Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across Amtrak’s network by 2045: Begin with efforts to increase energy efficiency, followed by the implementation of renewable fuels and energy.
– Reduce diesel fuel use through advanced technologies: Leverage industry-leading research and testing in collaboration with state partners and experts to progress innovation and research in fuel-cells, hydrogen, batteries and other zero-emission technologies.
– Achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030: Continually focus on energy efficiency upgrades to reduce consumption and gradually meet all remaining needs using carbon-free electricity through renewable energy generation and power purchase agreements.
With a historic investment in improving and expanding passenger rail, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signifies the important role trains play in the future of sustainable transportation. Funds from BIL will be used to support this target by helping us procure a more sustainable fleet and make other improvements to our aged assets. Additionally, BIL funding will help improve and grow Amtrak service around the nation, creating more low-carbon alternatives to high-carbon flights and car trips.
Alongside these ambitious goals for the future, Amtrak is continuing to create innovative solutions today that reduce energy consumption, emissions, and waste even further. Examples of this work, along with the company’s latest performance metrics for greenhouse gas emissions, electricity use, recycling and diesel fuel use, can be found in the FY21 Sustainability Report and Performance Scorecard which includes Amtrak’s Sustainability and Climate Resilience program. Positioning the company to withstand climate impacts across all functions and asset types, the climate resilience plan enables Amtrak to continue providing reliable and safe service as climate conditions change.
(Source: Amtrak pressroom) 🟧 Back to USA
Major investments along the Mediterranean corridor – 09/10/2022 – Adif, the Spanish manager of railways infrastructure will invest nine billion euros to upgrade and extend the European Mediterranean and Adriatic corridors, the backbone in the connections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. In addition to facilitating fast passenger mobility, the new infrastructures aim at logistics development by networking ports, freight terminals and industrial hubs. Some of the key points of the trans-European corridors are in fact the connections between the rail network and logistics centres.
Infrastructure – To foster these relations, the plan developed by Adif envisages electrifying some routes to be enhanced for freight traffic and upgrading the terminals by adapting them to the 750-metre module, the European standard. All the new electrifications will adopt the 25 kV alternating current standard, the highest-performance system in the main European railway corridors, instead of the traditional Spanish 3kV DC. In addition, more railway lines are equipped with double gauge, the Spanish broad gauge and the international standard, but direct conversions between the two gauges without intermediate stages are being planned. With regard to connections with the ports, a new rail access will be created for the Bajo de la Cabezuela platform in the Cádiz (Cádiz) area, where the Port Authority has already built a new track bundle.
Intermodality – One of the key projects about intermodal transport is the railway motorway across the Iberian Peninsula between Algeciras and Zaragoza to promote freight traffic between Morocco and continental Europe. Here, it is planned to adapt all tunnels and the railway track to ensure the passage of intermodal trains without gauge restrictions. At the same time, work will also be done on the line between the port node of Huelva and Seville to facilitate the transit of goods trains with a 750 metre gauge. Adif’s plans also include widespread work on the network to enhance the nodes affected by freight traffic, such as at Castellar de la Frontera and in the area of the San Roque Mercancías terminal. Internal routes such as the Alcázar de San Juan-Manzanares line and the Linares-Córdoba line will also be enhanced.
Standard jauge – It is estimated that by the end of the decade, the coastal line between Barcelona and Valencia will be exclusively standard-gauge, reaching first Alicante and then Murcia. A new high-speed mixed passenger and freight line to Almeria will then be built directly at 1435 mm, the gauge that from France already reaches Barcelona, which was primarily intended to favour freight traffic.
(Source: Adif pressroom) 🟧 Back to Spain
Maersk launches reefer rail service between Valencia and the UK – 04/10/2022 – The connection will start at the end of October with three weekly departures from the Valencia terminal to Barking in East London. The company Sealand, which belongs to the Danish group Maersk, has launched a new rail service between Spain and the United Kingdom « especially designed for temperature-sensitive cargo such as fruit and vegetables », it has pointed out. This connection will have three weekly departures from the Valencia terminal to the Barking terminal in East London. The Danish group said the trains « will also carry non-refrigerated cargo on their return journey to Spain ». Regular departures on the new link will begin at the end of October, « just in time for the peak fruit and vegetable export season in Spain », Maersk said, following customer trials in September.
The service will be launched following customer trials in September. The Danish group pointed out that more than 90% of fruit and vegetable exports go « northwards, which means that up to 1,400 lorries cross the northern border of Spain every day to the main markets in the United Kingdom, France, Benelux, Germany and Scandinavia ». Maersk’s general manager for France, Iberia and Maghreb, Diego Perdones, said the new product « solves several challenges faced by our reefer customers in Spain when exporting ». « Firstly, » he said, « several large retailers want to reduce the carbon footprint of the products they sell ». Secondly, « a shortage of truck drivers prevails, which means that currently cross-border road transport is often limited and unreliable and, thirdly, the capacity and quality of the main roads is limited, which leads to congestion ».
Diego Perdones said rail transport « makes Spanish exporters independent of driver shortages and road bottlenecks and offers a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to a truck on the road » The general manager for France, Iberia and Maghreb also assured that, in the future, more destinations could be included, integrating maritime and rail solutions. « Large customers, » he added, « including importers, producers and retailers alike, are operating with both sea and road freight flows. »
(Source: El Mercantil) 🟧 Back to Spain
Portugal will also have a high-speed line – 01/10/2022 – Last week Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced plans for a brand-new high-speed line between Lisbon and Porto. The new service could reach speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour and cut journey times down to just one hour and 15 minutes. Which is, by any measure, pretty bloomin’ speedy. In comments Mr Costa highlighted the importance of connecting Portugal’s two largest city as well as the country’s international competitiveness for the investment. The high-speed rail line will also help move the country to “the forefront of the fight against climate change, [and] changing the mobility paradigm.”
Trains have taken on a renewed importance across Europe amid the push to cut carbon emissions, and the spike in energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. France, for example, banned domestic flights on routes where a train makes the journey in two-and-a-half-hours or less. And, in Germany, a so-called “9 euro ticket” local and regional rail pass this summer exceeded expectations — and proved doubters wrong — in boosting rail travel and helping ease the pain of high energy prices.
The rail route between Lisbon to Porto is already the niftiest (and greenest) way of travelling between Portugal’s capital and its second city. The fastest trains currently take just under three hours to speed 209 miles (337 kilometres) up the Portuguese coast. The project will be implemented gradually and should be completed by 2030. But with the end of phase 1 – expected around 2028 – the travel time will already be reduced to about 2 hours.
This is also the start of studies for the creation of the Porto – Vigo high-speed line, also being implemented gradually, which will once again result in a considerable reduction in travel times. From Porto, you can reach neighbouring Galicia in less than an hour.
(Various sources) 🟧 Back to Portugal
Alstom and Infrabel continue to digitise Belgian railway signalling – 30/09/2022 – Infrabel and Alstom signed yesterday, Thursday, for the design and delivery of 100 signalling boxes, sophisticated equipment installed along the tracks and controlling signals and switches. The Managing Director of Alstom Benelux and the CEO of Infrabel formalised on Thursday the order for one hundred signalling boxes for a total value of around 20 million euros. This equipment is intended for projects involving the extension of existing signalling installations. This order is part of the continuation of a digitalisation process, initiated several years ago, for the benefit of safety and traffic flow. This order will employ 30 people full time at Alstom’s global centre of excellence in Charleroi.
Digital railway – Signalling boxes are crucial equipment for ensuring efficient rail traffic. Located along the tracks, these technical boxes house all the devices that control train traffic locally. Infrabel initiated the renewal of these boxes several years ago, as part of a vast programme to digitise railway signalling, which is beneficial to both safety and traffic flow. In particular, this programme has helped to reduce the number of control stations from 368 electromechanically operated signalling boxes in 2005 to 10 fully digitised boxes by the end of 2023. The order for 100 new signalling boxes, for a total value of around 20 million euros, was made official today by Benoit Gilson (CEO Infrabel) and Bernard Belvaux (General Manager Alstom for the Benelux). It is a further step in the process of modernising the Belgian rail network. In concrete terms, this order is part of a framework contract signed at the end of 2020 for the supply of equipment using so-called « interlocking » technology (PLP). It is aimed at projects for the extension of existing signalling installations. The 100 signalling boxes, assembled and tested at the Alstom Group’s global signalling centre of excellence in Charleroi, will be delivered by the end of 2023 at a rate of up to 3 boxes per week. They will be installed along the railway network in collaboration with Infrabel’s teams. This order benefits the Belgian economy. It will employ 30 people full time for 1 year in the fields of engineering, box design, workshop production, assembly and logistics and the supply chain (equipment supply).
(Source: Infrabel pressroom) 🟧 Back to Belgium
Alpha Trains orders 15 Siemens Vectron MS locomotives – 26/09/2022 – Alpha Trains, Europe’s largest leasing company for locomotives and trains, has ordered 15 additional Vectron MS locomotives. The locomotives are part of a framework agreement signed in November 2021 with Siemens Mobility. With this latest order, Alpha Trains provides its customers with more than 65 Vectron locomotives and increases the Alpha Trains Locomotives fleet to 463 locomotives from a wide range of manufacturers, series and homologations for 21 European countries.
The new Vectron MS locomotives with a maximum power of 6.4 megawatts and a top speed of 200 km/h complement the existing Alpha Trains fleet of Vectron AC and Vectron Dual Mode models. The Vectrons will be manufactured at the Siemens Mobility plant in Munich-Allach. “The recent purchase of these additional Vectron MS locomotives underlines our strong and long-term partnership with Siemens Mobility. The reliable Vectron platform in combination with our attractive leasing offers enables our customers to perform flexible and reliable transports”, said Fernando Pérez, Managing Director of the Locomotives Division of Alpha Trains.
Alpha Train offers these MS Vectrons in different « regional » configurations:
(Source: Alpha Trains pressroom) 🟧
Re-funding a sustainable and safe ERTMS deployment that supports competition – 21/09/2022 – The Association of European rail Rolling Stock Lessors has highlighted 4 key issues in the on-going revision process of the CCS TSI (Control Command and Signalling) and made important proposals to resolve these.
The first issue is the lack of visibility of the route-by-route ERTMS deployment planning and delivery which is essential for long term investment decisions and detailed planning. A European digital platform publishing the level of the characteristics, as well as the planning of deployment of the ERTMS on the European core network corridors does not exist. AERRL urges to coordinate a uniform implementation of ERTMS deployment at EU level by making detailed and regularly updated publication of track side deployment, compulsory for Member States or Infrastructure Managers. Furthermore, AERRL supports an empowered centralised European system authority in the form of ERA.
Second issue is related to increasing costs of ERTMS in contrast to the assumptions that unit costs would fall over time, a new Baseline will only make this worse. Especially problematic for retrofitted equipment, insufficient subsidies and increasing costs make investments in complex retrofit and upgrade of ETCS on-board for existing rolling stock increasingly uneconomic. If the costs of retrofits and upgrades remain mainly funded by locomotive owners without any substantial EU support, new entrants could no longer have access to locomotive equipped with the ETCS BL compatible with the infrastructure. This would be a shock in the process of opening up the single European railway area to competition.
The third problem is related to the too frequent changes in technology in the European regulations. The introduction of a new baseline after two major changes in 15 years would considerably increase the risk of obsolescence of modern rolling stock.
Finally, AERRL is very concerned that the planning of the TSI revision and implementation ignores the industrial capacity to produce and deliver ETCS BL3 and BL4 in time.
Fabien Rochefort, AERR Chair: by ignoring essential needs of private investors, the current draft revision 2022 of the CCS TSI undermines the foundations of Green Deal and ERTMS: environment, fair competition in the single European railway area and continuous progress in safety. Vehicle keepers are facing tremendous difficulties to get Manufacturers and Equipment providers competing and committing on delays with affordable prices in a context of continuous evolution of technical requirements. The approval of the EU Commission revised CCS TSI, as currently drafted, could negatively impact efficiency and competition in the rail transport market, leading to exclude number of state-of-the-art modern locomotives from the market.
(Source: AERRL pressroom) 🟧
Works resume on the Ankara-Izmir high-speed line – 14/09/2022 – After the groundbreaking ceremony in Afyonkarahisar on August 30, work began on the 508-kilometer high-speed line Ankara – Afyonkarahisar – Usak – Izmir in Turkey. This new line is a key national project of the Turkish Government’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and is part of the national government’s plans to expand the country’s HSR network to 10,000km by 2023. It will be operated by the Turkish Railways (TCDD), upon commissioning. It should be noted that the term « high speed » should be used with caution. Some trains will not exceed 250km/h, the minimal criterion used to define high speed in europe. That said, this line has been designed with a minimum curve radius of 3,500 metres, electrification at 25 kV, 50 Hz AC and a maximum speed of 250km/h. Once completed, the line will reduce the rail distance between Ankara and Izmir from 824 km to 624 km. The journey time is expected to fall from around 14 h today to 3 h 30 min. The 503.2km-long route will pass through the provinces of Ankara, Eskisehir, Afyonkarahisar, Kutahya, Usak, Manisa, and Izmir and is divided into four sections. The 151.2km-long first section will run from Polatli (Ankara) to Afyonkarahisar. The second section between Afyonkarahisar and Banaz will be 90.3km long. The 159.9km-long third section will be between Banaz and Salihli. The final section of the new railway line will be 101.8km long and will be built between Salihli and Menemen (Izmir). It will consist of four subsections.
A full project – Construction includes line superstructure works, including the construction, testing, and commissioning of under ballast and ballast layers, prefabricated superstructure panels, rails, sleepers, and turnouts. Electrification work includes the design and commissioning of catenary systems, transformer substations, remote-control system, and tunnel electromechanical systems. Furthermore, the project will involve telecommunication and signalling works. The line will be equipped with network communication system, telephone system, and global systems for mobile communications-railway (GSM-R). Fibre optic and communication cable infrastructure will also be installed. Signalling works will include the design and commissioning of centralised traffic control (CTC) command centre systems, interlocking systems, and roadside equipment.
(More info: Railway Technology) 🟧 Back to the world
Rail traffic resumes between Russia and Kaliningrad – 13/09/2022 – Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) said on Wednesday that it will consider every request from Russian or Belarusian railway operators to pay it for the transit of goods to Kaliningrad and if the Financial Crimes Investigation Service (FNTT) gives clearance, will forward the information to banks so that they can decide if to process the payment. FNTT said that it will examine requests for clearing payments to LTG by Russian or Belarusian railway operators for Kaliningrad transit on a case-by-case basis. Egidijus Lazauskas, CEO of LTG, says that the latest clarifications will bring more clarity. « Based on them, we will examine each case of the transit of goods separately and provide the necessary information to FNTT, and when we receive their response, we will inform the banks so that they can make decisions on their part, » he said in a statement. LTG has also received clarification from the Transport Ministry that the railway group can continue to fulfill its contracts with Russian and Belarusian railway operators in line with the European Commission’s guidance on sanctions, and that payments for the permitted transit to Kaliningrad are legitimate. According to the group, its companies have been providing services to Russian and Belarusian customers only after receiving advance payment for some time now.
Threats – Russia had threatened to retaliate against Lithuania’s “openly hostile” restrictions after Vilnius halted the rail transport of Russian goods under EU sanctions to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, wedged between Lithuania and Poland. The area, with a large, ice-free Russian Navy base and launch pads for Russian Iskander missile systems, has no land connection with Russia. With the restrictions on the rail route, Kaliningrad now has to intensify ship transport. In an attempt to defuse the growing tensions between Lithuania and Russia, the European Commission updated its guidelines on managing the movement of goods under sanctions in July.
(More info: The Baltic Times) 🟧 Back to Bactic States
IVU.rail system manages DB Long Distance rolling stock deployment – 08/09/2022 – Transport IT solutions supplier IVU Traffic Technologies says that German Rail (DB) Long Distance is now managing its entire rolling stock fleet with the company’s IVU.rail system. DB Fernverkehr is relying on the worldwide leading IT-system for rail transport to standardise and digitalise their processes. After successfully introducing the timetable planning, vehicle working scheduling, and construction site planning, the vehicle dispatch has now been productively introduced for the entire rail fleet, consisting of a total of 210 locomotives, 1,100 passenger carriages, and around 360 multiple unit trains. Around 1,400 train trips a day are planned and dispatched by DB Fernverkehr – integrated into their own existing system landscape. An integrated conflict model automatically displays any possible discrepancies in the current vehicle deployment. The control centre immediately sees where they need to take action and are supported by the system as they adjust train trips. Modifications to the timetable caused by current construction work are processed in the software as the basis for optimum vehicle dispatch. « IT systems such as IVU.rail make it possible for us to resolve challenges in the daily planning for our trains with the best possible solutions for travellers. This allows us to manage transport more efficiently and reduce delays, » said Dr Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB Board Member for Digitalisation and Technology.
(Source: International Railway Journal) 🟧 Back to Germany
Kia and DB to reuse EV batteries into ‘Second Life’ energy storage – 07/09/2022 – In August, Kia Europe and encore, a corporate Start-up from Deutsche Bahn (DB Bahnbau Gruppe), jointly revealed their first battery energy storage system at the EUREF-Campus in Berlin, where it functions as part of the Micro Smart Grid, a power grid in which different energy sources, consumers and storage systems are linked intelligently. The Micro Smart Grid was established and is operated by inno2grid GmbH, a joint venture of DB E.C.O. Group and Schneider Electric. The aim is to reduce reliance on the grid through predictable energy flows and increase the share of renewable energy use across the campus. Kia Europe has confirmed plans to re-use former electric vehicle (EV) batteries in ’Second Life’ battery energy storage systems as part of its global strategic focus on sustainability.
The process – In order to build the battery energy storage system, encore| DB collects, dismantles, analyses and then repurposes or recycles the EV batteries. For the battery energy storage system at the EUREF-Campus, used Kia Soul EV battery packs were collected from Kia dealers and transported to encore | DB’s dismantling partner, DellCon, via Deutsche Bahn’s extensive logistical network to ensure sustainable and safe transport. The packs were then dismantled to modular level for state-of-the-art diagnostic testing to assess battery state of health. The two companies have just unveiled a prototype Battery Storage facility, made entirely from reused Kia Soul EV battery modules. The Europe-wide transport of the batteries and new energy storage units is primarily handled by the logistics subsidiary DB Schenker as well as DB Cargo. Jason Jeong, President at Kia Europe commented: “With our success in the electrification of Kia models, we also take responsibility for the batteries beyond their lifetime in the car. The pioneering partnership between Kia and encore | DB shows that we regard batteries as a valuable resource in terms of a sustainable circular economy.”
First prototype project launched – The unit at the at the EUREF-Campus is comprised of 24 battery modules in total arranged over three racks; each module made up of 14 double cells. A novel power conversion system with an integrated battery management system (BMS) specifically developed by STABL Energy compensates for the varying states of health between the battery modules by performing passive or active voltage balancing where needed. The prototype unit will provide 72kWh of usable power to support ‘timeshifting’ – storing solar power for later use – and other applications across inno2grids zeeMobase (zero emission mobility base) at the EUREF-Campus.
(Source: Deutsche Bahn) 🟧 Back to Germany
New order from NS to CAF as preffered bidder – 06/09/2022 – In 2014, CAF signed a contract with the Dutch operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen to supply Civity type commuter trains. The new electric units run in consists of 3, 4 and 6 cars in the “Sprinter” services of the Dutch network. This is a low floor train, designed to provide maximum passenger comfort. Recently, NS is running a tender for a new generation of double-deck EMUs and has selected CAF as a preferred bidder for an initial order of 60 trainsets. CAF is one of four bidders having made a ‘valid offer’ during the last stage of the bidding process (the so called „Best and Final Offer“). The spanish firm was to be bidding against Alstom, Siemens Mobility and Stadler Rail. NS stated end of August that CAF had the best offer in terms of price-quality balance, in which are comprised the aspects of investment costs, reliability and availability, maintenance and after sales support, efficiency in energy, and design in relation to train passengers and on-board staff. The order will be divided into 30 six-car and 30 four-car trainset and will include a mixture of double and single-deck coaches. NS expects the 160km/h trains to enter service in 2028. They will replace ageing ICMm Koploper three and four-car EMUs as well as DDZ double deck trains. An interesting option is that the contract will include options for a variant which is suitable for cross-border operation to Germany and/or Belgium.
(Various sources) 🟧 Back to Netherlands
Very good results for the Snälltåget night train – 04/09/2022 – The long distance Swedish rail operator Snälltåget offered this year night trains between Sweden, Denmark and Germany 220 days per year. Since the start of the new night train Stockholm – Malmö – Berlin, on June 27 2021, over 120,000 passengers have travelled. Compared to the old route Malmö – Berlin, this represents a 500% increase in the number of passengers. According the private opertor, that this summer, every departure has been fully booked and the capacity was increased thank to extra seating coach in several departures during July and early August, « During the month of July 2022, we had 100% more travellers than last year », explains Marco Andersson, Head of Sales and Marketing at Snälltåget. Without subsidies from the state – Snälltåget runs the new route completely without subsidies from the state, as a commercially driven (open access) service, and due to that, the trains only run when there is a sufficiently large demand from passengers. In next year, Snälltåget plans to increase traffic by another 20 days to 240 days a year, to meet the increased demand. However, Snälltåget believes that the competition from Swedish incumbent SJ’s new night train between Sweden and Germany is undermining fair competition. Unbalanced competition? – Snälltåget continues to protest about the – in its view – unfair conditions with the recent launch of the Stockholm-Hamburg night train operated by the incumbent operator SJ. Snälltåget welcomes competition on the track and more capacity is needed in international traffic, but competition must take place on equal terms. Snälltåget has called for simplifications for operating international traffic. The operator gives some xamples of desirable simplifications that treat all rail operators fairly: armonized rules regarding vehicles, relief in track access fee levels for international traffic or tax exemption on fuel and VAT – in the same way that their air industry are subsidized. It remains to be seen whether this duplication would be as damaging as Snälltåget is trying to say. SJ’s night train is limited to Hamburg, a city that Snälltåget serves very early in the morning and very late at night. Perhaps Snälltåget could capitalise solely on the Berlin destination, which would differentiate it from SJ.
(Source: pressroom) 🟧 Back to Sweden
Difficulties in the Texas high-speed rail project – 02/09/2022 – Ten years ago, a company calling itself Texas Central High-Speed Railway announced plans for a trailblazing bullet train that would whisk passengers between Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes. The potential for an American high-speed rail line captured the imagination of Texans and national train enthusiasts alike. The stakes of the high-speed rail project extend beyond the Texas. The 240 miles of relatively flat land between Dallas and Houston has long been heralded as the ideal location for what Texas Central and its supporters say could be the first leg of a national high-speed rail system that transforms the country. In the summer of 2016, Texas Central began its efforts in earnest to acquire land along the route of the line, contacting property owners and submitting documentation to retain the option to purchase acres in the 10 counties the rail line would cross.But a decade on, there are still no new tracks between Dallas and Houston. In fact, the Texas Central’s board was disbanded and its CEO and president had resigned. The project’s original timeline had already gone off the rails (at one point the construction was slated to begin in 2017). And land acquisition seems to have all but stopped in the last two years, according to land records reviewed by The Texas Tribune. The portion of Texas Central’s website that once listed executive leaders is now blank – as is the list of current job openings.
A decade in the making – The announcement of the Dallas-Houston bullet train came more than two decades after another, failed high-speed rail project in Texas that collapsed after $70 million in investments in the early 1990’s. In addition to Biden’s 2015 endorsement, plans for high-speed rail in Texas saw formal support from former President Donald Trump, several state leaders and close to 100 businesses and organizations. The company’s board and advisors featured a plethora of prominent names, like billionaire and former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane and Ron Kirk, the former Dallas mayor and former Texas secretary of state.
The big problem with building permits – The Governor reiterated that Texas Central had « all the necessary permits to begin construction » but this version of events seems to be disputed. In June, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure and Integrated Texas Logistics, a partner in the rail project, have eminent domain power because they are « interurban electric railway companies. » The decision, based on the Texas Transportation Code, enables the high-speed railway project to move forward with surveying and forcibly buying private property. The problem is that eminent domain isn’t a fast and clean operation. If a landowner doesn’t want to sell, Texas Central would likely have to sue and kick off what’s called a separate condemnation process – complete with arguments and hearings – for each landowner who won’t voluntarily give up their land and doesn’t agree that the money Texas Central offers is adequate compensation.
(more details on ABC13.com) 🟧 Back to the US
Siemens Mobility receives major order for 65 locomotives from Akiem – 01/09/2022 – Akiem, the leasing rolling stock specialist company for rail vehicles, has ordered 65 Vectron AC and Vectron MS locomotives from Siemens Mobility. The order was placed as part of a framework agreement for the purchase of locomotives that was signed in December 2021. The first locomotives from this call are to be delivered in mid-2024. Akiem previously ordered 20 Vectron locomotives from Siemens Mobility last December. “Following the signing of the framework contract with Akiem and a first order in December, this marks the first order for a large number of units,” said Albrecht Neumann, CEO Rolling Stock at Siemens Mobility. “We are especially pleased that the Vectron, with its unique modular design, will be making a significant contribution in the Akiem fleet to cross-border European freight and passenger service. With this order, we have also reached the milestone of 1,500 sold Vectrons: clear proof of customer satisfaction.” The ordered locomotives have a maximum power of 6.4 megawatts and can be delivered with a top speed of either 200 or 230 km/h. They can be used for cross-border freight transport as well as fast passenger service in many European countries.’We are delighted to be increasing our fleet of Vectron locomotives’, said Fabien Rochefort, CEO of the Akiem Group. “We look forward to offering passenger and freight operators throughout Europe the fleet they need as a sustainable and reliable service. We are convinced that the 85 Vectrons ordered by Akiem since December will meet our customers’ expectations.” To date, Siemens Mobility has sold more than 1,500 Vectron locomotives to 62 customers in 16 countries, and the fleet has covered over 600 million kilometers in service. Locomotives based on the Vectron platform have been approved for operation in 20 European countries.
(source : Siemens Mobility) 🟧 Back to Germany and Industry
Only three cars and no sleeping-cars on the new night train Stockholm-Hamburg? – 31/08/2022 – It will be remembered that the state operator SJ is due to launch a new night train between Stockholm and Hamburg on 1 September. In the absence of Swedish RIC-standard rolling stock, SJ has turned to RDC Deutschland to lease sleeping cars. These are sleeping cars of the type WLAB32s, an improved version of the well-known standard T2Ss that were once part of the TEN (Trans-Euro-Night) pool. Although the SJ had anticipated starting an upgrade in the summer of 2021, RDC announced in early July, according to the Jarnvagar website, that the cars would not be ready due to a shortage of components for the new electrical equipment. RDC then offered in exchange its MUn sleeping cars, which it had been using until the end of June on its own night trains between Austria and the German island of Sylt (RDC stopped this loss-making service). But the MUn cars do not have enough time to be approved by the Danish Transport Agency, which is responsible on its territory. Now there are legal doubts about who should nowadays approve cars that comply with the RIC, the Regolamento Internazionale delle Carrozze (RIC) which is an agreement that governs the technical standardisation of passenger cars (including sleeping cars), in order to facilitate international trains. The RIC has been in existence for 100 years, has obviously evolved with recent technology, and applies in 27 countries including Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Article 54 of the European Interoperability Directive and the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF), which is the legal basis for the RIC agreement, is the legal instrument designed for the use of passenger carriages in international rail passenger services. In principle, a coach with the RIC stamp should not be subject to costly homologation. However, according to the SJ management, from now on, each renovated and/or modified vehicle must obtain a new approval. This is done via the EU railway agency, ERA, and not a national agency. The problem is that in Denmark the network has tunnel sections that require trains to have certain specifically Danish fire protection provisions. Furthermore, the approval procedure via ERA is new and not yet widely used by European operators. The approval of the MUn sleeping cars (although already stamped RIC), would indicate that there will be no sleeping cars for 1 September. As a result, sleeping car reservations had been suspended since the beginning of the summer, when the delay problems became a reality. Other sources tell us that cars with seats would not be accepted either. We’ll see at the end of the week, if the train is launched…
(source : jarnvagar.nu) 🟧 Back to Germany and Sweden
Preventive action on selected concrete sleepers at Deutsche Bahn – 30/08/2022 – Following the accident near Garmisch-Partenkirchen on 3 June, concrete sleepers from the same industrialist are being examined by the investigating authorities. The first provisional findings of the technical examinations by independent test institutes now suggest a manufacturing defect. Some of the sleepers have material irregularities. Deutsche Bahn (DB) is currently carrying out as a preventive measure an extensive inspection and replacement programme for incriminated concrete sleepers. Inspections began in July and around 200,000 sleepers were examined. If DB finds any defects, it will replace the sleepers as soon as possible. Until the sleepers are replaced, trains will run at reduced speed at the affected locations. In some cases, sections of the line will also have to be closed.
Material irregularities? – The sleepers in question come from a single manufacturer and are on average only fifteen years old. According to the current state of affairs, only 0.25% of all concrete sleepers in the DB network have been inspected. The first changes of sleepers were carried out in the meantime, as DB developed a comprehensive plan.
165 places of restriction – The tests are currently causing restrictions at around 165 locations in the railway network. The regions most affected are Bavaria, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. DB is working hard to eliminate the disruption for passengers and freight customers as quickly as possible. On the first lines, DB has already been able to replace the sleepers, and concrete work dates have already been set for around 90% of the affected sections. The prioritisation of the work and the replacement concepts are closely coordinated with the railway companies and the Länder concerned.
Replacement until next year – Wherever the experts discovered faults, DB reacted immediately. In most cases, wherever necessary, trains will run more slowly on the affected sleepers. The inspections should be completed by the end of August. The aim is to have almost all the affected lines running smoothly again by the end of the year. However, it is also clear that the replacement of the sleepers will extend partly into next year. A DB task force is coordinating the currently limited construction resources so that they can be used as efficiently as possible. Priority is being given first to lines that are particularly busy and are of great importance for the stability of mainline, regional and freight traffic on the entire network. The necessary sleepers are available: even in times of material shortages, DB has managed to secure sufficient new sleepers on the market. It is not yet possible to put a concrete figure on the damage suffered. DB estimates that it is into several hundred million. Any legal actions against the sleeper manufacturer will be examined on the basis of the final expert opinions.
(source : Railtech.com) 🟧 Back to Germany
SNCB faces high electricity bills – 29/08/2022 – The belgian newspaper De Standaard reported this on Friday. . The soaring energy prices are having a major impact on the belgian’s railway company. The energy bill (electricity, gas and oil) of the SNCB could indeed be 100 million euros higher this year than in 2020. Despite the fact that the SNCB is riding increasingly ‘green’ , in the sense that diesel traction has become a minority, electricity – which is considered to be green energy – has become extremely expensive. The french newspaper Le Monde explains that the wholesale electricity prices for 2023 in Germany and France broke records on Friday 26 August, at 850 euros and more than 1,000 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) respectively. A year ago, prices in these two countries were around 85 euros per megawatt hour! Also last week, the Swiss transport administration, the BAV/OFT, which is not one for doom and gloom, warned Switzerland of a winter with possible train cancellations, although no such measures have been taken for the moment. A task force has been set up with the SBB. Electricity prices have followed the trend of other commodities (such as gas and coal) and have risen in line with the increase in demand since the recovery of economic activity after the pandemic.
High consumption – There are two types of electricity purchases. First, there are long-term contracts, where the price is negotiated up to several years in advance, which account for 75% of energy purchases. And then the remaining 25% which are bought on the spot market, with prices approaching, as has been said, 1,000 euros per megawatt-hour instead of 80 a year ago. The total consumption of the railways, SNCB + Infrabel, will reach 969 GWh in 2020 to run the trains (at 79.4 million euros), and 115 GWh for fixed installations, such as stations and office buildings.
Significant additional costs – As electricity prices continue to rise, the bill is bound to increase. This bill is all the more painful as the SNCB has still not recovered from the impact of the health crisis. During the week, there are still 10% fewer passengers than in 2019. In addition, a fare freeze has been imposed, so that the company’s income is also drying up. The incumbent operator is therefore faced, like many of its colleagues in Europe, with significant additional costs.
Any solutions? – The SNCB could get something out of its own green electricity production, notably the more than 20,000 solar panels that already produce 6 GWh of electricity per year. But unfortunately this only covers less than 1% of total electricity consumption and only five stations have solar panels. So we are a long way from energy autonomy. Other measures are aimed at the assets that consume energy, such as LED lighting, which is increasingly replacing traditional lighting in stations and workshops. Training for drivers is also being provided to enable them to drive more economically, for example by better anticipating when to accelerate or slow down.
(Railtech.be) 🟧 Back to Belgium
A new Prague-Dresden high-speed line for 2040? – 26/08/2022 – The Czech Republic wants to use its presidency of the EU Council to push forward the construction of the new Prague-Dresden railway line. This is a project whose conclusions were already presented in January 2016 in Germany by the Minister of Transport of the Land of Saxony. Earlier in 2014, the European Commission agreed to cover half the cost of a €1.26 million feasibility study on a new line, which would significantly reduce journey times for passenger services while providing additional capacity on this busy international freight artery. The high-speed line to Dresden is expected to be one of the first to be built in the Czech Republic, between Prague and Ustí nad Labem. The new line would offer a journey time of only 50 minutes instead of the current 2h15. Berlin would be less than 3 hours from Prague. The 200km/h section from the German border to Ústí nad Labem will be almost entirely in the new 26km-long Krušnohorský Tunnel (11.7km of which is in the Czech Republic) under the Ore Mountains which form the border. Another tunnel at least 18km long will take the new 250km/h line south of Ústí nad Labem under the České středohoří or Bohemian Central mountains, through which the existing line follows the course of the river Labem (the Elbe in Germany). An intermediate parkway style station near Roudnice nad Labem will be served by domestic trains and connections to other regional towns will be provided. The Czechs have been working with SNCF Réseau on feasibility studies and expect 40,000 passengers to use the Prague – Ustí nad Labem line. The feasibility study shows that the construction of the Czech part from Prague to the border in the tunnel will cost 8 billion euros. The scenario of the Ministry of Transport and the Railway Administration foresees the completion of all construction stages by 2040. The Czech Ministry of Transport has started to draft a new law specifically for the construction of high-speed trains. It is intended to facilitate construction and overcome potential problems in obtaining permits, as well as to include specific clauses relating to the construction and operation of these lines. In the meantime, since February and until 2025, work is underway on the German side on the existing line in the upper Elbe valley between Pirna and the state border. Deutsche Bahn wants to reduce the current restrictions on freight and passenger traffic with the measures planned until 2025 by changing the sequence of the work. The capacity on the Elbe Valley line could be increased from the current 99 trains per day to 147 in the first quarter of 2023.
(various sources compiled) 🟧 Back to Czech Republic
The Bari-Naples high-speed line, a 5.8 billion euro project – 25/08/2022 – The last works on the route of the future high-speed line were opened in August. The entire route is now under construction, following the announcement of the opening of the last construction sites on the Hirpinia-Orsara and Orsara-Bovino sections. In detail, the completion of these two sections will allow a further reduction in travel time between the capital of Campania and Puglia and an increase in the capacity of passenger and freight trains. The new high-speed line will reduce the journey time between Bari and Naples to 2 hours, and to Rome to 3 hours, taking Lecce and Taranto to 4 hours from the Italian capital. That said, explains the RFI manager, before the 2027 deadline, progressive reductions in journey times can already be achieved thanks to the gradual opening of the sections under construction. The latest construction projects recently launched are intended to cover a route over the Apennine Pass. These are the two major worksites on the Hirpinia-Orsara and Orsara-Bovino sections, which are « only » 40 kilometres of line, but which involve the construction of two tunnels. The first is about 27 kilometres long out of the 28 kilometres of the Hirpinia-Orsara section. And a second one on the Orsara-Bovino section, about 10 kilometres long out of the 12 kilometres of this section. The work has been entrusted to the Consorzio Hirpinia Orsara AV, for a total investment of around 1.53 billion euros, including 561 million euros from the manager himself. The two contracts are part of the wider project for the redevelopment of the Naples-Benevento-Foggia-Bari railway axis, which includes the doubling of single-track sections and the construction of variants of the existing route in order to improve the integration of the south-east railway system with the high-speed line. On the same axis, another contractor, Webuild, is building for his part the Naples-Cancello section, 15.5 kilometres of track near the Naples-Afragola high-speed station, and the Apice-Hirpinia section, 18 kilometres of line to cross the Apennines. The full activation of all these worksites mobilises about 7,000 full time people every day, counting direct and indirect jobs – creating related industries for the whole socio-economic fabric of the southern Peninsula, which is in great need of them.
(various sources compiled) 🟧 Back to Italy
Iryo begins final tests and prepares to launch services in Spain – 24/08/2022 – The last competing high-speed operator that has not yet started services, Ilsa (under the brand name Iryo), has begun technical tests on the Madrid-Barcelona line with an ETR 400 trainset, one of 20 supplied by Hitachi Rail. This is the final step in the process of authorising the ETR 400 to operate on the Spanish high-speed network. Unlike the other operators Ouigo and Renfe (AVE and Avlo), Iryo will start operating the 3 lines it will operate in four months: Madrid-Barcelona (25 November), Madrid-Valencia and Alicante (December) and Madrid-Cordoba, Seville and Malaga in March 2023. However, Ilsa has managed to modify two of the clauses of the agreement with Adif, the infrastructure manager responsible for traffic. Ilsa justifies the modifications by the delays in the manufacture and delivery of the rolling stock, as well as the reduction in the expected productivity of the trains due to the existence of capacity limitations in the workshops and the post-Covid consequences with an estimated decrease in demand of between 20 and 30%. These changes required the approval of the Spanish competition authority, the CNMC. The CNMC considers that ‘the period necessary for Iryo to have a sufficient fleet of trains requires that this flexibility be extended until the 2024-2025 timetable’. For its operations, Ilsa has recruited a first group of 30 drivers who completed their training last July. These train drivers received training on the Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valencia high-speed lines and ADIF gave a presentation on risks and emergencies in tunnels. In this way, the first 30 Iryo train drivers have almost received their corresponding qualifications for the start of the operator’s commercial operations next November.
(various sources) 🟧 Back to Spain
RFI launches a €1.1 billion tender for the high-speed rail bypass and the new Florence station – 23/08/2022 – The infrastructure manager Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (FS Italiane Group) has published the tender notice in the Official Journal of the European Union, for a total amount of more than 1.1 billion euros, for the construction of the bypass and the new high-speed station at the Florence hub. It should be remembered that at present, Italian high-speed trains – with a few exceptions – end up at the Santa Maria Novella dead-end station, forcing them to turn around and head back to Bologna or Rome. Trenitalia wants to create a direct « bypass » in the north of the city. This work is considered strategic for the FS and RFI group and will allow a new configuration of the Florentine railway network, ensuring that high-speed trains no longer interfere with regional trains, with positive effects on both the regularity of the service and its possible reinforcement, in terms of frequency and number of journeys. The loop of the new high-speed/high-capacity line will be underground for about 7 kilometres, with two parallel tunnels with an average depth of about 20 metres, completed by two terminal sections on the surface: to the north between the stations of Firenze Castello and Firenze Rifredi, and to the south near the station of Firenze Campo di Marte. The tunnels will be excavated by mechanised techniques using a tunnel boring machine. The new HST Firenze Belfiore station, designed by Foster Architecture, will be built along the metro line. The new Belfiore station, served by high-speed trains, will be located in the east of the city.
(source : FS News) 🟧 Back to Italy
Network Rail seeks renewable energy provider in contract worth £1.25bn – 22/08/2022 – Network Rail is searching for a provider of renewable energy to provide between 0.5TWh and 1TWh annually for the next 25 years in a contract worth up to £1.25bn. The UK’s rail operator is one of the largest purchasers of electricity in the UK, consuming circa 4.5TWh per year – 4.1TWh of which is for traction. With the UK government having set a legal commitment to reach net zero by 2050, Network Rail as a government-owned enterprise, is committed to supporting the achievement of this goal. To that end, it is looking to procure renewable energy through a corporate power purchase agreement. It is initially looking to procure between 0.5TWh and 1TWh per year and is accepting tenders for contracts up to 25 years, which could be worth £1.25bn if the full length is agreed. This could be supplied by one or more parties and come from one or more assets. Network Rail is looking to commence this supply of renewable energy in 2026. With the government’s rail reforms looking to absorb Network Rail’s responsibilities into the new entity Great British Railways, which is scheduled to commence operation in 2024, this contract will ultimately be with the new body. The rail operator is putting suppliers on notice for now, with a tender process expected to launch officially in February 2023. In addition, Network Rail entered into a deal with EDF Renewables UK to supply 15% of Network Rail’s annual consumption of non-traction energy from EDF Renewables UK’s Bloy’s Grove solar farm between Swainsthorpe and Mulbarton in Norfolk. Network Rail has committed to sourcing 100% of non-traction energy from renewable sources by 2030 as part of its Environmental Sustainability Strategy. A target that builds on rail’s position as being one of the greenest forms of transport. The agreement will see enough solar energy generated to power Network Rail offices, depots and railway stations across the country. Overall the contract will mean 49.9Mw of renewable energy capacity – enough to power 20,000 homes – is available, covering around 15% of Network Rail’s annual consumption of non-traction energy.
(source : New Civil Engineer) 🟧 Back to UK
Alstom unveils its Coradia Stream ICNG trainset in the Netherlands – 05/07/2022 – French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom and Netherlands-based national railway operator NS have unveiled the Coradia Stream Intercity Next Generation (ICNG) trains at Rotterdam Central Station. Earlier, Alstom received a contract from NS for the delivery of 79 Coradia Stream trains, which are anticipated to operate on the Dutch national network by the end of 2022. NS also ordered 20 additional Coradia Stream ICNG trains to operate in Belgium to replace the rollign stock of the Benelux train. Featuring European (ERTMS) signalling systems, Coradia Stream ICNG trainsets are installed with a modern traction system that facilitates regenerative braking. Alstom Benelux managing director Bernard Belvaux said: “The Coradia Stream are successful because they offer highly reliable, energy efficient, safe and comfortable transport for passengers. They also have an impressive availability rate of over 97% and are easy to maintain. The ICNG trains have designed to integrate the latest technologies and offer an excellent on-board experience to passengers. The trains feature spacious and well-lit multi-purpose areas for reading, resting, wheelchairs and bicycles, as well as dedicated restrooms for people with reduced mobility. Passengers with reduced mobility can really enjoy travelling with the same comfort as other passengers thanks to the design of these new trains. Air conditioning, Wi-Fi, numerous charging options for mobile phones and laptops, as well as LED reading lamps also contribute to an outstanding travel experience.
(source : Railway-technology.com) 🟧 Back to the Netherlands
By Frédéric de Kemmeter, Railway policy observer – Freelance railway contributing writer – Suscribe my blog – Back to latest news – See our oldest pages: 2021-2022/1 – 2022/2
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