La semaine de Rail Europe News – Newsletter 021

Du 10 au 16 février 2021

L’actualité ferroviaire de ces 7 derniers jours.

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L’édito de la semaine

La grande vitesse, un caprice dépassé ? Allons donc ! Plusieurs éléments démontrent au contraire que la grande vitesse a toute sa place dans les déplacements à venir. Prenons l’exemple du concept de Deutschland Takt, « l’Allemagne cadencée ». Pour faire arriver des trains à des heures ou demi-heures piles, certaines sections de lignes ferroviaires devront obtenir une sérieuse augmentation des temps de parcours, au cas par cas selon le terrain. Il faudra donc parfois recourir à des constructions nouvelles comme ce devrait être le cas entre Hanovre, Bielefeld et Dortmund, de même qu’entre le sud de Francfort et Mannheim. En France, il était temps d’alimenter le sud du pays où les lignes à grande vitesse manquent cruellement. En novembre dernier, SNCF Réseau annonçait le début de la concertation publique sur la première phase du projet reliant Montpellier à Béziers. La LGV Montpellier-Perpignan représente 150 km de nouvelles voies ferroviaires  à réaliser, auxquelles s’ajoutent 30 kms de raccordement au réseau existant et la construction de deux gares supplémentaires à Narbonne Ouest et Béziers Est. 

En Grande-Bretagne, la grande vitesse est un élément national de politique économique (voir ci-dessous). La construction du premier tronçon est maintenant bien lancée et la nécessaire couverture législative pour une prolongation vers Crewe est désormais une réalité. HS2, le nom du projet britannique, pourrait avoir comme exploitant Trenitalia et un partenaire (voir à ce lien). En Espagne, à Madrid, un tunnel ferroviaire au gabarit UIC a été terminé entre les gares d’Atocha et de Chamartin. Objectif : relier deux réseaux à grande vitesse qui actuellement se tournent le dos (Atocha pour la sud du pays, Chamartin pour le nord). Renfe et Adif compte donc faire de Madrid un « passage nord-sud » plutôt que des cul-de-sac à la parisienne. Ce tunnel pourrait booster les trafics et aiguiser les appétits de futurs nouveaux opérateurs, tout bénéfice pour rentabiliser l’énorme réseau espagnol. On y retrouve d’ailleurs encore Trenitalia, qui s’est allié avec Air Nostrum pour former ILSA, un concurrent qui utilisera des rames Hitachi Frecciarossa 1000 dans le courant de 2022.

Enfin il y a Alstom qui pourrait bousculer… la Deutsche Bahn ! Une édition du journal Wirtschafts Woche contenait la semaine dernière l’interview d’un cadre allemand qui relatait des négociations avec certains opérateurs – non cités -, voulant concurrencer l’entreprise historique allemande à l’aide… du TGV-Duplex. Un séisme dans le pré-carré de Siemens, mais ce ne sont pour le moment que des intentions. L’excellente revue Railway Today Europe mentionnait cependant que le fameux projet de Deutschland Takt cité plus haut contenait des sillons… réservés à la concurrence. Il n’est donc pas impossible de voir à l’avenir des trains à grande vitesse autres que des ICE en Allemagne. Qui a dit que la grande vitesse, c’était du passé ?

Politique des transports

CO2Europe – La taxe CO2 des camions pour subventionner le chemin de fer ? L’un des fers de lance de la nouvelle stratégie de mobilité de l’Union européenne est la tarification du CO2, incluant celui émis par les transports. Une idée serait que le produit d’une redevance kilométrique pour les camions puisse être utilisé pour améliorer le transport durable, par exemple par des investissements dans les chemins de fer. C’est ce que pense Elisabeth Werner, directrice des transports terrestres de la direction européenne des transports (DG Move). « Au cours de la pandémie de Covid-19, le trafic de passagers s’est complètement arrêté, mais nous avons soudainement vu une augmentation significative du transport de marchandises par chemin de fer grâce à la capacité supplémentaire disponible. Nous savons donc que le rail peut croître considérablement, à condition que les conditions soient réunies. Nous allons nous concentrer sur cela dans les années à venir. Par exemple, l’UE donne la priorité à l’amélioration des corridors de fret ferroviaire européens via le réseau RTE-T», explique la directrice. Qui rappelle tout de même que pour un transfert modal, la qualité, la fiabilité et la ponctualité du transport ferroviaire de marchandises doivent être améliorées.
>>> Railtech.com – Elisabeth Werner (DG Move): invest revenues of truck kilometre charge in railways

HS2-UKGrande-Bretagne – Extension approuvée de la ligne à grande vitesse HS2 – La deuxième phase du projet de ligne à grande vitesse HS2 vers le nord du Royaume-Uni, a reçu l’autorisation pour la construction du tronçon « 2a » de 58 km entre Fradley, près de Lichfield et Crewe. Cette phase a reçu la précieuse « sanction royale » le 11 février 2021, concrétisant dans la loi l’engagement du gouvernement à amener ce projet au nord du pays. Cet acte législatif important permet à HS2 Ltd, la société qui gère la construction, de commencer les travaux de construction entre Crewe et Birmingham (plans détaillés, acquisition de terrains,…). Actuellement, la phase 1 est en pleine construction et les 240 chantiers procureraient désormais plus de 15.000 emplois. La construction de la section 2a débutera d’ici 2024 et devrait permettre de créer environ 5.000 emplois. L’espoir britannique dans ce projet HS2 est de remodelé le paysage socio-économique du centre de l’Angleterre, une région en déclin.
>>> Mediarail.be – Extension approuvée de la ligne à grande vitesse HS2 en Grande-Bretagne

Trafic grande ligne

Renfe-ILSAEspagne – L’opérateur ILSA veut plus de part de marché que prévu – L’opérateur Ilsa, auquel participent les actionnaires d’ Air Nostrum (55%) et de Trenitalia (45%), aspire à une part de marché de 30% dans les trois corridors qu’il a obtenu dans le cadre de la libéralisation régulée du marché ferroviaire grande ligne espagnol : Madrid-Barcelone, Madrid-Levante et Madrid-Sud. Ce tiers de volume de passagers représente une capacité supérieure à ce qui était initialement prévu après avoir remporté le package B mis en appel d’offre l’an dernier. Rappelons que l’Espagne a opté pour trois opérateurs se partageant dans un premier temps trois « packages » de trafic définis. La SNCF est actionnaire de Rielfsera et a obtenu le package C, le moins gros, mais qui sera exploité dès le mois de mai 2021 sous la marque Ouigo España. La Renfe, l’opérateur historique, a remporté le « package » A, le plus gros, soit les 2/3 du trafic. Mathématiquement, comment ILSA compte s’accaparer un tier du marché, sachant que Ouigo España est là aussi ? ILSA entend en fait modéliser une offre réussie basée sur des services à valeur ajoutée et un réseau d’alliances avec d’autres opérateurs de mobilité. «Nous ne promettons pas seulement le meilleur prix, mais la meilleure qualité au juste prix, et c’est là notre différence», explique Fabrizio Favara, le CEO d’ILSA. La vente de billets et de voyages est un élément clé des efforts de l’ILSA pour devenir une entreprise numérique. L’opérateur offrira aux passagers la possibilité d’intégrer leur voyage en train à d’autres modes de transport, tels que l’avion, le taxi et le vélo en libre-service, afin de proposer des options de premier et de dernier kilomètre. Des négociations avec des partenaires potentiels sont en cours et Favara espère que ces accords seront en place au début de l’année prochaine. Le CEO ajoute que l’expérience d’Air Nostrum sur le marché espagnol des transports s’avère essentielle pour le développement de ces relations ainsi que pour le marketing commercial et la conception du produit, qui sera officiellement annoncé d’ici la fin de l’année ou au début de 2022. Par ailleurs, le ministère des transports espagnol teste l’appétit des opérateurs potentiels pour les services subventionnés (OSP). Un pourcentage d’ouverture ou un package pertinent ? Rien n’est encore décidé. Ce sera entre 2023 et 2026. On verra alors plus clair sur les effets de la libéralisation des grandes lignes.
>>> Cinco Dias/El Pais – ILSA irá a por un 30% de cuota en la alta velocidad frente a Renfe y Ouigo

Leasing

Railpool-EuropeRailpool rachète un centre d’entretien à Hambourg – Railpool, un loueur de Munich qui possède une flotte de plus de 400 locomotives électriques, dont une bonne moitié concerne le type TRAXX Bombardier (BR186 et BR187), étend ses activités de maintenance. Elle a racheté la société d’entretien de locomotives ajax Loktechnik GmbH basée à Hambourg. Cette extension de la capacité de maintenance opérationnelle marque une nouvelle étape dans le parcours de croissance de l’entreprise. Railpool a déclaré qu’Ajax Loktechnik apporterait son expertise dans la maintenance mobile flexible, car ajax fait aussi de la maintenance hors site, et même à l’étranger. Cette acquisition offre ainsi à Railpool un deuxième atelier dans l’important hub de fret de Hambourg, le loueur ayant déjà un autre dépôt existant. Christoph Engel, qui dirige Railpool Lokservice GmbH & Co KG, reprend la direction d’ajax Loktechnik GmbH à Maja Halver et Tim Müller. Maja Halver, qui a fondé l’entreprise ajax avec son associé en 2010, restera associée à l’entreprise dans un rôle de conseil. «Nous sommes très heureux que Maja Halver continue de nous soutenir en tant que consultante. Elle a développé ajax Loktechnik et est une source importante de connaissances», explique Ingo Wurzer, directeur financier de Railpool. Torsten Lehnert, PDG de Railpool GmbH, explique aussi que «la continuité [du service] est au cœur de nos priorités en ce qui concerne notre compétence [qui consiste à offrir] un service complet, ce qui constitue un critère de valeur essentiel pour nos clients». La maintenance fait partie d’un grand nombre de contrats de leasing, ce qui permet aux opérateurs de petite taille à ne pas devoir s’en préoccuper, car c’est un secteur assez lourd au niveau capitalistique. Par ailleurs, la sophistication des engins de traction est telle q’elle requiert un personnel spécialisé, ce que n’ont pas les petits opérateurs. La neutralité d’Ajax permet une bonne relation de confiance avec tous les opérateurs, quels qu’ils soient, et on sait toute la difficulté qu’ont les nouveaux entrants en ce qui concerne les facilités essentielles, un problème que des offres comme Railpool permettent de contourner. In fine, des loueurs comme Railpool deviennent de véritables chemin de fer à part entière, bien que n’opérant pas de réseau en tant que tel. Le pool de matériel roulant est un secteur d’avenir et pourrait s’étendre vers les voitures, ce que Railpool fait déjà pour Flixtrain, avec l’usine Talbot de Aix-la-Chapelle.
>>> Railpool press room – Leading locomotive leasing company RAILPOOL takes over ajax Loktechnik GmbH

Trafic fret

VTG/REtrack-EuroDualRéception réussie des deux premières EuroDuals pour VTG/Retrack – L’année dernière, VTG Rail Logistics Deutschland avec sa filiale Retrack ont signé un contrat de location à long terme avec European Loc Pool (ELP) pour un maximum de quatre locomotives EuroDual, construites en Espagne par Stadler. Les deux premières locomotives ont été testées avec succès par ELP et Retrack au cours de la semaine 5/2021. Les essais et la réception des deux premières locomotives, baptisées Lena et Nina, ont eu lieu au dépôt de Braunschweig. La journée a commencé par la réception statique et l’inspection, suivie l’après-midi d’un essai réussi pendant lequel les locomotives ont été testées tant en mode électrique que diesel. La locomotive hybride EuroDual, d’une puissance de 2,8 MW en fonctionnement diesel et de 6 MW sous caténaire 15kV, est parfaitement adaptée à l’utilisation dans le service de trains de marchandises lourds. L’effort de traction élevé combiné à une consommation d’énergie optimisée signifie une forte augmentation des performances et de l’efficacité. Les nouvelles locomotives peuvent tirer jusqu’à 30 % de tonnage en plus que les locomotives électriques et diesel existantes. Le mode hybride permet également de réduire les émissions de CO². Pour ceux qui n’ont pas tout suivi, les wagons de VTG sont pour beaucoup utilisés par de nombreux clients en tant que trafic diffus, appelé « wagon isolé ». Une prestation dont on sait qu’elle souffre de nombreux manquements chez les opérateurs historiques, et qui n’intéresse pas vraiment les nouveaux entrants. Sur ce créneau, VTG s’était mis en tête avec d’autres partenaires en 2007 d’offrir lui-même des prestations de transports au-delà de la simple location, ce qui supposait la création d’une entreprise de traction munie d’une licence et de personnel de conduite. Après s’être appelée Bräunert, la filiale traction de VTG a été rebaptisée Retrack en 2017 et a recherché du matériel roulant plus en phase avec la notion de « derniers kilomètres ». C’est ainsi qu’arrivent les deux Eurodual de Stadler, locomotives permettant d’amener les wagons jusque dans la cour des usines, souhait des clients, sans avoir besoin de machines de manoeuvres comme jadis, ce qui est un gain de temps et d’argent. En parallèle, après un audit réussi par le TÜV Rheinland, VTG Rail Logistics est désormais également certifiée en tant qu’entreprise spécialisée dans l’élimination des déchets dangereux conformément à l’EfbV et est donc autorisée à transporter des déchets dangereux en Allemagne avec effet immédiat. Cela s’applique à toutes les classes de marchandises dangereuses, à l’exception des classes 1, 6.2 et 7 (matières explosives, infectieuses et radioactives).
>>> Bahn Manager – Erfolgreiche Abnahme von den ersten 2 EuroDual für VTG/Retrack

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Germany – Deutschland – Allemagne

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The Talent 2 Emu is a multiple unit railcar manufactured by Bombardier. The train began production in 2008 and first entered service with Deutsche Bahn in 2011. Some trainsets Class BR442 for the train service along Mosel have only two cars, as we can see here in Coblence, August 2014. More pictures here

Les rames Talent 2 sont des automotrices fabriquées par Bombardier. La production a démarré en 2008 et ce parc est entré en service à la Deutsche Bahn en 2011. Certaines rames BR442 pour le service ferroviaire le long de la Moselle ne comportent que deux voitures, comme on peut le voir ici à Coblence, en août 2014. Plus de photos à ce lien

ICE-3_Brussels

An ICE 3M trainset leaves Brussels-Midi towards Liège, Cologne and Frankfurt. These trains have little in common with the previous ICE 1 and ICE 2 series. In 1994, the new DB launched a design competition, and it was the Munich-based firm Neumeister that came up with a new design within a very short time. The fundamental feature of the ICE 3 compared to the two previous versions is the distributed electrical traction chain along the trainset, making it a true high-speed self-propelled vehicle. It meets the increased requirements for interoperability promoted by the European Commission. More pictures here

Une rame ICE 3M quitte Bruxelles-Midi en direction de Liège et Francfort. Ces rames n’ont plus grand chose de commun avec les séries précédents ICE_1 et ICE 2. En 1994, la nouvelle DB lança un concours de design et c’est le cabinet Neumeister de Munich qui réinventa une nouvelle conception dans des délais très courts. La caractéristique fondamentale de l’ICE 3 par rapport aux deux versions précédentes est la motorisation répartie, ce qui en fait une véritable automotrice à grande vitesse. Il répond aux exigences accrues de l’interopérabilité promue par la Commission Européenne.  Infos techniques à ce lien.

The Mittelrheinbahn is a private company 100% owned by Transdev Deutschland. It operates a contract for local trains to Cologne-Coblenz-Mayence. It has leased Siemens Desiro Main Line tri-bodyshell railcars from Alpha Trains, which are classified as BR460 in Germany. One of this is waiting his departure at station Coblence in august 2014. More pictures here

Le Mittelrheinbahn est une compagnie privée appartenant à 100% à Transdev Deutschland. Elle opère un contrat de trains omnibus sur Cologne-Coblence-Mayence. Elle a loué chez Alpha Trains des automotrices tri-caisses Siemens Desiro Main Line, qui sont classée BR460 en Allemagne. Attente de départ à Coblence en août 2014.

The German Class 101 locomotives prefigures what will later become the BR145/146, and then the TRAXX, whose cabin’s fronts can already be recognized. The 145 Bombardier locomotives of this series were put into service between 1996 and 1999 and mainly carry out missions for mainline trains, exclusively under 15kV. Station Coblence in August 2014. More pictures here

La série allemande BR101 préfigure de ce qui deviendra par la suite la BR145/146, et in fine la TRAXX, dont on peut déjà reconnaître le fronton avant. Les 145 locomotives Bombardier de cette série ont été mises en service entre 1996 et 1999 et effectuent principalement des missions pour trains grandes lignes, exclusivement sous 15kV. Plus de photos à ce lien

Austria_Osterreich   Belgium_Belgique_Belgïe    France    Alemagne_Germany_Deutschland   Italy_Italia    Netherlands    Suisse_Switzerland   Czech_Republic.svg

More pictures / Davantage de photos :

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The ecological train: everyone does it

(version en français)

Is this the Innotrans effect? In recent months, hybrid Emu/Dmu have made a sudden appearance on the market. All the builders build their solution to attract the new market : the lines without catenaries. We are going to peruse the latest innovations on this theme.

In Germany, for example, non-electrified lines are still numerous at the local level. But this network, the Lander want to keep it, and even reactivate forgotten lines. As electrifcations are expensive, diesel Dmu was up to now the only solution available. Problem: these Dmu pollute and sometimes travel 1/3 of their journey under electrified main lines. So there is a serious waste of resources, especially since diesel is increasingly banned from the automobile. The rail had to follow the movement.

Honor to Alstom. The French firm is engaged in the hybrid railcar since last year, not in France but in Germany. The market seems indeed more promising on this side of the Rhine, given the political conditions that allow the Lander to choose their own rail operator.

The H3 Hybrid locomotive project was initiated in August 2013, and the first locomotive was unveiled at InnoTrans 2014 in Berlin. The five locomotives are now undergoing an eight-year test at DB’s sites in Würzburg and Nuremberg, Franconia. The project has been funded with €600,000 ($653,560 approximately) from the State of Bavaria. The locomotives are being manufactured at Alstom’s Stendal site in Scaxony-Anhalt, Germany. One of the variant consist of a H3 Battery 600kW electric locomotive. But it was not so disruptive yet …

Alstom left its mark with his iLint Coradia railcar. This machine is much more a disruptive technology because its engine would be driven by hydrogen, which is new. The Coradia iLint is a version of the Coradia Lint 54, but powered here by a hydrogen fuel cell. Announced at InnoTrans 2016, the new model will be the world’s first production hydrogen-powered trainset. The Coradia iLint will be able to reach 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph) and travel 600–800 kilometres (370–500 mi) on a full tank of hydrogen. The first Coradia iLint is expected to enter service on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony, Germany. It will be assembled at Alstom’s Salzgitter plant. It began rolling tests at 80km/h in March 2017. On July 11, the EBA (the German Railway Authority) gave its operating license. With this railcar, Alstom makes a double shot by addressing both the problem of non-electrified lines, while eliminating a large part of the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Some criticism are, however, being made about the methods of making hydrogen (1). With its order of 14 Coradia iLint in December 2017, the Land of Lower Saxony also became aware of the problem of hydrogen production, and invested an additional 8.4 million euros to manufacture hydrogen no longer from fossil fuels but by electrolysis and by means of wind energy. We are thus moving towards a « zero emission » train.

Competition reacts

There are no doubt that these developments of Alstom should prompted a reaction of the competitors, Siemens and Bombardier. It’s done now … Just before Innotrans – it is obviously not a coincidence – Siemens and the ÖBB presented on September 10 their concept of Desiro ML Cityjet Eco. The train is part of the Siemens Desiro range. Unlike Alstom, the concept is of a more traditional technology using batteries. Battery operation can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50 percent compared to diesels. The battery system located on the middle car of the converted trainset is comprised of three battery containers, two DC/DC controllers, a battery cooler and other electronic components. The system uses lithium-titanate batteries (LTO technology). Compared with conventional lithium-ion batteries, these modified batteries allow significantly higher charging currents for fast charging.

The pilot project will be conducted with a train taken from the series of Siemens Desiro ML trains currently being produced for ÖBB. The train’s design enables it to accommodate additional roof loads. As a result, the usual industry-wide production and delivery time of up to 36 months for a new train can be reduced to less than half. Following extensive testing of the train, it is expected to first be used in passenger service in the second half of 2019.

As an echo, Bombardier replied two days later. On September 12, the Canadian presented his ‘BEmu’ Electro-Hybrid Talent 3. One more ! With four Bombardier Mitrac batteries, this train can travel about 40 kilometers on a diesel line. The next generation of battery-operated trains will be able to cover distances of up to 100 kilometres on non-electrified railways. In 2019, Deutsche Bahn (DB) will start a twelve-month trial run with passengers with the current prototype in the Alb-Lake Constance region.

The development of the battery-operated train is subsidised by the German federal government in the framework of an innovation program for electromobility with 4 million euros. The project partners include the DB Regio subsidiary DB ZugBus Regionalverkehr Alb-Bodensee (regional transport for the Lake Constance region), Nahverkehrsgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg (Baden-Wuerttemberg Regional Transport Company) and the Nationale Organisation Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellentechnologie (National Organisation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology) and the Technical University of Berlin.

This demonstrates the importance of public authorities with funding research and partnership with universities and research centers. That is how that Europe can maintain its industries and remain at the forefront of technology and… ecology. Innotrans seems to be a key marker to get out of new projects. The next exhibition will take place in 2020. We will then have the opportunity to talk about the first results of these new concepts.

(1) Is hydrogen a good source of energy ?

Berlin/Brandenburg : six railway enterprises and many projects

(Version en français)

More space, more comfortable trains, faster and better connections, for passengers, Berlin-Brandenburg’s new transport plan includes many projects that will improve passenger rail transport in the years to come.

On 4 October 2017, the Lander of Berlin and Brandenburg signed with Deutsche Bahn AG the framework agreement « i 2030 » for the development of rail transport in Berlin and Brandenburg. This step becomes concrete because the national parliament deliberates on the supplementary budget and thus on the financing of the first measures.

The time for cancellations is over. The 2018 rail traffic plan provides for an additional 10 million train kilometers in the next ten years. In other words, we will make more connections, put more trains on the rails, develop infrastructure and improve the quality of service. We do not just want to make a bigger but better offer, with a better bus and train service, a wireless LAN on trains and more accessibility. To achieve all this, we need to invest in the infrastructure that we have already developed. The new plan is an important step to the implementation of the 2030 mobility strategy.’

Rail transport in the Berlin region.

The greater Berlin area consists of two Lander: Berlin and Brandenburg. The VVB is the transport organizing authority (AOT) covering the two Lander.. It is a private limited company owned jointly by the states of Berlin and Brandenburg (with one third each) and the 18 counties and cities of Brandenburg with 1.85% each. It was founded on 30 December 1996. VBB is one of the largest transport associations in Europe based on the area covered of 30,367 km² with nearly 6 million inhabitants. Common ticketing was launched on 1 April 1999 on a 27.561 km network including :

– 499 km of tram

– 146 km of underground

– 557 km of S-Bahn and

– 3.461 km of regional trains

This network, which also includes 906 bus lines, transported in 2017 nearly 1.47 billion, or 4 million passengers per day.

One the 16 KISS trainsets from ODEG at Berlin-Schönefeld (photo Frank Paukstat via licence flickr)

Like in London, the entire network is shared by many railway companies, including the legendary S-Bahn:

– Deutsche Bahn (DB)

– S-Bahn Berlin (DB subsidiary)

– MRB

– Hanseatische Eisenbahn (HANS)

– NEB

– ODEG

The i2030 project

So far, the Lander development plan, the public transport plan and the draft mobility strategy have not been sufficient and, above all, insufficiently ambitious targets for the quality of regional rail transport between Berlin and the Brandenburg cities. However, the Berlin-Brandenburg Capital Region is developing very dynamically.The number of commuters is increasing. The additional rail service orders have repeatedly exceeded the limits of the infrastructure. In the Berlin-Brandenburg region, several extension projects have been launched, such as the extension of Karower Kreuz or Dresdner Bahn. But more needs to be done.

In order to launch the necessary planning processes, the Land of Berlin and Brandenburg have signed a framework agreement with Deutsche Bahn AG in October 2017 for an infrastructure development concept called i2030. This agreement plans to study and develop eight lines:

  • Berlin-Spandau-Nauen
  • Tramway de Potsdam
  • Prignitz Express / Velten
  • Nordbahn / Heidekrautbahn
  • RE1
  • Berlin-Dresde / Rangsdorf
  • Berlin-Cottbus / station Königs Wusterhausen
  • Élimination des goulots d’étranglement et développement du réseau S-Bahn (par exemple, Wannsee-Griebnitzsee).

The Brandenburg Ministry of Transport has drawn up a list of 80 projects for which the Land wants to invest 36 million in the current 2018 budget. This shows the importance of regional power in German transport.

Most of the measures are aimed primarily at implementing accessibility and expanding cycling and hiking options as well as parking options. At peak times, the capacity must also be increased on several lines. The measures provided for the new 2018 transport plan are adapted accordingly. The share of the alone Land of Brandenburg in regional and suburban railway traffic in 2017 achieves 35 million train-kilometers. Traffic will be increased by 10 million train-kilometers over the next 10 years.

Dmu Talent Bombardier VT 565 from NEB, another rail operator of the VBB (Berlin-Wannsee, photo Frank Paukstat via licence flickr)

Other improvements of the transport offer are still under study. The implementation of these measures will increase the performance of approximately 2 million train kilometers from 35 to 37 million over the next two years. From December 2022, additional offers and decreases of travel times are planned.

Beyond project i2030

Beyond the Berlin suburban network, extension by new tracks is necessary. The Federal Government and Deutsche Bahn AG are involved in projects that improve traffic conditions in the rural areas of the capital region.

Funding

Various instruments are available to finance the projects. The use of public funds should be increased gradually. With the reorganization of regionalization funds decided in 2016, the Lander have financial security until 2031. From the mid-2020s, spending will increasingly exceed the available regionalization funds. Therefore, others funds for public transport will have to be used.

The same goes for investments in infrastructure, such as the extension of railway stations or the construction of P + R car parks. Since 2013, the State has used a considerable part of what is called unbundled funds for that investments. The Public Transportation Act was revised in 2017, and unbundled funds will no longer be provided directly by the federal government from 2019. The new policy contains provisions and adaptations necessary to help counties and cities become « municipal » public transport authorities.

The objective of transport policy is to continue to promote investment in public transport from 2020. In 2018, 36 million euros will be spent on 80 projects. For example, the reconstruction of Cottbus station, two new bus stops in Brandenburg on the Havel and a new Park and Ride car park in Tuckow. Additional funds will be made available to the transport authorities for the implementation of accessibility in trams, buses and transit stops. This helps to facilitate entry and exit in vehicles for people with reduced mobility.

Reconfiguration de la place de la garede Cottbus (press photo)

Other measures are added to this panel. Berlin is crossing the border and extending its services to Poland. The expansion of cross-border rail traffic beyond the Oder River is also part of the projects. But it does not end only in the transport sector.

Living near train stations

The development of new towns and neighborhoods along the railway lines is also planned, which is new. Finally, housing is associated with transportation. It also supports an affordable urban development and housing strategy, the development of city centers and station environments. The surroundings of Berlin have developed dynamically. The Falkensee / Brieselang region is one of the most promising areas. The particularly fast connection to regional traffic in Berlin’s city center, which has been built since the mid-1990s, has clearly played the role of growth driver for the city and the entire region.

The clear majority of citizens of Brandenburg live – unlike many Berliners – not in villages, but in small or medium-sized cities, ie in urban and peri-urban structures 20 or 40 minutes from the capital. More than 2.45 million people in the state of Brandenburg live in this type of urbanization, which represents 80% of the population. This is why urbanization is part of a larger plan that combines the i2030 public transport project.

With its projects, Berlin is trying to upgrade face to major German cities such as Frankfurt or Munich. We will have the opportunity later to see in detail the promising development of this region.

The legendary S-Bahn of Berlin, today a subsidiary of DB, at Berlin-Ostbahnhof (photo Schnitzel Bank via license flickr)

 

The last twenty years that changed the train

(Version en français de cet article)

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While there is still some agitations claiming for a utopian back to the past, we can now to look at the past twenty years that have changed the train: change of service to the public, change of society, leadership of the industry and new players in the field have undeniably moved the lines. Let’s see that in more detail.

Mutation of the service to the public
In the 80s, a questioning appeared on the opportunity to know if we could not manage the public matters by avoiding the heaviness and rigidities of the administration. Most of the national companies such as the Post Office, the « Telephone » and the public railway undertakings were destined to mutate towards a more entrepreneurial management, with management contract and accounting to the latest international standards. In all the European countries in the 90s, a transformation of these administrations were made towards public law companies, with in some case participations of other shareholders. This will result in the emergence of a new rhetoric foreign to the culture of the public service: project, contract, call for tenders, evaluation, quality approach, setting quantitative and qualitative objectives, reduction of global subsidies, competition , contracting, etc. While the task was more or less easy with the Telecom sector and, to a lesser extent, with the National Posts (DHL, TNT …), the railways have shown greater resistance to change.

In twenty years, several national parliaments have amended their legislation to introduce the end of the rail monopoly, a progressive change of special social regimes, the introduction of public service delegation which offers of contracts open to third parties and a clear delimitation of publics funds by dedicated State-Operator contracts for public transport. Part of Europe has moved to this policy with more or less vigor according to national political cultures and ideological resistance. In regional traffic, the delegation of public service on local networks is now a well-engaged policy in some countries that promote local and regional autonomy, with a framework by law. In some regions, it is the local government who has taken over its trains and put an end to the policy of closing the local lines, or sometimes by re-opening sections stripped by the national railway incumbent. The sectors where essential social or national considerations no longer predominate – in the freight sector and main line train services – have been removed from the public service and have a real autonomy to manage their services, equipments and recruitment, whatever the main shareholder. It was unthinkable twenty years ago.

Mutation of society
We do not speak about the debate of contemporary society, which is the subject of so much commentary and requires so many nuances in its interpretation. We observe that since over thirty years, contemporary societies rely on an individualistic anthropology that values ​​the individual and the relationship between oneself. The times of today are also characterized by a dynamic of permanent transformation (for example Telecoms), which is the opposite of the stability and heaviness of the administration. Unlimited access to information via digital channels today maintains an uninterrupted stream of comparisons and tactics to travel cheaper and otherwise, which has greatly hinders the railway sector. The major consequence of this change was the arrival of marketing within the railway. Today, the pricing promotes the individual rather than the group, the age rather than the veteran of second worldwar (actually we are in 2017, the idea of veteran of second worldwar is still relevant?). Clearly, we went from the docile user to the volatile customer, who totally changed the relationship between the railways and its customers.

In the private sector, customer satisfaction is a significant target and is the focus of ongoing efforts to improve the service. The public service is still lagging, but there are some qualitative improvements, such as the Nightjet service from the Austrian state-owned company ÖBB or the high-speed train service from Trenitalia, which has to compete against its competitor NTV-Italo. What added value for the citizen? It’s a matter of culture and personal impressions. Today, we speak of « customer experience », in other words, the relationship with the company, live or via a computer, and the complete progress of the purchase and travel in the best conditions. This reality has penetrated the historic railways and has changing the horizon in twenty years. We can see that with more attractive websites and a better access to information. Independent companies like Thalys, Thello, NTV or Eurostar offer a range of visible and simple prices at a glance. The ticket can now print at home on A4 paper or be sent on smartphone with a QR Code. All of this were impossible twenty years ago.

Private industry leadership
This is another mutation, more strategic. In the past, the domestic railway industry was the only subcontractor of the national railway. The national administrations drew up the plans themselves, which were signed by the minister and the ministry had commissioned the rolling stock at the national price. So, each state had their closed circuit with its own technical standards, away from the world. But changes have been made within the new laws on tenders : from now cables, bolts, steel, trains and all the technical railway equipment must be bought with the best price, on the industrial market, in a european field, and not made to measure. This is the end of the « national subcontractor for ever ». For some railway administrations, the consequences was that they were stripped progressively of their technical prerogatives! Industrial companies released from the protectionism of the neighboring countries, then undertook a vast transformation of their industrial scheme in the 1990s to expand their market  in all of Europe and boost their sales.

To achieve this, the transformation was radical: the construction of trains, trams and subways is now made by « platform ». Which means that a factory is a product, when the same product is made with a range of different alternatives (color, seat, lenght…). It’s like the automotive industry: a basic vehicle and charged alternatives. This industrialization by standard product means that a single European factory is enough to study and to build only one kind of locomotive and to cover a single market in Europe. And that was also still unthinkable in the early 90s.

In twenty years, the rail industry has clearly taken the lead of the research by studying the railway products itself to offer one product to the widest possible number of railway companies, which reduced the costs of production. This landscape has made the rail industry more attractive for investors and has make easier the access to credit, with the appearance of a few big giants which have the ability to offer a full range of products in a single catalog. These include the Bombardier TRAXX locomotive only built in the Kassel factory (DE) or the Siemens Vectron locomotive built in Munich-Allach (DE). Alstom builds its commuter trains on the sole site of Savigliano (IT), and its regional trains in Salzgitter (DE) and Reichshoffen (FR). Bombardier builds its high-speed train at Vado Ligure (IT) while Hitachi Rail has built its only assembly plant at Newton Aycliffe in Great Britain. Each constructor exhibits its new rolling stock at major shows, such as InnoTrans in Berlin, which has only existed since 1996, providing further proof of the vitality of the railway industry, which was not very active twenty-five years ago.

But the industry could not have grown if there were only incumbant railway companies as sole customers. It is indeed the opening of the market to new entrants that has boosted the railway market, with orders sometimes impressive and others with smaller quantities, but it’s still the same locomotive. They is customized « à la carte » according the requierementsof the customers. For example, you have need a locomotive only for Netherlands / Germany / Poland or a locomotive for Germany / Austria / Italy. This industrial performance, which no historical company was able to do because they were not interested in that, blew up a market which was still so sluggish twenty years ago. This has created more highly skilled jobs than the losses of employment incurred with the restructuring of the industry.

This industrial recomposition goes hand in hand with a standardization of approval procedures, now under the auspices of ERA, an railway european agency that did not exist twenty years ago either… Without this, the success of the Bombardier’s TRAXX, for more than 2,000 standardized and homologated locomotives sold from Helsinki to Lisbon, could never have happened. As there will be a time where all transport companies will have their full new rolling stock, the supposed drop of purchase volumes is already encouraging the sector to anticipate by boosting theirs customer service, particularly through sales contracts, leasing & maintenance. This activity was precisely one of the activities of the historic railways. Playing a role in the maintenance, it was still unthinkable twenty years ago …

New players on the market
This is probably the most visible face of railway transformation. The introduction of new entrants vary greatly according the politics culture of each land, but is now well anchored in the railway landscape, especially at the level of the freight sector since the 2000s, where the competition is not longer subject to contestation.

But during this time, the low-cost airliners showed that you could travel quickly and with good conditions for few money. Suddenly the railways became too expensive for many people. Thus, it was the aviation that became the transport of the poors and the train became a transport … for the rich people ! It will be to wait until 2012 to see appearing the first railway private companies on the main line segment (Thello, WESTBahn, NTV-Italo, RegioJet, LeoExpress …). Former monopolies like Eurostar or Thalys were transfered to independent companies for a better managment. Four countries offer rail in open access, ie several companies on one railway line, such as in aviation: the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy and, more modestly, Sweden. Which added value for the citizen? The competition provides a more readable and accessible offer, with sometimes lower rates and more promotions than in the time of the national monopoly.

Transregio, from the french enterprise Transdev, provides trains services between Cologne et Coblence under contract. Emu Desiro from Siemens (picture Transregio)

Except in Great Britain, quite a few Member States have devised political legislation favorable to the management of local lines under contract by third parties, whether private or not. In hindsight, we can say that these are subsidiaries of historic companies that meet – and win – many European tenders. This allows them to expand their business beyond national borders, which was unthinkable twenty years ago. Which added value for the citizen? Maybe not really at the price level, but certainly at the service level: creation of regional transport authorities mixing the bus and the train, lines passed from four to fifteen or more trains per day , weekend service, rolling stock often new (except in Great Britain… but this is changing) and many small stations renovated and serviced, sometimes even created or re-opened. This local coverage has rubbed off on some municipalities crossed, which financed out of the railway field a bicycle network and more attractive roads or parking access that were still wasteland less than twenty years ago…

The railway employment
It is decreasing, as in many economic sectors. Because of a recession of the public service? Not really, but it is true that the closures of stations, tickets offices, industrial yards and locals lines helped to melt staff numbers, but that does not explain everything. There are also and especially the great waves of recruitment of the 1970s that have suddenly retired thousands of railway workers in the early 2010s. In addition, the rise of technologies has induced a lower need for personnel, as for example the computerized signal boxes that cover much larger areas, making small signal boxes useless. Some jobs are disappearing with societal changes: luggages with built-in rollerboards and lifts to the station platform have replaced all baggage handler. Mail and parcels are no longer transported by passenger trains because of the new logisitic organization of the Post Office and the automated sorting …

(picture CFF/SBB)

Over the last twenty years, a greater professionalization of staff has taken place: the myth of the little apprentice who starts at 16 year old in a filthy deposit is a picture of the past, for movies of Ken Loach. Henceforth, the railroad is no longer a refuge for the poorly qualified proletarian or for the son of the humble farmer (who seeks social climbing). It is now more qualified technicians, electricians, welders, accountants, computer scientists, lawyers or engineers who make up the railway staff. To become a driver of train is not so easy than yesterday. The skills to the job have fortunately been revised upward in line with the expectations and the requierments of today, in particulary because railways are today more electrified and because there exist many ISO standards. Nevertheless, in recent times, the lack of train drivers is also sorely lacking in some companies in Europe.

Conclusion ?
This article is an idyllic picture? No, but it has been shown that the railway is always a reflection of its users. If these evolve, the rail is forced to evolve. Some ideological forces would like to believe that the past of the railways is the future of the railways, especially towards the generation Z who did not know the railroad of old. The railway ecosystem was much slower to moult than other public sectors like post and telecom, but the new railway is now launched.

A lot of things that live today were still impossible to implement twenty years ago. Changes in the legislative landscape are important : they were necessary. Sociologists will probably regret the change of the status from « the user » to « the customer », but this is a societal development with which the railways can only to adapt. These twenty years of change in the railway landscape have shown what could be done and what was not optimal to undertake. Night trains must search for viable new business models. Nightjet appears to be on the right track. Obtaining British-style franchises, without a social pricing policy, is also something to review.

Adjustments will still be needed at all levels, including legislative regulations. Clarifications still need to be made where there are persistent failures on the accountability of each parties. Thus, in 2018, the sharing of the deficit of a cross-border service between two states remains a misery, while calls for modal shift are heard everywhere.

These last years have shown a reality: the horizon have moved everywhere, in the attitudes, in the heads and in the management of the old railway administrations. This is what was asked by the citizen, first donor and user of the railway public service …

How the Ruhr region manages his railways ?

(Version en français de cet article)

The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) is a regional public transport authority that ensures the integration of public transport (prices, offers, quality …), and which finance and provides grants to operators, whether train, tram or bus . The zone managed extends to the Ruhr, the Niederrhein, to part of the Bergisch Land and the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf, totaling 8.2 million people. Founded in 1986 as an association of public transport companies, VRR has gradually gained duties and responsibilities and is now seen as a mobility service that acts upstream, in cooperation with service providers to form an integrated transport system. This authority has nearly 49 rail lines and 935 bus lines, for a traffic of about 4 million passengers every day.

As everyone knows, in Germany, regional transport, including railways services, depends on the Lander, which award contracts and grants to operaters of their choice, and not only to the national DBAG. As a buyer of rail services for regional and local passengers, VRR’s mission is to regularly control trains services and the compliance to the contractually agreeded quality standards. As such, the VRR produces an annual barometer of all rail providers. The edition 2015 has now been published. It shows the state of rail passenger transport in the region of the Ruhr. For the tenth time, it provides an overview of the quality of service in the interests of transparency which would make the envy in other Member States of Europe. The annual report provides information on the punctuality and condition of vehicles, shows how travelers appreciate the achievements in the regional rail transport and highlights the quality of sales services. What can we see?

It is noted here that private providers seem to hold the top of the podium, with respect to the DB, but with some variations. As in previous years, the current report shows that the procedure for awarding regional railway lines has a positive effect on the quality of the offer: the assigned lines in competitive tenders are still highly rated by users than those under « bulk » contract of the DB. The barometer below delivers the details:

Services and seating

VRR has questioned travelers on various standards of quality and the level of satisfaction by railway line. Evaluation is curiously denoted as « one » ( « very good ») to « six » ( « unsatisfactory »). So you must have a low score to get the highest notes. Overall, users are more satisfied with the performance of public services over the previous year. Only six of 49 lines operated by the VRR get a worse rating than 2014. On this quotation, DB seems to record the lowest scores, as shown in the table below, with an average of 2.27. By contrast, Abellio (subsidiary of the Dutch NS) is second with 1.87 and the gold is obtained by Regiobahn, a private subsidiary owned by several cities of the Ruhr, with a score of 1.67, the best of the table. As noted in the report, an « increase » of satisfaction is thus denoted while the extremes scores of 2014 extended between 1.70 and 2.83. So there is progress, and VRR attributed this to competitive pressure between providers.

VRR has seen however an increase in the number of trains where seating capacity was less than expected. If some of the passengers seem satisfied, the report, however, gives a negative rating for lines RE2, RE11, RB 27, RB 42 and RB 48 to DB Regio AG and the line RE3 from the private company Eurobahn. Passengers assess better the state of the vehicles than before: modern vehicles or a new interior design certainly have a positive effect on the satisfaction. The report also highlights that the overhaul of the Ruhr-Sieg network (RE 16, RB 40 and RB 91) with Flirt trainsets of two or three cars managed by Abellio, begins to show its effects. On other lines, the reason for the sharp improvement in the overall score can be explained by the use of new trains. Since the last timetable change in December 2014, the S6 line earns 3.31 percentage points thanks to the introduction of the class ET 422, replacing old hauled trains. On the S68 line, rising of 1.97 points is certainly due to the modernization of class ET420.


Punctuality and infrastructure

On the side of infrastructure, if it is still necessary to prove, remains important in punctuality, even in Germany. Martin Husmann, the CEO of the VRR, clearly explains the reasons: ‘(the network) was neglected in the past. For years, the DB Group has not adequately maintained his tracks and few investments were undertaken for the technical update. This means that passengers today suffer disproportionately of many construction sites, causing many delays and cancellations.’ The regional express trains have certainly enhanced their punctuality rate compared to 2014, but the average remains around 84%. The S-Bahn, where the distance is shorter, has a better time performance. The end of 2015 was marked mainly by the fire of the Mülheim signal box, causing chaos for several weeks. Thalys has even postponed its service to Dortmund until April 2016. ‘This shows once again the importance of investing in the maintenance and the expansion of the installations to face to this kind of event with more skill’  insists Martin Husmann.

The futur

VRR is booming. By the end of 2016, the lines with high potential like Cologne-Düsseldorf-Bochum and Dortmund – Düsseldorf will spend from two to three trains per hour in Regional services. The frequency on the Duisburg-Essen line will spend from four to five trains per hour, which can leave thoughtful. Abellio will operate with a cross border service between Arnhem, the Netherlands, and Dusseldorf, thus connecting the Dutch city to the Ruhr area.

But Martin Husmann reported another interessant project: the tender for the non-electrified line Emscher-Münsterland, with services RE 14 and RB. Main feature: ‘Our intention from December 2020 is to use fuel cell vehicles. These vehicles are intended to represent a sustainable alternative to conventional diesel trainsets. Using an energy storage device, a smart power management and a favorable energy carrier, these railcars have, compared to conventional diesel units, an increased energy efficiency. In addition, noise emissions will be significantly reduced. ‘ The competitive process for the acquisition and maintenance of these vehicles on the one hand, and the operational services on the other hand,  will be conducted separately. An interesting ecological and technological project to follow …