Alstom delivers three automated metro trains to Sydney

20 March 2018

Alstom has delivered the first three of 22 metro trains being constructed as part of the €5.2bn Sydney Metro Northwest project in Australia.

The new trains, which were delivered to the Sydney Metro Trains Facility at Rouse Hill, will now be tested over the following months.

The Sydney Metro Northwest project is the first stage of the Sydney Metro project which aims to deliver a train every four minutes in each direction during peak times. It is expected to be launched in the first half of next year.

Alstom Australia and New Zealand managing director Mark Coxon said: “We are extremely proud to be able to deliver another first for Sydney with our latest and most innovative automated metro technology. This train and associated technologies will transform Sydney and provide a step change in the city’s public transport capability and reliability.”

The new six-car trains were designed specifically to operate in Sydney with special emphasis on providing better on-board mobility and comfort. Equipped with three double doors on each side of every car, the trains offer improved access and passenger flows.

They also feature large windows, ambient LED lighting, CCTV monitoring and emergency intercoms as well as new systems to provide real-time travel information.

The whole system will utilise Alstom’s computer based train control system ‘Urbalis 400’ that will streamline operations by optimising stoppage times at stations and frequency of service. The service will be expanded into the city in 2024 and will deliver a train every two minutes during peak hours.

Australian state Victoria signs agreement for Inland Rail project

19 March 2018

The Government of Victoria has signed a bilateral agreement with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack, to enrol for the Inland Rail project.

Victoria will now receive A$1.7bn ($1.3bn) under the Regional Rail Revival Programme to support upgrades to all regional passenger rail lines in Australia. Upgrades will form part of the Inland Rail project, which aims to build a new 1,700km freight rail line between Melbourne and Brisbane through Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Inland Rail is expected to create 2,800 jobs in Victoria and decrease the transit time between Melbourne and Brisbane to less than 24 hours, while carrying 1,800m double-stacked freight containers.

Furthermore, it’s estimated that the project will bring around A$16bn ($12.33bn) to the Australian economy through the delivery phase and during the initial 50 years of its operation.

McCormack said: “I’m pleased to reach an agreement with Victoria, the first state to get behind Inland Rail, which will improve freight travel times for local farmers and producers and support thousands of jobs.”

The new agreement also requires negotiation for a new long-term lease with the Australian Rail Track Corporation, which is responsible for the Inland Rail infrastructure, alongside private contributors.

A committee comprising Victorian and government officials has also been established to consider the work needed to improve the existing North East Line. The state has further agreed to buy new trains for the corridor after completion of works on the track.

JICA and Philippines sign $985m loan for Metro Manila Subway

19 March 2018

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has entered an agreement with the Philippine Government to provide an official development assistance (ODA) loan of up to JPY104.53bn ($985m) for the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway project.

According to the deal, the loan will have an annual interest of 0.10%, which needs to be repaid in 40 years, with a grace period of 12 years.

The loan will be used to construct stations, underground tunnels between stations, depots and other public works, as well as procure rail systems and rolling stocks. It will also contribute towards consulting services such as tender assistance, construction supervision and Transit Oriented Development support.

Development of the project will further see the use of Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP), which refers to special assistance terms for promoting the visibility of Japanese aid by transferring Japanese technology and expertise to developing nations.

The Metro Manila Subway is to be developed by the Philippines Department of Transportation and will feature 13 underground stations measuring approximately 25km-long. It represents the first subway in the Philippines to connect Quezon City with Parañaque.

Completion of the project is expected in September 2025, once all the facilities are put into service. Once finished, the project is expected to accommodate growing transportation needs and ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila, one of the three metropolitan areas in the Philippines.

The population of the area has rapidly increased from 7.92 million people in 1990 to 12.87 million in 2015, yet is currently only served by three rail lines covering 50km.

SMRT and McLaren to test Formula 1 technology on MRT trains

16 March 2018

Singapore-based transport operator SMRT Trains has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UK-based technology company McLaren Applied Technologies to trial race car condition-monitoring technology to track performance of Singapore’s mass rapid transit (MRT) system.

The technology is commonly used in Formula 1 cars to glean important information in real-time from highly specified data to the Formula 1 pit crews and mission control.

Under the MoU, SMRT and McLaren will work together to develop customised condition-monitoring solutions that will be used to monitor the train motors, brakes, pneumatic systems and gearboxes installed in one SMRT train.

The technology will operate as a testbed for a proof-of-concept study that aims to help validate the performance of an end-to-end condition-monitoring platform.

SMRT president and group CEO Desmond Kuek said: “In Singapore, SMRT has been pioneering the development of rail condition-monitoring sensors to minimise disruption of our commuter service, optimising train performance by detecting and rectifying emerging defects early.

“We look forward to collaborating with McLaren Applied Technologies to elevate this capability further, combining our engineering expertise in rail with their proven capabilities harnessing sensors, telemetry and software in motorsport.”

McLaren’s motorsport technology is planned to be adapted and installed on board SMRT’s first proof-of-concept SMRT train later this year. When implemented fleet-wide, the technology is expected to bring about enhanced safety and comfort for commuters on rail network.

Adaption of the motorsport technologies is also anticipated to optimise fleet performance and provide continuous enhancements to the passenger experience.

British Steel to deliver 120m of rail annually to Deutsche Bahn

16 March 2018

British Steel has secured a contract from German rail company Deutsche Bahn for the supply of approximately 20,000t of 120m rail per year.

Recently, British Steel invested £1m to boost its Scunthorpe Rail and Section Mill to facilitate the manufacture of the longer length rail, an upgrade from its previous 108m products. The upgrade is intended to cater to the majority of European railway networks that accept 60m rails but prefer 120m.

British Steel Rail managing director Peter Smith said: “Supplying a new product to a major railway company like Deutsche Bahn is a significant achievement and demonstrates our commitment to product and service innovation.

“It also shows how increasing our product range can help us enter new markets, and how we can work in partnership with customers to become the strategic supply chain partner of choice.”

Initially agreed for 21 months, the contract will involve delivery of the 120m rails through the Channel Tunnel, with first shipment scheduled for this month. In case of Deutsche Bahn’s future requirement for 60m products, British Steel intends to use both of its mills to fulfil the supply demand.

“Our engineering and development teams have performed an excellent job in expanding our manufacturing capabilities, ensuring our rail products and grades can continue being precisely matched to track conditions, track types, environmental conditions and a host of other variables,” Smith added.

“This ensures every rail we deliver provides optimum performance throughout its life, guaranteeing our customers, and their customers, a first class service.”

Hitachi to supply driverless trains for Copenhagen Metro

15 March 2018

Hitachi Rail Italy (HRI) has secured a contract from Denmark’s Metroselskabet to supply eight new autonomous trains for M1/M2 lines of the Copenhagen Metro.

The deal, which is valued at around €50m, also includes the delivery of signalling and communication systems. Hitachi group company Ansaldo Signalling and Transportation Systems (Ansaldo STS) will provide the systems.

To be delivered by 2020, the driverless vehicles will have similar features to the vehicles to be deployed in Copenhagen Metro’s Cityringen line, but will be tailored to suit the specific features of the M1/M2 lines.

HRI previously built an additional 39 trains for the Cityringen line, which are scheduled to enter service next year.

The internal layout of the new M1/M2 line vehicles will be designed to increase transport capacity, in line with the needs of the service. Ansaldo STS, an Italian transportation company that is part of the Hitachi group, will supply signalling and communication systems

Hitachi Rail Italy CEO Maurizio Manfellotto said: “The contract signed in Copenhagen confirms our company’s ability to offer products and services that provide a comfortable, safe and reliable journey for passengers, giving our customers the means to run a smooth revenue service.”

In July last year, HRI and Hitachi Ansaldo Baltimore Rail Partners, a unit of Ansaldo STS, won a $400.5m contract from Maryland Transit Administration to supply a new metro fleet of 78 railcars for the Baltimore Metro Subway Link. The contract will also see the delivery of an advanced communication based train control system from Ansaldo STS.

HRI COO Giuseppe Marino said: “In our plants we manufacture trains that allow us to compete globally. We have great experience in the field and make important investments in technology R&D that help us to constantly innovate in our production and time to market. All of which are supported by the skills and the expertise of our people.”

VR Group to deploy Conduent’s ticket vending system in Finland

14 March 2018

VR Group has partnered with transaction processing services provider Conduent for the Expert 6000 Ticket Vending Machine. The new ticketing system is designed to improve end-user experience by upgrading the existing infrastructure.

The Expert 6000 Ticket Vending Machine features ProCap touchscreen with LCD display. The screen also supports multi-touch and gestures, and includes separate space for advertisements.

Conduent’s system also comes with height adjustable sales application to help provide a better experience. It also has scratch-resistant safety glass to prevent damage to the display.

VR Group procurement manager Pia Luukkonen said: “The Conduent Expert 6000 Ticket Vending Machine met our requirements for a high-quality technology that could be configured to meet our specific needs.”

Scheduled to begin over the coming months, the upgrade will see installation of 130 Conduent machines across the VR Group’s railway network.

Conduent Public Transport vice-president and portfolio leader Jean-Charles Zaia said: “Transportation operators, like the VR Group, are constantly challenged with doing more with less. The highly configurable Conduent Expert 6000 Ticket Vending Machine is designed to help save money while enhancing the end-user experience.”

Conduent offers numerous public transportation and mobility solutions such as electronic toll collection, parking management, advanced transit and safety systems to deliver automated, analytics-based and personalised services.

The firm also provides a wide variety of ticket vending machines to meet the demands of different transport operators and authorities in at least 27 countries.

Finland to explore rail link between Oulu and Norway

13 March 2018

The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications and Norwegian transport authorities have identified a prospective railway route to the Arctic Ocean through Oulu and Rovaniemi in Finland, to Kirkenes in Norway.

Authorities believe that the routing would improve logistical position, accessibility and supply security of Finland, and intend to explore it further.

The route was decided based on a study commissioned in July last year to evaluate five different routing alternatives, including Tornio-Narvik, Kolari-Narvik, Kolari-Tromsø, Rovaniemi-Kirkenes, and Kemijärvi-Alakurtti-Murmansk.

From the two options selected, the routing through Kirkenes was also found to be less expensive.

Finland Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner said: “The Arctic railway is an important European project that would create a closer link between the northern, Arctic Europe and continental Europe. The connection would improve the conditions for many industries in northern areas.”

It is estimated that the Rovaniemi-Kirkenes routing will cost around €2.8bn, with Finland set to invest €2bn, while the remaining would be funded by Norway.

The countries are planning to appoint a joint working group for the further study of this routing, including environmental aspects, costs, finance structure and model, and permit procedures by 31 December.

With an expected overall cost of €7.4bn, the Arctic railway line will offer an alternative route for Finland’s imports and exports. The Arctic Ocean’s deepwater ports are additionally anticipated to facilitate new links to the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Passage.