Indra to improve freight transport with smart gate solution

18 April 2018

Indra is working on the design and development of a smart rail gate that can digitally identify cars and loading units transported in railroad terminals. Use of the new technology is expected to improve capacity, reliability and punctuality of rail freight transport by 10%.

The project will be completed within the FR8Hub R&I project, which provides real-time information applications and energy-efficient solutions for rail freight.

Indra has planned to transfer the functionality of its free-flow identification and electronic toll collection gantry for highways to rail traffic applications. This solution, which is used for real-time automatic detection and classification of vehicles, will now be used to identify railcars and goods.

Equipped with laser sensors and capable of capturing high resolution images, the solutions will be complemented with new sensors, such as electronic tags with RFID technology, and specific algorithms to identify rolling stock.

Indra is also working to define the management system of the railroad goods network in order to enhance the transport system’s tactics and operational planning.

Under the FR8Hub project, a multimodal data exchange platform will be developed involving associated entities in goods transport. It will make all information available to the operator regarding the types of goods to arrive, and then accordingly facilitate the decision-making process.

Defining the network management system will enable Indra to develop its DaVinci TMS system, an advanced rail traffic management platform and integrate it into the transport of goods via rail.

This adaptation, along with other developments, would allow the DaVinci system to be integrated with the new intermodal data exchange platform to identify additional functionalities for planning and operation of goods in railroad lines, terminals and warehouses.

With the digitisation of all information, the network management system is expected to improve visibility and traceability of the flow of loads and enable greater coordination between all parties in the terminal.

VIA Rail starts process to procure new Quebec-Windsor Corridor fleet

18 April 2018

VIA Rail Canada started phase one of the procurement process to select a rolling stock manufacturer, which will replace the current Quebec-Windsor Corridor operating fleet with new vehicles.

The fleet renewal programme, which has already received funding from the federal government, forms a part of VIA Rail’s transformation plan. In phase one of the procurement process, VIA Rail issued a request for qualifications (RFQ), which seeks applications from all interested parties.

This process will enable VIA Rail to create a list of suppliers who can participate in the following request for proposal (RFP) process. The selection will be based on the financial capacity and experience of the suppliers, and the deliverability of their proposed solutions.

An independent Fairness Monitor will supervise the RFQ process and ensure all applications are submitted by 6 June this year.

VIA Rail Canada president and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said: “With a new fleet, VIA Rail will be able to offer a modern travel experience to its customers, at a greatly reduced environmental impact.

“Passengers will be able to travel more quickly, in safer, better adapted vehicles to modern life: improved WiFi; quiet and pet-friendly cars; oversized luggage compartments for skis, bikes and boards.

“It will also allow VIA Rail to remain the most accessible mode of transport in Canada for people with disabilities, by meeting or in certain areas, exceeding universal accessibility standards.”

The new fleet is expected to fulfil multiple VIA Rail-requirements, which includes providing 9,100 passenger seat arrangements from 32 bi-directional trainsets and enhanced universal accessibility features.

The trains must be more fuel-efficient that the current fleet, which is equipped with Tier 4 Diesel engines and can operate in a bi-directional mode.

Downer Group to upgrade Victoria rail stations

17 April 2018

Downer Group secured a contract to lead the design and construction work for upgrading the Bendigo and Eaglehawk Stations in the Australian province of Victoria. The deal is part of the A$15.8m ($12.27m) investment by the government to develop the two stations.

The group is responsible for the delivery of a new pedestrian bridge with lifts, ramps and stairs to make the stations easily accessible for all passengers.

Victoria Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said: “We’re getting on with improving access and making it easier for passengers at Bendigo and Eaglehawk stations. These upgrades will make it easier for locals to get where they need to go and help grow Bendigo’s economy even further.”

The detailed design of the new bridge will be developed in consultation with the City of Greater Bendigo. Construction work is expected to begin in the middle of this year.

At the Eaglehawk Station, the platform will also be extended to accommodate longer trains, and a new 60-space car park will be built to meet the requirements of the region.

Additional upgrades at Bendigo Station, such as refurbishing the station building and improving the waiting area, toilets and customer service areas, will also be carried out this year. These improvement works are expected to improve commuter comfort, access and amenity.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said: “We have been working closely with the local community as we deliver these upgrades, which will improve safety and access for residents and visitors to our city.”

Upgrade work is expected to be completed in the next year.

Testing of new Caledonian Sleeper trains begins in UK

17 April 2018

Caledonian Sleeper’s new carriages were tested on the UK rail network for the first time before their planned introduction into service later this year.

Four Mark 5 carriages are currently being tested on the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Arrochar & Tarbet. Testing on this line will continue in the following weeks before moving onto the West Coast Main Line.

Rail operator Serco will introduce a total of 75 such carriages, valued at £100m, into the overnight Caledonian Sleeper rail service in multiple phases.

Serco Caledonian Sleeper new trains director Magnus Conn said: “Taking some of the new carriages out on the network for testing marks an exciting phase in our development programme.

“The purpose is to monitor the interaction between vehicle and track, and to check ride comfort in a variety of suspension states and speeds. As testing progresses onto the West Coast Main Line later this month, we will be conducting a variety of tests including running at up to 110mph.”

Developed by Spanish company CAF, the carriages arrived in the UK in January following mandatory trials at the Velim Test Centre in the Czech Republic.

The new carriages feature various accommodation options such as comfort seats, twin and single rooms, twin and single club rooms with ensuite bathrooms and double-bed suites with ensuite bathrooms. They will also be equipped with WiFi, charging panels and hotel-style key card entry system.

Initially, the rail carriages will be introduced on the Lowlander route between Glasgow-Edinburgh and London from October this year, followed by a transition to the Highlander route.

Siemens to supply ten high-speed trains to Turkish State Railways

16 April 2018

Siemens received a contract worth almost €340m to supply ten additional Velaro high-speed trains to Turkish State Railways (TCDD).

The latest contract, which includes maintenance service of the trains for three years, was awarded to Siemens following a tender process. With these ten new vehicles, TCDD’s Velaro fleet will grow to 17 units.

Siemens Mobility Division CEO Sabrina Soussan said: “Our Velaro family is continuing to grow and write new chapters in its unique success story.

“With its capacity and comfort, the Velaro remains a benchmark for high-speed trains. In Turkey, the train can fully utilise all its strengths and is already proving this in daily operation. Our flagship is running here with 99% availability.”

In May 2013, TCDD procured the first Velaro D high-speed trainset following a tender process.

This train, which was refitted for operating in Turkey, entered passenger service between Ankara and Konya in May 2015.

Subsequently, TCDD entered a second contract with Siemens to provide six eight-car high-speed trains. These are currently operational, connecting Ankara with Konya and Eskişehir, and were reported to have already covered more than five million kilometres in passenger service.

The Siemens Velaro high-speed trains are designed to enhance passenger experience. They are operational in multiple countries, including Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Russia, Belgium, China and Turkey.

Recently, Siemens received an €800m contract to install digital signalling systems across the Norwegian rail network.

PORR consortium wins €966m tunnelling project

16 April 2018

A consortium comprising PORR and its subsidiary Hinteregger secured a contract worth nearly €966m to build an 18km section of the Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) in Austria. The 64km-long railway tunnel is under construction and will connect Austria and Italy once finished.

As part of the contract, the PORR-Hinteregger consortium will be responsible for building the lot H51 Pfons-Brenner section in collaboration with Italian joint venture partners Società Italiana per Condotte d’Acqua and Itinera.

PORR CEO Karl-Heinz Strauss said: “The scope of the project, the changeable geological conditions and the limited space constraints of the construction site all represent considerable challenges.

“On highly demanding, large-scale projects such as the ‘Green Line’ metro in Doha, we have proven that we are capable of mastering exceptionally complex tasks within the promised time and quality, and on budget. This certainly worked in our favour in the award process for the Brenner Base Tunnel.”

The scope of this contract involves construction of two main tunnel tubes between Pfons and Brenner, nearly 9km of exploratory shafts, as well as an emergency stop and transfer point at St Jodok.

The two main single-track tunnel tubes will be driven with tunnel-boring machines with an excavation diameter of 10.37m. A stretch of up to 30m is expected to be driven per day and per tunnel-boring machine.

Exploratory shaft excavation will be carried out with the drill and blast method and secured with shotcrete. The full lot will be delivered through a single-access shaft. Construction work is expected to begin this year and be completed by 2024.

Australia to invest $3.89bn in Melbourne Airport Rail Link

13 April 2018

The Australian Government announced a A$5bn ($3.89bn) investment to build the Melbourne Airport Rail Link in the state of Victoria. Announcing the decision, the Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull said that the Victorian Government is expected to make an equal contribution towards this project.

The planned rail link will connect the central business district (CBD) of the city to the airport. After completion, it is expected to reduce traffic congestion on the Tullamarine Freeway, one of the busiest roads in the state serving more than 210,000 vehicles per day.

The link will also ease traffic on Calder freeway, which is used by airport traffic, and it’s also expected to create thousands of jobs and boost the Victorian economy.

Currently, there are multiple proposed routes for this airport rail link, which involve underground, overground and combined solutions.

The business case process, initiated as part of the 2017-2018 Budget, will help to determine the ideal route, mode of transport and the overall cost of the project.

The rail connection to the Melbourne Airport will also provide additional benefits to the state depending on the final route and designs. It will enhance railway connectivity to the north and west of Melbourne, provide railway access to the north and west sides of the airport and facilitate the development of new rail stations between the city and airport.

The country’s other key airports, including Sydney and Brisbane, are already connected to the city by rail, while the airport rail link in Perth currently under construction.

MTR secures $727m Macau light Rail contract

13 April 2018

Hong Kong-based company MTR’s wholly-owned subsidiary secured a HKD5.71bn ($727m) operations and maintenance assistance services contract (O&M Contract) for the Macau Light Rapid Transit (LRT) Taipa Line.

The contract was awarded by the Macau SAR Government to MTR Operações Ferroviárias (Macau) Sociedade Unipessoal (MTR (Macau)).

Under the terms of the contract, MTR (Macau) will be responsible for the Macau LRT Taipa Line’s testing and commissioning activities and operation of train services, as well as maintenance of rolling stock, signalling systems and infrastructure.

MTR CEO Lincoln Leong said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the operations of Macau’s first railway system and serve the travelling public in Macau.

“Building on our proven operational expertise in Hong Kong and international markets, we are confident in delivering quality services and contributing to Macau’s railway development.”

The 9.3km long Taipa Line is expected to commence operation from next year. Serving 11 stations, the system will be fully automated and use rubber tyre vehicles.

Last month MTR tested the first of the 93 trains to be delivered to the Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Island and Tseung Kwan O lines in Hong Kong.

The tests were performed on the Tung Chung Line during non-traffic hours. MTR secured the contract to deliver these new eight-car trains in 2015. The deliveries are set to continue through 2023.