Funding agreed for Kenyan standard-gauge line

KENYA's Ministry of Finance has announced it will release an initial $US 252.8m towards the construction of a double-track standard-gauge line from the port of Mombasa to the Kenya/Uganda border town of Malaba with a branch to Kisumu on Lake Victoria.


National Treasury Cabinet secretary Mr Henry Rotich said the new $US 4.7 billion network will improve transit times and reduce the cost of transporting freight from Mombasa to Kisumu by as much as 79%. This is the first time the government has allocated funds for the construction of the line, which will be built by China Roads and Bridges Company.


Phase one of the project will involve constructing the 479km section between Mombasa and the capital Nairobi, while phase two encompasses the 470km Nairobi – Malaba stretch and the 165km branch from Malaba to Kisumu.


The new line will largely follow the route of the existing metre-gauge railway, which is in dire need of upgrading.


State railway operator Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) says development of the high-capacity railway will enable the operation of 10,000-tonne trains and will vastly improve the efficiency of freight transport between the port of Mombasa to at least four countries in eastern Africa.


Passenger trains will operate at up to 160km/h while the maximum speed for freight will be 120km/h, according to technical specifications issued by KRC, which also stipulate a maximum axleload of 32.5 tonnes.






TCDD orders first 300km/h trains

TURKISH State Railways (TCDD) has awarded a contract to Siemens for seven 300km/h trains for operation on its growing high-speed network.


The contract is worth €285m including maintenance and delivery is due to start in 2016. The 200m-long eight-car trains will accommodate more than 500 passengers, and are based on the Velaro-D trains which Siemens is currently building for German Rail (DB).


These are the first 300km/h trains to be ordered by TCDD, which currently operates a fleet of 250km/h emus supplied by CAF on its first two high-speed lines linking Ankara with Eskisehir and Konya. An extension to the Eskisehir line to Istanbul is due to open next year and TCDD is keen to achieve a 3-hour journey time for the 533km trip.


By 2015, the first phase of the high-speed network will be complete with trains running to Bursa, Afyon and Usak en route to Izmir, and east from a new high-speed station in Ankara to Sivas and Erzincan.







Brazilian open-access concession moves forwar

BRAZIL's National Land Transport Agency (ANTT) has published the results of a public consultation on the planned 457km A?ailandia – Maranh?o – Barcarena – Pará line, which will be one of the first railways in the country to operate on an open-access basis.


The studies will now be sent to National Accounts Tribunal (TCU) in preparation for the tendering of the project, which is scheduled for October 18.


The Reais 3.25bn ($US 1.44bn) railway is part of the 11,000km of new lines proposed by the federal government in its Logistics Investment Programme (PIL).


The project will include the construction of 70 major structures, and the line will primarily carry bulk iron-ore, grain, and bauxite traffic, although it may also accommodate other commodities such as petroleum, sugar, corn, ethanol, and soya.


The railway will pass through 11 towns in the states of Maranh?o and Pará, with a maximum line speed of 80km/h. The successful bidder must complete construction within four years of signing the contract, and will be responsible for managing and maintaining the infrastructure for a period of 35 years.


Brazil's federal railway engineering and construction company Valec will be responsible for allocating capacity on the new line.





China's rail freight volume down 2.8 pct

The volume of freight carried on China's railways declined 2.8 percent year on year during the January-June period as economic activities slowed, official data showed on Thursday.


Chinese railroads transported 1.94 billion tonnes of cargo in the first half of the year, down 55.07 million tonnes from the volume seen in the same period last year, according to statistics from China Railway Corporation.


The drop came as China's economic growth slid to 7.6 percent during the January-June period, the weakest first-half performance in three years.


The China Railway Corporation last month announced its plan to revamp its freight transport business, including simplifying rules and tailoring transportation to customers' needs, in a bid to better tap the logistics market.





Pak-China railway link : China starts research to identify location at Kashgar

Officials have been asked to carry out research to identify location for railway connectivity between Pakistan and China, as local people are enthusiast on plans to build a railway network to connect


Kashgar in Xinjiang with the Pakistani port of Gwadar.


We have already been asked to carry out research into the location of a station at Kashgar for the China-Pakistan railway, but a detailed plan and timetable have yet to be drafted, Wang Yongzhi deputy commissioner of Kashgar prefecture was quoted as saying by an English daily.


Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced in June that Pakistan would like to build new road and rail links to Kashgar and establish a Sino-Pakistani economic corridor.


If an overland link were to be established, Gwadar Port would become the starting point for deliveries of oil and natural gas to Xinjiang, China Daily reported.


Wang said China’s long experience of construction work on plateaus could prove invaluable if the decision is made to build a railway across the Pamir Plateau.


Yuan Jianmin Director of Xinjiang Logistic Association said most freight from Pakistan is transported to China via the sea route, a journey of more than a month, whereas a railway link would allow goods to be transported from Pakistan to cities around China in roughly 10 days.


The poor condition of the roads between Kashgar and Pakistan means the network is ineffective, constraining exports to Pakistan via the land port at Kashgar to just 100,000 metric tonnes each year, according to Wang.


A railway link between China and Pakistan railway would transform Kashgar and allow it to truly become an economic hub, the daily quoted Wang.


In February China Overseas Port Holding Co took over the management of Gwadar, a deep-water port on the shores of the Arabian Sea and situated close to the Strait of Hormuz. app






Train cuts time for Europe freight deliveries

The first freight train from Henan province to Europe started its journey yesterday on a route that offers an alternative to slower and riskier sea freight.


The train left Zhengzhou, capital of the province in central China, and will cross the border at the Alataw Pass in Xinjiang before passing through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland on its way to Hamburg, Germany.


It will take the train 16-18 days to cover the 10,214 kilometres, saving about 20 days compared with moving the cargo by sea.


"China has been constructing cross-border rail lines in recent years, which is important both economically and strategically," said Wang Mengshu, an expert in railways and tunnels at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.


He said the country still relied heavily on sea freight in its trade with Europe. Land transport allows traders to avoid passing through the pirate-plagued Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Malacca, where the political situation is complicated, Wang said.


Over the past three years, several mainland cities, including Chongqing, Chengdu in Sichuan, Wuhan in Hubei and Shenyang in Liaoning, launched rail freight services to Europe.


China is also building railways to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.


The Railway Bureau in Zhengzhou said the first train to Europe carried 655 tonnes of goods worth US$1.52 million - including tyres, textiles, shoes and apparel - in 51 containers.


Two-thirds of the goods are from Henan and the rest from the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi.


Shi Fenghua, assistant to the general manager of China Railway Container Transport's Zhengzhou branch, said local traders used to transport their goods by road to ports in Liangyungang in Jiangsu or Qingdao in Shandong and then ship them overseas before the rail line came into operation. "We expect the majority of them will turn to the railroad in future for its efficiency and convenience," Shi said.


The bureau charges 15,200 yuan (HK$19,200) to transport a single container to the Alataw Pass. Customers have to pay separately for the remainder of the journey, from Xinjiang to Hamburg.


There would be 14 such trains to Germany this year, the Zhengzhou Daily newspaper reported.


In addition to the route from Zhengzhou to Hamburg, the bureau has opened three branch lines from the mainland city to Moscow, Klaipeda in Lithuania and Almaty in Kazakhstan.




Rapid Metro fare may rise before service begins


Earlier fixed at R12 for a trip, the fare for Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon (RMG) may increase even before the service begins in September this year.


The passengers may end up paying up to R15 to travel in India's first privately owned and funded Rapid Metro.


According to RMG officials, the fare is likely to be increased up to R15 to bring it 'on par with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) fare'.


The DMRC is already negotiating a fare hike with a committee set up by the union urban development ministry. The DMRC has not increased its fares since 2009.


"Though we have fixed fare at R12 per trip —which is economical compared to the prevailing mode of transport — the fare is likely to be increased, as it has to be proportional to the DMRC tariff. Delhi Metro is already negotiating for a hike with a committee," said Sanjiv Rai, chairman and managing director of Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon Limited, the promoter firm.


At present, the passengers who get down at Sikanderpur Metro station have no option but to take an auto or an unauthorised BPO cab or a rickshaw for last-mile connectivity.


The ever-rising ridership of Delhi Metro has earned it the status of the second-largest Metro service in South East Asia. Its passenger load is next only to Hong Kong's metro service.


Keeping in mind Metro's ridership, the RMG operator has projected initial ridership at about 40,000-50,000 per day for its three-coach trains which it says could touch the one-lakh mark within a year of operation.


"The Delhi Metro is connected to Rapid Metro through the Sikanderpur Metro station. We expect a proportionate rise in our ridership keeping in mind the increasing ridership for Metro. The DMRC is already in an expansion mode and is adding two more coaches each to all six-coach trains," Rai added.


While referring to Delhi Metro's ridership, Rai said it had started with a meagre 30,000 passengers a day and reached the 2.5-lakh figure in the very first year of its operation.


New tram system in Dubai

The Al Sufouh Tram system was designed to be an integral part of the Dubai transport network, linking the Dubai Metro and the Palm Monorail and running along Al Sufouh Road and Jumeirah Beach Road from Mall of the Emirates at one end to the Dubai Marina at the other end.


A consortium of Alstom, Besix and Parsons is undertaking the planning and construction of the Al Sufouh Tram. Construction has been divided into two phases: the first one is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014 and it will have 11 trams and 13 stations running 10 km. In the second phase will be added 14 more trams and six more stations along an additional 4 km of track. Each tram will have the capacity to carry 400 passengers and will cater to 5,000 passengers per hour.


The tram will provide a link to three Metro stations: the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers. It will also be linked to the Palm Jumeirah monorail.


The tram system will be the first in the world to be fully powered by an electric system installed in the ground. Power is fed to the tram as it passes overhead, but stops when it moves away, allowing pedestrians to walk in the area safely.







World Bank funds modernization of Egypt’s rail system

The Egyptian Railways Authority, Egypt’s flagship railway operator, plans to invest up to 938 million Egyptian pounds in the technical modernization of the Cairo-Alexandria line, one of the country’s longest railway lines.


The project involves installation of the advanced system of communications and electric signals, as well as building a central control tower to coordinate train traffic.


The funds for the project, which is expected to be commissioned by 2017, will be provided by the World Bank.


Analysts believe that the implementation of the project is an acute need for Egypt, the level of safety of which rail lines leaves much to be desired, which is reflected by the numerous train accidents, the worst of which left 50 schoolchildren dead last November.







Arab investment funds to invest in Russia

RZD plans to attract Arab investment funds for the implementation of a series of projects in the field of railways in Russia and abroad, according to RZD’s vice-president Alexander Saltanov.


According to him, in the early summer RZD plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Bahraini Riyada Group, with the aim of joint implementation of projects within Russia and abroad.


In case of local projects, there is a possibility that the Arab funds may provide funding for the increase of capacity of Trans-Siberian railway and other large-scale projects.


In the meantime, representatives of Riyada Group confirmed the talks with RZD, saying that the partners are considering implementation of a series of investment projects.


According to the Arabian company, there is a possibility of joint implementation of projects in the Gulf Strait region.






BLT buys new Tango trams

Swiss transport operator BLT has ordered an extra 19 Tango trams from Stadler. The new fleet will run on lines 10 and 11 of Basel’s light rail system, which is now exclusively served by Tango trams.


The order is worth 94 million francs and includes train control and passenger information systems. Delivery of the new vehicles will start in 2015.









Colombian railfreight venture launched

IOWA Pacific Holdings, United States and British track and mining equipment supplier Holdtrade have formed a new company Holdtrade Atlantico, which will apply for licenses to operate freight railways in Colombia.


The new company was introduced during a press conference in Bogota on July 12.


"With the rapid growth of the Colombian economy and new government support for reopening idle railway lines, we see significant potential for rail freight transportation as a means of reducing transport costs for export products such as coal and petroleum," said Iowa Pacific President Mr Ed Ellis. "We will be working closely with our partners at Holdtrade, Colombian government ministries, and prospective shippers to develop these services as quickly as circumstances permit."








French SNCF in Indian railway project

French national railway SNCF plans to complete a feasibility study of the 630-km Indian railway project, which will connect India’s largest cities Ahmedabad and Pune via Mumbai.


The project will be implemented by SNCF in cooperation with Indian Railways, India’s flagship railway operator, while its total cost is estimated at The Rs 60,000-crore.


The new railway line will be designed for operation of bullet trains, which are expected to cover the 490 km distance between Ahmedabad and Mumbai in about 2 hours, compared to current 7 hours.


According to sources close to the French company, the fares for the new trains will be about 70% of air travel cost.






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