Korail appoints its first female president and CEO

DR Choi YeonHye has been appointed as president and CEO of Korail, Korea's national train operator, and is the first woman to lead the company.


"Today's railways are creating a new engine for economic growth by converging with state-of-the-art technologies," Choi told IRJ. "I have set a new vision for Korail, for the happiness of all, which implies the crucial role that railways play in the preservation of the environment and the improvement of people's lives." Choi also wants Korail to take a leading role in promoting cooperation and support among railways internationally.


Choi, who has a doctorate in management from Mannheim University, Germany, has had a long association with railways. She was a professor at the Korea National Railroad College from 1997 to 2004, and its president from 2007 to 2011.


Choi was the chair of the performance evaluation committee with the former Koran National Railroad (KNR) in 1999, and a member of the rail industry restructuring committee with the Ministry of Construction and Transport in 2001. She rejoined KNR in 2003 as chair of the fare policy committee, before becoming deputy administrator in 2004. Choi was appointed vice-president of Korail in 2005, a position she held until 2007.


In 2009 Choi served as the chair of the International Association of Railway Universities and Organisations, and this year she was appointed vice-chair and director of the Korean-German Academy of Economics and Management (KDGW).






Israel Railways awards Alstom train maintenance contract

ISRAEL Railways has placed a Shekels 1.5bn ($US 421.7m) contract with Alstom to maintain its fleet of IC3 dmus for seven years, with an option for an eight-year extension.


Alstom won the contract in competition with Bombardier, Siemens and Vossloh, although Siemens withdrew before the final stage of bidding.


The contract will come into force in January and Alstom will initially use Israel Railways' depots in Lod and Haifa until its own purpose-built facility is completed three years from now. Alstom will recruit and train about 100 people, mainly in Israel, for the project.


This is the second attempt by Israel Railways to outsource train maintenance. A contract with Bombardier had to be cancelled after strong pressure from Israel Railways' workers committee forced it to agree to restrict the proportion of rolling stock which can be maintained by third parties to 30%.







Privatisation of PKP Cargo launched

POLISH State Railways' (PKP) freight business PKP Cargo is to be part-privatised through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Warsaw stock exchange.


Book building for institutional investors began on October 8 will be completed on October 21 with the final share price set on October 22 allowing the company to be listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange from October 31.


The holding company PKP SA is offering 21,669,007 shares for sale representing 50% minus one share of PKP Cargo's share capital. The maximum sale price will be Zlotys 74 ($US 23.73) per share which if achieved would value the company at Zlotys 3.2bn. PKP Cargo made a net profit of Zlotys 76.8m for the first six months of 2013, a reduction of more than 50% on the profit for the first half of 2012.


Employees of PKP Cargo will be allocated around 10% of the total shares and the remaining 40% placed on sale will be split between institutional and individual investors, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development planning to buy at least a 5% stake. The Polish government will retain 50% plus one share of the equity, via PKP SA, giving it a majority stake. This is the first privatisation of a European train operator via an IPO.


There are several railfreight operators in Poland, of which PKP Cargo is the largest with a 60% market share by revenue. PKP Cargo carried 116.7 million tonnes of freight in 2012, with coal representing more than 40% of total traffic. PKP Cargo is also the second biggest railfreight operator in the European Union after DB Schenker Rail.


PKP Cargo has around 2450 locomotives and 64,000 wagons and operates across Europe either directly or in partnership with private and state-owned railfreight companies.






New trains enter service on Warsaw metro

THE first two of 35 six-car Siemens Inspiro metro trains entered passenger service in Warsaw on October 6.


The first train was despatched by the mayor of Warsaw, Ms Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz (pictured), together with the CEO of Warsaw Metro, Mr Jerzy Lejk, and the CEO of Siemens Rail Systems Mr Jochen Eickholt.


Inspiro is a new generation of metro train designed for Siemens by BMW's US subsidiary Designworks. The trains feature four sets of doors on each side, full-width inter-car gangways, and are free of interior equipment cabinets. Each train can accommodate up to 1500 passengers with seats for 244.


To reduce train weight, the car body is made of aluminium and a new type of cork-aluminium floor weighing 30% less than a conventional floor is used which also helps to dampen noise and improve heat insulation. In addition, air ducts are made of textile rather metal. Siemens says that 94.8% of the materials used on Inspiro can be recycled.


Each train has four motored cars and two trailers with two-thirds of axles driven. Each motored car is powered by four self-ventilated asynchronous traction motors.





Plans to build new line to Eilat gain momentum

THE $US 5.6bn project to extend the Israeli rail network south to the port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba has received a boost following its approval by the Ministerial Committee for Internal Affairs and Services.


It It has also been decided to electrify the new line. The project is now awaiting approval by the Ministry of Finance so that tenders can be issued.


The new line will be 175km long, however additional tracks to separate freight from passenger trains at the southern end of the route will increase the amount of new railway to be built to 260km. There will be 9.2km of twin-bore tunnels and 63 bridges with a total length of 4.5km. The maximum speed for passenger trains will be 250km/h.


Israel's transport minister, Mr Israel Katz, says he wants to complete the new line within five years.






Pune metro gets green light

A proposed metro project in Pune, India's eighth largest city, received a boost earlier this week when the Maharashtra state government approved the project and committed to partly fund its construction.


Pune is aiming to build a 16.6km north-south line from Pimpri-Chinchwad to Swargate, which will be elevated up to Range Hills station and then run underground to the terminus at Swargate, and a 14.9km west-east elevated line from Vanaz to Ramwadi.


The projects are estimated to cost Rs 69.6bn ($US 991.9m) and Rs 32.24bn respectively, with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chichwad Municipal Corporation meeting 10% of this cost, and state and Indian government set to fund 20%. The remaining 50% will come from the private sector or loans, although the state government says it will not adopt a private-partnership model for the projects.


The state government has founded the Pune Mahanagar Metro Rail Corporation to manage the projects which are both expected to be completed by 2021. PMRC will be formed of 13 board members, while PMC will appoint engineers who will assist technical planning of both lines.


"Following the approval of the state government, the project file will pass to the Indian urban development minister and later to the Railway Ministry for technical work. After that it will be sent to the finance department. This is expected to take three months to complete," says Mr Shashikant Limaye, PMC officer for the Pune Metro. "The actual commencement of work is expected to begin after the monsoon season next year."


The Pune project was initially proposed in 2008 and a technical study for the lines was completed by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in 2010. However, problems over funding delayed approval of the project report until June 2012.


Pune Metropolitan area has a population of 5 million people and like many Indian cities suffers from chronic congestion. Several extensions of these initial lines are planned, although they are yet to receive approval from the state government.





Indiana railway is launch user for new Cummins Tier 4 engine


Railway Interchange 2013: Cummins has announced that its new QSK95 Tier-4 compliant engine will make its debut with Indiana Rail Road Company in an EMD SD90 locomotive currently being refurbished.


The 95-litre 16-cylinder engine uses a Cummins selective catalytic reduction (SCR) after-treatment to meet the new Tier 4 emission standards which come into force in January 2015. The SD90 locomotive will be re-designated CECX 1919 and will have an output of 3132kW. The locomotive will be owned by Cummins, but will be operated by Indiana Rail Road Company as the lead locomotive hauling 100-wagon trains with a total weight of around 12,700 tonnes. The locomotive is expected to enter service in mid-2014.


The locomotive will be fitted with GPS location and telemetry to enable Cummins to monitor the unit remotely. Field test engineers will be able to fine-tune the engine remotely to improve its fuel efficiency or power output.


The SCR exhaust after-treatment is designed to remove NOx emissions, while the engine combustion removes particulate matter. Cummins says this avoids the need for added complexity on the engine, and enables the combustion formula to be fully optimised for fuel efficiency. The SCR system is designed to occupy a space similar to that of the exhaust silencers.


"The repowered locomotive will demonstrate how well the clean combustion of the QSK95 engine and Cummins SCR exhaust after-treatment work together as an integrated system to achieve the ultra-low Tier 4 emissions levels, easily accommodating the space claim of the larger medium-speed engine it replaces, and requiring no additional cooling capacity," says Mr Randy Nelson, marketing director with Cummins' Rail Business.


First Siemens Velaro en route to Turkey

THE first of seven Velaro high-speed trains ordered by Turkish State Railways (TCDD) from Siemens is currently en route to Turkey.


The train is travelling via Romania and Bulgaria and will pass through the new Bosphorus tunnel in Istanbul in order to gain access to the high-speed rail network in Turkey. The train was originally intended for operation in Germany but has now been switched to the Turkish contract to act as a test train ahead of delivery of the rest of the fleet.


TCDD ordered the seven 300km/h eight-car Velaro trains, which are based on the German Velaro-D model, from Siemens in July in a contract worth €285 million including maintenance. TCDD will use the trains between Ankara and Istanbul when the line has been extended from Eskisehir to Istanbul next year. These will be TCDD's first 300km/h trains.


Siemens has also sent a Vectron MS demonstrator locomotive along with the Velaro train to Turkey.







Keolis teams up with Eurostar to bid for British franchise

KEOLIS has formed a joint venture with Eurostar International to bid for the Inter-City East Coast passenger rail franchise which covers the main linking London with Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. Keolis will be the lead partner.


This is Eurostar's first foray into the British passenger rail franchise market. On the other hand Keolis, a subsidiary of French National Railways (SNCF), is a partner in four existing franchises – Southern, Southeastern, London Midland, and TransPennine Express. Keolis is currently bidding for Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail concessions in London.


The Inter-City East Coast franchise is currently held run by the Department for Transport (DfT) through Directly Operated Railways as a management contract following the failure of National Express franchise in 2009. The DfT has not started the bidding process for the new franchise, but it wants to award the contract by October 2014 with a view to starting the new franchise in February 2015.







Panama’s first metro line nears completion

CONSTRUCTION of Line 1 of the Panama metro is now 92% complete and test running is underway.


The President of Panama Mr Ricardo Martinelli and the executive secretary of the metro Mr Roberto Roy were on board the inaugural test train on September 13 which ran along a 2km section of the line between Albrook and 5 de Mayo stations.


The $US 1.8bn project is being implemented by a consortium led by FCC, Spain, and including Odebrecht, Brazil, for the civil works. Alstom is supplying 57 cars, traction substations and communications-based train control, while Thales is responsible for supervision and telecommunications.


Line 1 will run from Albrook bus terminal to Los Andes shopping centre in San Miguelito. It was originally planned to be 14km long with 11 stations but has subsequently been extended to 15.9km with 13 stations. It is expected to carry 15,000 passengers/hour/direction when it opens next year, rising to 40,000 by 2035.






Thailand might exchange crops for China’s rail investment

Thailand is scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China on 11 October 2013 on the latter’s acceptance of Thai produce as payment for railway system development.


Transport Minister Chatchart Sitthiphan said China would allow Thailand to pay for its railway investment with farm produce such as rice and Para rubber. If the MOU is signed, a committee will be set up to study the feasibility of such payment method and decide which produce will be used to pay for which part of the railway systems. The minister said if the committee found that the payment method was not appropriate, the government could cancel it immediately since the MOU would have no binding effects.


According to the minister, trains and train parts account for 20-30% of the total value of the high speed train project or about 140-210 billion baht.


Mr Chatchart added that Thailand’s high-speed train project was still in the process of feasibility study; therefore, the government had not yet decided who would be responsible for the project implementation.









China shows interest in KL-Singapore high-speed rail project

China has expressed interest in participating in Malaysia’s 330km-long Kuala Lumpur-Singa­pore high speed rail (HSR) link project.


China President Xi Jinping said the project, together with port development and other connectivity projects, were on top of their overseas investment ventures.


He said they were also ready to consider participating in the Nor­thern Economic Corridor development projects.


“The Chinese government will continue to encourage Chinese companies to participate in Malaysia’s railway, port and other connectivity projects.


“The Chinese government is ready to give positive consideration to participate in the Northern Corridor development projects in the appropriate ways,” he said yesterday at a joint press statement with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after their bilateral meeting at the Perdana Putra Building here.


Earlier this year, Malaysia and Singapore announced plans for the rail link, which is expected to cut land travelling time between the two countries to just 90 minutes.


The project, targeted to be completed by 2020, is reported to cost about RM40bil. Several local and foreign firms have been reported to have started talks to form consortiums to bid for the project.


The firms are MMC Corp Bhd, which may team up with Gamuda Bhd and Chinese and European system integrators and YTL Corp Bhd with Spanish bullet train maker Talgo or CAF.


Other firms are UEM Group Bhd, which is working with Ara Group to form a consortium with European companies that may also include Talgo, while Global Rail is said to be talking to Canada’s Bombardier Inc and Chinese firm China Railway Group.


Xi said during the bilateral meeting that both governments agreed to maintain high-level contacts and this would help enhance coordination on major issues.


“There will be a closer cooperation in defence, law enforcement, security, naval and military exchange, combating terrorism and transnational crime. By doing so, we are going to create a sound environment for the growth and prosperity of both countries,” he added.


He said both countries had agreed to actively advance the construction of science lab and expand the training and exchanges among young scientists.


He added that both governments would also encourage competent and capable companies to take active part in the space and scientific entrepreneur cooperation.


Meanwhile, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Moha­med said Malaysia was eyeing 5% of China’s US$500bil (RM1.588tril) outbound investments over the next five years.


The country is also hoping to attract 5% of the 80 million outbound tourists from China searching for a suitable holiday destination.


“With its US$500bil set to flow into other countries, China will be an important investment source for us,” he said at a press conference after the Malaysia-China Economic Sum­mit at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre yesterday.


Mustapa said China’s huge potential was something that should be looked into by the ministry, Malay­sian Investment Development Authority and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation.


He said China’s investment in Malaysia was less than the other way around.


“Currently, China’s investment in our country is only about 10% of the US$6.3bil (RM20.05bil) of what Malay­sia invested in China,” Mustapa said.


Asked the reasons for the imbalance, he cited the high speed of development experienced by China.


“There are a lot of opportunities for growth there,” he said, adding that Malaysian businessmen were knowledgeable and attuned to the Chinese market.


Mustapa said Malaysia hoped that China’s industry players would invest in the services and manufacturing sectors here. On the event, he said eight business projects worth RM9bil were signed with China.




Spain to increase rail spending by 21% in 2014

RAIL will remain Spain's top transport priority in 2014 according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's draft budget published last week, accounting for 51% of the total planned investment of €8.98bn. Rail spending will increase by 21% from €3.78bn this year to €4.58bn in 2014.


The bill, which requires parliamentary approval before the end of the year, will allow the government to invest €3.2bn in the high-speed rail network. With more than 1200km of new lines still under construction, the government has prioritised the completion of the route connecting Madrid to the Ourense - Santiago line. It will invest €1bn in this project and the Santiago - Vigo corridor.However, the high-speed budget is insufficient to bridge the widening gap between Spain's ambitious plans to extend the network simultaneously towards the 15 mainland regions, and the budgetary constraints imposed by the country's deepest economic crisis in decades.


Plans to convert the broad-gauge Barcelona – Valencia main line to dual gauge will receive a major boost once the bill is passed, with €306m allocated for the installation of a third rail to allow standard-gauge trains to use the line.


The Spanish government also outlined spending plans for Adif and Renfe. Total losses for Adif are expected to reach €297m, almost equal to those forecast for 2013, while debt will continue to spiral up from €15bn to €16.7bn in 2014, just ahead of German Rail's debt for 2012.


Interest payments will reach €350m this year, despite selling-off property and letting concession contracts for 51 station car parks and its 16,000km long fibre-optic network.


Adif holds about 25% of Spain's fibre-optic network, and expects to receive between €343m and €450m by renting its data infrastructure to private telecommunications carriers under 10 to 20-year contracts.


Renfe, which will be split up soon into four subsidiaries under a state-run holding company, is expected to lose €202m in 2014, up 10% from the loss forecast for this year, although its debt will be reduced by 8% to €5.7bn.






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