Kumba Iron Ore receives GE locomotives

SOUTH African mining company Kumba Iron Ore has taken delivery of six C30ACi diesel locomotives from GE to shunt heavy-haul trains at its Sishen mine in Northern Cape.


The new 1067mm-gauge locomotives will replace 10 life-expired units, which are hired from Transnet and used in pairs for loading operations. A single C30ACi will be used to load a train of 114 wagons, which until now required two locomotives.


The Co-Co locomotives are a development of the class 43 for Transnet Freight Rail, 143 of which are being supplied by GE and Transnet Rail Engineering.


Mr Tim Schweiker, president and CEO of General Electric South Africa, handed the key for the first locomotive to Kumba Iron Ore CEO, Mr Norman Mbazima, saying: "General Electric is grateful for the opportunity to have Sishen mine as a customer. We are impressed by the magnitude of the operations and that this mine again put their trust in GE to provide the locomotives."


Accepting the delivery of the locomotives, Mbazima said: "Kumba Iron Ore showed extremely rapid growth in the past five years. We can only sustain this growth by using equipment that not only meets this growth but allows us to focus on safe production at Sishen mine."






Taipei inaugurates Xinyi Line

THE president of Taiwan Mr Ma Ying-jeou and the mayor of Taipei Mr Hau Lung-bin inaugurated Taipei's MRT Xinyi line on November 24, nearly eight years after the start of construction.


The 6.4km seven-station underground line operates an extension of the north-south Tamsui Line, running east from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to serve Dongmen, Daan Forest Park, Taipei 101/World Trade Center, and Xiangshan.


Taiwan Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC) says aesthetics were a key consideration in the design of the stations, and each of the five-stations has a theme which reflects the characteristics of the surrounding area.


The opening of the automated line is expected to take ridership on the TRTC network to more than 1.8 million passengers per day.


TRTC is celebrating the opening of the line by offering free travel between Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Xiangshan, while holders of the city's EasyCard will be entitled to a 30% discount for journeys between Xinyi Line stations and selected stations elsewhere on the network.


A further 1.6km two-station extension from Xiangshan to Zhongpo is planned.







UIC aims to attract talent into the industry

THE International Union of Railways (UIC) says it hopes a new global initiative which is intended to attract and retain talent can help the rail industry overcome the problems posed by an ageing workforce and a looming skills shortage.


Despite current high levels of global unemployment, according to a PwC survey, 66% of CEOs say that a lack of individuals in the industry with the suitable skill level is their largest human resources challenge. In response, the UIC is leading an initiative that it says will establish a "global network of railway talents" which aims to utilise existing talent and expertise within the industry to attract and retain the next generation of employees.


The scheme was launched in December 2012 and the UIC will present its progress at its next general assembly, scheduled for next month. At the core of this scheme is the development of a powerful international network of railway experts who possess a deep understanding of business approaches, are multi-lingual, and are well-known internationally. The UIC hopes that the network will also improve international cooperation.


Since the project started, the UIC says it has already established links with global universities offering railway education courses, and included a "young researchers" category at the UIC Research and Innovation Awards. It is also supporting the European Commission Transport Research Arena initiative, TRA Visions, aimed at university students.


In 2014 the UIC says it hopes to establish a dedicated event for participants in the initiative which it says will foster a collaborative approach and connect members beyond the virtual web platform on which the programme will be based. It also wants to implement the first edition of a revised Siafi and develop accredited Master and Bachelor of Business Administration (MBA and BBA) programmes in railway and international logistics. The project team will also start to identify alternative and complementary funding models beyond UIC Global Projects, the current source.


Future network participants are being invited to complete a survey on the UIC homepage at where they can express their needs and expectations of the future collaborative platform. Over 150 people have so far completed the survey.






Vossloh fasteners ordered for Saudi HS line

VOSSLOH Fastening Systems has been awarded a contract worth around €30m to supply rail fasteners for the 450km Haramain high-speed line between Mecca, Jeddah, and Medina, which is currently under construction.


The first batch of fasteners is due to be despatched from Germany to Saudi Arabia before the end of the year.


The line is expected to open in late 2014 or early 2015 and is forecast to carry around 160,000 passengers per day, with ridership increasing further during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.





Hungary to expand its GSM-R telecoms network

HUNGARY's state holding company, NISZ, has awarded a €46m contract to a consortium of Kapsch CarrierCom and MVM Ovit, a Hungarian transmission network specialist, to install GSM-R on a 900km section of the rail network.


Kapsch will supply all the equipment for the GSM-R network, which will be based on 3GPP Release 4 Core technology, including base stations, and will maintain the system for three years, while MVM Ovit will be responsible for the physical infrastructure work.


The expansion of GSM-R in Hungary will aid the development of the Trans-European rail network as three corridors pass through Hungary.






Alstom-led consortium wins Sardinian signalling contracty

SARDINIAN Regional Transport (Arst) has awarded a €33m contract to a consortium of Alstom and Italian civil works contractor Gemmo to resignal two lines totalling 90km with 20 stations on the Italian island of Sardinia.


Alstom will install Italian Railway Network's (RFI) ACC-M multi-station interlocking system together with a traffic management system at the control centre for each line using its Smartlock interlocking and Iconis control centre systems. The contract also includes the supply of level crossing control equipment, passenger information, CCTV, and anti-intrusion devices.


One line links Cagliari Monserrato with Sernobi and is currently operated by16 trains/day/direction. The other line, which only has eight trains/day/direction, is the centre of the island and runs east from Macomer to Nuoro. The new automated signalling system will allow Arst to double the capacity of the Monserrato - Sernobi line and increase capacity on the Macomer – Nuoro line by 70% when the project is completed in 2015.





Israel completes main line upgrading project


ISRAEL Railways has completed a $US 186 million project to upgrade and double track the 20km Kiryat-Motzkin - Nahariya line, thereby creating a continuous double-track line for the first time from Beer-Sheva in the south via Tel Aviv and Haifa to Nahariya in the north.


Completion of the work will enable train frequencies to increase from two to three trains/hour in peak periods and allow a half-hourly frequency at other times of the day with the start of the summer timetable next year.


In addition to laying a second track between Kiryat-Motzkin and Nahariya, the existing track was upgrading along with the stations of Acre and Nahariya. To improve safety, level crossings were replaced by bridges at three locations.


Brazilian light rail project cancelled

The municipality of São José dos Campos, northeast of São Paulo, announced on November 24 that it is cancelling the construction of its proposed 15km light rail line in favour of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system.


Brazil's Ministry of Cities, which is financing investment in the city's public transport network, had recommended switching modes for the project, which was previously due to be completed in 2016-17.


The federal government, which had pledged Reais 800m ($US 402m) towards the Reais 1.1bn project, argues BRT will cost less and serve at least four districts of the city.


The light rail line would have served the southern part of the city, connecting Dom Pedro II to Via Dutra, and was forecast to carry nearly 215,000 people per day.







Montreal unveils first Azur metro train

THE first of 468 new-generation Azur metro cars being built by a consortium of Bombardier and Alstom for Montreal public transport company STM was formally presented to representatives of the government of Quebec and the City of Montreal at Bombardier's La Pocatière plant in Quebec on November 25.


Quebec premier Mrs Pauline Marois and the mayor of Montreal Mr Denis Coderre took the controls of the first completed train for a run along the plant's test track.


The first vehicles are due to be delivered to Montreal early next year, and the entire fleet is due to be in service by 2018. The introduction of the nine-car sets will allow STM to gradually withdraw its fleet of MR-63 trains, which date back to the opening of the first phase of the network in 1966. The new trains will accommodate 8% more passengers than the MR-63s.


"We're anxious to get it to Montreal so we can start the testing process, which will take place over a period of approximately eight months," says STM chairman Mr Michel Labrecque. "These cars will certainly be in service for 50 years. They will enable us to not only increase the reliability and quality of services offered to passengers, but also boost ridership in the metro, which currently stands at 900,000 trips per day."


The Azur name was selected from more than 6000 suggestions submitted by STM employees and the public.







Bart takes fleet of the future to 775 vehicles

THE board of Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) announced on November 21 it has exercised an option worth $US 638.9m for an additional 365 metro cars from Bombardier as part of its "fleet of the future" programme, taking the total number of vehicles on order to 775.


Bart says the decision to exercise the option will save around $US 128m because it includes an agreement with Bombardier to accelerate delivery by 21 months and provide five vehicles free-of-charge. The new trains will completely replace Bart's existing fleet of 669 vehicles.


The first of the new trains from the initial order, which was placed in June 2012, is due to arrive within two years, with the remainder scheduled for delivery between early 2017 and 2021. The vehicles will be assembled at Bombardier's plant in Plattsburgh, New York, with at least 60% localised content.


"Replacing our existing fleet is essential to BART's commitment to be a world class, sustainable public transportation system," said Bart President Mr Tom Radulovich. "The cars we've approved today will better serve our riders and help accommodate growing ridership as the Bay Area population expands and we extend into Silicon Valley."






Remote monitoring joint venture launched

NOMAD Digital has established a joint venture with EMEF, the maintenance subsidiary of Portuguese Trains (CP) to market onboard condition-based monitoring (CBM) technologies for the rail sector.


The joint-venture, named Nomad Tech, aims to provide operators with a real-time fleet-wide view of how onboard systems and isolated components are performing in the field, allowing the development of proactive rolling stock maintenance programmes.


Nomad says that combining CBM tools with a reliability-centred maintenance strategy can reduce faults by more than 50% and increase availability by up to 20%, therefore reducing life-cycle costs.


Nomad and EMEF have already worked with a number of train operators and rolling stock suppliers on telemanagement technologies, including CP, Northern Rail, Siemens, Alstom, and Hitachi.









SBB sells Voralpen Express stake to SOB

SWISS Federal Railways (SBB) has agreed to sell all of its shares in the Voralpen Express joint venture to its partner South Eastern Railway (SOB) in a deal worth around SFr 4.2m ($US 4.6m).


The hourly service from Lucerne to St Gallen and Romanshorn was launched in 1991 as a joint initiative between the two railways and the Bodensee-Toggenburg Railway (BT). Each railway held an equal stake until 2001, when BT merged with SOB. Under the agreement signed earlier this month, SOB will take over the remaining third of the shares from SBB on December 15.


Last February SOB acquired all of the SBB-owned rolling stock used on the service, including two first class and six standard class intermediate coaches and two standard class driving cars.


SOB plans to replace the existing fleet with new trains by December 2018.




Go-ahead for Avignon light rail network

CONSTRUCTION of a two-line light rail network in the French city of Avignon moved a step closer on November 23, when the €250m project was granted public utility status.


The 16-station 9.2km Line A will connect Ile Piot in the east with the city's Central Station and Lac Le Pontet in the west of the city, where the line will divide to serve park-and-ride stations at Le Pontet Station and Realpanier.


Line B will link Horloge in the city centre with St Charmand in the southeast of the city, sharing tracks with a short section of Line A east of Central Station. The 5.3km line will have 10 stations.


Construction is set to begin at the end of next year and both lines are due to be commissioned in late 2016.


Alstom will supply a fleet of 24 Citadis Compact low-floor LRVs under a €45m contract awarded by Greater Avignon Metropolitan Council in June this year.






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