MTR selects Alstom for Shatin-Central Link infrastructure contract

MTR, Hong Kong, has selected Alstom in a €41m contract to build, install, test, and commission 11km of double track, which includes a depot and sidings, as well as 25kV ac overhead electrification for the Shatin-Central Link project in Hong Kong.


The contract encompasses construction from Tai Wai on the Ma On Shan Line to the West Rail line, a section which includes seven stations and includes key interchanges with East Rail at Tai Wai and the Kwun Tong Line at Diamond Hill. Work on the project is scheduled to be completed in 2018.


An additional 6km section between Hung Hom and Admiralty on Hong Kong Island is planned as part of the Shatin-Central Link and is scheduled to open in 2021, at which point an estimated 1.1 million passengers are expected to use the extended services.






Ecuador to study electrified rail freight network

ECUADOR's National Pre-investment Institute (INP) has awarded Barcelona metro operator TMB a contract worth around $US 1.4m to carry out a prefeasibility study into the construction of an electrified freight network linking key industrial and mining centres with ports on the country's Pacific coast.


According to TMB, the 10-month study will look at options for a link between the mines of southeastern Ecuador with the port of Puerto Bolívar. TMB will also examine the feasibility of establishing passenger services between major cities such as Guayaquil and the capital Quito.


INP says the study will develop a conceptual model for the network, including the best technological, economic, financial, and environmental options for the project.


At present the only railway in Ecuador is the 965km 1067mm-gauge line from San Lorenzo in the north the Cuenca and Guayaquil in the south, although most of the route is in a poor state of repair with little or no regular traffic.







First LRV delivered for Dubai Al Sufouh Tramway

THE first of 11 Citadis 402 low-floor LRVs for Dubai's Al Sufouh Tramway arrived in the United Arab Emirates through the port of Jebel Ali last week, and has been delivered to the line's depot in readiness for the start of testing.


Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) chairman His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer told local press that initial trials will take place on a 2km section of the line from the depot on Al Sufouh Road.


The 44m-long vehicles will accommodate up to 408 passengers in Gold, Silver, and Women & Children classes.


The initial 10km phase of the Al Sufouh Tramway is due to open in November 2014. Alstom will deliver a further 14 LRVs for the second 4km phase.


The first Dubai Citadis was formally unveiled at Alstom's La Rochelle plant in June.






Four bidders qualify for Indian freight corridor contract

DEDICATED Freight Corridor Corporation of India has qualified four bidders for electrical and signalling works on the 343km Bhaupur - Khurja section of the 1829km Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) which will eventually link Ludhiana with Dadri near Delhi and Dankuni near Kolkata.


The bidders are Alstom and Siemens plus two consortia: Inabsena, Spain, Ansaldo STS, Italy, and two Indian companies: EMC and BCEPL; and Kec, India, Elecnor, Spain, and Kyosen, Japan. A civil works contract worth Rs 33bn ($US 528m) for this section has already been awarded to the Tata-Aldisa joint venture.


The World Bank has committed to lend $US 2.7bn for construction of the Eastern DFC. Of this, $US 975m for the first phase was sanctioned in May 2011. The loan for the second phase is expected to be worth $US 1.1bn.





First 2ES10 locomotives for UZ arrive in Ukraine

UKRAINIAN Railways (UZ) received the first three type 2ES10 twin-section electric locomotives on December 16 from Ural Locomotives, a joint venture of Sinara, Russia, and Siemens.


The 3kV dc locomotives are similar to the type 2ES10 units currently being supplied to Russian Railways (RZD), but have a higher proportion of Ukrainian components. Each unit has a continuous output of 8.4MW and a 748kN continuous tractive effort. Another four locomotives are due to arrive in Ukraine in early January. The first seven units will be used to haul heavy freight trains on the Nyzhniodniprovsk - Yasinovataya line.


The remaining 43 locomotives will be supplied between 2014 and 2016 and will be deployed on the Lvovskaya railway to haul trains on the Lvov – Chop line.


The line includes the 1.7km single-track Beskid tunnel in the Carpathian mountains, which is the only section of single track on this corridor linking Europe with Russia. However, the bottleneck will be eliminated in 2016 when a new 1.8km double-track tunnel opens.






SRO appoints DB International to improve safety standards

SAUDI Railways Organisation (SRO) has awarded a contract to DB International to review safety standards on the railway and prepare safety guidelines and manuals relating to the operation and maintenance of rolling stock and track as well as the working environment and staff training.


Mr Mohamed Al-Suwaiket, SRO's president, held a meeting in Dammam last week to brief DB International on the phasing for the project and a schedule for its implementation. SRO has already developed a strategy to raise safety levels on the railway to comply with international standards. SRO expects DB International to complete the preparation of the new guidelines and safety manuals within nine months. This will be followed by safety training for staff together with an evaluation of their progress. DB International will also be responsible for supervising the implementation of the new safety standards and making any necessary adjustments to them for a period of one year.





Japanese bank acquires US wagon leasing company


SUMITOMO Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) has agreed to purchase Flagship Rail Services, United States, from Perella Weinberg Partners for $US 1.1bn subject to regulatory approval.


Flagship is the ninth-largest wagon leasing company in the United States by fleet size and has about 15,000 wagons on its books. Flagship was founded in 2006 as AIG Rail Services and was acquired by the Asset Based Value Strategy division of Perella Weinberg Partners in May 2011. Since then Flagship Rail Services has increased the size of its wagon fleet by more than 50%.


SMBC is a subsidiary of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group which has a market capitalisation of $US 69m, making it Japan's second largest bank.


China set to unveil reform plan for rail pricing

China will release its reform plan for the pricing system of railway transportation at the beginning of next year, so as to make the pricing mechanism more market-oriented and attract private investors for railway investment, a media report said Tuesday.


The ticket prices for high-speed rail will possibly float in accordance with passenger flows, the Beijing-based Economic Information Daily newspaper reported, citing sources familiar with the issue.


"The transportation prices for China's railway have been fixed at amounts that are too low for a long time, which makes it less attractive for the private investors to venture into railway investment," a source was quoted by the newspaper as saying.


The now defunct Ministry of Railways (MOR) released guidelines on May 2012 to encourage private investors to invest in railways construction.


Currently, the ticket prices for both high-speed railways and ordinary passenger railways are fixed at a certain level with no fluctuation, meaning prices are the same during rush hours and off-peak hours as well as throughout the year.


For ordinary passenger railway transportation, the government will offer subsidies to offset their losses, the report said.


In China, passenger rail has been suffering losses for a long time, according to Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University.


"The reform for the pricing system of railway transportation could reduce losses for the China Railway Corporation (CRC) [the body that was spun-off from the former MOR] to some extent," Zhao told the Global Times Tuesday.


"A floating pricing system could avoid a waste of railway resources," Sun Zhang, a professor of Institute of Railways and Urban Mass Transit at Tongji University in Shanghai, told the Global Times Tuesday.


The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway has continuously had a high vacancy rate after it was launched in 2011, especially during off-peak hours, while trains traveling at a lower speed still enjoy good sales due to lower prices, according to media reports.


For cargo transport, prices will be raised to 0.15 yuan ($0.02) per ton for each kilometer from the current 0.12 yuan per ton each kilometer, according to the newspaper report.


"It will take some time to see whether the price rise for cargo transportation will lead to declines in market shares for the cargo railway transportation," Sun said.


The total volume of cargo transportation for China's railways has seen a negative growth since last August, according to data of the then-MOR, despite the market share of other types of transportation and logistics market having seen a fast growth.


To reverse the poor business performance, the CRC announced in June a batch of reform measures including the launch of an express freight service so as to better compete in the logistics market.


Cargo can be delivered door-to-door through its express freight service starting June 15, enabling clients to have cargo picked up at their door either by making orders online or by calling the company's customer service number, instead of going through the previously lengthy procedures, according to the CRC.


Sun noted that it is more reasonable to raise cargo transportation prices in some provinces rich in coal and oil like North China's Shanxi Province, where the cargo transportation capa-city is insufficient.







Light-rail fire adds to MTR's troubles

The MTR suffered its second setback in 24 hours yesterday when one of its light-rail trains burst into flames, sparking the evacuation of 160 rush-hour passengers.


The incident, in Tin Shui Wai, came less than a day after a power failure halted services on the Tseung Kwan O MTR line for almost five hours, prompting concerns over the contracting out of maintenance work on the line.


No one was injured in yesterday's fire but fire crews and ambulances sped to the scene shortly before 9am after smoke was seen billowing from the air-conditioning system on the roof at the rear of the two-carriage train near Tin Wu.


The 160 passengers were evacuated at Tin Wu and the burning train was taken to an emergency platform at Hung Tin Road, where fire crews took 15 minutes to douse the flames.


The blaze followed Monday's major incident which closed down the Tseung Kwan O line for hours, leaving MTR employees and lawmakers questioning whether a policy of contracting out maintenance work was a contributing factor.


Maintenance has been carried out by subcontractors since the line opened in 2002. One MTR worker said the quality of maintenance was so unsatisfactory that, earlier this year, 10 workers from other lines had to be redeployed to work on the track, which runs from Hong Kong Island to the eastern New Territories.


Monday's problems began when a 30-metre length of overhead cable came loose between Yau Tong and Tiu King Leng stations on a stretch of track shared by the Kwun Tong line.


A Kwun Tong line train bound for Yau Ma Tei was forced to stop in a tunnel, while another was stopped at Tiu Keng Leng station. The entire Tseung Kwan O line and the shared section of the Kwun Tong line were closed for most of the afternoon, causing travel chaos.


One employee, who asked not to be named, said the 10 workers only recently finished on the line.


"Some track works should have been done better and some mechanical parts should be in better condition," he said. "The 10 workers had just gone back to their own positions two months ago, and [on Monday] the accident happened."


Wong Yuen-wood, chairman of the MTR Staff General Association, said the situation was especially worrying since the redeployment of the 10 staff could have led to a manpower shortage elsewhere and affected safety.


Unionist lawmaker Tang Ka-piu protested against subcontracting outside MTR headquarters in Kowloon Bay yesterday. NeoDemocrat Gary Fan Kwok-wai also criticised the company for its inadequate contingency procedures, which left passengers waiting outside in the rain for buses to other stations. He criticised the government for not encouraging more alternative modes of transport to the railway.


Adi Lau Tin-shing, the MTR's deputy director of operations, said work by contractors met MTR standards. He said the company was still investigating the cause, and inspections on Monday night found that trains and other overhead cables were operating properly. It would review contingency arrangements, he added. He said the section of cable had passed an annual inspection in late October.


The MTR Corporation has three working days to hand in a report to the government. It could be fined up to HK$7.5 million if it is found responsible.







Jaipur metro to receive $176 million for expansion from ADB

Metro is expected to carry 126,000 passengers daily during its first operational year.


New Delhi: Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said it will lend $176 million for the expansion of the metro line in Jaipur.


‘The ADB will lend $176 million to extend the first metro train line in Jaipur and draw up plans to build a second line, reducing congestion and pollution in the fast-growing Indian heritage city’, the bank said in a statement.


Under the Jaipur Development Authority's public transport plan, the local government is constructing 9.7 km elevated Line 1 metro train from Mansarovar, in the western part of the city, to Chandpole, on the western edge of the central business district.


This service is due to start operations in late 2013, it said.


‘Building efficient mass transit transport to get people more quickly to their jobs, schools, and homes in Jaipur will help reverse the rising use of private cars, making the city a cleaner and safer place to work and live’, Dong Kyu Lee, Principal Transport Specialist in ADB's South Asia Department said in the statement.


ADB's loan will help finance an additional 2.3 km underground stretch from Chandpole to Badi Chopar which is likely to provide access to the central business district by March 2018.


By providing connections to the entire central business district, ADB's extension is expected to carry 126,000 passengers every day during its first year of operation, and generate around 61% of all the trips on Line 1.


‘The construction of the Line 1 extension to cost a total $259 million with the balance paid by the Government of Rajasthan will be built to ensure that there is minimal risk from urban flash floods and other climate-related events’, ADB said.


ADB's loan will also help finance studies into a planned 23 km long, north-south Line 2 metro line.






Spain splits Adif to keep debt off government books

THE Spanish Government last week approved the splitting of Adif into two separate bodies in order to avoid the infrastructure manager's spiralling debt from being included in the national debt, in accordance with recent changes to the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010).


In a decree issued on December 13 the government mandates the creation of a new public corporation to be called Adif-Alta Velocidad (Adif-AV), which will manage the country's high-speed rail network and hold the debt incurred in its construction, which expected to reach €15.2bn in 2014. This will leave Adif to continue managing the conventional rail network with a total debt of €1.1bn.


As the Ministry of Public Works and Transport acknowledged, the objective is for Adif-AV to be designated a market producer under ESA 2010 rules, which stipulate that "to be a market producer, the public unit shall cover at least 50% of its costs through sales over a sustained multi-year period."


This means Adif-AV will remain in the corporate sector and its debt levels will not be included in Spain's national debt, which rose to 93.4% of GDP between July and September.


In order to fulfill the ESA 2010 requirements, it also looks likely Adif-AV will take over Adif's profitable 16,000km fibre-optic network, which will be let to private telecommunications carriers as 10 to 20-year concessions. These contracts are expected to generate income of between €343m and €450m.


The government recently confirmed its intention to partially open the high-speed rail market to competition in the first half of next year, a move which could allow Adif-AV to reap additional incomes from new operators using the infrastructure.


The decree has retroactive effects on the accounts of both companies and thus the Adif splitting will be considered to have occurred in January 1 2013. Revised budgets for both Adif-AV and Adif have therefore been issued, which forecast losses of €233m in 2013 and €210m in 2014 for the former, and €297m and €73m respectively for the latter.


Adif-AV will spend €278m this year servicing its debts, rising to €361m in 2014, while the conventional network manager Adif faces interest payments of €29m this year and of €54m in 2014.









Athens metro opens Aghia Marina extension

THE 1.4km western extension of Athens metro Line 3 from Egaleo to Aghia Marina was officially opened on December 13 by Greece's deputy minister of infrastructure, transport, and networks Mr Michalis Papadopolous.


The €250m project, which was financed by the Greek government and the European Investment Bank, included the construction of a new 86,000m2 depot at Eleonas, and a 382-space park-and-ride station at Aghia Marina in the district of Aghia Varvara.


The extension is expected to boost ridership on Line 3 by around 30,000 to more than 100,000 passengers per day, with a journey time of eight minutes between Aghia Marina and Syntagma.


A further 7.6km six-station extension of Line 3 from Aghia Marina to Dimotiko Theatro in Piraeus is under construction.




Vossloh puts DRS class 68s through their paces

PERFORMANCE testing and certification of the first Vossloh class 68 UKLight diesel locomotives for British open-access operator Direct Rail Services is underway at the Velim test circuit in the Czech Republic, while a second unit has been unveiled in the company's new livery at the Vossloh Rail Vehicles plant in Albuixech, Spain.


DRS says a comprehensive test programme will take place at Velim over the next three months before the locomotive is returned to Valencia for final preparations for delivery to Britain, which is scheduled for the second quarter of next year. The second locomotive, which is undergoing tests at Albuixech, will be delivered to Britain early next year.


Vossloh has specially adapted its 160km/h mixed-traffic EuroLight design for operation in Britain, working in conjunction with DRS and Beacon Rail Leasing on the project.


The 2.8MW diesel-electric locomotives are equipped with 16-cylinder Caterpillar C175 engines and advanced ac drive traction systems from ABB.


DRS has ordered 15 of the locomotives, which are due to enter service from the end of next year, and the contract includes options for additional units.






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