No.470issue(2014 04 18)

Algiers light rail extension inaugurated

ALGERIA's transport minister Mr Amar Ghoul inaugurated the 4.2km eastern extension of Algiers light rail Line 1 from Bordj El Kiffan to Kahouat Echergui on April 16.


The extension has six stations and services operate at seven or eight-minute intervals.


Commissioning is also underway on a further 2.7km extension from Kahouat Echergui to Dergana, which is due to open in July. Around 185,000 passengers per day are expected to use Line 1 when the section to Dergana is fully operational.


The initial 7.2km phase of the line opened in May 2011 and the 9.1km second phase from Les Bananiers to Lycée and Les Fusillés was commissioned in June 2012.


Feasibility studies are underway into the construction of a further 4.6km western extension to Bir Mourad Rais.






Brazil to finance Carajas railway expansion

BRAZIL's National Development Bank (BNDES) has approved further Reais 6.2bn ($US 2.8bn) in funding for mining giant Vale's plan to increase iron-ore production to 230 million tonnes per year, which includes investment in capacity enhancements on the company's Carajás Railway (EFC).


Vale is planning to build a new 101km extension of the railway south from Parauapebas to serve new mining developments near Can?a dos Carajas, which will have capacity to produce more than 90 million tonnes of iron-ore per year.


The project also includes upgrading of 504km of the existing line, with the construction of a second track on 42 sections of the route.


According to BNDES work will begin on the project in 2016.







MTR applies for Stockholm – Gothenburg paths

WITH less than a year to go before the launch of its MTR Express inter-city services, MTR Corporation subsidiary MTR Nordic submitted a track access application to Swedish infrastructure manager Trafikverket on April 15 for train paths on the Stockholm – Gothenburg line.


The open-access operator plans to start running commercial services on the 455km route in March 2015, when it will go head-to-head with incumbent operator SJ. MTR Express will operate 110 services per week with a journey time of 3h 10min


MTR Express is due to receive the first of six 200km/h Flirt EMUs from Stadler this autumn, and the company plans to begin recruiting drivers soon.






Tender launched for Singapore – KL high-speed study

SINGAPORE Land Transport Authority (LTA) issued an invitation to tender on April 11 for a contract to carry out an engineering feasibility study for the Singaporean section of the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur high-speed line.


The study is intended to develop options for and assess the technical feasibility of potential high-speed rail corridors, including transport links at three potential sites for a terminal station. These will include sites in the vicinity of metro stations at Tuas West and Jurong East and one location in the city centre.


The closing date for expressions of interest is May 19, and the study is due to be completed by the first quarter of next year.


The prime minister of Malaysia Mr Najib Tun Razak and his Singaporean counterpart Mr Lee Hsien Loong pledged in February 2013 to build the 330km railway by 2020, bringing the journey time between the two cities down to around 90 minutes.





Thalys launches Amsterdam – Lille services

INTERNATIONAL high-speed operator Thalys launched a new twice-daily direct service between Amsterdam Central and Lille Europe on April 12.


The northbound service has a journey time of 2h 36min, with an 11-minute call at Brussels South, while the southbound service reaches Lille in 2h 34min with an eight-minute stop in Brussels. The trains also serve Schiphol airport, Rotterdam Central, and Antwerp Central.


The new service has been launched as part of the framework for dealing with the collapse of the Fyra Dutch-Belgian cross border train services at the start of 2013. A third Amsterdam – Lille service will be added this December with the launch of the 2015 timetable.


The new service is effectively an extension of two existing Amsterdam Central – Brussels South workings, which were launched following the Fyra crisis to provide additional capacity on the route. Thalys is still the only high-speed operator serving the Amsterdam – Brussels corridor. LKZ is a 50:50 joint venture between Kazakhstan Railways and Transmashholding, Russia.






CSR Puzhen unveils first LRV for Suzhou

CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock has unveiled the first of 18 low-floor Flexity 2 LRVs for the first phase of the city of Suzhou's under-construction light rail network.


CSR Puzhen is supplying the vehicles under a 10-year licensing agreement with Bombardier, which commenced in July 2012. Bombardier developed the vehicle's design and is providing training and on-site support for CSR employees at its plant in Nanjing. The five-section, bi-directional vehicles are 32.5m long and 2.65m wide, and are equipped with Bombardier's Flexx Urban 3000 bogies and Mitrac propulsion equipment.


The trams will be operated by Suzhou New District Tram Compnay on line T1, a 18km seven-stop line within Suzhou's new industrial development zone, a greenfield satellite city within Suzhou municipality.


In addition to Suzhou, CSR Puzhen is also developing low-floor LRVs for two lines in its home city of Nanjing, which will include catenary-free sections, with the LRVs utilising Bombardier's induction-based Primove system.





Nippon Steel produces 150m-long rails


NIPPON Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NS&SMC) announced on April 16 that it has upgraded rail production and handling facilities at its Yawata steel works in the Japanese prefecture of Fukuoka to produce and distribute 150m-long rails, which the company claims are the longest in the world.


A nine-wagon train has been specially adapted to transport the rails in Japan, where NS&SMC has a 60% share of the rail market.


Rails are typically supplied in 25m or 50m lengths, although some manufacturers such as Tata Steel and VAE are now able to deliver sections exceeding 100m in length.


China to launch 48 new railway lines in 2014

China’s national rail operator will launch 48 new lines this year, it has revealed.


Reported by the state-run People’s Daily newspaper, China Railway Corp said its plans mark an increase from the 44 new lines previously planned for 2014, and that the majority of new tracks would be located in central and western regions of the country.


“Based on the demands from social and economic development and rail transport, we have decided that 48 new projects… will be launched this year,” the company’s general manager, Sheng Guangzu, was reported saying.


“More than 7,000km of new lines will be put into operation this year and an additional CNY20 billion (US$3.2bn) will be added to the previous budget for this year’s railway fixed asset investment,” he added.


The previous plan included 6,600km of new tracks costing CNY700bn, so the total planned investment for 2014 now stands at approximately US$117bn.


Sheng also said that 86% of new rail lines in China will be developed in the country’s central and western regions. According to China’s ongoing five-year plan, 230,000km of new railway lines will be developed in these parts of China from 2011 to 2015, costing a total of CNY1.85 trillion.







CSR Obtains Nanning’s First Metro Order with Contract Value of 870 Million Yuan

On April 14, the reporter knew from CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co., Ltd. that the company has obtained metro vehicle order of Nanning Metro Line 1 with contract value of about 870 million, marking Guangxi’s entering of the metro era.


It is known that Nanning Metro Line 1 covers the main traffic corridors in east-west of Nanning central urban area, connecting the main passenger flow collection and distribution points and the external transport hubs, and it is the backbone metro line. Therefore, the project adopts six-carriage B-type metro train, with speed of 80 kilometers per hour. The passenger capacity of a train is up to 2088 people in maximum.


As Guangxi's first metro product, in the train design, there are a variety of tailor-made elements. The appearance fully presents Nanning Bridge which is the representative landmark of Nanning. Liu Houlin, the Research & Design manager, introduces that the train is with a distinctive locomotive design and white body while green color belts at the train roof and body can highlight the characteristics of Nanning.


For the humanized design of the train that people are concerned about, technical experts said, the broadcast volume on the train can vary with the degree of the noise inside, to ensure that the broadcast volume can be heard clearly by passengers while it is not too loud to affect the rest of the passengers. Each carriage has three 360-degree panoramic cameras that allow the driver to fully observe the situation in the passenger carriages. When abnormal situation occurs, the monitor screen will automatically switch to the carriage raising the alarm. The situation that passengers would pull the emergency brake value under emergency situations occurring in a lot of places will be controlled.


This time, the metro products of CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co., Ltd. are introduced into Guangxi, marking Guangxi’s entering of the metro era. The open-up of the Metro Line 1 will ease traffic pressure and improve the quality of public travel in Nanning. In the future, Nanning will form two backbone lines including the east-west Metro Line 1 and the north-south Metro Line 2, and the Nanning rail transit network composed by eight lines will have a whole line length up to 252.1 kilometers.







High-speed rail link between Hong Kong and China delayed

Construction of a new high-speed rail link between Hong-Kong and China has been delayed by nine months after one the project’s tunnel boring machines (TBMs) was “severely” damaged by flood water.


In a statement, MTR said the Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link (XRL) would now be completed in 2016 following an “unforeseen challenge”.


Torrential rain on March 30 caused a section of tunnel in Yuen Long to flood, washing soil and debris into the site. While clearing the site, the contractor found that the flood waters had caused major damage to one of the TBMs.


The project team is now determining whether the tunnel can be completed using alternative methods as the TBM repair would require a complete replacement of some of the electrical components.


Mr T C Chew, projects director of MTR Corporation, said: ”The Express Rail Link project is a very large undertaking and immensely complex. Since construction began, we have been presented with numerous challenges which have put pressure on our schedule.


“We have been very focused on catching up through fine-tuning designs and adjusting the construction works but this latest situation with the TBM makes it clear that completion of the project by 2015 is not achievable.”


The project is having to manager other tunnelling challenges. A section of the route cuts through a protected wetland – an area known to contain marble caverns. MTR are also having to deal with difficult ground conditions at the West Kowloon Terminus.


A delay could also impact on the HKD $62.4 billion (US $8.05 billion) budget for the project which is expected to lead to greater cultural integration and stronger economic ties with mainland China.






New Energy Vehicles of CSR Driving in Brazil World Cup

Having been strictly tested for over one year, the first batch of new energy vehicles produced by CSR drive in Curitiba, the capital of Parana, where Brazil World Cup is held.


CSR provides the electric vehicles, TEG6129SHEV hybrid buses to Curitiba. After the actual operational statistics have been done in seven rounds , compared with the fuel consumption of other similar types of European vehicles in Curitiba, the new energy vehicles of CSR save over 40% of energy which is about 10% higher than them, reaching the Euro 5 emission standards; most of the CSR vehicles adopt the mature system control technology of high-speed trains, such as the vehicle CAN bus-mastering technology, motor vector-control technique, IGBT variable frequency control technology, and fault self-diagnostic technology in vehicle power system , all of which may make the control performance of an entire vehicle more accurate, smoother, and safer, so as to reach the "high-speed" level of rail transit. This is really important and necessary to densely populated Brazil with complex and changeable routes. At the same time, the vehicle is fashionably designed with low-floor car doors and a lightweight, compact and large-size components, decorated with new environmental interior materials, so that the driving noise is below 70 DB, the inner space increases by 20% more than a lithium-ion battery new energy vehicles and may effectively meet the high-load operational needs during the World Cup when there are more passengers and it is easier and more convenient for them to get on or off the bus.


It is their good performance that wins a high praise of the customers, government and mainstream media. Some media such as Brazil Government Official Website and the well-known newspaper, "GAZETA DO POVO" report their unique saving design, good safety and comfort performance, "We've tested from September 2013 to February 2014 and we proved that the BioBus is really an innovation to protect the environment." As the procurement, GULIN family, the Brazil bus operators experienced in Brazil transit operations, states that this is the best new energy vehicles they have purchased.


As far as we know, Curitiba where the new energy vehicles of CSR are used is one of cities where the World Cup games will be held. The CSR vehicles will bear the public transport function between the airport and urban area, and the cooperating party shows that the new energy vehicles produced by CSR will certainly bring greater attention and that a further cooperation will be continued in the vehicle purchase, research and development, and project investment.


The excellent operating performance makes CSR establish a good market reputation in the South American market when CSR vehicles drive in the market of Brazil World Cup and defeat other new energy vehicle brands, such as Marco Polo, NEOBUS Benz and Volvo; meanwhile, this brings a demonstration effect for Chinese new energy automobile enterprises implementing their "going-out" strategy implementation of the "going out" strategy and going into the international market.


At present, all the countries in the world make efforts to develop new energy vehicles and especially to China, it is included in the seven largest strategic industries. Developing the energy-saving and new energy vehicles is one of major measures China has taken to reduce the oil consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, so the governments at all levels has introduced many development policies, to create a good policy environment for the development of new energy vehicles. In recent years, as a representative of new energy automobile enterprises, CSR has made great progress in the industry standard, industrial union, industrial layout and technology research and development, and it is also expected to shoulder the historical responsibility of “catching up”.


Since 2001, China has invested 2 billion yuan in the research and development of "863" projects, forming the technical pattern of electric vehicles with "three vertical lines" of electric, hybrid electric and fuel cell techniques and the "three horizontal lines" of common technology, including "power battery, drive motor and power control system", where there are more than 200 automobile enterprises, parts firms, colleges and institutions making a complete industry chain; during "the 12th Five-Year Plan", China is expected to have over 100 new energy vehicles operated online.


As a leading brand of China's new energy electric automobiles, CSR is one of main initiators in the new energy automobile alliance of central enterprises, which has developed more than 10 types of energy-saving and new energy vehicles such as Plug-in EV, hybrid vehicle and EREV; by the end of 2013, CSR has sold over 4000 finished automobiles and more than 4000 sets of motor system and battery charger in over 20 cities, whose sales quota is the largest in China. The accumulative operation mileage of its finished automobiles is over 400 million kilometers, whose actual operational energy saving is over 30%. According to the traditional buses, they consume 30 liters per 100 kilometers, while the new energy vehicles of CSR have saved over 36 million liters of petrol; in accordance with BP carbon emission calculation formula, the carbon dioxide they have reduced to emit is up to 100,000 tons.









SilverRail extends train booking technology to Asia

SilverRail is extending its train booking technology for European and North American train services to cover Asian operators as well, following a $40m equity funding round led by the investment group of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan.


The specialist technology company, which is based in Shoreditch, London, but with development arms in Boston and Brisbane, has over the past five years created a single platform to knit together different rail service operators similar to those long available in the airline industry.


The company was created by Aaron Gowell and Will Phillipson, who had both been involved in the early iterations of travel booking technology during the dotcom years of the 1990s.


Their idea with SilverRail was to simplify what has been a complex process of booking point-to-point tickets using multiple rail company services, creating a system that is useful for both online ticket booking sites and travel agents alike.


The platform covers nine providers across the European and North American rail markets, which together generate $60bn of revenue from train tickets each year.


The latest countries to be included on the platform are Spain, Italy, and Sweden, but the goal now is to have all main global rail carriers integrated on the system, according to Mr Gowell.


“We want to be the Rosetta stone of rail travel,” he said, adding that there was an opportunity because none of the big technology companies had looked at the specialist needs of rail service operators, which have each developed their own systems independently.


The latest funding round brings the total amount of equity the company has raised to $73m. The company could have taken more money because of the interest from investors, Mr Gowell claimed.


“I think the world is realising that rail is the last big service space out there that nobody has figured out.” It was led by Mithril Capital Management, the global technology investment fund founded by Ajay Royan and Peter Thiel, and supported by existing investors – Canaan Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures and Brook Ventures.


Mr Royan, of Mithril Capital Management, who will join SilverRail’s board, said trains and the web were two critical global networks that had not previously worked well together.


“Currently, a lot of time, energy, and data are being wasted,” he added. “By upgrading the interactions among users, operators, and travel agents, SilverRail is making train travel much easier than air.”




Ashgabat's proposed metro offers pros and cons

Turkmenistan's capital is looking at the prospect of having a subway system within the next few years.


On an inspection tour of construction sites in February, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov invited the Ukrainian construction company Interbudmontazh to consider building a metro in Ashgabat, local media reported.


"The Ukrainians [Interbudmontazh] are building railway and highway bridges over the Amu Darya River in eastern Turkmenistan, and a drainage and cable tunnel in Ashgabat; they compete with Turkish and French companies for new contracts in Turkmenistan,"


Construction Ministry official Amanmurad Khajiyev told Central Asia Online, predicting that the Ukrainians "would likely jump at the chance" to bid for a chance to build the subway.


Gas-exporting Turkmenistan's ability to pay for massive projects makes it a desirable client for foreign contractors, Khajiyev said.


Opinions divided A mini-poll conducted by Central Asia Online among Ashgabat residents and specialists of various branches led to mixed answers about the feasibility of a subway.


Youth, encouraged by local media reports about the country's successes, embraced the idea.


Ashgabat's population growth and boundary expansion make a subway a must, Magtymguly Turkmen State University undergraduate Ailar Mammetgeldiyeva said.


"The surface transport fleet is constantly growing ... but a bus ride cross-town can still take an hour and a half," she said. "Taking a metro would save time, I think."


But other Ashgabat residents were not enamoured of the plan.


Building a metro would be "absurd" and "economically unjustified," Keshi retiree Begench Tangrygulyyev said.


"During the Soviet era ... only cities with at least 1m people had metros," he said. "Ashgabat has a much smaller population [about 637,000 in 2009, according to international estimates], so it might find itself 'knee-deep in harm and only ankle-deep in good,' as our ancestors used to say."


Tangrygulyyev called for more investment in surface transport, including monorails.


Seismic concerns mean reliable contractor is needed Seismic concerns also make people wonder how feasible a metro would be. Khalykberdi Ezizov, a Construction Ministry specialist on construction of quake-proofed buildings, cited the deadly 1948 earthquake that flattened much of Ashgabat and warned against building a subway.


"Ashgabat is in a seismically dangerous zone, where building structures over two or three storeys are risky, let alone an underground railway," he said, though he didn't rule out building a subway if the project fully met safety and seismic requirements.


"Given the high level of ground water and the seismic risks [in Ashgabat], only companies with an impeccable reputation and extensive experience ... can be trusted with [such a project]," Ezizov said, calling on the government to operate a transparent and global bidding process.






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