No.472issue(2014 05 02)

China's Kunming Rail Transit Lines start test run

April 30, 2014. Two metro lines in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2, have been undergone a test run on Wednesday.


Both lines are vertical and are joined in one station, running 42.1 kilometers from north to south. A typical one-way trip from one end to the other costs 72.5 minutes.






Tunnel bored through in China's Qilian Mountains

CONSTRUCTION workers are celebrating connecting the bores of the 16.3km tunnel through the Qilian Mountains in northwest China which is the final part of the project to build the 1776km Lanxin railway from Lanzhou, Gansu province, to Urumqi in Xinjiang.


Work on the tunnel, which reaches an altitude of up to 3607m, began in 2009, and with the rest of the track already laid, now paves the way for services to begin on the new line by the end of the year.


The line is designed for trains operating at more than 200km/h and will reduce journey times to eight hours from around 20 hours at present. In addition to the Qilian Mountains, the line crosses the Gobi Desert and around 440km/h of protective screens have been built to protect trains from gale-force winds which are common in the region.


Much of the new line has been built in parallel with the existing 1904km Lanxin railway, which will be used primarily as a freight line once the new link opens.







Mitsubishi Electric wins first order for SiC traction inverter

ODAKYU Electric Railway, Japan, will be the launch customer for Mitsubishi Electric's new traction inverter with all-silicon carbide (SiC) power modules using SiC transistors and SiC diodes.


Mitsubishi Electric says this is the world's first order for its 3.3kV 1500A traction inverter for operation on lines electrified at 1.5kV dc. The inverters will be installed in a four-car series 1000 EMU belonging to Odakyu Electric Railway and following tests should enter service in December. The train will be equipped with a two-level pulse-width-modulation inverter with regenerative braking, and will have four self-cooling 190kW traction motors with parallel control.


Mitsubishi Electric says the new system should reduce energy consumption compared with a conventional series 1000 train by up to 36% when the train is crowded or by 20% during normal occupancy, but these figures will be verified following test running. The system is also 80% smaller than a conventional traction system and weighs 80% less as there are fewer components.






South African Treasury delays huge Prasa train contract

SOUTH Africa's Treasury is being blamed for a four-month delay in concluding the country's largest rolling stock contract and for putting a cap on the total cost which could reduce the number of commuter trains being acquired.


Financial close of the Rand 51bn ($US 4.8bn/€4bn) 10-year contract for the Gibela consortium, in which Alstom is the main player, to supply 600 X'Trapolis Mega EMUs to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) was originally expected in December 2013, but has only just been concluded.


The Treasury says it needed more time for consultation over such a large project before it could approve the deal. In addition, the Treasury, which initially indicated that it would fund only Rand 40bn of the total cost, has made Rand 53bn available, by adding Rand 2bn from contingency funds. However, this excludes the effects of inflation and foreign currency exchange fluctuations.


Prasa has warned that should the cost of project exceed this limit it might have to buy fewer vehicles than the 3600 cars planned. Since September 2012, when the bid was submitted, the rand has depreciated by more than 40% against the euro.


For the first five years of the contract, Gibela will be responsible for hedging currency fluctuations at no cost to Prasa. Thereafter, the deal converts to a multi-currency arrangement and the Treasury would hedge the rand, mainly against the euro.


The first 20 trains will be produced at Alstom's Lapa plant in Brazil, before production switches to a new facility in Dunnottar, 50km east of Johannesburg. Under the contract, Gibela will provide technical support and spare parts for 18 years.





Greek-led consortium wins Doha metro contract

QATAR Railways (QR) has awarded the ALYSJ consortium a €3.2bn contract for design and construction of the 32km underground Gold Line, one of four lines under development in the first phase of Doha's 354km metro network.


The east-west line runs from Doha Airport South to Al Rayyan and will have 13 underground stations. The construction phase will utilise six tunnel boring machines simultaneously and the contract includes the fitting out of stations. The project is expected to be completed by August 2018.


The ALYSJ consortium is led by Aktor, a subsidiary of Greek construction group Ellaktor, which holds a 32% stake, and includes Larsen & Toubro, India, Turkish firms Yapi Merkezi and STFA, and Al jabber Engineering, Qatar.


The contract award follows the appointment on April 12 of a Systra-Parsons joint venture in a €234m management and works supervision contract for Phase 1 of the metro undertaking.






Hitachi reveals SET interiors

HITACHI and Britain's Department for Transport (DfT) have unveiled the interiors of the new Super Express Trains (SET), which are being procured under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) for Britain's Great Western and East Coast main lines, and are due to be delivered in spring 2015.


Full scale mock ups of both the driving cab and the carriage interiors were developed and built by DCA Design, Britain. These mock-ups, which are a design tool not a replica of a complete train, have been extensively reviewed by around 2000 people as part of around 200 stakeholder and employee visits.


The interior colours of SET, or class 801, have been agreed by DfT and the current franchisees and utilise a grey colour scheme and light wood finishes for seats in standard class with first class featuring darker seats with burgundy head and armrests and darker wood finishes. The standard class seats have tip down tables designed to accommodate tablet computers and larger laptops.


The coaches utilise a specifically designed computer reservation system which was developed from user and operator feedback. Colour lights visible throughout the coach indicate the occupancy status of seats throughout the train, with green showing an unreserved seat, orange a seat that is reserved for part of journey, and red indicating that the seat is reserved for the entire journey.


The trains also feature a kitchen, lockable bike and luggage storage facilities, with luggage racks in coaches capable of holding airline hold-size luggage. Hitachi says the five-car trains will have the same amount of luggage space as the current East Coast mark IV coaches, while the nine-car version will have roughly twice as much luggage space as the existing coaches.


The driving cab is based upon the class 395 Javelin EMU but incorporates a range of additional features; ERTMS is fitted as standard while the trains destined for the Great Western franchise will also use ATP, although this will be de-commissioned once ERTMS is deployed.


Diesel engine power packs for the bi-mode variant are mounted under the floors of intermediate coaches meaning that these coaches have a higher floor height than the driving cars which are lower to accommodate the pantograph. As a result gangways between the two coach types incorporate a gentle slope.





Belarus gets set to introduce five-car Flirts


BELARUS Railways (BC) will introduce five-car Stadler Flirt EMUs on Minsk - Baranovichi, Minsk - Orsha, and Baranovichi - Brest services on May 1, replacing four-car Flirts which will be transferred to the recently-electfied Minsk - Osipovichi - Bobruysk line.


The five-car Flirts arrived in Belarus in late 2013 and early 2014 and have since undergone testing.


BC is also set to replace its DR1B DMUs on the Minsk - Vilnius line from May 1 with three DP3 EMUs manufactured by Pesa, delivery of which was completed this month. In addition Russian Railways (RZD) has transferred its fleet of 40 Skoda ChS8 locomotives from the Timoshevskaya depot on the North Caucaus Railway to the Vyazma and Bryansk-2 depot in order to serve the Vyazma - Minsk - Brest and Sukhinichi - Bryansk - Kiev lines.


Tanzania upgrade receives $US 300m from World Bank

THE WORLD Bank has approved the allocation of $US 300m towards Tanzania's Dar es Salaam - Isaka railway upgrade project, which is part of a larger scheme to link Dar es Salaam with Kigali in Rwanda and Gitega in Burundi.


The overall project is expected to cost $US 3.4 - $US 5.1bn and be implemented as a public-private partnership (PPP), with new lines from Isaka to Kigali and from Kesa to Gitega expected to cost $US 2.63bn. The project also includes an upgrade of the existing line from Dar es Salaam to Isaka and Tanzania's transport minister Mr Omari Nundu says there are several options under consideration for the line's design.


"If we decide to upgrade the existing line to dual gauge it will cost $US 996m, while if we decide to upgrade the existing line to standard gauge it will cost $US 912.1m," Nundu says adding that another option under consideration is the construction of new parallel standard-gauge railway via the planned port at Bagamoyo at a cost of $US 2.47bn.


"Once the money is made available it will take three to four years to complete the project," Nundu says.


The World Bank's country director for Tanzania Mr Philippe Dongier says the bank is excited to help the government of Tanzania to rebuild its rail and intermodal transport system. The line is expected to boost transport capacity in Tanzania and provide a viable and competitive alternative to road transport.


"The project will also indirectly help to boost agricultural trade, job creation, and overall livelihoods for the country and neighbouring countries' poorest people," Dongier says.







North American DMUs to have Cummins Tier 4 engines

NIPPON Sharyo's new DMU for North America is to be powered by Cummins QSK 19-R engines which are certified to meet Tier 4 Final ultra-low emissions standards which come into effect on January 1 2015.


Cummins says the QSK 19-R is the first DMU engine under production in North America which will meet the new emissions standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The 19-litre engine is integrated with Cummins' selective catalytic reduction after-treatment to reduce exhaust emissions to very low levels.


The engine is rated at 567kW and has a peak output of 3084Nm to enable the DMUs to accelerate rapidly. The engine has an upgraded common-rail fuel system to balance fuel distribution across its six cylinders.


Nippon Sharyo/Sumitomo are building 18 cars of the new design for GO Transit for a new rail link under construction between Toronto and Pearson International Airport, plus 14 cars for a new train service north of San Francisco Bay to be introduced by Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (Smart).


The DMUs will have a maximum speed of 145km/h and can be configured in two or three-car sets. The first train is due for delivery to Toronto later this year.







Funds approved for Indian Freight Corridor

THE World Bank has sanctioned a second loan of $US 1.1bn for construction of the 393km Mughalsarai - Bhaupur section of India's Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC).


Of the World Bank's $US 2.7bn total loan commitment to part-finance the Eastern DFC project between Mughalsarai and Ludhiana, the first tranche of $US 975m was sanctioned in May 2011. The loan agreement for the second phase is expected to be signed in June.


Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL), a special purpose vehicle, is engaged in planning, construction, operation and maintenance of the 1839km long Eastern DFC from Ludhiana to Dankuni as well as the 1499km Western DFC from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port. The entire Western DFC is being funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).






China raises railway spending target to 800 bln yuan in 2014-sources

China will raise its spending targets on railway infrastructure to 800 billion yuan ($128 billion) in 2014, two sources with direct knowledge told Reuters, the third such increase this year as Beijing gingerly returns to stimulus spending in the face of economic disappointments.


China Railway Corporation, the state-controlled commercial entity spun off from the Ministry of Railways in 2013, said during a conference call on Friday that it has raised its annual spending target to 800 billion yuan for the year, according to the sources.


That is the third time the target has been incrementally increased from the original amount of 630 billion yuan. This latest increase marks a 70 billion yuan rise from the most recent target of 730 billion yuan.


One of the sources said the call relayed instructions from Vice Premier Ma Kai regarding the pace and quality of construction, and also said the corporation is now required to bring 7,000 km (4,350 miles) of new line into operation this year.


Reuters was unable to contact China Railway Corporation for comment as mainland Chinese businesses are closed for the Labour Day holiday.


While equities markets in mainland China were closed for a holiday, Hong Kong-listed Chinese railway stocks rose on rumours of the policy change, which were first reported in the domestic magazine Caixin on Thursday.


Shares in China Railway Group Ltd jumped about 9 percent, making the company the best performer on the Hang Seng China Enterprise Index. China Railway Construction Corp Ltd gained 7 percent.


China's economic managers have announced a series of small stimulus measures in recent weeks as manufacturing activity data has proved lacklustre, exports have slid and signs of increasing stress have appeared in selected parts of the financial system.


Railway spending, some economists argue, is a low-risk way to pump investment into a slowing economy without distorting it, as the cash shows up in the system quickly. At the same time, such spending builds public transportation services that are a key part of Beijing's strategy to improve logistical efficiency and better link the developed coastal regions with the more impoverished interior provinces.


However, officials have been careful to warn markets that Beijing is not contemplating a return to the massive stimulus lending package it enacted in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008. That move has been widely blamed for swamping the country with industrial overcapacity, excess real estate development, and unsustainable local government debt levels.


There have also been widespread concerns about how much of the money dedicated to railway spending is actually spent on railways; the Ministry of Rail was effectively broken up and absorbed after its top official was sentenced to death for corruption in 2013.









World’s highest tunnel for high-speed train opened in China

The world’s highest tunnel for high-speed train in northwest China at an altitude of 3607.4 metres became operational on 1 May 2014. The 16.3 km long tunnel links Gansu province and Xinjiang provinces. The tunnel passes through the Qilian Mountains with two sections and bridge.


The construction of the highest tunnel started in 2009. This rail line through the tunnel has solved the most difficult part of the Lanxin high-speed railway. The 1776 km high-speed railway links Lanzhou, capital of Gansu, with Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang and runs across Gansu and Qinghai provinces to Xinjiang, traversing the Gobi Desert.


The line is designed for trains at over 200 km per hour and will cut the train travel time between Lanzhou and Urumqi is eight hours from 20 hours. The line will be used at end of 2014.


Taihang tunnel (27.8 km long) and Wushaoling tunnel (21.05km long) is the fifth and ninth longest rail tunnel in the world respectively located in China.




Alstom to decide on GE bid by end of May as Siemens circles

ALSTOM has confirmed that it has received an offer from General Electric (GE) for its Energy division, which if approved would result in the French company focusing solely on its Transport business using the proceeds from the sale to strengthen this sector, pay down debt and return cash to shareholders.


The Financial Times reports that the Alstom board has accepted a $US 12.35bn cash offer from GE, but that it has left the door open to a counter bid from Siemens. In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, Alstom says that it has established a committee of independent directors, led by Mr Jean-Marc Folz, to review the proposed transaction before the end of May, and to consider "all stakeholder interests including the French state." Alstom CEO Mr Patrick Kron and the committee will liaise with the French government to consider its views.


Alstom says that if the proposed transaction goes through the remaining Transport division, which had a turnover of €5.5bn in 2012-13, would be led by its current management with Bouygues as a long-term shareholder.


"The proposed transaction would allow Alstom to develop its Transport business as a standalone company, with a strong balance sheet to capitalise on opportunities in the dynamic rail transport market," Kron says.


However, the delay in approving a deal with GE leave Siemens with enough time to launch a formal offer, a move that the German company confirmed that it is exploring yesterday, and which is seemingly favoured by the French government.


In a letter sent to the French group, Siemens asked for access over the next four weeks, a move confirmed by Alstom which acknowledged Siemens' declaration of interest. It says that Siemens' intentions will be reviewed in light of Alstom's corporate interest and the views of all stakeholders, but that it will not solicit offers for all or part of its energy business from other third parties. However, if Alstom does decide to proceed with another offer, it has committed to pay GE a break-up fee of 1.5% of its bid.


Siemens said over the weekend that it envisages the formation of two European industrial champions, itself in energy and Alstom in transport by transferring its high-speed rail technology. However, it is understood that Siemens would retain ownership of its urban and regional train and signalling divisions.


Ultimately it appears that the deal's fate hinges on French politics. President Francois Hollande's government stepped into the negotiations last week in an effort to protect what it sees as a strategic industrial asset and "secure a better deal for Alstom," which was described by industry minister Mr Arnaud Montebourg as a national "industrial jewel." Montebourg also accused Kron of "a breach of national ethics" for attempting to negotiate the GE deal without government involvement.






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