No.483issue(2014 07 18)

Nigeria to study feasibility of building 4000km of new lines

NIGERIA's Ministry of Transport has invited bids for a consultant to carry out a $US 8m feasibility study into the construction of six proposed standard-gauge lines totalling 4028km.


The projects include a line which would largely parallel the existing 1067mm-gauge railway from Port Harcourt via Aba, Enugu and Lafia to Jos, with a new section from Jos to Bauchi, then follow the existing railway to Gombe before heading east on a new alignment to Biu and then north to Maiduguri. This project would entail 550km of new construction. A second 1669km north-south line is proposed running along the eastern side of Nigeria from Maiduguri via Yola, Jalingo, Obudu, and Ikom to Calabar. Another line would run west from Calabar via Uyo to Aba.


There is also a proposal for a 707km line from Ngala on the Cameroon border via Maiduguri and Damaturu to Ngura where it would then follow the alignment of the existing narrow-gauge line to Kano.


Another north-south line is proposed in northwestern Nigeria. This 408km railway would run from Ilela on the Niger border via Sokoto and Jega to Kontagora.


Nigeria's transport minister Mr Idris Umar says the consultant will be asked to confirm the viability of the rail projects, produce an environmental impact assessment, and identify sites for stations and business and economic activities along the corridors.


The projects are part of Nigeria's 25-year strategic railway development plan which targets areas with strong economic potential such as mining, petrochemicals, mineral deposits, and agriculture, as well as providing connections to airports and state capitals.


"Within the next 25 years, government will put in more effort to ensure the development of areas through government funding and public-private partnership arrangements," Umar says.






TRA launches Hualien – Taitung electric services

TAIWAN Railways Administration (TRA) launched through electric services between Taipei and Taitung on July 16, following the completion of electrification on the 166km section of the East Coast Main Line between Hualien and Taitung.


Line speeds on the route have been raised from 110km/h to 130km/h and Puyuma Express tilting EMUs have been introduced on Taipei – Taitung services which, together with the elimination of the change to diesel traction at Hualien has reduced the fastest journey time by around an hour to 3h 30min.


Taiwan Railway Reconstruction Bureau began work in 2008 on the $NT 25.4bn ($US 847m) project, which involved track-doubling on four sections of the route as well as electrification at 25kV 60Hz ac.







Kirow wins Japanese crane orders

KIROW, Germany, has secured its first orders for rail cranes from Japan with contracts to supply vehicles for both the conventional 1067mm-gauge network and standard-gauge Shinkansen lines.


Itochu Construction Machinery has ordered two Multi Tasker 810 cranes, which will be used for track construction on JR East lines in the Tokyo area. Delivery is scheduled for mid-2015.


The crane will be hauled to the worksite by a purpose-built tractor unit, and Kirow says it will be possible to control the crane remotely from the powered vehicle. Like the crane, the underframe and superstructure of the single-cab tractor unit will be fitted with a slewing ring, allowing the cab and platform to be rotated by 180o, avoiding the need for shunting. The tractor vehicle is being developed and built in collaboration with HeiterBlick, Germany.


Kirow has also secured a second order from JR Central for a standard-gauge Multi Tasker 1000 crane with a slewable counterweight, which will be used on the Shinkansen network. The crane is due to enter service later this year.






Stadler forms joint venture in Azerbaijan

Stadler Rail and local partner International Railway Distribution LLC announced the formation of a 51:49 joint venture on July 17.


Stadler said it foresees a demand for its products as CIS countries modernise their rail networks and encourage the transfer of traffic from road to rail.


Stadler signed its first contract in Azerbaijan during June, a SFr120m deal to supply 30 sleeping and dining cars. When he announced the contract, CEO and owner Peter Spuhler said entry into new markets was important to for the company’s future growth.





Chinese high speed line construction one-third cheaper, study suggests

Economies of scale accrued through standardisation of construction processes are among the key factors in China’s ability to build high speed railways more cheaply than other countries, a World Bank study has suggested.


The World Bank’s paper, entitled High Speed Railways in China: A Look at Construction Costs, suggests that a typical infrastructure unit cost of US$17m to US$21m per kilometre for a line designed for 350 km/h operation compares to US$25m to US$39m in Europe.


A number of factors influence the cost of projects, including ‘topography, weather conditions, land acquisition costs, use of viaducts instead of embankments, the construction of major bridges across wide rivers, and the construction of mega stations’. The study focuses particularly on the use of highly-modular tracklaying and viaduct construction techniques in China, which are often used as an alternative to embankments. The mechanised casting and laying of bridge beams is seen as a particular advantage in reducing construction costs. However, the study also notes that most lines include a small number of very long viaducts, often totalling many kilometres in length to cross wide navigable rivers, and these have a much higher unit cost.


Stations typically require around 40m yuan in capital expenditure and account for just 1% to 1·5% of total project cost, although the biggest hubs in major cities can cost up to 13bn yuan and are normally managed as independent projects in their own right. This reflects the stations’ role not just as transport facilities but as urban centres, the World Bank says.


‘China has accomplished a remarkable feat in building over 10 000 route-km of high speed railway in a period of six to seven years at a unit cost that is lower than the cost of similar projects in other countries’, said Gerald Ollivier, Senior Transport at the World Bank. ‘Besides the lower cost of labour in China, one possible reason for this is the large scale of the network planned. This has allowed the standardisation of the design of construction elements, competitive capacity for the manufacture of equipment and construction and the amortisation of the capital cost of equipment over a number of projects.’






First Roca electrification contracts awarded

The Ministry of the Interior & Transport has selected Supercemento SAIC as preferred bidder for the first two contracts to be awarded under the project to upgrade and electrify at 25 kV 50 Hz AC the 52⋅6 km between Plaza Constitución and La Plata on the Roca commuter network in Buenos Aires.


Supercemento has been awarded Lot 1 for 129⋅2m pesos and Lot 2 for 158⋅9m pesos. Both awards have been approved by the Inter-American Development Bank which is funding the project.


‘When this work is finished, along with the introduction of 300 new cars which are being built in China, we will cut the journey time between Plaza Constitución and La Plata by 20 min, double frequencies and move from a train every 25 min to one every 12 min’, said Minister of the Interior & Transport Florencio Randazzo on July 14. Deliveries of the new Roca fleet from CSR are expected to begin towards the end of this year.


As well as electrification and the construction of a new traction substation, infrastructure works to be undertaken on the La Plata route include station refurbishment, raising platform heights and the provision of new structures including a viaduct at Ringuelet and two road underbridges in La Plata.





Porto Alegre train maintenance contract awarded


Porto Alegre metro operator Trensurb has awarded CAF Brasil Indústria e Comércio a R$79·7m contract to maintain its fleet of 25 trainsets for five years. The contract covers preventive and corrective maintenance of the four-car trainsets.


Trensurb plans to invite tenders soon for the maintenance of the 15 Series 200 trainsets that are currently being produced by the Frota POA consortium of Alstom and CAF under a R$243·76m contract awarded in 2012.


Footbath luxury in Yamagata Shinkansen trainset

East Japan Railway will put into service a luxury trainset on its Yamagata Shinkansen with effect from July 19, as part of an ongoing programme to refresh the line’s fleet of mini-shinkansen trainsets.


Known as Toreiyu from a combination of Train + Soleil, the six-car trainset has been rebuilt from a former Series E3 unit made redundant by the introduction of 320 km/h Series E6 sets on Akita Shinkansen services last year. The train has been remodelled by Kawasaki Heavy Industry at a cost of ¥3bn.


Carrying up to 143 passengers, the unit will operate tourist-oriented services on the regauged section of the Yamagata Shinkansen between Fukushima and Shinjo, running at a maximum speed of 130 km/h. The train is expected to operate on 120 days a year, typically at weekends.


The exterior livery is inspired by Mount Gassan in Yamagata prefecture, with a blend of the green mountain and white from the Zao range, while the blue driving ends are intended to reflect the Mogami River.


Driving car 11 is fitted with reclining seats, whereas cars 12 to 14 have large birch tables and tatami chairs arranged in a 2+1 configuration; the backs of the chairs are decorated with fruit designs from the Yamagata region. Car 15 is a ‘relaxation room’ with a bar.


Highlight of the train is car 16, which has two foot-baths able to accommodate up to eight passengers at a time. The hot water is recycled, purified and recirculated using a jet stream. The seats around the footbaths have an overhanging lip and ‘wave plates’ designed to prevent water being spilled.







Luxembourg City Council backs light rail plan

LUXEMBOURG City Council granted consent on July 14 for the construction of the first phase of the city's light rail network, which was given the go-ahead by the Chamber of Deputies of the Grand Duchy last month.


The council has agreed to create a joint company with the Luxembourg government named LuxTram SA, which will be responsible for managing the design, implementation, and operation of the network within its territory and neighbouring municipalities.


LuxTram will have initial working capital of €6m, two-thirds of which will come from the state with the remaining €2m being provided by the city.


Construction is expected to begin in autumn 2015 on the initial 6.4km section of the route, which will link the city's main station and Place de l'Étoile in the city centre with the LuxExpo exhibition centre in the district of Kirchberg.


The budget for the 14-station initial phase is estimated to be around €230.5m and the city has agreed to fund half of the cost with the remainder expected to come from the national government.







Siemens selected for San Francisco LRV order

SAN FRANCISCO Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) has recommended awarding a contract worth up to $US 1.2bn to Siemens for up to 260 S200 SF LRVs, which will replace the city's ageing Breda trams and expand the fleet for the opening of the Central Subway line.


SFMTA's board of directors is expected to approve the contract today and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to give its own approval in September.


The first prototype vehicle will be delivered in December 2016 and a further 23 units are due to arrive by 2018.


The initial order for 24 vehicles is funded from federal, state, and local sources via the budget for the Central Subway project, which will extend the T-Third line under Stockton and Fourth Streets from the Caltrain station to Chinatown. The extension, which includes new underground stations at Moscone Center and Union Square, is due to open in 2019. A further 151 vehicles will be delivered between 2021 and 2027 to replace existing trams. SFMTA says funding for this batch of vehicles is in place.


Following the completion of a travel demand study, SFMTA estimates it will need a further 40 vehicles between 2018 and 2021, and 45 more in 2027-2030 which would take the total order to 260 vehicles. The authority is currently identifying funding sources for the initial option for 40 vehicles.


SFMTA says the price offered by Siemens was 20% lower than anticipated, which will allow it to order 215 LRVs with the budget allocation for 175 vehicles.






Panama Line 2 project management deal signed

A consortium of Barcelona Metropolitan Transport, Ayesa, Spain, and Louis Berger, United States, has been awarded a $US 32m five-year contract by Metro Panama to provide project management, coordination and technical assistance on the construction of the second metro line in Panama City.


The 23km 15-station line will run on a mostly-elevated alignment from an interchange with Line 1 at San Miguelito serving the districts of December 24 and New Tocumen before terminating at La Doña.


TMB and Ayesa provided project management and supervision services on the 13.7km Line 1, which opened in April this year.









Spot timetable weaknesses

Infrastructure manager ProRail has recently deployed OpenTimeTable planning software which provides an interactive way of accessing operational data to help identify weaknesses in timetabling that can lead to delays.


OTT was originally developed in-house by SBB, which has used it across its timetabling department since 2007. OTT is now distributed and supported by VIA Consulting & Development, and has been adopted by Austria’s ÖBB Infrastruktur, Germany’s DB Netz, Israel Railways and ProRail.


As well as further main line applications, SBB and VIA-Con are promoting OTT to the operators of local and urban transport systems such as tramways, where they believe it can also help improve performance. The supplier says it requires little data preparation, and the intuitive approach means results can be achieved quickly.  




All Aboard Florida set for 2016 launch

ALL Aboard Florida, the inter-city passenger subsidiary of Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) has announced details of its first services, which will link Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach from late 2016.


All Aboard Florida on Tuesday unveiled its plans for its new station in Fort Lauderdale, and also announced it would construct a second track on the southern section of the route as it continues planning to extend the service north to Orlando, which is expected to join the route in 2017. A future extension from Orlando to Tampa is also proposed.


Plans for the downtown Miami station were unveiled last month, emphasising intermodal connections with Miami's Metrorail network, bus services, and the Metromover city centre automated peoplemover.


All Aboard Florida president Mr Michael Reininger told local media that the service will not compete with Tri-Rail commuter rail services because it will only serve three stations, whereas Tri-Rail makes 16 stops between Miami International Airport and West Palm Beach.


First announced in March 2012, All Aboard Florida will use the existing 320km FEC freight line between Miami and Cocoa, where services will continue on a new 64km line to Orlando International Airport following the route of State Road 528. Construction is expected to begin on the new-build section next year.


Besides Tampa, a future leg north to Jacksonville near the state border with Georgia has also been proposed.






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