No.486issue(2014 08 08)

Casablanca scraps metro plan in favour of trams

AT a meeting on July 24 Casablanca city council voted to abandon plans for a 15km elevated metro line in favour of expanding the city's light rail network.


Preliminary studies for the metro line from Boulevard de la Corniche to New Medina and Sidi Moumen were completed in December 2012, but the council deemed the project to be too expensive.


The council now proposes completing the city's planned 79km light rail network by 2020 at a total cost of around Dirhams 16bn ($US 1.91bn).


The initial phase of the network was inaugurated in December 2012 with the opening of the 30.7km east-west Line 1 from Ennassim to Ain Diab and Facultés.


Three more light rail lines are planned:


Line 2: Sidi Bernoussi – Hospital (19km) Line 3: Boulevard de la Corniche – Sidi Outhman (14km), and Line 4 : Sbata – Lissafa (15km).






Alstom and Huawei to test first LTE 4G for CBTC

ALSTOM says it is ready to start test running at its Valenciennes test centre in northern France with its Urbalis communications-based train control (CBTC) and Huawei's LTE 4G telecommunications system.


The trial will involve a metro train fitted with LTE-compliant onboard equipment while Huawei is providing the LTE trackside network. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in April to work together on the project, and Alstom expects to be able to supply LTE technology integrated with CBTC by end of the year.


LTE is able to provide mission-critical voice communication, secure train signalling as part of a CBTC installation, and broadband data communication to allow live video streaming from CCTV cameras and more comprehensive passenger information.







SRO awards freight line track-doubling contract

THE president of Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO), H E Mohamed Al-Suwaiket, has signed a Riyals 391.5m ($US 104.4m) contract with a Saudi contractor for the first phase of track-doubling on the Riyadh - Harad - Dammam freight-only line.


The contract involves doubling a 214km section of the line from Hofuf to Harad, and the project is expected to take two years to complete. SRO says the project will enable it increase capacity, lengthen trains and cut the 14-hour transit time for freight trains, by reducing the occasions when trains have to wait in passing loops.


SRO carried 535,264 TEUs last year, the highest number of containers in its history, between King Abdul Aziz port in Dammam and Riyadh dry port. Demand is growing from several Saudi companies such as Arasco, Cement Company, Al Belha, Geerco, and GSFMO. "These are companies with large expansion plans which require additional capacity that can be provided by this project," says SRO.


The double-track section will be designed for 150km/h running as SRO plans to introduce a passenger service between Hofuf and Harad, and to Al Kharj at a later stage.


Tender documents are being completed for the second phase of the project to double the section between Riyadh and Al Kharj. The contract will include reconstruction of bridges, and provision of signalling and telecommunications to enable use of the line by both freight and passenger trains.






Trial operation starts on Nanjing suburban metro

TRIAL passenger operation began on August 1 on a new suburban metro line in Nanjing, which serves northern districts of the Chinese city.


The 45.2km Nangtian Intercity Line, which is otherwise known as Line S8, runs on a mostly-elevated alignment for from Taishan Village on the north bank of the Yangtze River to Jinniuhu. The line has 17 stations, six of them underground, and is completely isolated from the rest of the Nanjing metro network.


During the trial operation phase services are operating between 0600 and 1900 with eight four-car trains in operation and one train in reserve.





Korea to carry out Asuncion commuter rail study

PLANS to establish commuter rail services in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion have taken a step forward after Korean Rail Network Authority (KRNA) and the engineering faculty of the Asuncion National University (Fiuna) were appointed to carry out a feasibility study into the project.


The 44km five-station route would link Asuncion Central station with Areguá and Ypacarai utilising the alignment of the Uruguayan Railways (Fepasa) line from Asuncion to Villarica.


KRNA said in a statement on August 4 that work will begin on the study this month and is due to be completed by the end of the year.






Chinese to build Mexican-US rail link

THE governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, Mr César Duarte, signed a letter of intent in Beijing on July 31 with a group of Chinese companies to build the rail element of the San Jerónimo Santa Teresa Master Plan.


The Chinese companies comprise China Hyway, Chinese Development Bank, Quantum, QTriad, and Sinosure. It is hoped that work on the project could start before the end of the year.


The San Jerónimo Santa Teresa Master Plan is designed to create a bi-national master-planned city straddling the Mexico US border to relieve the congestion and chaotic development which has taken place in the neighbouring cities of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso. A key element of the project is the construction of a new railway running along the western side of the development and connecting Union Pacific's new $US 400m freight terminal in Santa Teresa with the Mexican rail network.


The governor of the Mexican state of Nayarit, Mr Roberto Sandoval Castañeda, accompanied Duarta on the visit to Beijing as it is proposed to extend the railway south to a planned deepwater port in Nayarit.





Softronic launches open access service with Hyperion EMU


As part of a promotional campaign for its 160 km/h Hyperion electric multiple-unit, the Softrans subsidiary of rolling stock manufacturer Softronic is running a daily Craiova – București – Constanța open access return service between August 1 and September 12.


This follows trials undertaken by national operator CFR Călători on the Craiova – București route during June and July.


The four-car Hyperion is designed to run under 3 kV DC and 25 kV 50 Hz electrification, with four ABB asynchronous traction motors developing 1 720 kW.


It is designed for a maximum service speed of 160 km/h, and has reached 176 km/h on the Făurei test track. Passenger facilities include air-conditioning, power sockets, free wi-fi and a drinks vending machine.


From September 13 the EMU is to be deployed on Craiova – Brașov services.


Transnet secures US guarantee for GE loco financing

Freight operator Transnet has secured a R6bn guarantee from the USA’s export credit agency to support the financing of 293 diesel locomotives which GE is to supply, including an order for 233 announced in March.


Transnet said the Ex-Im Bank guarantee announced on August 6 would enable it to negotiate bank loans on favourable repayment terms. The facility will be drawn over a three-year period in line with the delivery schedule for the locomotives. The repayment period of 14 years is intended to extend Transnet’s debt maturity profile while improving the match between assets and liabilities.


Transnet said the agreement ‘confirms the continued attractiveness of Transnet’s portfolio of projects, the company and South Africa among major investors’, and ‘is in line with the company’s agreed funding strategy which is premised on diversifying sources in a cost-effective manner.’


Debt capital market funding accounts for a third of Transnet’s R312bn seven-year investment programme, with the remainder to come from cash generated by operations.







Latvia develops electrification plans

National railway LDz is developing plans to spend an estimated €450m on 25 kV electrification of its main lines, including the Riga – Ventspils and Riga – Daugavpils routes and conversion of the existing 248 km of 3 kV DC electrification radiating from Riga.


This would be in addition to €387m of planned infrastructure spending on the 1 859 km network in 2014-15. A total of €220m (including EU co-financing) is to be spent this year, with the single largest project being the double-tracking of the Skrīveri – Krustpils route by the end of the year at a cost of €93m.


The €167m of projects due for completion in 2015 include an upgrade of Škirotava marshalling yard near Riga, modernisation of Šķirotava station and the construction of a spur from Bolderaja II to serve an expansion of Riga's port facilities on the Krievu Sala peninsula. A further €14·2m is being spent to upgrade the data transmission backbone.







13 MW electric locomotive to tackle Siberian gradients

‘The most powerful AC electric freight locomotive in the world’ was unveiled by Transmashholding’s Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Plant and Russian Railways as part of Railwaymen’s Day celebrations in Rostov-na-Donu on August 3.


The four-section 4ES5K has a 1 h rating of 13·12 MW. This is intended to be sufficient to haul 7 100 tonne freight trains on the Tayshet – Taksimo section of the Baikal-Amur Magistral route without needing additional locomotives, or 9 000 tonne trains on less steeply-graded routes.


The 4ES5K is derived from TMH’s twin-section 2ES5K Yermak design, with extensive commonality of components. The booster sections include a crew room with toilet.


RZD certification is expected in November, with 53 locomotives scheduled to be delivered by 2020.






Israel Railways calls tenders for electric locomotives

Israel Railways has called tenders for the supply of between 62 and 78 electric locomotives, with options for more. These are required as part of ISR’s 25 kV 50 Hz electrification programme.


ISR is seeking mixed traffic locomotives with three-phase asynchronous traction equipment. These should be suitable for regenerative braking, have a maximum axle load of 22·5 tonnes, and be capable of operating up to 20 h/day and 250 000 km/year. VHF radios will be fitted, with provision for the installation of GSM-R.


The locomotives should be suitable for use on 160 km/h passenger trains, including push-pull operation with up to eight double-deck or 10 single-deck coaches. The continuous power must be sufficient to give a Tel Aviv – Jerusalem journey time of 27 min or less.


They are also required to be capable of hauling freight trains up to 3 600 tonnes at up to 120 km/h, with the ability for three locomotives to work in multiple.


Proposals are due to be submitted by December 15.









CAF to supply Monterrey fleet

Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF has announced that it is to supply 22 cars for Line 3 of the Monterrey metro, as leader of the consortium awarded a 20-year concession to build and operate the line on July 30.


According to CAF, the funding package for the project was expected to be finalised shortly. The Spanish manufacturer has already supplied 22 of the 84-strong fleet operating the two existing lines of the Metrorrey network in Monterrey.


Serving eight stations, Line 3 will run for 7⋅5 km from Barrio Antiguo to Hospital Metropolitano to the northeast of the city centre. Except for a 550 m underground section between Barrio Antiguo and Line 2 at General Zaragoza and a 300 m transition, the new route will run on viaduct for 6⋅65 km.




UIC launches global railway MBA

Under the umbrella of its Railway Academy programme, UIC has announced the launch of a Railway Global Executive MBA course, to be hosted by the EM Lyon Business School in France.


Subject to sufficient applications through member railways, UIC hopes that the first intake could start the Master’s course early next year. Among the objectives of the course is ‘to attract external high potential talents to the railway sector’ and to develop the managerial skills of those already in the industry, especially focusing on pan-industry change and the introduction of competition.


The MBA course would last 19 months in total, with a large proportion of teaching undertaken by distance learning. Three ‘action learning projects’ based on team working within the industry are included, and there are five weeks of face-to-face learning, including ‘global community events’ and regional residency periods.


‘Education is an issue close to my heart which finds a new resonance in the establishment of this MBA’, commented UIC Chairman Vladimir Yakunin. ‘[It is] the first one worldwide completely dedicated to rail, I would be honoured to accompany its implementation, and to welcome the first graduates to our railway family.’






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