The latest news, trends and data from the rail industry
ith the global rail industry facing increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact, operators and governments are emphasising the importance of finding greener fuels and alternative propulsion methods to cut down on emissions. Electrification and battery power remain at the forefront of discussion around replacing diesel-powered locomotives, but many countries in Europe have highlighted the potential of hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) technology, which produces electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical reaction, and leaves water as the only emission.
The introduction of hydrogen-powered trains on major rail networks is no longer a pipedream. French manufacturer Alstom’s revolutionary Coradia iLint has been a fixture in the headlines since its first appearance at InnoTrans 2016, with the train already running on several lines in Germany, and the company is now in discussions to bring it to other countries, including the US. Both France and the UK have outlined plans to introduce hydrogen-powered trains on their networks by 2022, with the latter testing a hydrogen train demonstrator, named HydroFLEX, on a mainline railway this year.
Recently, a study commissioned by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU) analysed the extent to which fuel cells and hydrogen technologies could be introduced within the European rail market. The study showed that some of the current hydrogen-powered rail cases in Europe highlight a positive total cost of ownership for fuel cells, while in others it could be the ‘most adequate zero-emission alternative’.
A third of Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet trains owned by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) were damaged by flooding caused by Typhoon Hagibis in October.
Number of UK train accidents in 2018-2019, an increase of 17.5% compared to 2017-2018, according to statistics from the Office of Rail and Road.
Planned length of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, being constructed across northern and eastern India by Indian Railways.
Economic growth predicted for a proposed Cascadia Rail high-speed rail system connecting the three cities of Vancouver, B.C. Seattle and Portland.
Provisional value of environmental and economic benefits that could be gained from an ‘ambitious growth strategy’ for UK rail freight, according to a report from the Rail Freight Group.
Maximum temperature along the Rail Baltica route, according to a new report into the effect of climate change on the multi-national project.
EU commits $966m to modernise Polish rail network
The European Union (EU) has unveiled plans to invest more than €880m ($966m) in two projects to improve the rail network in Poland. The two projects will focus on increasing the speed, safety and capacity of the Polish rail network. A total of €838m has been granted to overhaul the 214.5km-long southern section of the railway line No 131, which links Chorzów Batory station with Zduńska Wola Karsznice station. The money will be used primarily to replace the track surface and reinforce the ground under the rail. It will also be used to fund the construction of bridges and viaducts. The remaining €43m will be used to purchase 930 platform wagons to transport containers via railway. The wagons will operate on 91 routes between maritime and land terminals, covering almost the entire Polish territory.
Source: Railway Technology
Nigeria awards $3.9bn Abuja-Lokoja rail line contract to CRC
The Nigerian Federal Government has awarded a $3.9bn public-private partnership contract for the new Abuja-Itakpe-Lokoja rail line to China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC). Passing through Baro, the rail line will have a branch line to the Kogi State capital Lokoja. As per the agreement, the Chinese firm will also construct a seaport at Warri. Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi stated that Nigeria will contribute 15% of the project cost and CRCC will invest 10%. CRCC will borrow the remaining 75% from Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). The company will be responsible for the management of the rail network until the loan is repaid, after which the project will be handed over to the federal government.
Source: Railway Technology
Etihad Rail awards $435.5m contract to Hitachi Rail
UAE-based Etihad Rail has awarded an AED1.6bn ($435.5m) systems and integration contract to Hitachi Rail STS for stage two of its rail network. Etihad Rail will be the first national freight and passenger railway network connecting the seven emirates of the UAE. The 1,200km railway project is estimated to cost AED40bn ($11bn). The second stage of the project involves the construction of a 605km rail link between Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia and Fujairah on the east coast.
Hitachi Rail will design and build the subsystems along with other stage two works and contracts. The Japanese company will also be responsible for the management of uptime and operation tests. Running for a length of 800km, the Hitachi Rail STS power system will become the longest distribution network in the country. It will handle power of 11kV (medium-high power).
Source: Railway Technology
Association of American Railroads (AAR) AR senior vice-president John T. Gray, following the eight consecutive month of US rail traffic decline.
“In 2019, railroads are facing multi-pronged challenges. Fundamental long-term structural changes — including the continued erosion of coal markets; growth in the domestic intermodal and chemical sectors; and the current disruptions to manufacturing, agricultural, and international intermodal markets stemming from trade uncertainty and the evolution of consumer purchasing practices — have all required adaptation and renewed focus on basic railroad management and operational principles. That said, the industry’s ultimate goal will remain what it’s always been: providing safe, cost-effective transportation that meets the evolving demands of our customers’ markets, now and in the future.”
Eurostar director of corporate communications Mary Walsh speaking about attracting young workers to the sector at an event held by career platform Workfinder in London, UK.
“It is critical that we demonstrate the breadth of career opportunities that are available within the rail industry. In addition to an engineering career, there are also many opportunities in the customer service and the digital arena which can provide the springboard for a very rewarding career.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) following the announcement of the UK Government’s Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP).
“This comprehensive list of enhancements will now give rail businesses some more confidence to plan, hire and invest in preparation for upcoming work. And it will help ensure we can get to work to build an enhanced world-class railway in the coming years. We and our members will now examine the list further, and work with the DfT [UK Department for Transport] and wider rail supply community to deliver these upgrade projects.”