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’.
Incidents of general metal theft recorded across England and Wales between 2017 and 2018.
Amount allocated for local emergency preparedness measures for crude-by-rail, as part of the US’s new Crude Oil Advanced Tracking Act.
Funding announced in August for two projects to enhance rail freight capacity and reduce bottlenecks across Canada’s rail freight network.
Percentage fall in freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – by truck, rail, air, and barge – in June 2019 compared to June last year.
The expected opening date of a new railway line being built to the Northern Terminal Complex of Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, Russia.
Percentage of trains arriving within five minutes of schedule on the Swedish rail network in the first half of 2018.
A joint venture of Kiewit and Parsons signed the design-build contract for the next section of the Foothill Gold Line light rail extension in California, US. The base scope included all elements of design and construction for the first nine-mile segment, including relocation of the existing freight track, installation of the light rail track system, four new light rail stations and improvements at 40 grade crossings.
The Jerusalem Transportation Masterplan Team (JTMT) has awarded the TransJerusalem J-Net consortium, comprised construction firm Shapir and CAF, a €1.8bn contract to undertake an extension to the Jerusalem light rail network. The Private-Public Partnership (PPP) includes the construction of 27km of new track, 53 new stations and various depots covering a 6.8km extension to the Red Line, and the new 20.6km Green Line.
Great Rail Journeys (GRJ) has agreed a deal to acquire Vacations By Rail (VBR) as part of its plans to expand its operations in the US. GRJ said the deal for the Chicago-based rail operator would allow it to continue its international expansion plans and add new product, such as VBR’s rail river cruise range.
Russian Railways is to build a new railway line to the Northern Terminal Complex (NTC) at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, it has announced. The new line will extend to Terminal B and Terminal C, which is under construction. The new railway infrastructure development is part of a Russian Railways investment program designed to increase the airport’s transportation accessibility and reduce the load on the road network.
Keith Williams, independent Chair of the UK’s Rail Review, after First Trenitalia won a contract to operate the West Coast Partnership
“The railway needs reform that prioritises the customers and communities it serves, with an absolute focus on delivering benefits for passengers. I have also been clear that my review must not stop or delay investment and innovation. This West Coast Partnership delivers for passengers. It is a step forward that is firmly in line with the review, introducing benefits for passengers today and capable of incorporating the reforms needed for the future.”
Rail Delivery Group director for nations and regions Robert Nisbet in an interview with SmartRail World:
“We saw climate change protests recently (like Extinction rebellion in the UK) and rail has a really positive story about how it can take people out of planes -- which are obviously carbon dioxide straight into the atmosphere, while we are a green mode of transport. We need to be shouting about that more, because all of us face climate change.