Austria’s ÖBB orders 24 regional trains from Siemens

14 March 2019

Rail link to Melbourne airport receives government approval

14 March 2019

The Victorian and Federal Governments of Australia have approved the rail link to Melbourne airport, which is estimated to cost between A$8bn and A$13bn ($5.67bn-$9.21bn).

A Heads of Agreement has been signed between the federal and state government to build the rail project.

The Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) will connect the airport at Tullamarine to the central business district.

Both governments have committed to invest A$5bn ($3.54bn) each towards the project. The agreement encompasses strategic objectives, governance arrangements and information sharing processes for the joint commitment.

The Melbourne Airport Rail Link project is expected to mitigate traffic congestion on the Tullamarine Freeway, the main road connecting the city with the airport.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport. We are delivering it. In last year’s budget, we made an A$5bn investment in the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, it was the biggest infrastructure commitment in the Budget.

“Melbourne is truly a global city that deserves world-class infrastructure. The Rail Link is part of our plan to bust congestion across the city and get people home faster and safer.”

Various ecological, traffic and geotechnical investigations associated with the rail link are underway.

Government agency Rail Projects Victoria has also hired technical and commercial advisers to devise the business case.

A reference group comprising representatives from the community, industry and local government will also be formed to offer guidance.

The business case is scheduled to be delivered next year.

Construction works are due to begin in 2022 and will take up to nine years to complete.

HS2 signs construction partner contract for Euston project

13 March 2019

HS2 and a joint venture comprising Mace and Dragados have signed contracts to deliver the high-speed rail project’s landmark terminus at London Euston.

The joint venture will serve as a construction partner, working with HS2 Ltd and the station designers.

It will be responsible for coordinating the construction of the station, including concourse, platforms and links to the London Underground, as well as other rail services.

The appointment marks the completion of a 19-month procurement process. The two firms had previously been involved with infrastructure projects such as Battersea Power Station phase 2 and Mumbai International Airport Terminal Two.

Mace and Dragados will join HS2’s existing early works contractor, a Costain and Skanska joint venture (CSjv), which has more than 1,000 people across the capital carrying out work for construction commencement.

HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston said: “Mace and Dragados have a strong track record of delivering some of the world’s most challenging and exciting infrastructure projects and we’re delighted that they’re joining the HS2 team as our construction partner for Euston.

“Together, we will deliver a new landmark station that will be the London gateway to HS2, transforming the way we travel and setting new standards for design, construction and operation.”

On behalf of the Mace-Dragados joint venture, Mace COO for consultancy Jason Millett said: “The contract signing marks the start of a close partnership that will last over a decade and transform one of the capital’s most important stations beyond recognition.

“Combining Mace’s unbeatable knowledge of major infrastructure project delivery in the UK with Dragados’ world-class high-speed rail expertise, we are assembling one of the highest calibre teams in the country to deliver this bold and ambitious vision for Euston.”

In January, the first tower cranes arrived to help with the demolition of two 1970s towers at the front of the station. Meanwhile, the demolition of the disused former National Temperance Hospital and IBIS hotel is almost complete. CSjv is also delivering ecological work and utility diversions, as well as the project’s archaeological programme across the southern section of the route.

Following the completion of the project, capacity at Euston will be more than doubled. This will enable growing passenger demand to be met while freeing up space on the west coast mainline for more freight and commuter services to places such as Watford and Milton Keynes.

Twin-bore tunnels will take the high-speed trains west to a new Crossrail interchange at Old Oak Common and onward to Ruislip on the outskirts of London.

Once the line leaves the tunnelled section, it would extend to the West Midlands and the North of England.

In February 2018, on behalf of the Department for Transport and Network Rail, HS2 hired Lendlease to develop a masterplan for the wider Euston site, a move that could support up to 14,000 jobs.

HS2 services will link more than 25 destinations and 30 million people across the UK. The trains will serve stations in cities such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, as well as the East Midlands.

Italy halts Turin-Lyon high-speed rail project tenders

12 March 2019

Italy has suspended the tenders for the Turin-Lyon high-speed rail project after differences over the project escalated within the ruling coalition.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the government has asked the project developer TELT to suspend the tenders scheduled to be launched this week.

The government will now completely re-discuss the project. Commonly known as TAV link, the Turin-Lyon high-speed rail project has been a cause of dispute between the ruling League party and its coalition partner the 5-Star Movement.

The project is opposed by the 5-Star Movement due to its high costs. It advocates that the Italian share should be utilised in rehabilitating existing infrastructures.

The opposition increased after a recent report commissioned by the Italian government found that the project will not be profitable. The report stated that the project would result in a loss of around €7bn by 2059.

According to Italy’s transport minister Danilo Toninelli, the project is estimated to cost more than €20bn. The European Union (EU) is expected to share 40% of the costs, while Italy will contribute 35% and France will provide 25% of the total amount.

However, the EU has proposed to increase its contribution to 50%, while the remaining half will be equally shared between France and Italy.

With the tenders now suspended, Italy will discuss with the French Government and EU over the feasibility of the rail project.

The high-speed rail link may lose up to €300m if the tenders are not launched by the end of this month. Overall, the 270km route is scheduled to connect the Italian city of Turin with Lyon in France through the Alps mountain range.

Helsinki-Tallinn rail tunnel secures $16.8bn funding

11 March 2019

The proposed undersea Helsinki-Tallinn rail tunnel, that will connect the capitals of Finland and Estonia, has secured €15bn ($16.8bn) of funding from China’s Touchstone Capital Partners.

In a statement, the developer of the project FinEst Bay Area Development said that two-thirds of the total funding will be debt financing.

The remaining one-third will be a private equity investment, providing Touchstone Capital Partners with a minority stake in the project.

The financial details of the agreement are expected to be finalised over the next six months.

In December last year, FinEst Bay Area Development secured €100m from ARJ Holding, a Dubai-based construction company.

Finland and Estonia, divided by the Gulf of Finland, have been planning to construct the undersea rail tunnel for years. The 100km-long tunnel is expected to reduce travel time from a two-hour-long ferry journey to around 20 minutes.

Rail connectivity will also help thousands of Estonian people employed in the Helsinki region and support the tourism industry in Tallinn.

Last year, a feasibility study for the project was completed. It estimated that the project will cost up to €20bn, including planning, tunnel construction, the building of two artificial islands, as well as stations, terminals and depots.

Project leader Peter Vesterbacka told Reuters that the rail link is expected to be constructed by the end of 2024.

By 2050, the line is projected to support four million tonnes of cargo and serve nearly 12.5 million passengers.

Porterbrook to trial emissions-reducing technology for UK railway

8 March 2019

Rail associations of the UK and Australasia to boost collaboration

8 March 2019

The UK Railway Industry Association (RIA) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) have agreed to enhance co-operation and collaboration between the two rail trade bodies.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the two rail associations during the UK rail trade delegation’s visit to Australia. The collaboration is expected to benefit members of the two organisations and leverage each-others’ capabilities in railway expertise.

RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said: “We are delighted to support this partnership between the UK and Australasian rail industries, which will see the exchange of knowledge and expertise across the two countries.

“In the UK, rail exports £800m a year and will play a vital role in achieving the UK Government’s aim of increasing exports to 35% of GDP as we exit the EU.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues at ARA to maximise the exporting potential of both industries.”

As per the agreement, the two trade bodies will exchange information related to non-IP protected research and innovation in the rail sector. They will also exchange information and strategies regarding development of skill among the respective work forces.

Additionally, the agreement will provide RIA and ARA members’ access to meeting facilities in each other’s organisations and opportunities to work together on rail exhibitions.

ARA CEO Danny Broad said: “We are undergoing a renaissance in rail in Australia, with major new rail projects in our capital cities and regions over the next decade.

“The opportunity to leverage the skills and expertise of UK rail companies will add breadth and depth to our industry, and give Australian businesses valuable insights and partnerships.”

Report finds that rail accidents in Canada went up by 7% last year

7 March 2019

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released a preliminary compilation of transportation occurrence statistics, which stated that rail accidents in the country increased by 7% last year.

According to TSB data, 1170 railway accidents were reported in 2018, a jump of 7% over 2017 data and a 13% increase compared to the five-year average of 1035.

Majority of the increase was related to non-main-track derailments involving five or fewer cars.

The number of rail-related fatalities stood at 57 last year, which is 19 less than in 2017 and 17 less than the five-year average figure of 74. The 2018 fatalities data included 34 trespassers and 19 crossing accident fatalities.

TSB also stated that the number of serious injuries due to crossing accidents went up from 22 in 2017 to 42 in the last year.

The agency added that it will further assess the crossing incidents to identify the causes of the rise.

Of the total 1170 railway accidents last year, 125 involved dangerous goods. The figure increased from 2017 figures of 115, but less compared to the five-year average of 126.

Furthermore, there were 44 accidents due to uncontrolled movement and 15 uncontrolled movement of rolling stock incidents last year. In 2017, the figures were 48 and 14, respectively.

Along with rail transportation occurrence data, TSB also released preliminary statistics of air transportation and marine transportation. The findings were released following an initial review of the TSB’s preliminary report of occurrence statistics for 2018.

Later this year, TSB will release its complete and final statistical report including a detailed analysis of the data.