UK commuters miss out on almost £100m railway compensation every year

22 July 2019

Saudi Railway selects Huawei for smart railway programme

19 July 2019

Saudi Railway Company (SAR) has entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese tech firm Huawei to initiate smart railway programme.

Under the partnership, SAR and Huawei will collaborate on a range of smart railway initiatives, including the application of a next-generation railway wireless network, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud services.

According to local media reports, the partners will also explore the idea of deploying 5G technology across the SAR rail network.

As per the agreement, Huawei will train SAR staff and transfer knowledge for information and communications technology (ICT) solutions.

Huawei Tech Investment Saudi Arabia chief executive Dennis Zhang said: “This is a major infrastructure project that will have a significant impact on the country, and we are honoured to have been selected as a partner to bring our technology into making this vision a reality.”

Established in 2006, SAR is one of two state-owned companies to operate Saudi Arabia’s railway network.

In February, the company awarded a contract to Perpetuum to provide track condition information services for the 1250km-long rail line from Riyadh to Qurrayat.

With the two-year contract, SAR aims to procure real-time information on railway tracks. Saudi Arabian railway faces extreme weather conditions, with temperatures reaching up to 55°C.

Last month, Huawei introduced the next-generation LTE-R Solution to facilitate wireless rail communications. The technology, leveraging the LTE-R network, will enable train control, dispatching, passenger information system, CCTV and other rail services to communicate efficiently.

India approves railway projects worth $872.5m to boost connectivity

18 July 2019

The Government of India has approved three projects with a combined value of Rs60.11bn ($872.5m) to boost railway connectivity in Uttar Pradesh and Assam.

The projects received the green light from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

The first project encompasses building a third railway line between Allahabad and Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh. The construction of the 150km-long line is estimated to cost Rs26.49bn ($384.57m) and is expected to be finished by 2024.

Once complete, the project will help to tackle the growth of traffic and eliminate capacity constraints.

The second project, also in Uttar Pradesh, involves the construction of an 81.17km-long railway line between Sahjanwa and Dohrighat.

Also expected to be completed by 2024, the project will boost transportation in the region, which is poorly connected by road.

Construction of the rail line is also expected to help small-scale industries in the region to flourish. It is estimated to cost Rs13.2bn ($191.56m).

Additionally, the new line will help to create an alternate route connecting Chhapra to Lucknow, avoiding congestion at Gorakhpur.

The third project in Assam includes doubling Northeast Frontier Railway’s ‘New Bongaigaon-Agthori’ line, which passes through Rangiya.

Estimated to cost Rs20.43bn ($296.47m), the 142.97km-long project will be completed by 2023.

The project was approved because railway traffic on this section is set to increase in future. The doubling works will help to mitigate existing capacity constraints and help to increase freight and passenger traffic on the line.

Earlier this month, the government proposed a capital expenditure outlay of $23.4bn for railways in the union budget.

Sacyr Neopul secures rail contracts in Spain and Ireland

17 July 2019

Sacyr Neopul, a subsidiary of Sacyr specialising in the electrification and maintenance of railway tracks, has secured four contracts in Spain and Ireland, with a combined value of €99.8m.

In a consortium with Lantania and Comsa, the company will carry out electrification works on a 125km AVE high-speed train section between Plasencia and Peñas Blancas in Spain. The line is part of the Madrid-Portuguese Border line.

The contract, awarded by Spanish railway infrastructure manager Adif, is valued at €25m and is expected to be completed in 18 months.

The second contract encompasses construction of four lines at the railway terminal of Vicálvaro in Madrid. Sacyr Neopul will execute the project in partnership with CAF Signalling over 18 months.

Once complete, the terminal will transform into an intermodal facility for the loading and unloading of intermodal transport units (ITU) from an existing regulation and classification station.

Under the third project, Sacyr Neopul and Sacyr Engineering and Infrastructures, in collaboration with Mariezcurrena and Zubieder, will carry out infrastructure works for phase two of the Hernani-Astigarraga section of the Basque Railway Network (ETS).

The scope of the contract includes construction of a section of viaduct platform for the AVE, as well as overhauling surrounding conventional railroads.

With a value of €38.3m, contract works are scheduled to be completed in 41 months.

The final project involves maintenance of the Dublin Area Rapid Train electrification network (DART) in Ireland for five years.

Irish Rail selected Sacyr Neopul as the preferred bidder for the €21m project, which includes maintenance of 120km of track and refurbishing 40km of the catenary.

Sacyr Somague and Sacyr Neopul CEO Eduardo Campos said: “The awarding of these new projects is recognition of our national and international capacity and know-how. These contracts contribute to the growth of our subsidiary and provide continuity to the excellence and quality of the service provided by our company.”

TfW to create 60 jobs as part of £5bn investment programme

17 July 2019

Transport for Wales (TfW) has announced plans to create 60 jobs as part of its £5bn ($6.27bn) investment plan.

TfW intends to overhaul transport infrastructure across the Wales and Borders network.

The development of the South Wales Metro is a major part of the plan. This is a multimodal integrated public transport network that comprises rail, bus and active travel options.

TfW Rail Services will oversee the everyday management of railway infrastructure assets, renewals and asset operations management beginning this autumn.

For this 14 years project, TfW will hire 60 people who will be based at the Treforest Estate facility.

TfW CEO James Price said: “Transport for Wales is transforming the transport sector in Wales, through implementation of our £5bn investment programme. Transport is fundamental to the economy in Wales and as we develop our £738m South Wales Metro, we are providing job opportunities for skilled individuals in our Rail Services team.”

Roles to be filled include engineering, operatives, administrative and managerial sectors.

TfW Rail Infrastructure Services director Simon Rhoden said: “We are currently recruiting for a range of skilled jobs in our infrastructure team and welcome applications. It’s great to be part of the ongoing operations and maintenance of the Cardiff Valleys railway where we are transforming the network that will not only improve the lives of people within Wales but also offers opportunities for employment.”

Earlier this month, TfW commenced works to build a £100m rail depot to support South Wales Metro operations.

Located at Taff’s Well, the rail depot will offer tram-train maintenance and stabling services. The site will accommodate and maintain new metro vehicles, which will enter services from 2022.

Last month, TfW awarded early contractor involvement (ECI) contracts to three engineering and construction companies for associated South Wales Metro projects.

The contracts were won by Balfour Beatty, Alun Griffiths and Siemens Mobility.

The ECI contracts encompass preparatory work to develop plans ahead of the main procurement process for engineering projects.

UK railways must refocus to make services safer, warns ORR

16 July 2019

First modern Chinese train in Cuba begins operations

15 July 2019

The first train using equipment from China has commenced operations in Cuba, transporting passengers from Havana on a 915km journey to the eastern end of the island.

A total of 14 Chinese cars and a locomotive departed the central railway station in Havana and passed through nine cities to reach Guantanamo 15 hours later.

The new train includes four air-conditioned wagons and second class coaches, as well as a rolling restaurant car.

The government is revamping its ageing railway system with help from Russia and China.

It began updating the country’s railway system last year, repairing 4,200km of old tracks and several stations across the island.

In May, Cuba received 80 Chinese-made train carriages and locomotives as part of 250 pieces of new equipment to be delivered by the end of this year.

The government also signed a deal worth $1bn with Russia to modernise its railways.

In 2017, state-owned Russian Railways (RZD) was quoted by Reuters as saying that it was negotiating to establish a high-speed link between Havana and the beach resort of Varadero.

The Cuban Government plans to improve the system under a project that runs until 2030, beginning with upgrading equipment before taking up the restoration of railroads.

Cuba’s National Railway head Eduardo Hernandez said: “This is the first step of the transformation of the Cuban railway system.”

The new trains and restoration are expected to reduce travel time.

In June 2018, Transport Minister Eduardo Rodriguez said: “Cuba has not received new rail cars since the 1970s. We had only received second-hand cars.”

According to the Cuban Transportation Ministry, trains carried 6.7 million passengers in 2018, a steep decline from 11 million passengers in 2004.

The government expects to increase ridership by 1 million in 2019 on long-distance routes.

Train accident claims at least 20 lives and injuries more than 70

12 July 2019

The Quetta-bound Akbar Express, which collided with a stationary freight train at the Walhar Railway Station in Punjab province of Pakistan, has claimed the lives of at least 20 people and injured more than 70 others, with reports of fatalities continuing to come in.

The accident occurred due to the Akbar Express taking the loop line instead of the mainline track.

Deputy Commissioner Jamil Ahmed Jamil said that ‘heavy machinery was being used to rescue passengers who were stuck in the train.’

Passengers on-board the train were rescued and track clearance operations were carried out with the help of Pakistan Army personnel.

The engine of the train was completely destroyed in the accident and three compartments were damaged. The injured were admitted to nearby hospitals in Sadiqabad and Rahim Yar Khan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed to undertake emergency steps to ensure safety standards are met.

Khan said: “Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure and ensure safety standards.”

Stating that the accident occurred due to human negligence, the Railways Minister has ordered an investigation, which is expected to be completed in two to three days.

In June, six people were killed when a freight train collided into a passenger train in Hyderabad, a city in Pakistan.