Strukton Rail acquires remaining stake in Italian contractor CLF

18 January 2019

Strukton Rail has acquired the remaining 40% stake in Italian rail contractor Costruzioni Linee Ferroviarie (CLF) Group from Unieco.

Banco BPM served as arranger for the financing of the deal.

Lead by CLF, the group is composed of subsidiary and affiliated companies UNIFERR, SIFEL and engineering firm TES.

The group focuses on design, building, maintenance and rehabilitation of railway, underground and tramway lines in Italy. It also works in Algeria, Morocco, Venezuela and Bulgaria.

CLF Group employs around 667 people and reported a turnover of €167m in 2017. It has offices in Bologna, Alessandria and Spigno Monferrato. Strukton Rail became a shareholder of CLF in 1998 and acquired a majority stake in the company in 2013.

The firms have worked together in mechanisation and digitisation to deliver optimal construction and maintenance services.

Strukton has deployed CLF’s crew and machines in multiple projects in Denmark and the Netherlands. CLF also started utilising Strukton-delivered smart maintenance tools in Italy including Dual Inventive’s IoT sensors.

Strukton Rail is engaged in providing cross-border solutions in rail infrastructure, railway vehicles and mobility systems industry segments.

Last month, Strukton secured the contract for the Rijswijk-Rotterdam DS1 Track and Civil Engineering Works in the Netherlands from ProRail. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

The contract was part of ProRail’s High-Frequency Track Upgrade Programme.

Network Rail awards contracts for projects in Scotland

18 January 2019

Network Rail has awarded framework contracts to BAM Nuttall and QTS Group to deliver a range of rail projects in Scotland over a period of five years.

The company awarded a £320m renewals and enhancements contract to BAM Nuttall covering Scotland and North East England.

Network Rail Infrastructure Projects Scotland director Kris Kinnear said: “Work to renew our infrastructure is important to improving reliability for our passengers.

“Making sure we have the right suppliers to deliver those improvements is paramount and we look forward to continuing to work closely with QTS and BAM Nuttall to maintain and enhance Scotland’s railway.”

BAM Nuttall will replace and refurbish structures and deliver improvements at stations across the Scotland route. The company is currently serving as the main contractor for the Aberdeen-Inverness Improvement Project.

QTS is providing specialist engineers and plans to maintain earthworks and structures across the Scottish rail network. The company secured a £100m geotech framework contract.

Network Rail Scotland awarded the contracts as it prepares to invest more than £4bn in the country’s infrastructure during the next railway control period (CP6) between 2019 and 2024.

BAM Nuttall rail director Huw Jones said: “BAM Nuttall is proud to be awarded this framework, which gives us the opportunity to strengthen our partnership with Network Rail and our fellow CP6 framework contractors.

“We look forward to establishing an integrated “One Team” approach with our partners to deliver exceptional business and safety performance, driving sustainable growth across Scotland and LNE, whilst enhancing passenger experience and the communities where we work.”

China Railway selects Amadeus to sell tickets outside the mainland

17 January 2019

China Railway has selected Amadeus technology to distribute tickets and offers outside of the mainland.

Travel agencies using the Amadeus Selling Platform can now book and refund China Railway tickets in multiple languages.

The move comes at a time when the high-speed rail network in China has crossed 25,000km of tracks.

Last year, passengers travelling by railway during Chinese New Year and national holidays reached 382 million, according to Travel China Guide. During these festivals and other occasions, high-speed rail is one of the preferred alternatives for regular passengers to reach their destination.

Amadeus said in a statement: “With rail becoming an increasingly important part of the travel network in China and the Asia-Pacific region, we are committed to helping travel agencies and sellers meet traveller’s needs, offering connected, multi-modal travel and maximising all sales opportunities across different channels.”

The agreement between China Railway and Amadeus will enable passengers to buy tickets from local travel agencies.

The step is also expected to benefit foreign tourists and other passengers who can book tickets in their preferred language.

Additionally, the agreement provides the opportunity for travel agencies to maximise sale opportunities.

With growing the importance of rail travel in China and other Asia-Pacific countries, Amadeus is working to help the agencies and sellers to cater to potential travellers through multiple channels.

Recently, China Railway was reported to be planning to install at least 3,200km of high-speed rail.

Overall, it is expected to invest in 6,800km of railway tracks as part of the government’s plan to increase infrastructure investment.

TfL selects ESG to install automatic braking system on London trams

16 January 2019

Transport for London (TfL) has awarded a contract to Engineering Support Group (ESG) to install an automatic braking system on the city tram network.

The safety system will automatically bring the moving tram to a controlled stop if it exceeds the permissible speed. Installation work is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

Work to introduce the safety feature on the network began following the fatal overturning of a tram at Sandilands, Croydon, in November 2016. The incident killed seven passengers and injured 62 others.

Following the incident, the Rail Accidents Investigation Branch (RAIB) recommended the installation of an automatic braking system. The system will work simultaneously with the driver protection device, which monitors driver fatigue.

Initially, the brake system will be configured to prioritise high-risk locations, followed by a possible overall roll out.

TfL London Trams general manager Mark Davis said: “Awarding the contract for a new automatic braking system is a first for trams in the UK, and not only will it improve safety for customers in London, but we hope it will lead the way for other tram operators across the country.

“We will work to have the new system, which will automatically apply the brakes if a tram is exceeding the speed limit, in full operation by the end of the year.”

Overall, the RAIB set out 15 recommendations to increase the safety and reliability of  UK trams. TfL noted that work has advanced on all recommendations, with some already implemented. It includes permanent speed reduction across the network, speed monitoring, installation of a driver protection device and an improved customer complaints process.

Hitachi wins $1.44bn contract to supply 600 train cars to Taiwan

16 January 2019

Hitachi has secured a contract worth nearly TWD44.3bn ($1.44bn) to supply 600 electric multiple unit (EMU) train cars to Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA).

The Japanese multinational conglomerate company secured the contract through its local subsidiary Taiwan Hitachi Asia Pacific.

The agreement orders the supply of 50 train sets comprising 12 train cars each. The EMUs to be delivered will offer intercity services.

Designed to operate at a maximum speed of 150km/h on 1,067mm track gauge, the trains will run at an average speed 140km/h.

TRA ordered the train sets as a part of its Train Purchasing and Renewal Plan 2015-2024. The plan aims to enhance railway transportation capacity by replacing ageing train cars.

Hitachi will start delivering the EMU train cars from 2021 to be deployed for services across Taiwan.

The company has already supplied a variety of railway solutions to Taiwan, including train cars and substation facilities.

It has also delivered TEMU1000 rail train cars, locally known as Taroko, which are regarded as the first tilting train in the country.

Headquartered in the Japanese capital of Tokyo, Hitachi caters globally with a diverse railway solution portfolio including high-speed railways.

In September, the company signed an agreement with Italian public transport entity FNM to deliver up to 120 high-capacity double-deck trains to be delivered from 2020.

Amtrak to introduce Acela high-speed trains in 2021

15 January 2019

US-based passenger railroad service Amtrak is planning to introduce Acela high-speed trains to the north-east corridor in 2021. The company is buying 28 Acela train sets using a $2.45bn federal loan, reported Reuters. The introduction of high-speed trains forms a part of its plan to provide next-generation services by 2040.

Amtrak is planning to invest billions of dollars to upgrade ageing rail infrastructure to improve service. In the long-term, the company is said to require more than $30bn to implement higher speed services.

In the north-east corridor connects Washington and New York. Amtrak plans to rehabilitate the Baltimore rail tunnel at a cost of $4.5bn. It also plans to replace the Susquehanna River Bridge for $1.7bn.

Amtrak carries more than 12 million passengers annually in this corridor and spends $700m annually on maintenance.

Its upgrade plan also includes building a $13bn rail tunnel under the Hudson River, replacing the Portal North Bridge in New Jersey and refurbishing the North River Tunnel linking New Jersey to Penn Station.

Most of the upgrades are planned to reduce delays and enable the trains to run at a higher speed.

Additionally, Amtrak is overhauling tracks and network switch panels, as well as upgrading many north-east stations.

Last month, Amtrak placed an $850m order with Siemens for 75 Tier 4 locomotives and associated services. These locomotives will be used predominantly for its long-distance train services.

Study finds London Underground more polluted than city roads

14 January 2019

A study has found that the pollution levels on the London Underground are significantly higher compared to busy city roads, according to media sources.

Commissioned by Transport for London (TfL), the research found that particulate matter (PM) in some tube stations was up to 30 times higher than that found on roads in London.

It reported that the Northern Line of the subway system is the most polluted, with Hampstead Station on the line recording the highest concentration of PM. Over a ten-day period, Hampstead recorded on average 492 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic metre (μg/m3) of air, compared to 16 on a busy road in London.

The research was carried out by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants.

In the report, the committee was quoted by media sources as saying: “Given that there is strong evidence that both long and short term exposure to particle pollutants in ambient air are harmful to health, it is likely that there is some health risk associated with exposure to underground PM.”

London Underground is the world’s oldest subway system, with 11 lines serving 270 stations.

The report cited ‘deep, poorly ventilated tunnels’ as one of the potential causes of such severe pollution.

Transport for London asset operations director Peter McNaught was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “We are committed to maintaining the cleanest air possible for our staff and customers when using the tube.”

According to a 2015 study by researchers at King’s College London, around 9,500 people in London die every year due to air pollution, reported Reuters.

Siemens and Alstom plan additional divestments to win merger approval

14 January 2019

Siemens and Alstom are reportedly planning to make additional divestments to secure merger approval of their rail businesses.

Currently, the Siemens-Alstom merger deal is being investigated by the European Commission over competition concerns. The two rail majors have offered concessions to alleviate the concerns, unnamed sources told Reuters.

Siemens and Alstom had already proposed to sell off their high-speed train manufacturing business, as well as significant parts of their individual signalling assets.

Sources told the news agency that the two companies have offered to expand the geographical extent of their earlier proposals. The European Commission is expected to decide on the merger by 18 February.

Last year, the commission launched a full-scale investigation on the proposed merger. It is widely speculated by the industry that the combination may reduce competition in the train and signalling system supply market, as well as trigger higher prices of rail components.

Additionally, the reduced competition may deter innovation in the sector. Various national regulators have also expressed their concerns over the deal. In September 2017, Siemens signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to merge its mobility and rail traction drive business with Alstom. The MoU was followed by the signing of a business combination agreement (BCA) in March 2018.

If successful, the combined entity will be nearly three times larger than its closest competitor. The combined company, to be named Siemens Alstom, will have more than 62,000 employees.