ULTIMATE Europe buys majority stake in supplier partners

17 January 2020

Passenger train derailed in India, 20 people injured

16 January 2020

Eight coaches of the Lokmanya Tilak Express have derailed near Cuttack in the Indian state of Odisha, injuring 20 people.

The accident occurred at 7:00am (GMT+5:30) on 15 January when the Mumbai-Bhubaneshwar Lokmanya Tilak Express collided with a goods train between Nergundi and Salagaon railway stations.

The accident was reportedly caused by heavy fog around the area.

Four people have been seriously injured and admitted into the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, though they are reportedly not in life-threatening conditions.

Buses transported the remaining passengers to their destination, Bhubaneshwar.

The Puri-Rourkela Express, Puri-Durg Express, Dhanbad – Bhubaneswar Rajya Rani Express, Talcher-Puri Express and Bhubaneswar-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Express were diverted after the accident.

East Coast Railway spokesperson JP Mishra said: “The speedometer of both the trains has been seized for inquiry.”

The Indian Central Railway has set up helplines at five stations to update the relatives of the passengers.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Dadar, LTT, Thane and Kalyan stations have been set up with the helplines.

Central Railway chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said: “Since the train started from Mumbai, we have set up additional helplines so that relatives of the passengers travelling by train can get updates.”

In November, two trains collided head-on in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh, killing at least 16 people and injuring 58 others. The incident happened in the early hours of 12 November.

In July, the Akbar Express collided with a stationary freight train at the Walhar Railway Station in Pakistan, killing at least 20 people and injured more than 70 others.

OSR claims official rail passenger satisfaction statistics need improvement

14 January 2020

National rail passenger statistics produced by Transport Focus do not fully reflect passengers’ experiences, the Office for Statistics Regulation’s (OSR) latest assessment report revealed last week.

In its National Statistics assessment report covering the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) – a rail passenger satisfaction survey produced by Transport Focus – the OSR concluded the document needs improvements in order to “fully serve the public good”.

As a result, the OSR has urged the watchdog to take immediate action to make these statistics fully reflective of public satisfaction. This is to ensure that as the independent official measure of rail passenger satisfaction across the rail network, the NRPS can be used as national statistical evidence in the future.

The NRPS is currently seen as a key to hold the rail industry to account, in particular when it comes to franchised train operating companies (TOCs) and assessing the quality of train services provided to passengers.

In a letter to Transport Focus’ head of profession for statistics, OSR director-general for regulation Ed Humpherson said that “it is important that [these statistics] are accurate, quality assured and reflect the everyday experience of rail passengers”.

“It is our view that statistics derived from the NRPS do not currently meet these expectations,” he added.

Humpherson highlighted two significant areas that need to be addressed. Firstly, the recent NRPS only measures passenger satisfaction in the spring and autumn and therefore fails to capture the impact of rail journeys on passengers before and after these periods. These usually include issues caused by national timetable changes in May and December, short-term effects following the annual fares increases each January, as well as extreme weather conditions.

Secondly, the report said that the statistics must aim to capture broader passenger satisfaction based on an operator’s overall level of service, and not just on the last journey a customer took.

Humpherson said: “These statistics are also the only publicly available measure for understanding rail passenger satisfaction across the rail network. Substantial collaborative action by Transport Focus, the Department for Transport and the rail industry is required to enhance the public value of these important statistics so that they can be relevant and underpin an evolving rail industry.”

The OSR’s assessment further identified 14 requirements across the three pillars of the Code of Practice for Statistics that are designed to enhance the public value, quality and trustworthiness of the statistics, and demanded Transport Focus to publish an action plan outlining how it will address the requirements in January 2020.

“We note that potential changes to rail industry following the Williams Rail Review may directly impact on your plans for addressing the requirements,” Humpherson added.

Responding to the assessment, national union of rail, maritime and transport workers (RMT) general secretary Mick Cash told Railway Technology that the NRPS is “not fit for purpose in its current form”.

Cash added: “Often the NRPS does not reflect the experiences of passengers and train operating companies can ultimately be rewarded for failure. Rail companies should be compelled to act upon this feedback.

“Passengers are being asked to pay extortionate fares for a service that is getting worse by the day and private train operators must be held accountable for their failings. The NRPS needs root and branch reform to ensure it reflects the reality of the passenger experience and focuses on what passengers want from their railway: an affordable, reliable, safe and accessible railway that is fully staffed.”

In response to this report, Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith told Railway Technology: “We welcome this report, which acknowledges our efforts to continuously improve and innovate, and shows that the research is well on its way to being designated a National Statistic.

“The National Rail Passenger Survey is a key tool for improving passengers’ experiences, by pinpointing exactly when and where things are going well – or not. The Transport Focus Strategic Road Users Survey is already continuous, so we know that further investment to extend the rail survey would boost the usefulness and reach of this insight.”

Qatar Airways signs codeshare agreement with Deutsche Bahn

14 January 2020

German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) has entered into a codeshare partnership with Qatar Airways to offer smooth connections for passengers.

Passengers travelling with the airline can access eight different cities from its gateway in Frankfurt, Germany.

Passengers can make connections to Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Hannover, Leipzig, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Munich, and Hamburg.

Qatar Airways operates 35 flights between Doha and Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin each week. Of these, two flights operate from Frankfurt and Munich in addition to one flight from Berlin, daily.

Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “This codeshare agreement between Qatar Airways and Deutsche Bahn further strengthens the ties between Germany and Qatar.

“We have witnessed significant growing demand between Germany to Qatar and beyond. Our new codeshare destinations not only meet that demand, but provide a service for our valued passengers in Doha, and from dozens of destinations globally to new, exciting places to explore in Germany.”

Deutsche Bahn Passenger Transport Management Board member Berthold Huber said: “We are very pleased to further intensify our successful and long-standing Rail&Fly cooperation with Qatar Airways through our new codeshare agreement.

“The Qatar Airways and Deutsche Bahn codeshare offers our joint customers a seamless, easy and flexible journey to and from different German cities.”

Last month, DB selected Nokia to test standalone (SA) 5G technology for automated rail operations in Germany.

In November, DB announced its plans to invest €1bn for purchasing 30 high-speed trains to expand its long-distance fleet.

In September, DB signed a five-year agreement for the supply of green electricity from the offshore wind farm Nordsee Ost.

RTA Dubai to trial drone inspection for Dubai Metro tunnels

13 January 2020

The Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA) plans to trial using drones to inspect the Dubai Metro tunnels on the Red and Green Lines.

The tunnels on both the lines span a length of over 14km.

Drones are capable of offering a quick and precise inspection of the asset condition. It expects drone use cut down inspection time, improve the accessibility of difficult spots and offer highly accurate reports regarding the tunnels’ condition.

RTA Board of Executive Directors chairman and director-general Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer said: “This initiative, which is in line with Smart Dubai Strategy 2021, uses custom-made drones fitted with multiple cameras enabling pictorial monitoring of tunnels via high-definition lenses.

“It also enables the inspection of tunnel walls through infrared radiation. The technology generates instant reports easing the assessment of the condition of assets, monitoring the maintenance works and detecting faults.

“The process is linked with RTA’s Maintenance Department, and provides a paperless digital inspection platform that curbs potential human errors.”

Al Tayer made the announcement during his visit to the Dubai Metro Depot. He also reviewed the progress of various initiatives undertaken by the Dubai Metro.

One such project is the use of nanotechnology at the Metro’s Noor Bank Station, which has decreased the cost of cleaning the station exterior by 35%.

It has lead to a lower frequency of cleaning and maintenance and improved the front-end and floor protection of stations and trains. It also improved floor resistance, brought about self-cleaning and increased thermal insulation characteristics.

RTA will also equip Dubai Metro with onboard smart screens for passenger information and ads and automated hi-tech fare gates to streamline passengers flow and boost security and safety in a bid to digitalise the operations.

The company is Dubai’s first government organisation that uses smart storage system at Dubai Metro. This has led to a 700% increase in storage capacity and a 50% increase in operational efficiency.

Northern Rail could collapse within months due to financial woes

10 January 2020

Indian Railways to install video surveillance in 983 railway stations

9 January 2020

The Indian Ministry of Railways has revealed its plans to install internet protocol (IP) based video surveillance system (VSS) at railway stations to improve safety.

It will install the systems in waiting areas, reservation counters, parking areas, main entrances and exits, platforms, foot over bridges, and booking offices.

The Railway Board approved the installation of the system in 983 stations across India using Nirbhaya funding.

The Indian Government has allocated Rs2.5bn ($34.8m) to Indian Railways for the installation of video surveillance systems.

Miniratna public sector undertaking (PSU) RailTel will install the IP-based VSS under the Ministry of Railways. The system includes video analytics and a facial recognition system.

Indian Railways will use four types of full HD cameras to improve coverage and offer better images.

It will fit indoor areas with dome cameras and platforms with bullet cameras.

It will also fit pan-tilt-zoom cameras in parking areas and ultra HD-4K cameras at crucial locations.

CCTV cameras will show their live feeds in the control rooms of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) on multiple screens for monitoring purposes.

The Ministry stated that HD camera and 4K cameras will record 1TB of data and 4TB data respectively per month. It will store the data for a month to allow playback in case of analysis and investigations.

RailTel chairman and managing director Puneet Chawla said that the company has installed systems at 81 stations so far. The Ministry of Railways plans to install systems in 200 stations across India in phase one of the project.

Nirbhaya funding aims to improve the safety of women across India and are provided to different organisations and NGOs.

Last year, Indian Railways received an allocation of Rs658.37bn ($9.62bn) in the union budget, compared to Rs550.88bn ($8.05bn) in 2018.

UK outlines new investment plan to boost rail network in north-east

7 January 2020

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has unveiled investment plans to boost the rail network in the north-east region of the country.

Shapps emphasised the importance of the expansion of the UK rail network and how it will aid communities during his visit to Horden Peterlee. The UK Government expects the £10.55m Horden Peterlee project to be completed this year.

This region currently does not have any stations for a 20km stretch. Following the completion of the project, one train per hour will run on the rail route along Horden Peterlee. They will stop at stations between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

The UK Department for Transport’s New Stations Fund has also provided £4.4m for the project.

Additionally, the UK Government confirmed that it will create a £500m fund to restore previously cancelled routes. It expects this move to aid communities that do not currently have transport connections.

Shapps also visited Blyth to assess the possibility of resuming rail services on the route from Ashington to Blyth. This route was cancelled after the Beeching cuts.

Passengers accessing the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) can now benefit from single-leg fares. LNER began trialling these fares on routes from London to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh last week.

Shapps said: “2020 will be a year of action on the railways with the north sitting at the heart of the improvements.

“Investing in new stations like Horden Peterlee will deliver more modern, reliable services for passengers. We are also ambitious to restore connections to communities who have lost out, and the Northumberland line has huge potential to deliver that.

“Our focus is levelling up infrastructure across the country, ensuring passengers see the benefit of new trains, new stations and fairer fares.”