Start of Elizabeth Line services postponed to autumn 2019

3 September 2018

Crossrail has announced that the opening of the Elizabeth line, London’s upcoming 12th tube line, has been postponed from December this year to late 2019.

Under the revised schedule, the central section of the line running from Paddington to Abbey Wood will start operating in autumn 2019.

Crossrail, which is responsible for the implementation of the Elizabeth line, pushed back the opening in order to carry out final infrastructure and extensive testing along the route and ensure a complete safety of operations.

The company said that the contractors of the project need more time to complete final works in the central tunnels and develop the software of the railway systems.

Testing on the line has already started, with the additional time expected to help Crossrail to carry out a full range of integrated tests.

Crossrail chief executive Simon Wright said: “The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages


“We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway.

“We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”

The project involves several infrastructure contracts, new trains and the deployment of three different signalling systems.

Once operational, the Elizabeth line will increase central London’s rail capacity by 10% and help boost the British economy by an estimated £42bn.

Elizabeth line trains are currently running between Shenfield and Liverpool Street (mainline station) and between Paddington (mainline station) and Hayes & Harlington.

Siemens to present research project on autonomous tram

4 September 2018

Siemens Mobility and development partner ViP Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam are set to present their research project into developing the world’s first autonomous tram.

The company is set to demonstrate a test tram driving autonomously in real traffic on a 6km long section in the German city of Potsdam as part of the InnoTrans 2018 event from 18-21 September.

This demonstration will use a Siemens-made Combino tram procured from ViP.

The vehicle will be used to identify the challenges and scope of improvement for autonomous driving under real-life conditions.

It features multiple lidar, radar and camera sensors to detect the surrounding traffic environment. In addition, it runs complex algorithms functions to interpret this data and provide an appropriate response.

The autonomous tram is capable of responding to tram signals, halt at definite stops, as well as instantly respond during movement of other vehicles and crossing pedestrians.

Siemens Mobility CEO Sabrina Soussan said: “Our autonomous tram can already master essential operating tasks in real road traffic at this stage of development.

“By relying on the ‘Siemens Tram Assistant’ collision warning system being used in, among other places, our Avenio M tram operating in Ulm, Germany, we have already reached series maturity, an important milestone on the way to autonomous driving.

“By making trains and infrastructure intelligent, we can guarantee availability and enhance safety in local and long-distance travel.”

Currently, there are no plans to use this autonomous tram for commercial purposes.

Last week, Siemens Mobility announced plans to unveil its new Vectron Dual Mode locomotive at InnoTrans 2018.

Moscow Metro opens new line section

4 September 2018

Moscow Metro has opened the new Line 8 section (Solntsevskaya Line) between Ramenki and Rasskazovka stations.

The new section comprises seven stations and is expected to enable residents living in the districts of Novo-Peredelkino and Solntsevo to reach the city centre in around 40 minutes.

The decision to construct the 31km-long Solntsevskaya Line and the Solntsevo depot was taken in 2011 by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Initially, the plan included building a metro line to Solntsevo, but it was later extended to Rasskazovka and again to Vnukovo following public requests.

The whole line was built in multiple stages. The first 3.4km section opened in early 2014 and included a section between Delovoi Tsentr and Park Pobedy.

In March last year, the second section Park Pobedy-Ramenki featuring three stations was inaugurated.

The third and current section between Ramenki and Rasskazovka opened last week is 15.3km long.

The last and final 5km section connects Rasskazovka station to Vnukovo Airport, and is expected to be complete by 2023.

Sobyanin said: “The metro in Rasskazovka welcomes its first passengers. Congratulations, thank you, friends. Thanks to those who built the metro and thanks also to all the local residents for being patient during the course of the construction period.”

In addition to serving around 600,000 people residing in the regions of Solntsevo, Novo-Peredelkino and Moskovsky districts, the newly extended line is expected to enable people to travel to Vnukovo Airport more quickly.

The line is expected to ease the burden on the south-western section of Sokolnicheskaya Line (Line 1), as well as reduce road traffic on surrounding motorways, including a Moscow Ring Road section between Michurinsky and Leninsky prospects.

Malaysia and Singapore agree to halt high-speed rail project

5 September 2018

Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to postpone the high-speed rail project, with a revised agreement expected to be signed soon.

Malaysia Minister of Economic Affairs Mohamed Azmin Ali has announced the decision stating that the project will be deferred till the financial situation of Malaysia improves.

In May, Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced plans to scrap the project citing rising national debt.

However, a unilateral cancellation would have forced Malaysia to compensate Singapore, which has spent more than S$250m ($184.4m) on the project.

According to Malaysian business weekly The Edge, the countries have agreed to postpone the project to 31 May 2020.

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport did not confirm details with regard to the postponement and stated that discussions are currently going on to postpone the high- speed rail project.

In 2016, the nations’ governments signed the agreement to build the high-speed rail connecting Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur with Jurong East in Singapore to boost connectivity and support socio-economic development along the corridor.

The project will enable end-to-end connectivity in 90 minutes and was under reassessment by the current newly elected Malaysian Government along with other infrastructure projects to help reduce debt.

In July, Malaysia also suspended construction works on the $20bn East Coast Railway Link project.

The 688km long East Coast Railway Link was planned as part of China’s Belt and Road initiative to connect eastern coast of the country to shipping routes in the west.

Canada approves $1.04bn for two transit projects in Vancouver

6 September 2018

The Government of Canada has approved funds totalling C$1.37bn ($1.04bn) for two major rapid transit projects of Metro Vancouver in British Columbia.

The Broadway Subway project and Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail Transit project are expected to reduce traffic congestion and improve passenger transportation.

Alongside federal funding, the Government of British Columbia has committed to contributing C$1.82bn ($1.38bn) for the two projects.

Additionally, Translink, the City of Vancouver and City of Surrey will contribute a combined C$1.23bn ($930m).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Bringing light rail to Surrey will transform the city, connect communities and make getting around the Lower Mainland faster and easier.

“The Broadway Subway will also go a long way in reducing commute times and transit overcrowding, and making Vancouver’s SkyTrain even more convenient and accessible.”

The Broadway Subway project will add 5.7km and six stations to the SkyTrain Line, expanding it to one of the most congested transit corridors in Metro Vancouver.

The 10.5km-long Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail Transit project will feature 11 stations. It will provide services for under-served areas in the region by improving connectivity across the Lower Mainland.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan said: “Rapid transit is key to helping people get where they need to go quickly, so we can meet the needs of a growing region.

“Cutting traffic and getting people and goods moving faster will unlock economic growth, while making our communities more affordable, accessible and clean.”

Both projects are expected to create thousands of jobs during the construction period.

Once complete, the Broadway Subway will serve around 5,100 passengers an hour, while the Light Rail Transit project will provide end-to-end connectivity in nearly 27 minutes.

Portugal approves €168m to acquire 22 new trains

10 September 2018

The Portuguese Government has approved €168.21m to acquire 22 regional trains for the state-owned transport company Comboios de Portugal (CP).

The procurement of new vehicles will enable CP to support operations on the regional lines.

Portugal Minister of Planning and Infrastructures Pedro Marques said at the press conference: “The specifications will include 12 automotive units bimodal, suitable to circulate on electrified and non-electrified lines, and ten electric units.”

He stated that it is the first time in nearly 20 years that CP is set to purchase new rolling stock.

The overall acquisition will be funded from the European structural and investment funds under the ERDF and Cohesion Fund for the 2021-2027 programming period.

Portugal’s investment represents around one-third of the total amount and will be allocated from the Environmental Fund and is expected next year.

Overall procurement process will also start next year with the launch of the tender process and is scheduled to end in 2026 after receiving the last train.

During this period, CP will provide services on the regional lines with vehicles supplied by Spanish railway operator Renfe under a train rental protocol.

Marques added that the country’s Railway Equipment Maintenance Company is set to recruit around 100 new workers for the maintenance of Comboios de Portugal trains.

He added that the €2bn railway infrastructure investment plan is underway.

Portugal’s Council of Ministers said that these steps are expected to promote the usage of public transportation in the country supporting its decarbonisation objective.

New York MTA opens WTC Cortlandt subway station

11 September 2018

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has opened the new WTC Cortlandt subway station following refurbishment works.

The station was destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and services had not operated from there since.

Offering accessibility to World Trade Center Transportation Hub, PATH and 11 Subway Lines, the WTC Cortlandt subway station is now completely accessible and provides service in both directions.

MTA chairman Joseph Lhota said: “The opening of WTC Cortlandt returns a subway station to a vibrant neighbourhood and represents a major milestone in the recovery and growth of downtown Manhattan.”

Construction on the new station started in 2015 after MTA received the control of the site. It was built within the footprint of the destroyed Cortlandt St 1 Subway subway station.

The station’s new design was developed by a partnership of multiple agencies, including MTA.

During construction, the MTA reconstructed 1,200ft of tunnel and tracks. It also carried out refurbishment of the station shell, track tunnels and track infrastructure.

The remaining station was demolished to enable redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.

Featuring fewer columns to enable better customer flow, the station now has 23,720ft² of public space and two side platforms for service in each direction.

It is equipped with all modern facilities and security features.

Furthermore, the station has Help Point kiosks on each platform, with two station mezzanines offering information and emergency services to passengers.

New York City Transit president Andy Byford said: “The successful construction of the WTC Cortlandt station in the city’s most challenging building site represents our ability to deliver on our promises to modernise and rejuvenate the subway system.”

Austria’s ÖBB signs deal for 700 passenger coaches

12 September 2018

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and Siemens Mobility have unveiled the prototype of the Desiro ML Cityjet eco, a battery-powered train.

The train will be presented at the InnoTrans 2018 in Berlin this month, and is designed to operate on the non-electrified rail lines as an alternative to diesel-powered vehicles.

Development of the prototype is driven by the initiative to enable eco-friendly rail operations as battery-powered units can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50% compared to diesel trains.

It is expected to be used in passenger services in the second half of next year following comprehensive testing.

ÖBB Personenverkehr management board member Evelyn Palla said: “We’re always looking for ways to improve our products and make them more environmentally friendly.

“As part of this quest, ÖBB will continue to focus on replacing diesel vehicles in the future. As Austria’s largest climate protection company, ÖBB is spearheading a further initiative in the fight against climate change with the Cityjet eco.”

Under a pilot project, Siemens is currently testing a new technology to charge the train batteries through the pantograph on electrified rail lines.

When this train enters a non-electrified stretch, it will be powered by the batteries in the system for operations.

Procured from ÖBB’s Siemens Desiro ML fleet, the battery-powered train will be used for this pilot project.

The train features a battery system in the middle car. The overall system includes three battery containers, two DC/DC controllers, a battery cooler and associated electronic components.

The vehicle uses lithium-titanate batteries, which are negligibly affected by weather and climate conditions. These batteries are expected to have an operating life of around 15 years.