The latest news, trends and data from the rail industry
ith the global rail industry facing increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact, operators and governments are emphasising the importance of finding greener fuels and alternative propulsion methods to cut down on emissions. Electrification and battery power remain at the forefront of discussion around replacing diesel-powered locomotives, but many countries in Europe have highlighted the potential of hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) technology, which produces electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical reaction, and leaves water as the only emission.
The introduction of hydrogen-powered trains on major rail networks is no longer a pipedream. French manufacturer Alstom’s revolutionary Coradia iLint has been a fixture in the headlines since its first appearance at InnoTrans 2016, with the train already running on several lines in Germany, and the company is now in discussions to bring it to other countries, including the US. Both France and the UK have outlined plans to introduce hydrogen-powered trains on their networks by 2022, with the latter testing a hydrogen train demonstrator, named HydroFLEX, on a mainline railway this year.
Recently, a study commissioned by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU) analysed the extent to which fuel cells and hydrogen technologies could be introduced within the European rail market. The study showed that some of the current hydrogen-powered rail cases in Europe highlight a positive total cost of ownership for fuel cells, while in others it could be the ‘most adequate zero-emission alternative’.
For this number of days, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, a broken rail track went undetected on a Norfolk Southern railroad in the US, leading to a derailment on 5 August 2018.
Rail passengers stand on trains during peak times in London, UK in 2018, according to a UK Department of Transport report.
The total length of China’s entire rail network at the end of 2018, with high-speed railways making up 29,000km of this figure.
Red light signals were missed by drivers on Swiss railways in 2018, according to official statistics quoted in Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung, with the most common cause cited as ‘driver inattention’.
Speed of the highest winds sustained by Hurricane Dorian, which caused devastation in the Bahamas and prompted several high-profile US operators, such as Brightline, to shut down operations.
Offences were committed on Britain’s railways in 2018-2019, a year-on-year increase of 16%.
The Singapore Land Transport Authority has awarded two civil contracts for the construction of five stations on the Jurong Region Line (JRL). The contract to design and construct Choa Chu Kang, Choa Chu Kang West and Tengah stations has been awarded to Shanghai Tunnel Engineering (Singapore). This S$465.2m ($337m) contract includes the construction of a 4.3km viaduct. The Shanghai Tunnel Engineering agreement also encompasses alteration works to the current Choa Chu Kang station, which is on the North-South Line. This will integrate the station with the new JRL station.
The Government of New Zealand has revealed plans to invest NZ$94.8m ($60.9m) to upgrade the North Auckland Line between Swanson and Whangarei in Northland. The investment is aimed at improving freight services on the line, as well as further opening up Northland’s economy. The money will be used to replace or upgrade around 54km of the 181km rail line. The scope of the work includes replacing rail sleepers, rehabilitating five ageing bridges and maintenance work on 13 tunnels. Additionally, the work package includes improving drains, culverts and embankments along the route, as well as upgrading the Whangarei rail yard.
Swiss construction company Implenia has secured a SEK3.5bn ($360m) contract to deliver the twin-track rail expansion project between Varberg and Hamra in Sweden. Under the contract, Implenia will be responsible for planning and construction of a 2.8km conventional tunnel, a 450m cut-and-cover tunnel and a 1.3km cutting, as well as several bridges and a railway station. Laying 2.7km of track and building a freight train station are also part of the work package. Completion of the construction works is expected in six years.
Sir John Peace, the chairman of Midlands Connect, after UK Prime Minister Boris John was urged to support a £3.5bn Midlands rail expansion plan:
“In the Midlands, more people are travelling on the railways than ever before. We now need investment from Government to allow our people, businesses and infrastructure to reach their full potential, and to drive a further boost in passenger numbers. Midlands Engine Rail is essential in creating a more sustainable, productive and mobile Midlands.”
A Eurostar spokesperson commenting to Railway-technology.com about the company’s preparedness for a no-deal Brexit:
“At this point, we expect to maintain services on the existing basis and timetable following Brexit. We have made arrangements to ensure that within the Eurostar group, the necessary operating license, safety certification and driver registration are in place with the relevant EU regulators to ensure we can continue to operate even in the face of a no-deal.”
Congressman James McGovern, speaking about Amtrak and MassDOT’s brand new Valley Flyer train running through Massachusetts, US:
“This pilot programme could be a game-changer for our region, better connecting travelers and businesses while growing our economy. The Valley Flyer will finally make it possible for those in the Knowledge Corridor to commute to places like New York City and back in the same day while bringing more travelers into Massachusetts. I want to thank Amtrak and MassDOT for this investment in our community and will continue working to improve rail service so more people can see all our region has to offer.”