Mumbai Metro Line 3 rolling stock design unveiled

19 August 2019

ADB awards $160m loan to support Sri Lanka railway modernisation

16 August 2019

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) agreed to provide a $160m loan to support a railway modernisation and efficiency improvement programme in Sri Lanka.

The loan amount will be allocated to the Railway Efficiency Improvement Project, which includes various schemes to improve operations, safety and technical capacity of Sri Lanka’s railway system.

It includes replacing the antiquated telecommunications system to enable two-way communications with train drivers and reduce train delays.

The project also includes financing a new operations headquarters and train control centre, providing necessary equipment for rolling stock and rail track maintenance, and steps to improve operational safety.

Implementing a modern multi-channel ticketing system is also part of the modernisation programme.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka is expected to upgrade its technical training centre and carry out detailed feasibility studies for future railway projects.

Overall, the Railway Efficiency Improvement Project will cost $192m, with the Government of Sri Lanka contributing $32m.

ADB transport specialist Johan Georget said: “There is a need to improve public transportation in Sri Lanka to serve a growing population, expected to reach 25 million by 2050.

“An improved railway system will help promote the development of services and industries across Sri Lanka, as well as put the railway as a viable transportation mode of choice for the people.”

Every year, Sri Lanka Railways transports around 2 million tonnes of goods and 136.7 million passengers.

Last month, IRCON International signed an agreement to upgrade a 130km-long railway line in Sri Lanka. The line stretches from Maho town in the Northwestern Province to Omanthai in the Northern Province.

First Trenitalia named new operator of West Coast Partnership

15 August 2019

The UK’s Department for Transport has announced that First Trenitalia has won the contract to operate the West Coast Partnership.

From December, First Trenitalia will operate West Coast Partnership until 2031.

The West Coast Partnership is set to provide a wide range of benefits to commuters, including new trains, increased number of seats, simplified fares and more frequent services on the West Coast Main Line.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the government intends to release a white paper in due course and will also include recommendations of Rail Review chair Keith Williams, with an objective to offer a truly passenger-focused industry.

Shapps said: “This award is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway, and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail.

“It is a partnership supported by Keith Williams, built with the flexibility to respond to his recommendations and deliver fundamental reform to a flawed system.”

West Coast Partnership also addresses issues raised by the Williams Review, through forecast revenue mechanism (FRM) to eliminate the issues that previously affected the East Coast Main Line.

Williams said: “The railway needs reform that prioritises the customers and communities it serves, with an absolute focus on delivering benefits for passengers. I have also been clear that my review must not stop or delay investment and innovation.

“This West Coast Partnership delivers for passengers. It is a step forward that is firmly in line with the review, introducing benefits for passengers today and capable of incorporating the reforms needed for the future.”

The latest award confirms that passengers will benefit from 263 extra train services every week from December 2022 and destinations including Llandudno and Gobowen will now be served by direct trains to and from London.

First Trenitalia will also completely replace the diesel-only fleet with new environmentally friendly trains and reduce CO2 emissions by 61%.

It will also invest £117m in a major refurbishment of the current Pendolino fleet.

The operator will also introduce new solar panels and energy-efficient air conditioning and aims to achieve an 80% reduction in non-recyclable waste from products sold or supplied on-board trains.

Last March, the UK Government has invited bid applications for its West Coast Partnership franchise.

US railroads less cost-effective than trucks for freight transfer, says report

14 August 2019

US railroads are increasingly witnessing a fall in their cost advantage for domestic shipping compared to trucks, according to a report by global business information provider IHS Markit.

US shippers see reduced financial profit when using an intermodal method of transport for freight transfer – where trains are on-loaded and off-loaded by trucks – compared to using just trucks throughout the entire journey, the report said. As a result, they are re-examining the value proposition of domestic intermodal rail in their supply chains.

While intermodal rail has offered a slower, lower-cost option for domestic shippers in the past, truckload prices are falling and have proven to be more cost-effective on lanes under 2,000 miles in length.

This makes intermodal rail more expensive than trucking in secondary markets, according to the US Domestic Intermodal Savings index produced by IHS Markit’s biweekly magazine, Journal of Commerce (JOC).

The index used JOC’s own data of intermodal and truckload rates which consisted of invoiced prices given to shippers.

Shippers compared transit times, on-time performance, and total cost between using intermodal and just trucks when deciding how to transfer freight.

Commenting on the falling financial incentive for shippers using intermodal methods, JOC associate editor and author of the report Ari Ashe said: “The new data from the U.S. Domestic Intermodal Savings Index illustrates how shippers and brokers are becoming increasingly sensitive to whether intermodal or trucking is best for the various lanes they manage.

“With C-Suite pressures to keep transportation costs down, shippers are looking to make the most informed decisions about modal choices to wisely spend down,” said Ashe.

US railroads have been facing slow growth, which has resulted in increased truck capacity, and shippers prefer to move goods via 53ft containers and trailers.

The trend of utilising intermodal methods declining among shippers was outlined in the Cass Freight Index, which said the freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – by truck, rail, air, and barge – fell 7.2% in June 2019 compared to June last year, the first batch of declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

Additionally, the railway sector has seen a deterioration in being used for cargo, according to a report by The Association of American Railroads. It said the US rail traffic was down by 5.5% in June 2019 compared to last year.

Sweco to buy NRC Group’s design business in Finland and Sweden

13 August 2019

Engineering consultancy company Sweco has agreed to acquire NRC Group’s rail infrastructure, engineering and consulting services business.

The acquired business employs 320 railway design specialists in Finland and Sweden.

Commenting on the deal, Sweco president and CEO Åsa Bergman said: “We continue to deliver on our growth strategy with the ambition to become a market leader in all of our key markets.

“With the acquisition, we strengthen our offering in a segment with large investment needs and a strong market. There is an excellent match of competences and I am happy and proud to welcome all of our new colleagues to Sweco.”

The deal will establish Sweco as one of the largest players in the Finland market in the fields of infrastructure, mobility and urban planning.

Furthermore, it will also bolster the company’s position in Sweden.

Following the acquisition, Sweco will employ over 1,200 rail and light-rail professionals in northern Europe.

NRC Finland managing director Harri Lukkarinen said: “Throughout our company’s history, design has always been an important part of our business, so we have worked hard to find an owner that will best be able to develop our design business going forward.

“We believe that our designers will reach their full potential as part of Sweco and continue to enhance their expertise.

Sweco said that the Finnish competition authority approval process for the buyout has been initiated.

Lukkarinen said: “NRC Group and Sweco are currently working together on many projects and this acquisition will give us a chance to expand our collaboration in the Nordics. From now on, our experts can develop railway transportation in all of Northern Europe together with Sweco. This is a great opportunity.”

Hitachi Rail tests new technology to remove station ticket barriers

13 August 2019

TfL temporarily suspended Oyster site after cyber attack

9 August 2019

Transport for London’s (TfL) was forced to temporarily suspend the website for its Oyster system after a credential stuffing attack that accessed 1,200 accounts maliciously.

TFL’s online Oyster travel smartcard system was this week accessed by online larcenists who used stolen customer login credentials from other websites.

The transport authority has said that the cyber intrusions on passengers who have used email address and password combinations for their Oyster accounts were a result of them using the same login details for one or more hacked websites.

“We believe that a small number of customers have had their Oyster online account accessed after their login credentials were compromised when using non-TfL websites,” a TFL spokesperson said adding that that the passwords were not leaked by TfL or its services. Instead, they had been stolen from another website and then were used to login to the Oyster service.

“No customer payment details have been accessed, but as a precautionary measure and to protect our customers’ data, we have temporarily suspended online contactless and Oyster accounts while we put additional security measures in place. We will contact those customers who we have identified as being affected and we encourage all customers not to use the same password for multiple sites,” the spokesperson said.

The BBC reported that TfL said it would be contacting customers whose accounts were affected and had taken the issue to the National Cyber Security Centre and British Transport Police.

In advice to travellers, TfL said customers can still update their Oyster cards using its app and at ticket machines in stations. TfL also has an online guide for customers should they face any cyberattack.

Credential stuffing exploits huge volumes of stolen passwords on the dark web and affects users who tend to reuse the same logins across multiple sites. Attacks are estimated to cost EMEA firms as much as $4m annually.

While this attack was on customer’s accounts, cybersecurity firm Cylus‘ CEO Amir Levintal believes train companies must be prepared for any potential online threats. He said: “As train systems incorporate more advanced technologies, becoming more and more connected, they also become far more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The potential dangers are chilling: hackers can take over trains or switching systems, putting the lives of countless passengers in immense danger. The economic implications of hackers shutting down transit systems, which move millions of people on a daily basis, are also calamitous.

“What’s worse, all of these potentially devastating results and the leverage they give hackers for ransomware attacks make train systems high-value targets for malicious actors the world over.

“Over the years, the rail industry has invested heavily in technologies for safety, control, and passenger convenience. The dramatic rise in threat levels has caused both the industry and regulators to understand the urgent need for specific cyber solutions suitable for rail,” said Levintal.

CAF-Saphir consortium wins Jerusalem tram project in Israel

9 August 2019

A consortium comprising CAF and construction firm Shapir secured a contract to build the extension of the Jerusalem tram project in Israel and take over operations of the network.

Named TransJerusalem J-Net, the consortium won the deal through a competitive bidding process.

The extension project, to be developed as a private-public partnership (PPP) scheme, includes the construction of 27km of track, 53 stations and various depots across a 6.8km-long Red Line stretch, along with building the 20.6km-long Green Line.

The consortium will supply 114 new Urbos trams for the Green Line, as well as refurbish 46 existing units that operate on the Red Line. It will also be responsible for delivering the signalling, energy and communication systems.

Additionally, the CAF-Saphir consortium will operate the two lines for 15 years and maintain them for 25 years.

Overall, CAF Group’s share in the contract exceeds €500m. It includes supplying new trams, overhauling existing vehicles and supplying signalling, energy and communication systems. The Spanish rolling stock manufacturer will also be responsible for project integration.

CAF will own a 50% stake in the special purpose vehicle (SPV) company that will manage operations and maintenance works on the Red and Green lines.

The construction works are scheduled to begin this year and the overall tram network is expected to become fully operational by 2025.

Besides TransJerusalem J-Net, another consortium comprising Shikun & Binui and Egged, CRRC, Comsa, Efatec and MPK, placed a bid for the project.

Recently, CAF Signalling secured three rail contracts in Europe with a combined value of €120m.