China Upgrades 2000 km
China is to upgrade five railway lines to 200 km/h operation for $12bn. Stretching over 2000 km, the lines include one between Beijing and the northeastern city of Shenyang and another connecting Qingdao and Jinan, two major cities in eastern China's Shandong province. Work is to be carried out by Alstom, Bombardier, and Kawasaki. The three firms are partnering with Chinese firms Changchun Railway Vehicles, Sifang Power (Qingdao) Transportation, and Nanche Sifang Locomotive respectively.
See also BBC story
Chances that Siemens may be selected to build high-speed trains for the 1120 km high-speed line between Beijing and Shanghai may have diminished since the company was not selected to do upgrade work on other railways. Bidding to build the track and trains for the high-speed railway will open later this year. Siemens builds the 450 km/h Transrapid maglev train of the type used in Shanghai, as well as the 330 km/h ICE train used in Germany. Financial Times Deutschland reports that China is building 1000 km of new track annually to 2009. See also Spiegel story
Two passenger trains collided in Turkey yesterday, killing at least six people and injuring about 70 others in the third major rail accident in a month. It is thought one of the trains passed a signal at red.
See also stories at Boston Globe
and Dagens Nyheter
Russia has completed a 49km, $100m new link connecting Olya, a port on the Caspian Sea, to the rail network. Trains may now go from Olya to Iran. The first freight train left Olya on July 28th at a ceremony with Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and managing director of the Russian Railways, Genaddy Fadyev both present. Olya is on the western bank of the main (westmost) branch of the river Volga delta, about 50 km SW of Astrakhan.
See also Eurailpress story
(August 11th, thanks Alan Reekie)
Civilised Trains Struggle to Compete
DB's Metropolitan, a snazzy 200 km/h express between Hamburg and Köln, may be cut soon. The trip takes three and a half hours and faces competition from DB's ordinary trains and a cheap airline which recently started service on the route.
See also story at Der Spiegel
The development at Metropolitan is similar to that of Nordic Linx, which tried to use attractive trains with fine interiors to compensate for long trip times of well over three hours. Linx is to be liquidated in January due to competition from low-fares airlines, but fortunately passengers will continue to enjoy the colourful and pleasant trains on the Stockholm-Karlstad route. A conference on railway interiors is to be held November 30th to December 2nd in Köln. In Köln you can hop on an ICE3, a MET, or a Thalys. Erik thinks the nicest is the ICE3, both inside and out.
Sweden's Lappland night trains are being cut from three to two per day. The route is also being changed so that the Göteborg train is going via Stockholm instead of Örebro and Gävle. None of the trains will go via Sundsvall on the east coast, which operator Connex says will reduce delays from the busy single track there. The changes have been suggested by Connex due to budget constraints at the train, air and ferry subsidising agency Rikstrafiken. Rikstrafiken is likely to approve the changes and they will take effect January 9th.
See also Connex press release
, and maps and timetables
Employees at Bombardier's Kalmar factory in Sweden are questioning the company's decision to close the factory, and may take it over themselves if Bombardier is not interested. It is Bombardier's only factory that can make carbodies in stainless steel, the four unions representing the workers say.
For the first time, the German post office has contracted a company other than DB to drive freight trains. TX Logistik will run two weekly trains between Lübeck in northern Germany and Verona in northern Italy. TX Logistik has recently been certified for operation in Switzerland and Austria. It has also started a Swedish subsidiary, which has bought second-hand Norwegian ore locomotives. See also bulletin on the ore locos
One of the Polish locomotive type SU 46 has been retrofitted with German safety equipment and has been okayed for service in Germany. Cross-border trains will now save 30 minutes since the locomotive does not need to be changed. See also
Green Goats Out to Pasture
A Green Goat hybrid yard switcher be tested for two months by Amtrak in Washington, DC. Manufacturer RailPower has also signed an agreement with United Goninan to market the technology in Australia.
(August 11th, thanks Nigel Horsely)
The Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP) has approved $24m in grants for over 25 RailPower Green Goat hybrid
yard locomotives. Usually the grants are for 100% of the cost of converting the locomotive to a hybrid. TERP aims to principally reduce smog-precursor NOx (oxides of nitrogen). The applications were submitted by three Class 1 railroads, two regional railroads, and three operators of industrial switcher locomotives.
See also story at Dallas Business Journal
(July 29th, thanks Nigel Horsley)