August 2000

The Irish government has approved in principle the development of a metro for Dublin. It will be developed on a public private partnership basis using a design, build, finance and operate mechanism. The metro will run on three dedicated lines. The first step will be the previously announced LUAS Line B. (August 30th, thanks Paul Treanor)

swooosshAdtranz has rolled out the first of its Regina trains for Västmanlands lokaltrafik in Västerås, Sweden. The trains are extra wide and fit five seats in each row. They reach 180 km/h. The high speed and high passenger capacity reduces the need for many trains, reducing costs. find(August 30th)

The Israeli Transport Minister has nixed a plan to build a new high-speed rail system to Jerusalem, opting for improving the old rail lines to the capital, instead. The decision will enable freight transport, but will not provide a commuter train solution for Modi'in. (August 30th, thanks Richard Mlynarik)

Kawasaki Motors will build a $50 million plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, to manufacture rail and subway passenger cars. The plant will employ up to 320 people and will be located just south of Kawasaki's Lincoln motorcycle plant. Workers are expected to produce 200 railcars a year in a sprawling, 6 hectare plant. In a press release, Kawasaki said the "move takes place in a climate favoring re-evaluation of rail as a viable means of transportation." The company said that in addition to growth in the U.S. railcar market, demand also is increasing for modern railcars to replace old equipment. (August 30th, thanks Richard Mlynarik)

Swedish SJ is selling its data division, SJ Data. SJ Data has 250 employees and will have revenues of SEK410m ($44m) this year, and specialises in systems design (client-server, web and mainframes) and consultancy. SJ has an internet booking system for passengers, and conductors carry Psion Workabouts. Some of SJ's new freight wagons have satellite positioning. Many other of SJ's subsidiaries have been sold out, including the real estate division, and soon all that will remain is the freight and passenger train operating companies. SJ's website. (August 26)

The formal purchase of Union Station by Ottawa and Toronto -- a big locomotive for the Olympics, waterfront redevelopment and the battle against traffic gridlock -- is only days away, federal Transport Minister David Collenette said Thursday the 17th. That legal move puts the finishing touches on an $80-million deal announced in June by the city and the federal government. Once legally complete, the deal sets off a train of events that could transform the historic building and transit options for the Toronto region. "We will have the best intermodal transit facility in North America when Union Station is completely refurbished," Mr. Collenette pledged in a wide-ranging interview. (August 25th, thanks Alan Reekie)

Baltimore Transit has fired the driver of a light rail train that crashed last week at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Dentis Thomas was driving the train August 15 when it failed to stop at the end of the line, plowing into a protective bumper. The collision lifted the front car off the tracks, injuring all 22 people aboard. Thomas, 48, told MTA investigators he blacked out at the end of the final curve that approaches the station, about a quarter-mile from the airport stop. He had returned to work the day before from a medical leave for a back condition, and told his supervisor he was taking prescription drugs as required under MTA policy, union officials said last week. (August 22nd)

subway trainBombardier has been selected by the South Korean government to negotiate the terms of a concession contract for the turnkey design, construction and operations of a rapid transit system linking the rapidly growing City of Kimhae, with Pusan, the second largest city in South Korea. The Pusan-Kimhae transit system will use Bombardier's driverless Advanced Rapid Transit (ART) technology, well proven in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Detroit, United States; and soon to be operational at the JFK International Airport in New York City. Bombardier will be responsible for the core electrical and mechanical systems, including the initial 46 vehicles, for the fully automated line that also will serve as a connector to the international airport in Kimhae. (August 22nd, thanks Richard Mlynarik)

At least 27 000 squatter-families living along the Philippine National Railways' tracks from Caloocan City to Clark--site of the proposed Manila-Clark Rapid Railways System (MCRRS)--would not leave their homes until an "on-site, in-town relocation" plan is developed for them, an urban poor group said. (August 18th, thanks Alan Reekie)

Tri-Rail will open its new Fort Lauderdale Airport Station located at 500 Gulf Stream Way in conjunction with the schedule change on Monday, August 14, 2000. The new schedule takes advantage of rail corridor improvements made during Phase III of Tri-Rail's double track corridor project. (August 18th, thanks Alan Reekie)

Ten adults and three children died after a train ploughed off the rails in western Kenya on Wednesday the 16th. Rescuers struggled in poor weather for several hours to free passengers trapped in the overturned coaches. (August 17th)

A major rail disaster was averted Wednesday the 16th when two alert gangmen detected two powerful bombs planted on the tracks near a railway bridge in central Assam's Karbi Anglong in India district minutes before the Calcutta-bound Dn. Kamrup Express was to pass. An N. F. Railway spokeswoman here said that the two gangmen - Mr. Rasamoy Roy and Mr. Jaddeo Shaw - detected the bombs, each weighing five kg., near the approach to a railway bridge between Daldali and Diphu stations at around 1.30 a.m. The spokeswoman said that the train was detained at Daldali station and a security pilot engine had crossed the spot minutes before detection of the bombs. (August 17th)

ALSTOM will supply train control systems for Taiwan's Tucheng extension to the Taipei Metro Blue Line. The total contract value is in excess of $21 million. ALSTOM will provide an ATC (Automatic Train Control) system for the six station, eight kilometer Tucheng extension to the Panchaio (Blue) line. The components of the system will include VPI (Vital Processor Interlocking) for interlocking control, AF track circuits, wayside ATP (Automatic Train Protection) modules, Model 5 switch machines, and Microcabmatic for carborne train control. The equipment will be compatible with the ALSTOM system already installed and operational on the Blue Line. (August 15th, thanks Richard Mlynarik)

Miniature power stations running Ballard's fuel cell, which produces water vapour as exhaust, may change the look of the power industry, The Economist writes in its August 4th issue. The interesting part in this for railways is not just that kewl micropower is more environmentally friendly than coal plants, but also that it will shortly be no more expensive than power from large-scale power stations. This may encourage governments to ditch the exceptions to pollution taxes that many United States coal plants enjoy today. This would in turn change the economics of the Powder River Basin, which both UP and BNSF are exploiting because of its relatively clean-burning coal. Siemens Westinghouse makes a more powerful cell running natural gas and producing up to 10MW, which may be suitable for locomotives. Ballard's and Siemens' fuel cells run on hydrogen, which is not readily available in large quantities yet. The article contains links explaining the technology. You may like to print or save the article as it is likely to expire Aug. 10th or 11th, when the next issue of The Economist comes out. (August 5th)

Bombardier Buys Adtranz

Richard Mlynarik has found a great analysis of the deal written by Jan Ravensberger at the Montreal Gazette. Some of the highlights of the article are these:

Bombardier, the Canadian aerospace and transportation group, has confirmed the acquisition of Adtranz, DaimlerChrysler's rail equipment division, for $725m (C$1.1bn). The deal marks the culmination of the German-US carmaker's drive to rationalise and turn around its chronically loss-making rail activities. ABB, the Swedish-Swiss engineering group, sold its half of Adtranz to Daimler last year. The proceeds from the planned disposal of some of Adtranz’s businesses, namely Fixed installations and Signalling, currently in the process of being sold to other parties, would reduce the net purchase price for Bombardier. See also press release, and Globe & Mail story. (August 4th)

Bombardier has confirmed that it is in talks with European passenger rail manufacturers, amid speculation that it is buying Adtranz, DaimlerChrysler AG's rail systems unit. Bombardier vice-president Michel Lord says that despite the company's efforts to be a player as Europe's passenger train industry consolidates, no deal has been struck with Adtranz. "We've been in talks with various parties and this could continue," Mr. Lord said. "But there's absolutely no development there." Adtranz reecently won a number of new orders. See also Manager-Magazin story in German. (July 21st, thanks Tobias Köhler)

Swedish SJ wants to buy the Estonian freight and infrastructure operations, Eesti Raudtee. Other companies to make bids to the Estonian Privatisation Agency include an American-British-Estonian consortium called Baltic Rail Service, and led by Ed Burkhardt. Mr Burkhardt led similar aquisitions in Britain and New Zealand when he was boss of Wisconsin Central. Two other bids have been made by American CSXT, and a local Estonian consortium, Raudtee Erastamise AS. Who gets to buy the freight operations will be determined this fall. Passenger traffic has previously been sold to three separate companies: Edelraudtee for domestic services, Elektriraudtee which runs commuter services round Tallin, the capital, and EVR Express which runs international services to Russia. (August 4th, sources: Tåg-nytt and paper edition of Göteborgs-Posten)

Lisbon Airport is to become a High Speed Train Terminal by the year 2009, says Jorge Coelho, the Portuguese Social Equipment Minister, in an interview to the weekly newspaper Expresso. Aeroporto da Portela (Lisbon International Airport) is to be replaced by new facilities to be built at Ota, further North of Lisbon. It is the Minister's intention to take advantage of the then redundant installations at Portela and use part of them as the terminal of the RAVEL - Rede de Alta Velocidade (High Speed Network - the minister's prefered designation for the future high speed rail network). The design of this new 120 million € network is yet to be decided but the guideline set up by the government is to connect Lisboa and Porto with a connection to Madrid somewhere in the middle. (August 2nd, reported by Paulo Ferreira)

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