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August 2005

Austria Okays Koralm Tunnel

Austria's minister of transport has okayed the building of the 33km, €1,5bn Koralm tunnel as part of the new €4,2bn Graz-Klagenfurt shortcut line. The tunnel will have double-track approaches. Travel time will be reduced from 2.40 on the old line to one hour on the new shorter line. See also map showing new railway in dotted red, ÖBB press release and tunneling association page. (August 24th)

Oslo Buys New Subway Trains

Siemens' Wien factory is building 33 three-car subway trains for Oslo for €190m. The first one was handed over for testing yesterday, while serial delivery will begin in February 2007. They are very similar to Wien's new "V"-trains. See also Siemens page. (August 24th)

Taiwan High-speed testing

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp begins speed tests of the 345 km high-speed railway this week, hoping it can start operating in October as scheduled, the company said yesterday. Speed will be raised gradually from 120 km/h to 315 km/h. THSRC has ordered 30 sets of the 700T rail cars from Japan and has taken delivery of 20 sets. Each set consists of 12 carriages seating a total of 986 passengers. (August 24th)

Transrapid Develops Commuter Maglev

The German government has agreed to contribute €113m toward adapting the Transrapid maglev for local use. The train control system is to be refined to allow more frequent trains. Siemens, ThyssenKrupp and Transrapid are together expected to contribute about another €100m. Plans for a Transrapid to connect München with the airport are to be fixed in 2006. Construction of the 37km maglev track would start in 2007 if the federal government contributes funds. find (August 22nd)

Cargo Slovakia for Sale

Cargo Slovakia is being privatised and eight companies have been invited to submit binding offers to buy it. Among the prospective buyers are the state railways of Germany, Austria and Hungary. The Slovakian government hopes to get €385 - €514m from the sale. (August 18th)

Loss at Railion and DB Passenger

German DBAG's long-distance passenger traffic reduced its loss by €200m in the first half of this year to €50m. The improvement is due to better punctuality, faster trip times due to new track such as Berlin-Hamburg, as well as discount campaigns. Higher prices will be considered since the price of diesel has doubled in a year. The freight division, Railion, is also losing money due to increased competition from other rail freight operators and road traffic. But the DB group is set for a €400m profit for the whole year. See also press release. archive (August 11th)

CN Spills Oil and Corrosives

Residents Protest Oil Spill Inaction

Over 100 protesters blocked a Canadian National railway crossing in Alberta Friday the 5th, angry over the company's poor response to a freight train derailment and oil spill on the lake where they live. The demonstraters left once provincial government issued an environmental protection order on CN, ie, ordered them to clean it up and report back, or face fines. The train derailed Wednesday when 43 of 140 cars left the tracks. Some of the cars contained bunker fuel oil, used in liquid asphalt and to power barges and ships. Fifteen of those cars, as well as a car full of lubricating oil, began to leak into the lake.

Meanwhile, CN was dealing Friday with another derailment in British Columbia where nine cars of a freight train plunged into the Cheakamus River canyon. One of the derailed cars was loaded with about 51 000 litres of sodium hydroxide, a highly corrosive liquid. See also CN press release.

(August 6th)

France-Spain Project Started

Construction began last month on a 44km long railway between Perpignan in southern France and Figueres in northeastern Spain. To be completed in 2009, the railway will be built and operated by a company called TP Ferro in a 50 year concession. It will be standard guage, and meant for both high-speed rail service at up to 350 km/h as well as freight trains. It will use blockless ERTMS signalling. Travel time Barcelona- Montpellier will be 2 hours, 10 minutes. See also Railway Gazette bulletin, Railway Technology page, and RFF page on mixed high-speed/freight traffic. (August 1st)

Office Complex Crowns Berlin Central

Berlin's new central station, to be ready in 2006, was crowned yesterday by the beginnings of an office complex atop the platforms. The new through station connects railways and avoids the need for reversing trains. The east-west trains run along the old elevated stadtbahn, while a new north-south railway runs underground. It is sometimes called Lehrter Bahnhof, after the town and railway junction Lehrte, to which many trains from this station went before the second world war. See also City of Berlin's Hauptbahnhof page, DB's page, and's Berlin page, all in English. find (August 1st, thanks Daniel Kemeny)

Travel Planner Wows NY Times

New York City transit websites do not appear to have a travel planner/search engine, so the entrepreneurs at have stepped in to fill the gap. The New York Times seems pretty impressed at this wonder of technology, thought it is far from unique. Since before the millennium, the German Railway's travel planner has been able to show you the way from the subway station Hietzing in Vienna, Austria, to the Hackescher Markt commuter train station in Berlin, for example. And does the same thing for domestic trips in Sweden, but also includes airlines and express bus connections where relevant. Alan Reekie reports that there is an official travel planner at find (August 1st)

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