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December 2004

Jarvis Minds the Gap

Tube Lines logo British Jarvis has sold its 33% share of Tube Lines, which is involved in three lines of the London Underground. American company Bechtel has the remaining stake in the consortium, which holds the contract to maintain and modernise the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines under a Public Private Partnership scheme. Jarvis sold the share to reduce its large debts, and recently warned it could go under if it did not secure refinancing by the middle of January. Jarvis invests in many outsourced government operations like rail and hospitals. See also stories at FT, Guardian and Telegraph. (December 30th)

Rail Security Different from Air Security

New security arrangements in the wake of terrorism must take into account the nature of railways, writes the International Rail Journal. Rail passengers board trains though many doors and often mingle with passengers boarding or alighting from a train at an adjacent platform. Aircraft mainly fly point to point, whereas trains make many stops along a journey. IRJ also mentions the challenges of routing dangerous goods cleverly to outwit terrorists. See also feature article excerpt. (December 30th)

Chinese Rail Projects Spread to Norway

The UIC's man in Narvik, northern Norway, is anxious over how to cope with thousands of containers from as far away as China. He is in charge of a project to link up railways in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia to create a transportation link from Russia and China to the port in Narvik. The original plan was a test shipment of hundreds of containers from China to Narvik's port, but the Chinese railway minister wants to test it with thousands. The project manager in Narvik says the test must go well or the Chinese will take their business elsewhere. See also Fremover story. (December 28th)

Siemens Builds Russian ICE

Siemens has signed an agreement with Russian Railways (RZD) and Russian group New Transport Technologies on the development and manufacture of a high speed train. It calls for around 60 trains to be built for a top speed of 250 km/h. The trains are intended for high speed service on the lines between Moscow and St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg and Helsinki, and between other cities in Russia. See also Siemens press release, earlier story, and story on DB being unhappy with ICE trains. (December 22nd, thanks Kimmo Kotimaki)

FRA Boss Resigns Ahead of Investigation

NYT logo Facing two federal investigations of her agency's oversight of rail safety, the acting head of the Federal Railroad Administration, Betty Monro, is stepping down. The inspector general of Transportation Department says one of the two investigations was prompted by articles in The New York Times. The articles reported that some railroads had sidestepped their responsibility in crossing accidents, by mishandling evidence and failing to report properly hundreds of fatalities, and they raised questions about whether the railroad agency was too close to the railroads it oversees. Since President George Bush appointed Ms. Monro deputy administrator in 2001, she has vacationed several times with Mary E. McAuliffe, chief lobbyist for Union Pacific. UP has said that they are longtime friends and that each paid her own way. archive (December 21st, thanks RRESQ)

Delays Behind the Scenes for the Fliegende Hamburger

DB started running its tilting ICE-T trains Hamburg-Berlin in 90 minutes December 12th. But DB isn't happy with the trains themelves, they are just so nineties. Manufacturer Siemens was supposed to have new ICE-Ts delivered and ready by now, but they are too heavy and haven't been certified yet. But the delay is a boon to passengers. The older ICE-T trains from 1999 are just as fast as the new ones will be, and they have a real restaurant car. The new ones will only have a bistro. • FT Deutschland's reporter was stuck on a delayed train as the inaugural VIP train whizzed by. For this she gets a 20% discount on her next ticket, but she doesn't seem to be happy. The new 90-minute service is the fastest between the two cities since the Fliegende Hamburger train from the 1930s. See also FTD grudge. archive (December 18th)

DB Cuts 9000 Jobs

DB logo German DB AG is cutting 11 400 jobs in 2005, though creating 2400, resulting in a net loss of 9000 jobs. There are currently 230 000 jobs at DB. The cuts are to be done through retirement and by setting up a subsidiary, DB Jobs, to find new jobs within DB or externally. Also, unions have agreed to longer work hours, in return for bonuses relating to company progress starting next year. The measures reduce labour costs 5,5%. See also story at Der Spiegel and press release. (December 16th)

27 Dead in India

Two passenger trains collided head-on in northern India on Tuesday the 14th, killing at least 27 people and injuring 60. Several coaches went off the tracks when the Jammu Tawi express crashed into a local train near Mukerian town in Punjab state at about noon local time. (December 14th, thanks Nic Newman)

Mediterranean Malaga on the Map of HSR

Malaga-Seville Upgraded to 250 km/h

The Spanish government has decided to upgrade the railway between Seville and Malaga in southern Spain to 250 km/h. It is also to be converted to standard gauge, and work will start next year. However the mayor of Malaga points out that it would be quicker and better to let the trains run on the Cordoba-Malaga high-speed line halfway, to La Roda, where they could continue on upgraded track to Seville. See also map and table of Spanish high-speed railways. (December 14th)

Alstom powers Cordoba- Malaga

GIF, the Spanish railway infrastructure authority, has chosen Alstom within a consortium of Spanish companies to design, build and maintain power substations and other infrastructure for the Cordoba- Malaga high-speed line, presently under construction. The value of the contract is €44m, the Alstom share is about €12m. (December 14th)

NSB Buys 34% of Tågkompaniet

Norwegian NSB has bought 34% of private Swedish train operator Tågkompaniet. Tågkompaniet is 51% owned by its three founders and jointly runs trains with all three Nordic state train operators: Swedish SJ, Danish DSB, and NSB. See also press releases from Tågkompaniet and NSB. archive (December 11th)

French Unions Oppose Internet Booking

IDTGV logo and site French unions blocked a TGV on Monday the sixth because it was open only for people who booked their tickets on the internet. These tickets are cheaper than ordinary ones, and unions fear job losses in the manual ticket sales. (December 8th, thanks Nic Newman)

Delay Charges too Expensive for Banverket

Banverket logo Swedish rail administration Banverket and train operator SJ are not renenewing their experiment with one paying the other for delays. Banverket payed SEK4,3m while SJ only payed SEK0,9m over the past six months, since there were more delays due to infrastructure than trains. Banverket says the trial showed them symptoms of problems but not their causes. Punctuality increased from 70% to 81% during the trial, which only covered Stockholm-Göteborg X 2000 trains. (December 8th)

Bombardier Transportation Cuts 2200 More Jobs

Bombardier is cutting 2200 more jobs in its rail transportation division, meaning 7600 jobs will be cut from this year to April 2006. The cuts will be at 27 factories in 14 countries, mostly in Germany, Britain and Canada. See also stories at Die Welt, Der Kurier, and Railnews. (December 8th)

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