Europe '97

The Narbonne - Perpignan line in France has been damaged by bad weather. Service to Spain has been affected. (December 23rd, 1997, more here)

Private transport of freight is starting for the first time in March 98 in the Netherlands between Born and Rotterdam. Cars are leased from German HKG. Among customers are Nedcar (Volvo/Mitsubishi) and the chemicals companies Akzo and DSM. (December 23rd, 1997, more here)

A freight freeway is ready to go starting January 12th, 1997, Cargoweb reports, citing Belgian railway SNCB. The line in question is Belgium - Luxemburg - France - Italy. Train speed will increase by 20 %, due to fewer border formalities, but the idea with freight freeways isn't just speed but also that other operators may gain access to tracks. (December 8th, 1997, more here)

Airline KLM Cargo is running freight trains Amsterdam - Milan in co-operation with the trucking firm Jan de Rijk and bimodal firm Trailstar, starting Saturday the 6th of December. The trains leave Milan on Friday evening and reach Amsterdam on Sunday morning. Jan de Rijk may start business in Milan if volumes are promising, and Sweden may be next, as de Rijk would service KLM's hub in Malmö. (December 8th, 1997, more here)

The Baltic Express Tallinn - Warsawa now only goes to the Polish border, due to low occupancy (39%). (December 3rd, 1997, more here)

Work on St Petersburg's subway has been halted as money has run out. A 30 km extension is affected; earlier this year, six km and two stations have opened. (December 3rd, 1997, more here)

ABB is building a subway in Oporto, Portugal's second biggest city. The Portuguese government, the EU and the European Investment Bank are sharing the costs. (December 3rd, 1997, more here)

NS Cargo thinks there should be no charges for track access on the freight freeways taking shape in Europe. There is not enough urgency in making the freeways work, says Ed Smulders, CEO of Dutch NS Cargo. (December 3rd, 1997, more here)

The new Portuguese Pendolino trains will look like this. (November 13th, 1997, thanx Carlos Machado)

The first train between Croatia and Serbia since the war began running on Tuesday, from Zagreb in Croatia to a town in Serbia; by next year it will run all the way to Serbian Belgrade. The railways in the region have been mined and must be cleared before traffic resumes. (November 13th, 1997, more here)

The Amsterdam-Schiphol airport, one of Europe's busiest, 1997 wants to focus more on intercontinental flights and improve high speed rail service between the aiport and neighbouring countries Belgium, Germany and France. (November 12th, 1997, more here)

Dutch Lover's Rail has reopened the Amsterdam - Haarlem railway and runs cars from the 1950s on it. Lover's has also bid for four other concessions in the Netherlands. It is 30% owned by CGEA Group, which also owns the Connex trains in England. (November 12th, 1997, more here)

Dutch NS Cargo could use new owners, its management has announced, and Belgian SNCB has mooted taking a minority stake. NS Cargo is too small to compete in tomorrow's market needs closer alliances, its management believes. NS Cargo already co-operates with German DBAG and American CSX in the intermodal company NDX. (October 18th, 1997, more here)

The Turkish government is considering a rail tunnel under the Bosporus Straits at Istanbul to ease congestion. The tunnel would cost $1.25 billion and be used for freight and passenger service. (October 18th, 1997, source: TRAINS Newsline)

French SNCF has added price and timetable information to their website. (October 15th, 1997)

Arch-rivals GEC Alsthom and Siemens are co-operating on the building of a high-speed railway in Taiwan. They have won the US$4 billion order in competition with a Japanese consortium selling a shinkansen system. The railway will be 346 km long and trains will run at 300 km/h; the railway will be owned by the European consortium for 35 years, after which it will be tranferred to the government. Service will start in 2003. It is unclear how GEC Alsthom's and Siemens' TGV/ICE train will look. Taiwan's High Speed Rail Project. (October 7th, 1997, more here)

Open access in Europe seems to make old monopolies not just apprehensive but less co-operative, said the boss of Swedish SJs freight division, Christer Beijbom, at the Nordic Rail conference last week. Trains to Spain get as far as the border, and then freight has to be unloaded to trucks, he said. But Beijbom's collegue from Dutch NS Cargo was happy with new international shuttles originating and terminating in Holland. They arrive on time and volume is growing, he said. (October 6th, 1997)

Open access in Poland will be a reality after October 14th. Access charges will be determined by New Year's. The Polish railway PKP will automatically get permission to access track, as will four coal and steel companies which alreday drive trains. PKP is expected to lay off 12 000 workers as part oc a cost-cutting plan. Poland forms a part of SJ's "East Way Link" project, which seeks to use cheap, spare track capacity in Eastern Europe to run trains southward. (October 6th, 1997, more here)

A bill on track access charges will be presented to the Danish parliament this fall. There will be no extra grants to intermodal, says Minister of Transport Björn Westh, 1997, who suggested this in March. (September 29th, 1997, more here)

European Commissioner of Competition Karl van Miert thinks EU member countries are too slow in implementing open access to railways into their legislation. He said this at a conference where officials from German DBAG were present. They said they were not keen to let French companies onto German tracks until it gets easier to obtain track access in France. (September 21st, 1997 more here)

Belgian SNCB has ordered 80 DMUs from GEC Alsthom for 142 million ecu (£97 million). The two-car trains will get airconditioning, run at up to 120km/h, and be delivered 1999-2002. They are probably intended for local service. GEC Alsthom now has almost 4000 vehicles on order from the European railways. (September 12th, 1997, more here)

"Eisenbahn ist wieder in", says Anton Gebert, at the marketing department of the Austrian model train manufacturer Roco. High speed trains catch the imagination of the younger generation; 45 % of German boys aged between six and 17 have or want a model trainset, Die Welt reports in an interesting article about the German model train business. (September 4th, 1997)

Ansaldo Signal will build six Operation Control Centers for the Italian State Railways for Lit 250 billion (US$140bn). The control centres, called "CTC Grande Rete", will each control an FS main line and have a 50-person staff. They are part of a future system of real-time computer-aided management of traffic flows, allowing more efficient use of the network. The system will also enable better information about late trains and optimization of infrastructure maintenance and repairs. (August 24th, 1997, more here)

Swiss SBB and Italian FS will be co-operating in freight services, they announced on August 4th. In a first step, a new company will be formed, for cross-border freight services. Later, this company will run transit services through Switzerland and buy it's own new locos. (August 16th, 1997, more here)

This is Italian FS's new multi-voltage loco E412 for cross-border service to Austria, Germany and Switzerland. At the end of 1993, 20 locos were ordered from Adtranz Italia for delivery this year. Top speed is 200 km/h and the loco develops between 3 and 6 MW, depending on voltage. Tractive effort at start-up: 300kN. Axel load is 22 metric tonnes and length is 19,4 metres. The motors are partly suspended under the bodyshell and partly on the bogie; this reduces unsprung weight. Note that in this picture, from an Adtranz brochure, the loco is not marked with the FS-symbol or any technical information. Photo: Adtranz.

Austrian ÖBB has ordered 75 electric locos from Siemens for 1,7 billion SEK. The order includes an option for 325 more locos (!). They develop 6 400 kW and reach 230 km/h. They will be used for freight and passenger services. The first loco will be delivered in January 2000, and two locos will follow each month. (August 12th, 1997, source Tåg-nytt)

The Spanish high-speed trains AVE made a profit, 217 million pesetas, for the first time. The trains, of TGV type, have been running Madrid-Sevilla at 300 km/h since 1992. The biggest daily passenger volume yet was on June 29, when 13 865 passengers rode the trains. (August 12th, 1997, source STOL)

Traffic chaos in Rome was caused by a fallen crane which blocked a main north-south rail line on Sunday. Transit was clogged by returning holidaymakers attempting to continue their trip via other railway stations in the city. A spokesman for FS said the line should be restored by Monday. (August 3rd, 1997, source Associated Press)

A magnetic levitation track across the Alps from Kufstein in Austria to Trento in Italy for 14,2 billion DM would be cheaper than the planned Brenner tunnel for conventional trains (28 billion DM), the Transrapid-consortium says. Interestingly, two of the companies in the consortium Adtranz and Siemens, also build conventional trains. (July 17th, 1997)

Jobless shipyard workers blocked tracks at Marseille in France on Thursday and 10 000 passengers were delayed. The workers were layed off in 1992 but have yet to get new jobs which the has government promised them. (July 13th, 1997)

The free-of-charge newspaper Metro, which is distributed in the Stockholm subway, is now available in Prague. The first day, the 150 000 copies were gone in hours. Pragues till-now biggest daily, Mlada Fronta, has a circulation of 120 000. The Swedish media company Kinnevik, which owns Metro, has plans for more "Metros" in other cities with subways. (July 8th, 1997)

22 GEC Alsthom CITADIS modular trams have been ordered by the French city of Orléan, for 35 million ECU (£24 million). CITADIS trams have earlier been sold to Montpellier and Dublin. Delivery of the trams, which carry 271 passengers, will start in January 1999. (July 3rd, 1997)

88 people were hurt in Arbing in northwestern Austria on Tuesday when two trains collided on a subdivision along the river Danube. Human error caused the accident, Austrian Railways ÖBB said. One of the train drivers did not wait for clearance from the dispatcher. Ironically, a new safety system is being tested on this particular railway, which sounds an alarm if the driver does not get clearance from the dispatcher. The system was installed in neither of the crashed trains. Several victims of the accident, including a pregnant woman, were treated at hospitals. Among the injured were children from three school classes. (June 28th / 25th, 1997, thanx JL)

The first of 16 DMUs for Spanish Renfe was delivered by Adtranz and CAF on June 13th. The trains will run at max 160 km/h and are intended for regional service in the regions of Castilla-Léon and Andalucia. (June 27th, 1997)

Renfe is set to more than triple the number of cars shipped for Volkswagen-owned SEAT over the three years 1995-1998. Renfe currently runs 31 trains a week with SEAT cars. (June 27th, 1997)

A new train called Euromed did it's first run on the railway Alicante -Barcelona on the Spanish Mediterranean coast on June 23rd. The run took 6 hours and 18 minutes, with stops in Valencia, Castellón and Tarragona. (June 27th, 1997)

Forty containers per week with car parts will be delivered to car maker Chrysler's plants in Austria, beginning this summer. The car parts will be shipped from the USA to Dutch and German ports. (June 27th, 1997)

European airlines are twice as expensive to operate as US airlines, by certain measures. The American airline market has been deregulated since 1980, the European one since April 1997. Gradually falling airfares in Europe, resulting from increased competition as deregulation takes hold, could swipe customers from European high-speed trains. (June 25th, 1997)

Global Transparks is the latest buzzword in transport. One is currently being built on a disused airport in North Carolina, USA. By integrating transport considerations at the design stage of a factory, co-production advantages with other companies around the world may readily be exploited, facilitating the formation of "virtual companies". The project's supporters stress economies of conjunction rather than economies of scale. The North Carolina Transpark is mainly aimed at high value-added industries such as computer manufacturing, and is built around two long-range runways. The site is served by the two large railways CSX and Norfolk Southern, and a port is available 90 minutes away by road or rail. (June 19th, 1997)

The Trans Atlantic Rail Express has been formed to provide through intermodal land transportation services between Europe and North America. The companies that collaborate in the service are Cemat (Italy), Hupac (Switzerland), Intercontainer-Interfrigo (ICF-Switzerland), the Norfolk Southern railway (USA) and ContainerPort Group (USA). TARES will not incorporate the ocean freight movement, which will remain under the control of the forwarding agents and shipping lines. However, TARES does offer shipment tracking via electronic data interchange. Norfolk Souther's closest competitor CSX owns the container shipping company Sea-Land. (June 13th, 1997)

Trams will be tested in Barcelona this fall. Siemens is testing it's "Combino"-tram. In order to limit the esthetic effect of the new installations, the catenary will be suspended from existing lamp posts. Read more at STOL. (June 4th, 1997)

The left won the French election but it is unclear what the new government will do about SNCF. The previous government tried to cut staffing, but failed. (June 2nd, 1997)

A pan-European freight railway may be the result of negotiations between the the national railways of the three Benelux countries, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark, according to an article in Danish Jyllands-Posten. The article, published May 20th, 1997, quotes the boss of DSB Gods, Hans Winther, as saying that negotiations have been running for six months, and that a deal may be ready in two months. A similar bilateral deal may be struck between the Swedish and Danish railways. The new company would compete with lorries, but also with the giant French and German national railways. (May 26th, 1997)

Traffic controllers at SNCF are on strike since Wednesday and TGV traffic is down to a third of normal levels. The Brussels and London trains are however running as usual. The traffic controllers are protesting against layoffs among them on regional railways and also want higher wages. (May 17th, 1997)

Lithuania is borrowing 40 million ecus to renovate the Klaipeda (on the coast) - Belorussia railway, the parliament has decided. The renovation applies to signalling, telecom and rolling stock. The money is coming from the European Investment Bank, to be repaid in 20 years. (May 12th, 1997)

At least 10 people died close to Szczecin in northern Poland on Monday, when three passenger cars uncoupled from a train running at 120 km/h. The three cars then ran into a freight train on a siding. Police did not know how many passengers the train was carrying or why the three cars uncoupled. (May 7th, 1997)

The Spanish rail administration GIF was formed at the end of last month. It owns goverment railways and will be allotted 60 billion pesetas by the government, and will also charge for the use of tracks. It is also allowed to work financial markets on it's own. The European Commission has with its directive 91-440 forced EU countries to financially separate infrastructure units from train operating companies. (May 7th, 1997)

GEC Alsthom is building 28 trams for Montepellier's (southern France) future tram system, they announced on April 15th. GEC Alsthom calls their modular low-floor trams "CITADIS" and they will be delivered starting December 1998. The order is worth 45 million ecus. (May 3rd, 1997)

17 passengers were injured on Wednesday in Ceske Budejovice in the Czeck Republic, 100km south of Prague. Some extra cars were to be coupled to the train but this was done somewhat carelessly. Most of the injuries were slight. (April 24th, 1997)

21 died in two accidents in Spain after Easter. The train Barcelona-Irún (by the atlantic coast) jumped the track with 248 passengers on the 31st at 137km/h on a siding meant for 30km/h. 19 died and at least 90 were injured. The line in question is not equipped with automatic train control. Six hours later, on Tuesday morning, the train Barcelona-Málaga jumped the track with 54 passengers. Two died and 25 were injured. If the train had been full with 400 passengers the accident would have been even worse. RENFE will turn over its report on the 10th of april to the judiciary. Read more at STOL. (4/5 april 1997, thanx JL)

Airfares have not come down since the European market was liberalized, according to a study by the EU Commission. Liberalization has been done in steps and on April 1st the market will be free to all comers. In the USA, the market has been free for a decade and a 1000km-flight can be had for US$40; a similar development in Europe would threaten high speed trains. (March 30th, 1997)

Automatic couplers are being tested in 500 freight cars in trains running between Germany and Italy. The coupler is compatible with conventional European screw couplers and is seen as a possible future European standard. (March 30th, 1997)

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