EriksRailNews.comLinks Press Releases Archive In Your Phone About Guestbook

January 2005

10 Dead in Los Angeles

A Los Angeles Metrolink commuter train struck a car at a crossing, derailed and sideswiped another commuter train yesterday morning, killing ten people and injuring hundreds. One commuter train was headed from Los Angeles' Union Station to downtown Burbank, and the other was bound to Union Station from Moorpark. The car driver intentionally stopped on the crossing to commit suicide, but changed his mind and got out of the car before the train hit. He now faces charges of murder. Metrolink says his car had become stuck between tracks and could not have been moved even if he had tried. See also stories at BBC and New York Times. (January 27th)

Confusion on Chinese Maglev Approval

China has approved a $3,6bn maglev stretching 170 km from Shanghai to adjacent Hangzhou, Reuters reports. Construction will start this year and be completed by 2009, but no suppliers have been selected. But Financial Times Deutschland writes that no final decision has been made as of today. The Chinese wish to lower construction costs to €20m/km. FTD also writes that maglev is off the table for the longer Beijing-Shanghai line. The existing aiport maglev in Shanghai was built by the German Transrapid consortium but is carrying fewer passengers than expected. It does not go to the center of Shanghai but leaves off in a suburb. See also stories in German at FTD and Der Spiegel and in Swedish at Ny Teknik. (January 26th)

Fire Cripples Two NY Subway Lines

New York City's A and C lines have been crippled and may not return to normal capacity for three to five years after a fire Sunday the 23rd in a control room that was started by a homeless person trying to keep warm. The fire gutted a locked with 600 relays, switches and circuits that transmit vital information about train locations. See also NYC subway route map. (January 26th)

Storm Stops Swedish Trains

broken catenary masts, photo by Kjell Svensson A storm with winds of up to 35 m/s (126 km/h) on January 9th has extensively damaged railways south of Stockholm. The Stockholm - Malmö main line opened yesterday, but partially single-track. The coast-to-coast Göteborg-Kalmar line will not be opened until January 27th and the rail network will not be restored to full capacity for months, says Director-General of rail administration Banverket, Bo Bylund. The storm also flooded Brunnsparken, the central node of Göteborg's tram network but this was restored the same day. See also photos by Kjell Svensson, map of Sweden's rail network, Banverket press release in English and PR in Swedish. (January 21st)

Lasers Inspect British Track

British Network Rail is having laser equipment fitted to eleven passenger trains across the network, which will inspect track during ordinary service runs at up to 200 km/h. Earlier, track could only be inspected with special trains which do not carry passengers or freight. archive (January 21st)

Railion Buys RAG Bahn & Hafen

German mining, energy and chemicals group RAG has sold its logistics unit RAG Bahn und Hafen to Railion, Deutsche Bahn's freight division. RAF has 950 employees, 110 locos and 2300 wagons. The sale price was not disclosed. See also DB press release. archive (January 21st)

Trains Spills Chlorine in US

Nine people have died after a Norfolk Southern freight train collided with a stopped train carrying chlorine gas early Thursday the 6th in South Carolina. Thousands had to be evacuated from their homes. A preliminary investigation determined that the crew that parked a two-car train on a side track failed to set the switch/turnout/point back to the main track. See also older CNN story. (January 21st)

Kent Franchise Takes Shape

The new fast commuter trains on Britain's high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which start service in 2009, will be more 20-35% expensive for passengers. They form part of the new Integrated Kent Franchise which will include the South East Trains franchise, which the Strategic Rail Authority has taken over from Connex. Unions oppose "re-privatising" SET, noting that punctuality has improved since the SRA took over operation of the trains. The SRA has has invited four bidders to bid for the franchise: DSB & Stagecoach, FirstGroup, GNER Holdings & MTR, and Go-Ahead & Keolis. See also Independent story and SRA press release. (January 21st)

GM Sells Electro-Motive

General Motors is to sell its locomotive-making unit, GM Electro-Motive Division to investment companies Greenbriar Equity and Berkshire Partners. EMD has 2600 employees in LaGrange, Illinois, and London, Ontario, Canada. See also London Free Press story and EMD press release. (January 21st, thanks Geoff Fischer)

SJ Puts Wifi on Eighty-five Trains

Icomera logo Swedish SJ is equipping 85 X 2000 and new Alstom double-decker X40 trains with wifi internet and better mobile phone reception. This is in addition to the seven Linx X 2000 trains taken over by SJ which already have wifi. The deal is worth SEK90m and goes to Icomera in Göteborg, which is hiring 10 more people for this job, bringing the total to 29 employees. Icomera has also installed the technology on 30 of British GNER's trains. See also stories in Swedish at Ny Teknik, Svenska Dagbladet, SJ's press release, and's pages on the new Alstom double-decker X40 and X 2000 trains. archive (January 18th)

Metros Crash in Bangkok

Bangkok's subway system will be shut down for at least a week as Thai authorities investigate the cause of a train collision in the heart of the capital. Nearly 200 people were injured when a maintenance car slammed into a train packed with 700 passengers during the morning rush hour. The $2,8bn subway was opened just last August, and had been struggling to attract customers, with daily ridership at nearly 100 000 below target. See also BBC story and (aka Metroplanet) page on Bangkok skytrains and metro. (January 17th)

Eighteen Dead in Italy

Eighteen people died in a train crash near Bologna in Italy on Friday the 7th. A regional express train crashed head-on into a freight train, derailing its engine as the freight train ploughed into passenger carriages. See also stories at and Reuters. (January 8th, thanks Nic Newman)

Subway Air Damages Health

Air in the Stockholm subway is much more unhealthy than the air on Stockholm's busiest streets. Not only are there ten times more particles, but the particles are also much more dangerous. More research is needed, say researchers at Karolinska Institutet. See also second story. (January 4th)

Europe-Wide Travel Guarantee

Several European train operators introduced a travel guarantee on December 12th. One of them was Austrian ÖBB. Passengers who are more than an hour delayed because of an ÖBB long distance train get a 20% refund on the ticket price. The guarantee is only valid on tickets costing over €20, €50 in international traffic. See also stories at Krone,, CER notice, ÖBB's page with an English PDF at the bottom, and SBB press release. (January 4th)

Danish Minister Changes His Mind on Bridge Tolls

Railion logo The Danish minister of transport thinks bridge tolls on the Storebælt and Øresund bridges should be lowered for both car and train traffic. Freight train operator Railion complained of high tolls in December and cut its Aalborg- Fredericia trains, but the minister then said the tolls would not be lowered. See also earlier story at Berlingske. (January 4th)

Erik's Rail News Front Page