July 2000

The last four of an eleven wagons container train derailed Sunday afternoon between Santarem and Vale de Santarem, on the Portuguese Lisboa-Porto main line. No injuries were reported, but theáderailed wagons blocked bothátracks on this electrified double track line, interrupting all traffic between Santarem and Azambuja. Some trains were cancelled, while an alternative bus service is in service between these two stations. A CP spokesman hinted heat had distorted the tracks, thus causing the derailment. The derailed wagons were removed at about 8 pm, but work on the damaged tracks is still to be done until late this evening. (July 31st, reported by Paulo Ferreira)

A $600 million incentives package for Speedrail's Sydney-Canberra hst has been announced by the NSW Government. NSW Premier Bob Carr released details of a proposal by his Government to negotiate the provision of line power for the trains as well as rail infrastructure in metropolitan Sydney. This news story is written by an aviation writer. See also another story, Sydney Morning Herald story, earlier story. (July 27th, thanks Alan Reekie)

A pre-feasability project to build an inland railway between Melbourne and Brisbane both on Australia's east coast, was completed in July. The consultants concluded that minimalist options to create a Melbourne - Brisbane inland freight corridor demonstrated strong financial viability and could be implemented on a no cost to Government basis. (July 27th, thanks David Bromage)

A new Kalgoorlie-Boulder/Perth train will travel at speeds up to 200 km/h by early 2003, Transport Minister Murray Criddle announced July 18th. (July 27th, thanks David Bromage)

Melbourne trams are being fitted with video cameras in an attempt to crack down on vandalism. Tests show that cameras, along with signs saying that the tram is being filmed, are an efficient vandalsim deterrent. Also in Melbourne, compensation will be handed out to passengers and hefty penalties paid to the State Government because of last month's poor performance by one of Victoria's two big train operators. (July 27th, thanks David Bromage)

After lying idle for about five years, the old goods line running through Glebe and Lilyfield will reopen as part of the extension of Sydney's (Australia) light rail network. The western extension of the network, which runs 3.1 kilometres from Wentworth Park to Lilyfield in the inner-west, officially opens on August 13, with stops at Glebe, Jubilee Park, Rozelle Bay and Lilyfield. (July 27th, thanks David Bromage)

The Queensland Government has cancelled the Brisbane Light Rail Project. The light rail was officially cancelled on Monday 10 July 2000. The project was cancelled as a result of an expected $80Million (AUD) increase in the contribution required from the State Government. In addition congestion resulting from a number of private and public infrastructure projects combined with the disruption caused by the construction by the BLRP was cited as another reason. The Brisbane Light Rail Project received an award from the Australian Institute of Engineers for Engineering Excellence for the Planning and Preliminary Impact Assessment Study (IAS). This was undertaken by Queensland Transport and PPK Environment and Infrastructure. This is on top of the two awards received previously for excellence in Public Consultation. (July 27th, reported by Nick Clark of the Brisbane Light Rail Project)

Canadian National and BNSF are terminating their merger; their Boards of Directors have both voted to approve an immediate, mutual termination of the combination agreement that would have created North American Railways, Inc., after carefully considering the implications for customers, employees and shareholders. See also Globe & Mail story and the press release. (July 21st, thanks Bengt Mutén)

British Prism Rail is being taken over by National Express, the UK transport group, for £165.8m ($248m). National Express, which operates five rail franchises as well as a UK and US bus operation, said that the deal would give it additional long-distance commuter rail businesses. National Express is to pay 0.375 of a National Express share and 282.5p in cash per Prism share which with a special dividend of 40p per share values each Prism share at 615p. Phil White, chief executive of National Express, said: "The combination of National Express and Prism Rail represents an excellent opportunity as we are enhancing National Express's position in the rail sector of the UK's transport market." find (July 18th)

The BNSF-CN merger suffered a further setback on Friday the 14th when a U.S. appeals court ruled that the Surface Transportation Board was justified when they imposed a 15-month moratorium on rail mergers in March. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled 2-1 that the Surface Transportation Board was within its rights when it imposed the moratorium in March after shippers complained about poor service resulting from recent rail mergers. find (July 14th, thanks Bengt Mutén)

new Amtrak logoAmtrak is introducing an unconditional satisfaction guarantee. If a customer brings a problem to any Amtrak employee and is still dissatisfied with the railroad's efforts, they will get a certificate for a free equivalent journey in the future. Amtrak research shows that 15 percent of its riders never return. For every one percent increase in customer retention, the railroad stands to increase its revenues by $13 million a year. To encourage Amtrak's 25,000 employees, they will get a bonusequal to the average Amtrak ticket price (about $50) every month that 99.9 percent of customers are satisfied. (July 14th, thanks Richard Mlynarik)

British Virgin Rail has confirmed it wants to build a new 200 km long railway for passenger trains running at 330 km/h if it wins the 20-year East Coast Main Line franchise. The offer was made in March, but the Strategic Rail Authority sent Virgin and rival bidder Sea Containers back to the drawing board to make a two-tiered offer of two ten-year franchise periods. The thinking here was that the new line wouldn't be finished until the second ten-year franchise. The new line would bring mainline service to cities and towns currently not on the trunk network, and cut an hour off timings northward. Trains would continue to run on the older line, where Virgin would add diesel locos to increase acceleration and ease connections over unelectrified track. See also commentary by The Independent. find (July 14th, thanks Richard Mlynarik)