July 2002

Did Railtrack Have the Wrong Track Inspected? The BBC reports that Railtrack ordered its maintenance contractor to inspect the track towards instead of from London after an off-duty rail worker reported a rough ride on a train from London at Potter's Bar, where a train derailed the next day. The maintenance contractor, Jarvis, says that tapes prove that Jarvis was asked to check the tracks to London. The tapes are with the police. See also earlier BBC story and Railtrack press release. find (July 15th)

Low-Fares Airlines and Supertrains

DB Meets Low-Fares Airlines German DB AG is complaining to the European Commission that airlines are unfairly exempt from taxes on domestic German flights. Airlines like Germania, Deutsche BA and Lufthansa offer return tickets for €111 which is cheaper than rail on some routes. These low prices are only possible due to low taxes, says Hartmut Mehdorn, DB's board chairman. DB has also produced a study showing that competition is not harmed by DB's owning the tracks through its infrastructure division. However, competitor Connex notes that their trains get milk-train timetable slots resulting in Duisburg - Heidelberg taking six hours, while DB's own trains take 3 and a half. (July 12nd)

adSave an Hour German DB AG is advertising its new Köln-Frankfurt high-speed "Neubaustrecke" line with a "one" campaign signifying that the trip time is being cut by one hour to 75 minutes, with trains running at 300 km/h. The line also offers time savings for points beyond the end stations. DB has put up 34 ones, up to six meters high, along the motorway and in railway stations. The official inauguration will be July 25th when chancellor Gerhard Schröder will take the train. See also DB's Neubaustrecke page. find (July 13th)

Cape Breton Railway Abandoned? RailAmerica wants to abandon the Cape Breton part of it's railway in Nova Scotia, in eastern Canada, which runs (Halifax)-Truro-Port Hawkesbury-Sydney. At a hearing, David Sawler, of Copol International, said that his company would pay as much as C$700 000 more if it had to truck in resin for its plastics operation. See also map. (July 12nd)

Faster in Victoria Taxpayers will foot the entire A$550 million bill for fast trains to regional Victoria. The state government confirmed on 13 June that it had failed to attract private investment. Investors feared the project was not financially viable because Freight Australia has a 45-year lease on the track and National Express owns the passenger rolling stock. The Bombardier trains will be upgraded to go 160 km/h. See also Newstext/Herald Sun stories from June 14th and 26th, and Railway Gazette story. (July 9th, thanks David Bromage)

New Hong Kong Rail Link After a 6-month delay, the Hong Kong Government has finally announced that Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp (KCR) won the bid to build and operate the Sha Tin-Central Rail Link. Another bid was submitted by the Mass Transit Railway Corp (MTR), who currently has a monopoly on cross-harbour metro services. Awarding this project to KCR means the monopoly will finally be broken. The 17.1 km new line will run from Tai Wai to Central West and will have 10 stations, including a modified one at Kowloon called Hung Hom. See also map of this project, a general map of Hong Kong, MTR's press release in PDF format, and IRJ bulletin. (July 6th, thanks Roger So)

crossrail mapCrossrail Construction Commenced Work began June 20th on Crossrail 1, a rail link across London designed to ease pressure on the Tube. Engineers are sinking shafts at to build the first station - Moorhouse - part of a 20-storey office and shopping complex in downtown London. Crossrail 1 will cut across the capital east to west and a second line, Crossrail 2 north-east-southwest, a modification of the an old line from Hackney to Chelsea. (July 6th, thanks David Pielow)

Canadians Take the Eurostar VIA Rail Canada began operating its new Renaissance passenger cars on the overnight train between Montreal and Toronto on June 23rd. These new trains will also go to Halifax next year. VIA has purchased a total of 139 new Renaissance cars. By the time they are all in service at the end of 2003, they will expand VIA's national passenger rail fleet by one-third. The trains were originally built, but never used for, overnight service through the Channel Tunnel. find (July 3rd)

Cash for South West Trains The British Strategic Rail Authority has announced plans to invest in some of the country's most overcrowded trains to make "immediate improvements" to passenger services. South West Trains, which operates 1700 trains every day across southern England, said the £29m investment would go on new trains and extending 90 suburban stations. It would also allow additional Sunday services on routes such as Reading and Hampton Court. (July 3rd)

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