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July 2003

Crossrail Gets Go-Ahead

The £10 billion cross-London Crossrail project won official backing from the British government on July 14th. The heart of the project is the construction of a new tunnelled route across London, with new stations at Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Paddington. Crossrail Line 1 will, for the first time, allow existing suburban rail services to run through London offering a range of possible services to areas such as Romford and Shenfield to the east, and Ealing and Reading to the west. See also press release and Ananova story. archive (July 31st, thanks Ifor Davies and Matt Carlson)

Bush Submits Amtrak Reform Plan

The Bush Administration submitted to Congress its plan for Amtrak reform on Monday the 28th. The plan entails cancelling federal funding for trains, but also that the federal government will pay half the cost of rail infrastructure. States would have to finance train operation themselves. Many senators oppose the idea and critics say that states will not be able to cooperate on interstate services. But President Bush's Transportion Secretary, Norman Mineta, points to the Cascades service in Washington and Oregon as an example showing that state-funded, interstate rail can work. See also Amtrak press release, DOT press release and Reuters story. archive (July 30th)

West Coast Main Line Upgrade Delayed?

Britain's Rail Regulator, Tom Winsor, told Network Rail on July 24th to spend £7bn less than planned on investments and maintenance on the country's rail infrastructure. One casualty of this could be the hugely over-budget West Coast Main Line upgrade between London and Glasgow to 200 km/h. This is because the track access charges, which Mr Winsor sets, will not be raised to accomodate an expensive track upgrade. Mr Winsor says Network Rail needs to lower costs through better management of its contractors, better maintenance planning and better checking of maintenance work. WCML ambitions have already been lowered from 225 to 200 km/h, and a direct move to moving-block ETCS/ERTMS wireless signalling has also been dropped, which resulted in a significant price rise. The line will now move to ERTMS in two steps. See also stories at the Independent and Telegraph, and further BBC stories 1 and 2. archive (July 30th, thanks Nicolas Newman)

Hallandsås Spill May be Sabotage

The resumed building of the tunnel through the Hallandsås ridge in southwestern Sweden has suffered a major setback after a cement mixture leaked into a nearby stream, Lyabäcken on Tuesday the 22nd. Fish in the stream died since the acid/base level was disturbed, but readings are returning to normal. Work has stopped as investigations are underway. The source of the spill has not been found and media speculate that the project has been sabotaged. Work on the tunnel only resumed this year after contruction was halted in 1997. This was due to the watertighting agent Rhoca Gil leaking into another stream, Vadbäcken, and contaminating several wells. archive (July 30th)

New Amtrak DMUs

Amtrak has called for expressions of interest in building 18 DMU rail cars similar to the Rail Diesel Car from the 1950s. They will be general-purpose and conform to AAR standards for couplers and air brakes, and use many of the parts and systems already in wide use at Amtrak. The railway wishes to avoid costly single-source parts and prefers standardised North American parts which can be manufactured by any supplier. A similar vehicle has been built by Colorado Rail Car. (July 17th)

NYC Station Opens After 9/11

A commuter train station was reopened in Jersey City June 30th after being closed since the September 11th terrorist attacks. The station, Exchange Place, was flooded with water after the attacks when water pipes broke and firefighters put out fires. It is part of the PATH network, which also includes a station under the World Trade Center site. That station has also been closed since 9/11 and a temporary station will open there in November. See also press release and archive (July 15th)

Wireless in Canada and Sweden

Linx is now offering wireless internet on their Göteborg-København trains. Passengers need computers equipped with generic wifi/wlan or Airport wireless ethernet to access the 'net. The always-on service is connected to the train's satellite and GSM digital phone internet link. The satellite provides high-speed internet while GSM acts as a backup. Also, Via Rail Canada is running a four-month test of the same technology in the Montreal-Toronto trains. Icomera in Göteborg has done the Linx trains while Bell Canada and PointShot Wireless have provided the systems for the Via trains. Further, the Roslag narrow-guage commuter railway in Stockholm has tested wlan over the winter and spring. Scandinavian Airlines and German Lufthansa have signed contracts with Boeing to install the same system on some of their planes. See also Bell press release. archive (July 12th)

Two Accidents in India

Train Falls From Bridge

A train derailed on a bridge as it pulled out of a southern Indian station Wednesday the 2nd, and its engine and two coaches fell onto a fish market and parked three-wheel taxis, killing 22 people. See also BBC story. (July 3rd)

51 Dead in India

Four cars of a passenger train to Bombay derailed on June 22nd after hitting rocks and debris from a monsoon landslide in western India, 400km south of Bombay. A spokesman said that the driver had been told it was safe to proceed and that the landslide must have occurred at most ten minutes before the train arrived at the scene. Fifty one people died. (June 24th)

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