June 2001

40 New Trams For Göteborg Göteborg (Sweden) has ordered 40 new "Sirius" trams from AnsaldoBreda in southern Italy for SEK600m. The first unit will be delivered for testing in 2003, while all trams will be ready in 2005. They will be the same size as the current big ones in Göteborg, which were built by Asea/ABB in 1984-1991 and extended with a low-floor middle section 1998 and onward. The new trams will be denoted M32. (June 16th)

Merger Moratorium Ends

Mergers Must Improve Competition The US Surface Transportation Board formally ended the moratorium on mergers on Monday the 11th, announcing a new set of guidelines on industry consolidation that will make it more difficult for the six main North American freight carriers to acquire each other. Linda Morgan, chairman of the Surface Transportation Board, said the new guidelines would force merging railroads to prove their transaction enhances competition, and they would need to have detailed plans for service reliability.

"While mergers have their place," Ms Morgan wrote in comments attached to the rules, "recent events have shown that no major merger takes place in isolation, and that, once a round of mergers begins, it can be all-consuming, distracting, and disruptive, to the detriment of the nation's transportation system, rail shippers, rail employees and communities across the country." Industry reactions were negative, though CN, which broke off its merger with BNSF after the STB imposed the merger moratorium, is pleased with the new rules. See also CN press release, statement by the Association of American Railroads, Associated Press story and Washington Post story. (June 12th)

High Lateness Fines Cause Accidents? British regulators impose a fine of £300 ($425) a minute for late trains. The high cost attached to delaying trains has been linked to a rise in unsafe working practices and a decline in maintenance standards. Official inquiries into fatal accidents at Ladbroke Grove and Hatfield heard evidence that workers were under pressure to keep trains running rather than close tracks for checks or engineering work. (June 5th)

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