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March 2005

New 360 km/h Shinkansen

Fastech 360 model East Japan Railway is working on a 360 km/h train called Fastech 360. It will be put in service when the Tohoku Shinkansen is extended to Shin-Aomori in 2011. The streamlined nose is 16m long. The test version will be able to reach 405 km/h, but normal service operation will be max 360. Meanwhile, Central Japan Railway is working on the 300 km/h tilting N700 train. It reduces power consumption by 10% and the tilting mechanism means it can take curves at 270 km/h, 20 km/h faster than today's trains. See also JR East press release, and page about N700 at JR Central's site. (March 29th, thanks Alan Reekie and Yasunori Hayashi)

Green Cargo and Railion Collaborate

Green Cargo logo The Swedish government has decided not to sell freight operator Green Cargo, and is instead investing SEK600m in the company. GC will be investing SEK3,7bn to 2014, which represents a 50% increase in the annual pace of investment. GC's main locomotive is the Rc type from the 1960s. • Media reports that GC was being sold to Railion have been partially confirmed, as GC announced tighter collaboration with German Railion. This is because 80% of Swedish foreign freight rail goes to or through Germany. The market share of freight rail falls by two thirds after passing a national border, and this traffic is growing fastest. The co-operation with Railion entails, among other things, filling empty return wagons. • After years of small losses, GC made a profit of SEK43m after tax last year. See also stories in Swedish at Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter, and press releases in Swedish from the government and Green Cargo, and GC's profit 2004 press release. archive (March 28th)

Alternative Fuels in Scandinavia

Hydrogen Trains in Denmark

Local trains in western Denmark are to be run on hydrogen gas in a research and development project. The trains will run on the 59 km Vemb- Lemvig-Thyborøn line and the project is financed by the three towns, as well as the province of Ringkøbing and the European Union. The hydrogen could come from a nearby pesticide factory which produces 700 tonnes annually as a by-product. See also Svenska Dagbladet story in Swedish. archive (March 28th)

Biogas Trains in Sweden

The towns of Linköping and Västervik in eastern Sweden are co-operating on a project to have the trains connecting them converted from diesel to biogas. They would use the same engines and fuel tanks used by biogas busses being tested in Linköping. Converting a one-car Y1 diesel train would cost SEK5,5m, while electrifying the 115km long railway would cost SEK120m. See also Beginners's Guide to Biogas in English. (March 28th)

BK Tåg Bankrupt

BK Tåg logo Swedish train operator BK Tåg has gone bankrupt and will not be re-entering the passenger rail business. The freight unit will continue as usual. BK's finances have worsened since the 2003 takeover from SJ of the Linköping-Kalmar franchise. The trains were not allowed to continue north of Linköping to Stockholm since Linköping - Stockholm forms part of SJ's monopoly. SJ also stopped selling tickets via Linköping and instead routed their passengers through Alvesta. This caused a larger drop in passenger numbers than expected. BK Tåg started business in 1990 as the first private Swedish franchise operator. BK Tåg's passenger unit has 150 employees and franchises in many parts of southern Sweden, which will cease unless a new operator is found by the end of April. See also stories at Sveriges Television, Svenska Dagbladet, and Dagens Nyheter and BK Tåg press release. (March 28th)

Rumour of Chinese HSR Bidding

International rail engineering companies are expected to bid this week on the planned $1,73bn high-speed railway connecting Beijing with the neighbouring town Tianjin, a source tells the Xinhua news service. The project is scheduled to start construction before June and begin operating in 2007. See also map. (March 3rd)

China-Germany Train

A cargo train has set off on a maiden journey from China to Germany, and is expected to make the 9814 km trip in 18 days. The train, hauling 100 containers, will run twice a month between Hohhot, the capital of northern inner Mongolia, and Frankfurt. (March 3rd, thanks Christian Mordhorst)

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