November 98

Ugly Accident in India

The death toll had risen to 208 on Saturday. The preliminary findings of the Railway Board are that a crack in the rails may have caused the cars to de-couple. Metallurgical tests were under way to see whether poor quality steel or fatigue could have caused the crack. (November 29th)

Clearing work speeded up on Friday the 27th after the arrival of a huge crane that could lift an entire train car. 2500 workers, including nearly 200 army soldiers, supported the wobbly wreckage with planks of wood and steel beams. Others used acetylene torches or crowbars. The workers cleared and opened one of the two railroad tracks after a 46-hour disruption. (November 27th, 23:05 CET)

At least 108 people were killed in an accident in northern India on Thursday the 26th. Three rear cars of the Amritsar-bound Frontier Mail from New Delhi jumped the tracks between the towns of Khanna and Payal in the wheat-growing district of Punjab state. Barely a minute later, the Calcutta-bound Sealdah Express coming from Jammu on a parallel track collided with the derailed cars.

The accident was the second worst since 302 people perished when Delhi-bound Purshottam Express collided with a stationary Kalindi Express near Ferozabad in Uttar Pradesh on August 20, 1995. (November 27th)

Double Deckers in Stockholm Region

Swedish SJ is having capacity problems in the Mälar Valley/Stockholm region. Double deckers have been borrowed from Switzerland in the past, and now some German ones will be tested on the new Svealand railway, south of Lake Mälaren, as well as on the Mälar railway north of Lake Mälaren, the Stockholm-Göteborg main line (but only as far as Hallsberg), and the Uppsala-Stockholm commute. The coaches are made by DWA, a part of the Bombardier group which operates out of Canada. The coaches themselves are not Canadian, as previously and erronously reported.

The mostly single-track Svealand passenger railway was completed in the summer of 1997. The time table for the railway has small margins due to the few sidings available. Coupled with a larger number of passengers than expected, this creates the need for high-capacity trains. (November 13th/29th, thanks to everyone who helped sort out the mess about the coaches' origin.)

Canadian National duped its unions in waiting to announce huge layoffs untill after a three year wage agreement was signed, the Canadian Auto Workers' union says. CN is axing 3000 jobs from its 21,600-member work force by the turn of the century. (November 28th)

Problems with loading and unloading nuclear waste onto trains resulted in the suspension of some of these trains in Europe this year. (November 27th)

UPRR says its systemwide service is the best it has been since before the railroad's operating crisis began in the summer of 1997. (November 27th)

Swedish SJ is upgrading the software for its main computers to SAP's R/3. They currently run R2 and decided against moving to Unix. The implementation of R/3 will result in the reduction of unique applications from 500 to sixty. SJ also hopes the new software will let them see more clearly which activites are profitable and which are not. (November 27th)

Bombardier is going to build rail cars in China, in a consortium with another Canadian company and a company owned by the Chinese Ministry of Railways. The scale of current Chinese investments in railway infrastructure dwarf anything else in the world. Also see story at (November 23rd)

More sabotage against ICE trains was reported by Erlebnis Bahn on November 15th. Lids for concrete cable ducts were placed in the tracks where trains pass at up to 230 km/h. (November 23rd)

Canadian VIA Rail will be contracted out in its entirety by the year 2000, the government says, following the British example. However, there will be no competition over the same routes in order to offer a seamless service. If a company is offering an upscale tourist service over a given track such as is now offered over the Rocky Mountains, the government still reserves the right to provide a passenger rail subsidy for a company that provides basic transportation over that same track. (November 23rd)

German DBAG is cancelling orders for 600 locos, cars, and trainsets, valued at a total of 2,3 billion deutschemarks. A DBAG spokesman said "We want to be sure the trains work before we order them," alluding to the extensive problems DBAG has had with new tilting trains and double deckers. (November 23rd)

FT.comBritish Virgin Rail plans to launch rail services in parts of the UK not covered by its existing two franchises when the rules governing rail competition are eased in 2002. (November 23rd)

FT.comRailtrack and Central Trains blame "juicier" leaves on the line for services in the Midlands hitting their lowest ebb since privatisation. The wet summer has produced bumper crop of sap-rich foliage. (November 22nd)

The first of 20 Variotrams has arrived in Helsinki. They are built by Adtranz. (November 17th)

An Irish investigation into rail safety investment will take place, following a damning study showing weak management systems in Iarnrod Éireann, outdated signalling, an urgent need for safety training, a high risk of accident on some lines, poor tracks and serious shortcomings in identifying hazards. (November 16th)

New York City's subway agency wants to buy up to 212 rail cars from Kawasaki, because Kawasaki's bid was lower than Bombardier's. Bombardier has previously sold gobs of subway cars to New York. (November 15th)

Swedish SJ's new boss says in an interview that costs must be cut by 5% per year, some operations may be sold, and new opportunities will be sought in Eastern Europe. Also, eight senior executives have left SJ since Daniel Johannesson took over in February. (November 12th)

British Railtrack was lambasted by the industry watchdog and some key customers on Wednesday the 11th over proposals to cut track capacity in order to get more trains to run on time. (November 11th)

Swedish SJ and A-Train have agreed on terms for SJ using the new private railway between Stockholm and that city's main airport, Arlanda. SJ will pay A-train 45 SEK per passenger getting on or off SJ's trains at the airport. All SJ's trains running north from (and to) Stockholm will stop at the airport, and some trains running south from (and to) Stockholm will continue north, past Stockholm, and terminate at the airport. The trip from Stockholm to the airport will take 20 minutes, half the time it currently takes by car or express buss. Arlanda Express will run a train every 15 minutes and accept airline check-in at Stockholm Central. (November 10th)

The Ontario Northlander train, which originally was a Trans Europe Express dedicated trainset, has returned to Europe from its stint in Canada. (November 8th)

Queensland Railways new tilt train entered service between Brisbane and Rockhampton on 6th November. With a top speed of 170km/h, it has overtaken the XPT as the fastest train in Australia in regular service. It is the only narrow gauge (1067mm, 3'6") tilt train outside Japan. The new train has reduced travel times between Brisbane and Rockhampton from 9h20m to 7 hours. (November 6th, more here, official site here, thanks David Bromage)

Peru will use the European model for its privatisation, in that train operation will be separate from track management. (November 5th)

The famous Australian Ghan train will be open to the public at Spencer Street Station, in Melbourne on Saturday the 7th, to commemorate the extension of The Ghan service from Melbourne to Alice Springs, starting November 18th. (November 5th)

Continuous welded rail, 32 turnouts, and other rail accessories for $6.8 million for the Alameda Corridor in Los Angeles, will be provided by the L. B. Foster Company. The Alameda Corridor is a $2 billion project that will consolidate 90 miles of branch lines into one 20-mile line servicing the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. (November 5th)

FT.comBritish North West Trains is to offer passengers two weeks of free travel on its services between Manchester and Oldham to compensate them for a rash of cancellations during the summer. This is not the first time British authorities force operators to offer free travel. (November 2nd)

DBAG ran an ICE train from Frankfurt to Berlin on Saturday the 25th in 3 hours and 18 minutes, to see if a "Sprinter" service can be introduced. The train averaged over 185 km/h. (November 2nd)

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