November 2001

Trinity Rail Completes Merger Trinity Industries completed its aquisition of Thrall Car Manufacturing Company on October 26th. The new company is called Trinity Rail Group, and designs and manufactures a complete range of rail cars in its United States and European facilities. The merger was likely promted by the depressed US railcar market, but will also have repercussions for the European market as well, were both Thrall (plants in York UK and Studenka CZ) and Trinity (plants in Romania) are active alongside fellow North-American players Greenbrier and Bombardier and the remaining European builders. Separately, Trinity Industries announced on October 30th the purchase of Transport Capital, a privately held asset management and advisory services company serving the rail transportation industry. See also and the initial merger announcement from August 13th, FAQ and factsheet. (November 30th, thanks Jan de Haan)

Tel Aviv Subway Tender Announced The decades-old dream of a subway system for greater Tel Aviv took a leap forward yesterday to becoming reality with the unveiling of an international tender for a company to build the first stage of a comprehensive train system for the entire metropolitan area. (November 30th, thanks Les Brown)

Ikea's Rail Project Threatened Ikea Rail is having trouble getting permission driving its trains past Malmö since they want to use noisy and dirty diesel locomotives. Ikea has no dual-system electric engines for crossing into Denmark. find (November 26th, thanks Bengt Mutén)

Two Dead in Head-On Collision Two Canadian National crewmen died and another two were injured after two trains collided at a siding in Davisburg, Michigan, on Thursday the 15th. One of the trains had pulled into the siding, but they collided anyway. Three of the two trains' four locomotives derailed, and 100 homes near the site were evacuated for several hours while rescuers searched the wreckage for signs of hazardous cargo or leaks. Investigators eventually determined that the tanker had not leaked. Most of the burning debris reportedly was auto parts. (November 23rd, thanks Sherrie Grady)

Sharp Turns at TEE

TEE Logo DB Denies Disliking Tilting Trains DB has confirmed for Eurailpress that they will buy tilting trains in the future. The reason they cancelled their part of the TEE tilt-train order was that none of the industry's offers satisfied the expectations of the call for tenders. The ÖBB and SBB are now reconsidering the number of trains to order, also compatibility with German ICE sets is no longer a requirement. See also the soundtrack! (November 22nd, thanks Tobias Köhler)

No New TEE Trains for DB AG German DB AG has decided not to buy any more tilting trains as they are not reliable enough. This causes problems for the TEE Rail Alliance, DB's passenger joint venture with the Austrian and Swiss railways. Under the TEE brand, DB was supposed to buy 50 tilting TEE trains, Swiss SBB 34, and Austrian ÖBB 32 trains. The Swiss and Austrian railways are going ahead with their procurements, and the TEE project will continue. In a separate development, train crews are no longer changed at the border for Zürich-Stuttgart and Zürich-Frankfurt trains. find (November 14th)

Railtrack Aftermath

Let's be Friends WestLB, the German bank bidding for Railtrack, has asked administrators to replace a competitive auction with a "collaborative effort" where the bidders and the government would jointly buy the rail network owner. The bank believes the size and complexity of Railtrack makes a competitive auction difficult, and would delay the restructuring of the failed company. Instead it wants the government to work with private sector bidders to put together a sale on a "collegiate" basis. find (November 20th)

More Regulation The UK Department of Transport is setting up a second railways directorate to oversee strategy, prompting fears that it is renationalising management of the industry by the backdoor. Officials said the department plans to have two railway directorates; one for strategy and restructuring issues, the second to manage day-to-day running of the industry. (November 20th)

Engineering Firms Take Over From Railtrack? Rail engineering groups including Balfour Beatty, Jarvis and Serco are considering mounting a bid to run the railway following the collapse of Railtrack. The proposed scheme is likely to suggest a company limited by guarantee, as proposed by government, that would own the track, signals and stations. (November 6th)

Chunnel Freight Resumes UK railfreight operator EWS has restarted a restricted service through the Channel Tunnel after through-train cargo servicesentering the UK from France were suspended last week. French railway SNCF suspended all inbound UK freight trains amid fears that French staff were in danger from illegal immigrants trying to enter freight wagons near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel. The EU had threatened to fine France for blocking traffic. (November 16th, thanks Bengt Mutén)

DSB Sells Graffiti Info Since 1998, Danish DSB has built up a database of 20 000 graffiti tags, which has helped reduce anti-graffiti expenses by more than half. DSB is now selling the data to other Danish companies plagued by graffiti, such as trucking companies. (November 15th)

The End of Amtrak? The Amtrak Reform Council doubts Amtrak will become self-sufficient by the December 2nd, 2002 deadline, and so should be liquidated. The ruling does not affect train service for the time being. Amtrak has 90 days to draw up a liquidation plan, while ARC drafts a reorganisation plan; after that, the Senate will choose between these two options. Amtrak President George Warrington has repeatedly urged Congress to make up its mind whether Amtrak should restrict itself to profitable trains or not. The ARC chairman, Gilbert Carmichael, a former federal railroad administrator, insisted the panel is united in support of passenger rail but divided over whether Amtrak should continue to provide it. "All this council is trying to do is come up with a strong new national passenger rail system," Carmichael said. "This country wants it and needs it." See also Amtrak press release, AP story, and Federal investigator says Congress should abandon the deadline for Amtrak to become self-sufficient so the railway can concentrate on security improvements. find (November 10th)

Bombardier Sues Amtrak

Says Amtrak Provided Inaccurate Data Bombardier says Amtrak provided inaccurate information about the dimensions of tunnels, electromagnetic interference and track geometry. They repeatedly told Amtrak that poor track could be dangerous, though the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) had approved the track specifications or granted waivers to Amtrak. Bombardier also complained of Amtrak's inablity to make decisions, saying they took two years to decide on draperies for passenger-car windows, 18 months to choose a chime to warn that doors were closing, and two years to determine the placement of appliances in the galley car. See also Bombardier press release, Montreal Gazette story, Cyberpresse story.

Delivered the Trains Late, Says Amtrak Amtrak counters that because the trainsets do not meet contract specifications when operated on track that complies fully with all FRA requirements, they are having to run slowly. The trains were also delivered more than a year late, with continuing delays for the last five trainsets. These and other shortcomings give Amtrak the right to demand $250 million in claims against Bombardier, Amtrak says. Editor's comment: these lateness penalties are probably what it's all about. Bombardier feels they shouldn't have to pay. (November 9th)

5500km China-Singapore Railway Considered A plan to build a railway from Singapore to China has been revived by ASEAN. The 5500km railway from Singapore to Kunming via Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam was first proposed by French colonialists in 1900, following the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad connecting Moscow and the Pacific Ocean. The project would cost US$400 million and take 10 years to complete. It would have lines branching to Myanmar and Laos. (November 7th, thanks David Bromage)

Inland Oz Freight Railway Launched The first stage of the Australian Inland Rail Expressway linking Melbourne, on the south coast and Darwin, on the north coast, has been launched by Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson. The first stage between Melbourne and Goondawindi (about 300km southwest of Brisbane), costing A$350m and being financed by the private sector, is expected to be completed by 2003 and the final stage to Darwin by 2010. The new line avoids the steep and congested coastal route between Sydney and Brisbane, and extends standard gauge to the major mineral areas and ports of Queensland, which at the moment is entirely narrow gauge. The project was first proposed in 1887. Also see another story, official site, and route map. (November 7th, thanks David Bromage)

ShortLines Leases Class 66 British train leasing company Porterbrook has signed a lease agreement with Dutch ShortLines BV for 2 Class 66 General Motors EMD diesel locomotives with a value of €6 million. The locomotives, which are due to be delivered to ShortLines in January 2002, will work on trains between Rotterdam and various locations in the Netherlands and Germany. find (November 7th)

Contruction Starts on Shanghai Maglev The first part of a magnetic levitation train line was laid Friday the 2nd in Pudong, starting an 18-month construction project with German technology. Premier Zhu Rongji and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder were present for the construction kickoff. The line is expected to make China the first nation to operate such a line for profit. The track will have been completed by October next year, which assures that the train line is put into use in spring of 2003. China has already built its own 100 km/h maglev vehicle, but the Shanghai maglev will use German trains capable of over 400 km/h. find (November 7th)

Virgin Raises Fares Virgin Trains is under attack from rival operators over plans to raise saver fares 30 per cent, use rivals' lines and add new services. Virgin is proposing the scheme as part of a deal with Railtrack to renegotiate its contract for an upgrade of the west coast mainline for faster trains. Under the plan, Virgin is asking for a five-year extension to both its West Coast and Cross Country intercity franchises. In return, it has offered to spend £500m - most of it on new trains - and add services to Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds and Hull, all served by rival intercity operator GNER. The government is considering the plan. find (November 6th)

ERTMS Installed in Bulgaria Alcatel has installed Level 1 ETCS signalling equipment in Bulgaria on BDZ's 250 km main line linking Sofia with the Black Sea port of Burgas via Plovdiv. The scheme included the installation of 1100 Eurobalises, and the fitting of on-board equipment to 144 vehicles including one type of EMU and three classes of locomotive. The three-year project was undertaken by Alcatel Transport Automation's Austrian business unit, under a €10m contract funded from the EU's PHARE programme. ETCS, or the European Train Control System, forms part of ERTMS, the European Rail Traffic management System. find (November 2nd)

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