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November 2002

Connex Germany Starts More Long-Distance Trains Starting December 15th, German private train operator Connex Deutschland will run a second long-distance passenger train in eastern Germany, called "Inter-Connex". The trains will run Friday through Monday. Timetables will not be available through national operator DB AG since the service is being provided in direct competition with DB's own services. Connex will also add a third train to the network next spring, going east-west and connecting Berlin with Köln. This train will take twice as long as DB's fast ICE trains. Connex' success with long-distance contrasts with Eurobahn's failed attempt at running trains between Bielefeld and Köln in western Germany in December-January 2000/2001. (November 30th)

Attractive Rail Stations in Sydney

Architecture to Lure Commuters in Sydney Wide open cavernous platforms with twice the usual breathing space, attractive entry points and natural lighting are some of the aspects of proposals for new stations along Syndey's new Parramatta commuter rail line. Landscaping will blend the stations into their surroundings. The designers are keen to incorporate existing and new greenery into the stations, turning them into meeting points. Station staff in offices in the middle of the concourse will supervise the entire station and be seen by commuters in any part of it. Hassell is the company behind the design. See also Hassell PDF document. (November 29th, thanks David Trinh)

Liège station Here are some photos of nice new rail stations in Europe – Liège on the new high-speed rail line in Belgium, and the Canary Wharf Underground station in the Docklands, London, England.
Canary Wharf

Amtrak Sues Bombardier Back Amtrak is "countersuing" Bombardier, asking for more than $200m in damages, because the 240 km/h Acela trains have suffered numerous mechanical problems that have led to frequent service delays and cancellations since their introduction in December 2000. Bombardier filed a suit against Amtrak last November, saying that Amtrak provided inaccurate information about the dimensions of tunnels, electromagnetic interference and track geometry. Both companies recently issued conciliatory public statements. (November 29th, thanks Bengt Mutén)

British Airport Plans Criticised The British Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution says the government should try harder to shift traffic from air to rail. "Instead of encouraging airport expansion and proliferation, it is essential that the government should divert resources into encouraging a shift from air to high-speed rail for internal UK travel and some intra-European journeys," it says. See also official website. (November 29th)

train on bridgeEast Bloc Security Comes to US During the cold war, many rail fans trying to take photographs of trains in eastern Europe were interrogated by officials. As the United States escalates its war on terrorism, this is starting to happen there too. However, the Federal Rail Administration also recognises that a rail fan's noteped, full of detailed information on unusual events, can also be a valuable resource in the war against terrorism. (November 19th)

More Rail Funds in Oz Fearing a tripling in the number of trucks clogging interstate roads by 2020, the Australian Federal Government wants to reduce national highway funding and build better railways. A Government plan released November 7th proposes to reduce national highway funding and push funds into rail development in hopes of stemming freight growth on the roads. (November 19th, thanks David Bromage)

Intermediate Solution to Sydney's Rail Problems The operator of suburban trains in Sydney, Australia, CityRail, is adjusting timetables for 21 of its worst-performing train services, lengthening some trips by up to four minutes to reflect actual journey times. A major timetable change in April has not yet been fully implemented due to a staff shortage. (November 19th, thanks David Trinh)

Delays in Stockholm Subway The reliability problems in Stockholm's (Sweden) subway are continuing. Drivers are having trouble coping with the new signalling system, which continuously changes the maximum allowed speed depending on track and traffic ahead. Drivers find it hard to avoid time-consuming emergency braking. Also, leaves and unpolished rails damaged 84 coaches on October 24th, after an early snowfall caused unusually large amounts of leaves to fall. (November 19th, thanks David Trinh)

Danish Accident Train Uncertified One person died after a Danish commuter train crashed with another on November 7th. The train was of the new type which has not yet been permanently certfied by the safety inspectorate, which was formed after the trains were built. See also more stories 1, 2, and press releases from DSB and Banestyrelsen. (November 19th, thanks Glen Olesen)

Twelve Dead in Fire in France Twelve people died in a fire on an overnight Paris-Vienna train in Nancy early morning on Wednesday the sixth. The fire started in the conductor's compartment in the first coach after the locomotive. The conductor is in shock and has not yet been interviewed by staff. The coach belonged to German DB AG, which says train personnel decided to initiate emergency braking at Nancy station, and not before, to facilitate a rescue operation. Nancy station attendants who saw flames, cut power to the electric train. The coach was from the sixties but had been extensively renovated in 1999. The coach conformed to European fire standards and had fire-extinguishers but no fire alarm. According to The Guardian, the Amtrak system in the United States makes some use of detectors. See also stories at the BBC, The Guardian and The New Zealand Herald, and SNCF press releases. (November 6th, thanks Matt Carlson and Toma Bacic)

Salt Spray Cancels Eurostars All Eurostar trains had to be cancelled for over 24 hours on Tuesday the 29th after powerlines near Calais were short-circuited by saltwater spray blown onshore by storms. Service has since been restored, but thousands of passengers were inconvenienced. (November 6th, thanks Alan Reekie)

Service Messages Commuters if Train is Late A new internet service alerts London commuters to delays in their trains. Users enter details of their daily commute and the time of day they want to receive updates. If a train is delayed, the system sends a text message or email with the information to the user. The service is available at (November 6th, thanks Ifor Davies)

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