October 2001

Two NYC Subway Lines Resume Service on New York's N and R subway lines, which was suspended after the September 11 terrorist attack, was scheduled to resume on Sunday the 28th, several months earlier than expected. Transit officials earlier said the two lines, which transported almost a million people daily before the attack on the World Trade Center, would remain closed for up to six months. Large amounts of debris have been removed from ground zero faster than transit officials had expected, and the 17 m wide tunnel is in better shape than expected. See also route map and photos of damage. (October 30th)

German Passengers Get Email DB AG is going to test letting passengers send and receive email, and access city information and news from PCs. The project is a collaboration with Microsoft, and was announced by bosses Hartmut Mehdorn of DB and Steve Ballmer. In the spring, a similar service will be launched on the new Göteborg-København Linx trains. See also DB press release. find (October 29th)

Satellites Track Late Trains A GPS system used for tracking taxis is being adapted to tell passengers at stations in Denmark if their train is late, and by how much. The GPS system gives the train's computer a location, and the computer then compares this information to where the train should be, based on the timetable. If the train is late, it radios an estimated arrival time to displays at the station. The system is being installed on 14 stations between København and Ålborg, and then on 27 more stations. (October 25th)

CargoSprinter to Australia Australian freight operator CRT is to trial a CargoSprinter between Melbourne and Albury from March 2002. It is currently under construction in Germany and will be delivered to Australia in January. The trials are being subsidised by a A$7 million grant from the Australian Greenhouse Office. See also press release and Cargosprinter.com. find (October 24th, thanks David Bromage)

ICE Testing on Köln - Rhein/Main NBS Testing with ICE3 trains on Europe's newest high-speed railway has begun, and engineers plan to reach 300 km/h on the 177 km long railway by the end of January. Commercial service will being in August 2002 and halve the travel time from Könto Frankfurt, to 59 minutes. Airports in both cities will be part of the network. See also more info from DB AG. find (October 23rd)

Fehmarn and Pyrenees Added to TEN The European Commission is proposing to update its seven-year old Trans-European Network plan. Progress has been too slow, so the minimum EU funding level will increase to from 10 to 20%, and freight will be given priority. Of the 14 projects in the plan, only three have been completed, but the Commission wants to add another six projects, costing €66bn, to the list, among these are the Fehmarn Belt project linking southeastern Denmark and Germany, and the Pyrenees tunnel linking France and Spain. (October 23rd, thanks Alan Reekie)

15 trains per hour in København Track and signalling between København's two largest stations is being upgraded to take 15 trains per hour in each direction, and København H central station is being partially converted to a through station. Østerport Station is being expanded with new platform and trains service tracks. (October 23rd)

NSB Not For Sale Yet After media reports that Danish DSB was interested in purchasing Norwegian NSB, the Norwegian minister responsible for transport, Torild Skogsholm, has said that NSB as a whole is not currently for sale. But she did say that the government will looking into privatising the Flytoget airport trains and freight carrier NSB Gods, which is merging with Swedish intermodal company RailCombi. DSB later said it was only interested in franchises. See also story in English. find (October 23rd, thanks Richard Mlynarik)

Ikea Rail Signs Contracts With Operators Christer Beijbom, former boss of the Swedish railway's freight division and now boss of Ikea Rail, says the reason Ikea decided to start it's own rail company is not that the existing freight rail operators are unresponsive. But they are more interested in optimising their own trains than in giving Ikea the best logistics. So, starting in March and with the help of Rail Transport Team, Ikea will run one train per weekday in each direction between the warehouse in Älmhult, Sweden, and Duisburg in Germany. RTT will supply trains and drivers, and is a consortium consisting of Swedish TGOJ Trafik, Danish TraXion, and German RAG Ruhrkohle Hafen und Bahn. Ikea Rail will later be expanding to Poland, Italy and Benelux, and aims triple Ikea's rail transport to five million cubic metres by 2006. (October 19th, thanks Anne-Marie Olovsdotter)

SNCF Says CTRL Too Expensive SNCF has announced its opposition to using the coming Channel Tunnel Rail Link because the track access charges will be too high. "We will pay fees that will make it hard to have a viable Eurostar service," says Louis Gallois, chairman of SNCF. Eurostar is paying £250m this year in tolls: £170m for the tunnel, £40m for 350km of high-speed line in France and £40m for 100km of "classic" railway in the UK. The first stage of the UK high-speed link would add a further £100m, making the cost per km 12 times as high in Britain as in France, the SNCF says. But London & Continental Railways, which is building the CTRL, says the cost of track access in the UK would rise to a total of £100m for the first section, not the current £40m plus another £100m as SNCF maintains. (October 18th, thanks Richard Mlynarik)

Chunnel Freight Down French SNCF's and British EWS' freight traffic through the chunnel fell 11% to 633 105 tonnes in the third quarter this year compared to last year. This is very far from the 3m tonnes projected before the link opened. (October 18th)

Germany Allows Non-RIC Swedish Trains The German government has decided to allow non-standard 3,14m wide Swedish sleeper coaches to be used for overnight Malmö-Berlin service after a test run last summer. Swedish SJ has taken over the service after Deutsche Bahn was no longer interested, though DB still supplied a locomotive and driver which were payed for by SJ. But after DB charged exorbitant prices for these services, the EU competition authority was notified and has now ruled in SJ's favour. Also, SJ now rents the locomotive and driver from another private company, WAB. SJ also alleges that electrical problems damaging the coaches mysteriously disappeared once WAB took over from DB. See also Sydsvenskan story. (October 17th)

Railtrack Collapses

Railtrack Keeps CTRL Railtrack has received confirmation from the transport secretary that Railtrack gets to keep the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project, which it estimates is worth £400m, or 70p per share. "Now we will be concentrating on our two other main tasks - realising the value of the Group's other assets, especially its property portfolio, and winning a fair price for our shareholders for the loss of the railway network," said Railtrack Chairman John Robinson. (October 17th)

Government Guarantees for Railtrack Successor The non-profit company taking over the operations of Railtrack will be backed by government commitments to make it attractive to investors. The most likely option is that the public interest company limited by guarantee - known as the CLG in the government - will be given a financial "cushion" provided by a loan facility promised by the government. The German bank, WestLB, is interested in investing in the new company. (October 17th)

Byers Shrugs Off Resignation Calls Transportation Secretary Stephen Byers on Monday the 15th laughed off calls for his resignation and lambasted Railtrack for begging for taxpayers' money days before it handed out £88m in shareholders' dividends. In a defiant statement to the Commons, the transport secretary defended his decision to force Railtrack into administration by painting the rail network operator as "a company in crisis coming with a begging bowl to government month after month". (October 16th)

Tube Still to be Privatised The government is seeking to reassure potential private contractors that its proposals for modernising the London Underground will not be jeopardised by the collapse of Railtrack. Bob Kiley, the London transport commissioner, and other opponents of the public-private partnership proposals for the Underground have seized on the Railtrack crisis to return to the attack. (October 15th)

Operators Battle Government Over Control Transport secretary Stephen Byers is planning to merge the independent Office of the Rail Regulator into the Strategic Rail Authority, the government agency that awards, monitors and funds the operating franchises. Furious operators are warning all 25 franchises could have to be renegotiated if the merger went ahead. Some have also warned they could use their power of veto over the transfer of Railtrack into a new company if the government does not back down. "The move of the regulator back to the SRA means they are judge and jury in all things," said George Muir, director-general of the operators' group. See also FT Railtrack Special and UK Rail Special. (October 13th)

Electrified Regional Rail Around Melbourne, Oz The State Government of Victoria, Australia, is examining electrifying the railway from Melbourne to Geelong, Victoria's second largest city. The Victorian Government has invited rail developers to submit bids to upgrade more than 500 km of country track and signals to carry 160km/h trains to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley. Tenders must include the cost of electrifying the track to Geelong. If electrified, trains on the Geelong line would use the underground City Loop around Melbourne's central business district. See also overview and map. (October 17th, thanks David Bromage)

SBB Cargo Buys 10 Locos Swiss SBB Cargo has purchased 10 two-system 140 km/h locos from Bombardier Transportation, of the German type 185, for €30m. They will be able to run on the 16,7hz network in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as in France on the 50hz network. They will be delivered in the spring of 2002. They will be replacing type 465 locos which will be sold to private railway BLS. (October 15th, thanks Tobias Köhler)

Fewer Americans on Eurostar A sharp fall in the number of Americans using Eurostar's high speed Channel tunnel train has forced the company to put back by a year - to 2004 - the expected date for moving into profit. Americans normally account for one in 10 passengers on Eurostar trains, but the impact of the terror attacks of September 11 led to a 70% fall in US bookings, the company said. David Azema, chairman and chief executive, said: "This has been the most difficult quarter for us since the Channel tunnel fire in the fourth quarter of 1996." (October 11th)

Two-Day Strike in Sweden 700 trains were cancelled on October 9th and 10th as a new Swedish train driver's union staged a two-day strike protesting later retirement and shorter holidays. The train operators' alliance, Almega, does not recognise the new Svensk Lokförarförening SLFF with 400 drivers, only the older SEKO (Union of Service and Communication Employees) and STMF, the civil servants' union, which together represent 2500 drivers. SLFF was started because many drivers found that the older unions no longer represent train drivers' interests. See also SLFF website and statements, SEKO, STMF, press releases from SJ and Green Cargo. SJ also has a list of cancelled trains etc. (October 9th)

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