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September 2002

Sydney Rail Repairs Cause Disturbances Large parts of the aging CityRail network in Sydney, Australia - up to 15 train lines at a time - are frequently being shut down under Sydney's chaotic weekend-maintenance program. Western line users can expect to lose train services on 33 weekends out of the next 57. find (September 30th, thanks David Bromage)

RailNetEurope Encourages Cross-Border Freight Eighteen European rail administrations have started RailNetEurope, which will market and sell cross-border freight paths. RNE will also be able to allocate international train paths to operators faster, saving in some cases more than a week. RNE should not be confused with EIM, European Infrastructure Managers, a group of seven rail administrations (not DB Netz) advocating separation of rail infrastructure from train operating companies. See also IRJ bulletin and press releases from Danish Banestyrelsen and Austrian ÖBB. More on EIM at 1, 2 (September 28th)

New Multi-System Freight Locos

power aus DeutschlandDB's First 15-country Freight Loco Designed for operation in 15 European countries, the very first Class 189 multi-system locomotive was handed over by Siemens to German DB Cargo at the InnoTrans fair on Thursday the 25th. It can run from arctic Norway to mediterranean Italy, and from atlantic France to the Polis/Russian border. It has space for four pantographs, but the signalling systems for all countries have not yet been installed. 100 locos are on order for €300m since 1999. They reach 140 km/h and produce between 6400 kW and 4200 kW depending on the railway's electrical system. See also DB press release. find (September 28th)

SBB 482 locoSBB Orders 40 Multi-System Locos Swiss SBB has order 40 dual-system Bombardier freight locos type 482 for services from Köln in Germany to Switzerland and the Swiss/Italian border for €111m. German DB also ordered vehicles of the same type in 1998. They have a maximum power of 5,6 MW and can reach a maximum speed of 140 km/h. They can be used in cross-border freight traffic in countries with a line voltage of 15 or 25 kV AC. More than 100 vehicles of this type are already in service with various European operators. See also Bombardier press release, Bombardier info page and IRJ bulletin. (September 28th)

Amtrak and Congress Haggle Republicans in Congress have drafted a bill that would leave Amtrak with $500m less than it says it needs next fiscal year and could require the shutdown of six long-distance routes. Amtrak say they need $1,2bn, even after more staff cuts, an end to freight service (but not mail service) and an eventual end to state-subsidized trains unless the states agree to cover all of their operating losses. Republicans say $1,2bn "would reward Amtrak for poor management and performance." Michael P. Jackson, who represents the Bush administration on Amtrak's board, says the administration will continue to nudge Amtrak toward basic reforms such as franchising. See also BLE union's announcement. (September 28th)

New Low-Floor Commuter Trains in Basel Swiss SBB has ordered 42 trains for commuter service around Basel. The 160 km/h trains are made by Stadler and will be delivered by autumn 2004. See also IRJ bulletin. (September 28th)

Strikes in Rome, Paris and Milan A 24-hour strike by London Tube workers has shut down the metro network and forced millions of commuters to pack onto crowded buses and gridlocked roads. The workers are unhappy with a 3% pay rise and say the management refuses to take the matter to an independent arbitrator. A separate strike in Paris stopped half of the trains on six metro lines and one rail commuter line. There are also public transit strikes in many cities in Italy. See also story in Italian. (September 25th)

tramTrial Service on Porto Light Rail The new light rail system in Porto, Portugal, is offering evening trial service to passengers. In November, the first line is expected to be opened in normal service from Porto Trinidade to Matosinhos. The complete four-line network will be 70 km long with seven tunnels and 66 stations (56 at grade and 10 underground). The 72 new low-floor Eurotrams on order are made by Bombardier and have air conditioning. The order was placed in 1998 and the last tram will be delivered in May 2004. See also Bombardier page and official website: and network map. (September 23rd, thanks Ernst Kers)

Tågkompaniet vs Connex

panorama car at duskTågkompaniet in New Court Battle Swedish Tågkompaniet is suing the Rikstrafiken franchising authority for the way they handled the procurement of night trains to the North. The winning bidder, Connex, offered fewer trains for less money and made a long list of conditions such as zero track problems, while Tågkompaniet suggested 13% more capacity. Tågkompaniet appealed the decision, and this temporarily prevented Connex from signing the contract with Rikstrafiken. But the court recently found it unlikely that Connex' bid is illegal and the contract is now signed. A final decision will come later.

The bidding process was supposed to be completed in 2001, but Connex then made a joint bid with SJ. Rikstrafiken then found this bid invalid, but instead of accepting Tågkompaniet's valid bid, it lengthened the bidding deadline by a year.

Roslagståg LogoTågkompaniet Swipes Commuter Contract From Connex Last month, Tågkompaniet and its partner, Danish DSB, scored a victory over Connex by swiping the contract for operating trains on Stockholm's Roslagsbanan narrow-guage commuter network. DSB's and Tågkompaniet's joint venture, Roslagståg, will take over operations on January 7th. See also press releases from DSB and SL. find (September 20th)

Delhi Metro Trials Begin The first section of the subway across north Delhi, India, will open in December but trains will be running on a trial basis until then. Trials of the service, during the next few months, will be conducted along an 8.3 km route, connecting eastern Delhi's Shahdara to north-central Tis Hazari. It is also hoped that the metro will cut pollution in Delhi by around 50% when the metro's first phase, stretching over 62km, is completed in 2005. find (September 19th, thanks Alan Reekie)

Koreas Reconnect Rail Links North and South Korea have agreed to start clearing land-mines inside part of the demilitarised zone separating the two countries, paving the way for the reconnection of rail links, after more than half-a-century of division. Last month, the two sides set out a timetable for the work, saying they hoped to complete one rail link by the end of the year. See also earlier BBC stories 1 and 2. (September 19th)

Oz Transcontinental Reaches Landmark The laying of tracks over the Katherine River in the Northern Territory marks an "historic moment" for the Adelaide - Alice Springs - Darwin Railway, says Premier Mike Rann. "We are now months ahead of schedule and I'm looking forward to travelling on the first train in 2004 on a railway line that links a coast facing the Antarctic to a coast facing Asia," he said. find (September 16th)

Acid Spill in Tennessee Authorities evacuated 3000 people Sunday the 15th after a Norfolk Southern train derailed and spilled sulfuric acid west of Knoxville Tennessee. The train was en route from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Birmingham, Alabama, and had 141 cars and three locomotives. Twenty-four cars and two locomotives derailed. Only one of the derailed cars contained the chemical, known as "fuming sulfuric acid," which was being shipped to Birmingham by the military. See also second CNN story. (September 16th)

German Conservatives Fragment DB AG? If the German opposition win the election Sunday September 22nd, they intend to integrate DB Holding and the train stations division with DB Netz, the network operator. The remaining three divisions, freight, passenger & commuter, would be made independent. The governing social democratic party also wants change, saying they will take away the allocation of timetable slots from DB Netz and give this job to the Eisenbahnbundesamt, ie the federal rail authority. Both sides are neck and neck in polls. See also BBC election page. find (September 14th)

ICE3 trainHourly 300 km/h Service in Germany German DB AG is doubling the frequency of its new 300 km/h Köln-Frankfurt ICE3 service to once an hour. The trip along the new railway, opened to commercial service August 1st, takes 76 minutes, compared to 2 hrs 15 minutes on the older line along the Rhein river. The first month saw average occupancy of 50% in second class, and 60% in first. See also DB AG press release and Eurail Press bulletin. find (September 12th, photo DB)

Faster Freight in Europe

multi-system loco type 189No Loco Change at French-German Border The French and German railways have started a new, faster freight rail service between Mannheim and Metz which takes five hours rather than six; by 2004, this will be reduced to four. This is due to two border stops, which will be unecessary after the introduction of new multi-mode locos of types 189 (DB) and BB 437 (SNCF). French multi-system locos will also be used, and French and German drivers will be trained to drive in both countries. See also SNCF press release and International Rail Journal bulletin. The Community of European Railways has issued a press release in PDF, which is reprinted in normal web (html) format at X-rails news page. (September 12th, photo Jarda Charvat)

Amsterdam-Milan Fast Freight Train ICF is starting a new Amsterdam-Milan container train in October which will take 18 hours, which is almost as fast as a passenger train, ICF says. The target market for the so-called "Fast Freight Train" is fruit, flowers and other high-value goods. See also ICF press release in PDF. (September 12th)

Eschede Trial Revists Tragedy

Did Delay Save Second Train Crash at Eschede? The traffic control man at Eschede station, a witness in the Eschede case, has said that the crashed ICE 884 train was a minute early, and another train in the other direction was a minute late. Had both trains been on schedule, they would have arrived at the collapsed bridge simultaneously, he said. The court is finding out if two DB AG engineers and an employee of the wheel maker are culpable in the crash. (September 12th)

Eschede Trial Begins The trial has begun in Germany against two senior officials at DB AG and an engineer at a wheel manufacturing plant. The three men are accused of not ensuring that the wheels were properly tested before fitting or that systems were in place to detect defects. Their negligance may have caused the Eschede crash in 1998, which occurred after a wheel ring broke and got caught in a point/turnout/switch. 100 people died. See also separate Eschede ICE Crash page. (August 28th)

100 Dead in India At least 100 people died after a luxury Delhi-bound passenger train derailed on a bridge in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, sending at least one carriage plunging into a river on Monday the 9th. Three other cars from the Kolkata-to-New Delhi Rajdhani Express were left hanging precariously above the water. The cause of the incident is being investigated, with authorities not yet ruling out sabotage. Recent heavy rains had battered the bridge and swollen the river, where currents were strong. See also CNN story. find (September 12th)

Russian Rail Reform The Russian government has rebuked the railways minister, Gennady Fadeyev, for not giving private operators equal access to the national rail network. Mr Fadeyev did not detail which barriers to entry remain. A reform plan aims to raise the share of freight transported by private operators to 50%. The share is currently 10%. The first stage of the reform process is planned to be completed by April next year when the ministry's commercial and regulative functions will be split up and the joint stock company Russian Railways will be created. find (September 10th)

Rail Instead of Road The New South Wales (Australia) state government has decided to built a light rail or regular rail, or possibly a bus-only road along a corridor initially reserved for a freeway extension since 1951. (September 10th, thanks David Bromage)

Trams Replace Busses in Sydney Light rail is set to replace buses on some routes in Sydney, Australia as debate continues over the city's increasingly clogged streets. The proposed extension of the Metro Light Rail from Central station to Circular Quay is likely to be approved first. Other options being considered include lines to Parramatta Road, Oxford Street and Green Square, and the long-planned extension from Leichhardt and Ashfield. (September 5th, thanks David Bromage)

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