Eurotunnel Group simplifies the structure of its debt

LeTunnel-7

Eurotunnel completed on Thursday 24 December 2015 the removal of the monolines Ambac1 and FGIC2 as guarantors of the Channel Link Enterprises Finance (CLEF) Notes.

In June 2007, as part of the financial restructuring of the business, Eurotunnel borrowed £1.5 billion and €2.0 billion under a term loan facility. This facility includes tranches of inflation-linked, fixed rate and floating rate loans with final maturity dates ranging between 2041 and 2050. In August 2007, all of the loans under the facility were purchased by a newly incorporated special purpose vehicle CLEF Plc. These CLEF Notes included a number of inflation-linked tranches of notes credit-enhanced by either Ambac, FGIC or Assured Guaranty3. In return for providing these guarantees the monolines received a fee over the full duration of the loans.

In order to simplify its capital structure and benefit from increased flexibility going forward, Eurotunnel has sought the removal of Ambac and FGIC as guarantors of the CLEF Notes; this is rendered possible by the high degree of predictability of the Group’s financial results. Assured Guaranty will remain as the sole guarantor of certain index-linked tranches of the CLEF Notes and is currently rated AA by S&P and A2 by Moody’s.

The fees incurred in the removal of Ambac and FGIC (including payments to FGIC and Ambac in lieu of payment of their ongoing guarantee fee and various consent fees) will be compensated by a net reduction in the on-going interest costs over the life of the inflation-linked loans.

This simplification will enable Eurotunnel to pursue a possible refinancing of its floating rate debt, subject to market conditions.

1 Ambac Assurance (UK) Limited
2 FGIC (UK) Limited
3 Assured Guaranty (Europe) Ltd (formerly Financial Security Assurance (U.K.) Limited

Eurotunnel: Record breaking year for Le Shuttle Freight

Le-Shuttle-2

Less than a week after Le Shuttle Freight carried the 23 millionth truck through the Channel Tunnel since commercial services started, Eurotunnel has hit a new all-time record, beating the previous high1 set in 2012, the year of the London Olympic Games.

Buoyed by the new truck terminal security put in place in October 2015, Eurotunnel’s Le Shuttle Freight service has had a record year in 2015, carrying more than 1,464,880 trucks2 in both directions between Folkestone (Kent) and Coquelles (Pas- de-Calais). This is the highest level of traffic generated since the start of commercial services and has been achieved more than a week before the year end.

This extraordinary performance is proof of the confidence that transporters from across Europe have in Eurotunnel and its staff and is recognition of the competitive advantages of the Shuttle service, compared to ferries, with its high departure frequency, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

With 45% infrastructure capacity still available, 3 new Truck Shuttles on order and a market which continues to grow, the outlook for Eurotunnel is positive

  • (1) 1,464,880 trucks carried between 01.01.2012 and 31.12.2012
  • (2) Data as at 22.12.2015 at midnight

BNSF Trains More Than 900 Washington First Responders in 2015

Rangeland COLT facility, Epping North Dakota.  July 23rd 2012 Photo Credit: Steve Crise © Steve Crise 2012

Rangeland COLT facility, Epping North Dakota. July 23rd 2012, Photo Credit: Steve Crise © Steve Crise 2012

BNSF Railway announced today it has trained more than 900 Washington state first responders during community hazmat training sessions held throughout the state this year. This includes 56 first responders who attended a three-day session held last week in Marysville.

The railroad sent another 91 Washington firefighters to specialized crude-by-rail training at the national railroad research and training facility in Pueblo, Colo. Those classes began in April and continued through the end of July. Firefighters from 52 communities, including Anacortes, Auburn, Bellingham, Camas, Centralia, Edmonds, Longview, North Bend, Olympia, Pasco, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver and White Salmon, participated in the Colorado training.

Over the past two years, BNSF has underwritten the travel and training expenses for more than 260 firefighters from across Washington to attend the national training, which helps ensure first responders are well-equipped to address the unique characteristics associated with the movement of crude-by-rail. Providing training at the national center is one of the steps the railroad voluntarily agreed to last year in its ongoing efforts to improve the safety of crude-by-rail and to work with communities on emergency preparedness.

During a typical community training, BNSF provides clear and concise information on what to expect in an emergency, how to read placards, its train list documents and what kinds of emergency response resources BNSF will deploy. As part of the training, BNSF also conducts hands-on workshops using the railroad’s training tank cars. This training focuses on familiarization with the variety of pressure and general service tank cars that travel on the BNSF network.

Part of the training also focuses on ASKRAIL, a new secure mobile application that allows swift access by emergency responders to necessary rail car information. ASKRAIL, which was created by BNSF and the other Class I railroads, provides first responders immediate access to accurate, timely data about what type of hazardous materials a railcar is carrying so they can make an informed decision about how to respond to a rail emergency. ASKRAIL is only available to emergency response planners and first responders, who can request to sign up for access by contacting BNSF at: http://www.bnsfhazmat.com/askrail/.

For decades, BNSF has held the community hazmat training exercises for first responders, with more than 73,000 responders trained since 1996. In Washington from 2004 through the end of 2015, BNSF will have trained nearly 5,000 first responders. In 2016, BNSF will continue to sponsor first responders from across its network to attend the specialized training in Colorado.

POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT IN THE LARGEST CZECH CONTRACT WITH GERMANY

vizualizace_2

Plzeň, 17 December 2015 – Bavarian railway company Bayerische Eisenbahngesellschaft (BEG) confirmed that National Express Rail should become the winning operator for suburban transport in Nuremberg. This would be the biggest Czech contract in Western Europe. The fight for contracts is very hard and unsuccessful candidates are likely to appeal repeatedly against BEG’s decision.

Public contracts undergo very complicated legal battles in which companies do their best to win. I am happy that it is a Czech company with purely Czech know-how that is to become the supplier for the winner of  the tender, National Express Rail, which has been repeatedly confirmed as the winner. For us, this is a breakthrough contract and good news not only for Škoda but for the whole Czech industry,” says Tomáš Ignačák, CEO of Škoda Transportation.

In February 2015, Bavarian railway company BEG announced that British company National Express Rail would probably be the winner of the tender for suburban transport (S-Bahn) in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg in the period of 2018 – 2030. If National Express Rail wins the tender, Škoda Transportation will be the final supplier of 39 single-deck electric units.

Another bidder, German Deutsche Bahn (DB), filed an appeal against BEG’s decision in February 2015 at the South Bavarian Chamber for Public Tenders (which is similar to the Czech Antimonopoly Office). The Chamber decided that procedural misconduct had occurred during the tender. The winning bidder, National Express Rail, filed an appeal against the Chamber’s decision at the Federal Court of Higher Instance. In September 2015, the court denied all DB’s claims, but BEG had to verify National Express Rail’s financial situation repeatedly. National Express Rail fulfilled all conditions and, at present, BEG has repeatedly confirmed that the British operator is the winner. This decision, however, is not legally binding and unsuccessful bidders can still file appeals until 3 January 2016.

This would be an enormous contract for our company, not only financially, but also in terms of the production aspects. The contract is also lucrative due to the fact that it is the first S-Bahn railway that would not be operated by DB, which has an otherwise majority position on the market. I am afraid that BEG’s decision will be repeatedly reviewed by the Chamber for Public Tenders in Munich and that there is no option other than to wait whilst keeping in mind that Škoda submitted a high-quality and competitive bid,” says Zdeněk Majer, vice president for Sales at Škoda Transportation.

Škoda Transportation should supply 39 RegioPanter five-car single-deck electric units for somewhere in the vicinity of ten billion Czech crowns. The trains would operate on suburban railways in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg.

Alstom and NTV unveil the design and technology of the Pendolino

20151217---ntvpendolino---800x320--2

Flavio Cattaneo, CEO of NTV and Pierre-Louis Bertina, Managing Director of Alstom in Italy today presented the design and technology of the Pendolino that Alstom is building for the Italian private operator.

A real Christmas present: the Pendolino is fire red and features a futuristic front end, designed to provide crash protection. The design of the train was created by Alstom’s Design & Styling Centre, which also designed the AGV.italo exterior. The interior will be selected and presented to the public in the coming months.

The Pendolino is conceived to be environmentally friendly, thanks to its high recyclability and reduced CO2 emissions. Moreover, its optimized distributed traction system enhances efficiency and acceleration and regenerates energy while braking.  This new train is an evolution of the former Pendolino high speed train. It can reach a maximum speed of 250 km/h. The 187-metre-long train will be composed of 7 cars accommodating around 480 passengers. The major innovation of the train compared to previous generations of Pendolino is its full compatibility with the very latest 2014 TSI [1] regulations established by the European Union. This EU standard contributes to guaranteeing high levels of safety and efficiency. The Pendolino is part of Alstom’s Avelia family [2] which also includes AGV.Italo train previously purchased by NTV.

20151217---ntvpendolino---800x320--3

20151217---ntvpendolino---800x320

The Pendolino will complement the existing fleet of 25 AGV, bringing to a total of 33 trains the Italo fleet. NTV will thus expand its network, responding to a growing demand. The objective is to develop the offer of high-speed main lines on the busy north-east and north-west corridor of Italy. This will represent a new opportunity for millions of travellers who constantly travel along these lines.  The increase of the fleet will be part of a development process undertaken by NTV, which in 2015 carried more than 9 million passengers, an increase of 40% compared to the previous year.

Flavio Cattaneo, CEO of NTV said “the seriousness, reliability and the ability of Alstom to offer the maximum in the shortest possible time are the basis of our choice. We started our journey together with Alstom, and together we will continue to grow in a difficult market which has great potential. The demand for mobility is very high in Italy and Italo promises, with its high quality services and with its new high-tech trains, to succeed in satisfying the passengers. This train, you have seen, it will be great“.

We are delighted that the Pendolino, a versatile and high performance train, has also conquered NTV. With more than 500 trainsets sold worldwide and over 1000 million km achieved in commercial service, the Pendolino is one of Alstom’s flagship products, made in Italy in our high-speed competence centre of Savigliano. NTV’s choice contributes to supporting the local industry, which we very much welcome”, said Andreas Knitter, Senior Vice President of Alstom Europe.

The 8 trains, purchased by NTV on 28 October, are already in planning to soon enter in production at Alstom’s sites in Savigliano (CN) for the design and manufacturing of the trains, Sesto San Giovanni (MI) for the traction systems and Bologna for the signalling systems, while the maintenance will be conducted at Alstom’s site in Nola (NA). The trains are scheduled to be delivered in late 2017, ready to enter service in early 2018.

[1] Technical Specifications for Interoperability

[2] The Avelia range is based on 3 current flagship products – Pendolino, Euroduplex and AGV – representing the culmination of 35 years of expertise and more than 1,050 trains in service around the world.

 

The Accident Investigation Board Norway: Report on collision between train and buffer stop in track 23 at Trondheim central station

2015-12-17 18_25_56-2015-09 Trondheim sentralstasjon.pdf - Nitro Reader 3

At 07:47 on Monday 9 February 2015, NSB AS’s train 411 collided with the buffer stops in track 23 at Trondheim Central Station. The train entered the station at normal speed and had been instructed to stop on track 23. This is a single-ended siding used when there is too little capacity on the main tracks. When the train passed the points to enter track 23, the driver had started braking without the train having reduced its speed. The driver then engaged the emergency brake, but the speed was still not sufficiently reduced and the train collided with the buffer stops at a speed of approximately 17 km/h.

The weekend before this incident, Trondheim Central Station was hit by storm gusts of up to force 10. Seawater blew in over the station area and left a slippery film on the tracks. The investigation has shown that the Norwegian National Rail Administration does not have an adequate system in place for discovering slippery tracks caused by conditions that can potentially arise in coastal areas.

The investigation also showed that NSB Type 92 does not have an optimal brake system for handling poor adhesion conditions, and that there are weaknesses in the interior securing of equipment on board these trains.

The AIBN submits one safety recommendation following this investigation. The recommendation concerns improvement of the Norwegian National Rail Administration’s instructions regarding measures in connection with unfavourable weather conditions in order to facilitate the identification of risks and the implementation of measures to handle conditions that can potentially arise in coastal areas.

 

The Accident Investigation Board Norway recommends that the Norwegian Railway Authority recommend that the Norwegian National Rail Administration (Jernbaneverket) review its instructions regarding measures in connection with unfavourable weather conditions, so that the risk factors in connection with coastal areas are identified and the necessary measures are implemented.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau: Collision between freight trains 2MP1 and 2MP9 at Mile End, SA on 31 March 2014

Fig03

At about 0730 (CDT) on 31 March 2015, intermodal freight train 2MP9 passed No. 1 signal at the southern end of the Mile End crossing loop (South Australia). The signal was displaying a ‘Calling on/Low speed’ indication. The train proceeded at low speed, but subsequently collided with the rear end of intermodal freight train 2MP1, which was stationary on the main line. The collision resulted in moderate track damage and the derailment of three wagons at the rear of train 2MP1. There were no injuries to train crews.

The ATSB determined that the signalling and communications systems were operating correctly and as designed. The investigation found that the driver of train 2MP9, on receiving a ‘Calling on/Low speed’ signal indication, proceeded at the prescribed speed of less than 25 km/h, but was unable to stop the train. The driver was aware that the operational rules stipulate that ‘block ahead may be occupied or obstructed’, but did not expect that train 2MP1 was stationary on the track so close ahead. As he approached train 2MP1, some stumpy vegetation and a low fence initially obscured his view of the empty flat wagons at the rear of the train. When the driver finally saw the rear of train 2MP1, he immediately made an emergency brake application, but was unable to stop the train before it collided with 2MP1.

Fig 7

The ATSB noted that the pathing of a train by a network control officer (NCO) onto a line occupied by a preceding train, when an alternate route is available and not obstructed, presents an elevated level of risk. Similarly, well thought out and clear communications between an NCO and crew of an approaching train, as to the proximity of a train occupying the track ahead, can significantly enhance situational awareness and reduce operational risk.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and SCT Logistics have implemented a range of proactive strategies for enhancing the safe operation of train movements when entering an occupied section of track under a ‘Proceed restricted authority’ (PRA). This includes the use of all available infrastructure to reduce risk, encouraging communications between train drivers and NCOs where clarification of operational conditions is necessary, and a review of the National Train Communications System (NTCS) for the Adelaide area.

Safety message

Train drivers should carefully consider their obligations when accepting a ‘Calling on/Low speed’ signal indication in relation to sighting constraints, train speed and occupation of the track ahead. In circumstances where sighting constraints may exist, drivers should consider requesting further information from the NCO before moving through the track ahead.

NCOs should carefully consider the pathing of trains under their control, and the communication of information that may mitigate collision risk when dispatching trains.

Final report: Collision between freight trains 2MP1 and 2MP9 at Mile End, SA on 31 March 2014

The Supreme Court confirms that Groupe Eurotunnel cannot operate maritime services between Dover and Calais

LeTunnel-9

When the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) confirmed in December 2014 previous decisions by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which sought to prohibit the operations of MyFerryLink, the Eurotunnel Group decided, on 9 January 2015, to sell the business and its related assets. The activities of MyFerryLink ceased on 29 June 20151.

The SCOP SeaFrance, which operated the MyFerryLink ships, appealed that decision and won their appeal in front of the Court of Appeal in May. The CMA then further appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which upheld the decision by the CAT and brought an end to the possibility of the Eurotunnel Group being able to operate a maritime service between Dover and Calais.

The Eurotunnel Group is extremely disappointed by this decision as MyFerryLink had proven its capacity to provide a high quality, competitive service. MyFerryLink had hoped to restart an activity with the freight only ferry, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, which would have ensured 130 jobs. As the decision by the Supreme Court no longer permits this, the Eurotunnel Group will put its last ship, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, up for sale.

1 The other two ferries, Berlioz and Rodin, have been leased to DFDS since the 15 September 2015

Finland’s biggest rail constructor selects IFS Applications 9

94f20b5c1377d264_800x800ar

Leading infrastucture company VR Track to deploy IFS Applications to support mission-critical service and maintenance processes

IFS , the global enterprise applications company, announces that Finnish rail construction company VR Track Oy , part of the state-owned VR Group, has chosen IFS Applications™ 9 to support its service and maintenance processes. The agreement includes licenses and services valued at approximately one million euros.

VR Track is Finland’s biggest rail constructor and one of the country’s largest infrastructure sector construction companies and engineering firms. In addition to Finland, the company also operates in Sweden.

VR Track needed a robust solution to empower its field service staff, provide enhanced customer service, and ensure quick reporting capabilities for the management team. Following a comprehensive evaluation process, VR Track selected IFS Applications 9.

The IFS solution includes functionality covering field service and maintenance management, B2B contracting, and powerful reporting capabilities through IFS Lobby, the role-based and fully customizable cockpit released with IFS Applications 9.

“We offer a wide variety of engineering, construction, and maintenance services, many of which are essential to modern society,” said Katja Pekkanen, Vice President of Maintenance, VR Track. “We needed a powerful business solution that could help us streamline our business-critical field service and maintenance processes while offering a flexible model for deployment. We are confident that IFS Applications will help us reach new levels of process efficiency as we continue to deliver excellent customer service.”

Tapani Pohjonen, IFS Finland managing director added, “We are proud to announce this strategically important customer win. VR Track is a well-respected company that provides services that are essential to the nation’s infrastructure. Our solutions are used in some of the world’s most demanding industries to manage the complete service and maintenance lifecycle, which is why I am convinced that our solutions will help VR Track streamline its service and maintenance-oriented business.”

For more information about how IFS helps customers in the construction and infrastructure sectors, please visit:

www.ifsworld.com/en/industries/engineering-construction-infrastructure/construction-infrastructure-industrial-services .

Rail Delivery Group (UK): 2016 rail fares published – 1.1 per cent average rise is lowest for six years

2015-12-04 20_24_00-Photos and videos by Network Rail press (@networkrailPR) _ Twitter

With 2016 train ticket prices published today, rail industry leaders have confirmed that fares will rise on average by 1.1 per cent next year, the smallest annual increase for six years.

People can find out the price of new fares and buy tickets online and at ticket offices from today. The 1.1 per cent average increase covers all national rail fares with effect from 2 January 2016.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operators and Network Rail, said:

“We know that nobody likes to pay more to travel by train, especially to get to work, and at 1.1 per cent this is the smallest average increase in fares for six years.

“On average 97p in every pound from fares is spent on trains, staff and other running costs. With passenger numbers doubling in the last 20 years, money from fares now almost covers the railway’s day-to-day operating costs.

“This allows government to focus its funding on building a bigger, better network when the railway is becoming increasingly important at driving economic growth, underpinning jobs, and connecting friends and families.

“As an industry, we are working closer together to deliver better stations, more trains and improved services, and to get more out of every pound we spend.”

CHANGES TO OVERALL AVERAGE FARES 2010-2016:

 

Overall average fares increase

Jan 2010

1.1%

Jan 2011

6.2%

Jan 2012

5.9%

Jan 2013

3.9%

Jan 2014

2.8%

Jan 2015

2.2%

Jan 2016

1.1%

  • Nearly half (47 per cent) of all passenger revenue in 2013-14 came from discounted tickets, up from 38 per cent in 2005-6, whilst the proportion of passenger journeys on discounted tickets has also increased.
  • There were 1.65billion total rail passenger journeys, more than 4.5million a day, in 2014-2015.
  • The huge increase in passenger numbers has resulted in train companies generating extra revenue for the government, contributing almost six times more money to government to support rail investment – up from £400million to £2.27billion.