Challenging Q2 for Eurostar following Brexit & Brussels attacks

1120x560_imagery_new_fleet_0

Eurostar, the high speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, today reported a challenging second quarter of 2016, as business demand softened in the run-up to the EU referendum and leisure traffic continued to be impacted by the Brussels terrorist attacks.

Uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with Europe has resulted in a drop in business travel, whilst on the leisure market there has been a continued slowdown in traffic from international markets, the USA and Japan in particular. Passenger numbers in the second quarter of the year were down 3% compared to last year (2.7 million Q2 2016: 2.8 million: Q2 2015) and sales revenues were 10% lower year-on-year (£208 million Q2 2016: £232 million Q2 2015).

In the month of June,  the number of travellers increased by 2% following an increase in demand during Euro 2016. With three quarters of the matches being staged in Eurostar destinations, over a million passengers travelled by high-speed rail, with fans from across Europe creating a celebratory atmosphere in stations, on board and in the host cities. The success of the Welsh team boosted travel in the final stages of the tournament, as thousands of Welsh fans chose to take the train to the game.

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:
In the run up to the EU referendum we experienced a slowdown in business travel and the uncertainty following the vote to leave, combined with the Brussels terrorist attack, has continued to dampen demand. At the same time, as a business trading on both sides of the Channel, a drop in the pound typically drives an increase in demand for leisure travel from the continent as customers take advantage of lower cost trips to London.

Transformation of Gare du Nord in Paris
Over the coming months, passengers can look forward to a complete transformation of the Eurostar space at Gare du Nord with the redesign and extension of the departure area and the opening of a new business lounge set to be unveiled towards the end of 2016.

The new look lounge will transform the experience  for business travellers and will include a brand new catering offer from Eurostar’s Business Premier culinary director, Raymond Blanc.
This refurbishment forms part of a wider regeneration plan at Paris Nord, which will see a range of new shops and restaurants opening next year.

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:
The transformation of Gare du Nord and the opening of our new business lounge mark the next phase of our investment in our stations and our commitment to giving our customers the best possible experience at every stage of their journey.

With a lead-in price  from just £29 one way, no additional charges for luggage or seats and a direct link between city centres, Eurostar represents a highly competitive alternative to travelling by plane.   For more information visit www.eurostar.com

Pöyry awarded engineering services assignment for expansion of Lausanne railway station, Switzerland

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has appointed Pöyry, as part of the engineering consortium 4G, for the “Galette – Bâtiment Voyageur” (passenger building) main lot at Lausanne station. Pöyry is deploying expertise from across departments including civil engineering, railway engineering and buildings divisions to help implement the large scale project.

To cater for increasing passenger numbers on the route between Lausanne and Geneva, the railway stations in Lausanne, Geneva and Renens will be completely renovated. In Lausanne, the new expanded station will be completed in 2025.

The main lot of this large scale project covers the entire current railway station. The central components are the widening and extension of the platform, expansion of the underpasses and shopping floor below them, the tunnel beneath the historic station building and reconstruction of the building at the southern end of the station. Pöyry will play a crucial role as part of the engineering consortium 4G in the construction project, its tendering and execution. The planning work starts in September 2016, execution is from 2018 and commissioning is envisaged for 2025.

“Pöyry’s experience in the project planning and implementation of the Löwenstrasse station in Zurich, in which we played a leading role, will benefit this project. We are pleased to bring in our cross-disciplinary expertise and contribute to the success of this complex major inner-city project,” says Martin Bachmann, manager of Pöyry’s Buildings Division in Switzerland.

The Galette – Bâtiment Voyageur lot is a particularly demanding mandate, involving the carrying out of a highly complex construction project during normal operations. The planned shifting of the historic protected hall roof, which must be retained and lifted, will be particularly challenging for the engineers. Building Information Modelling (BIM) will be used as part of the project. Thanks to BIM – still a relatively new procedure in Switzerland – the coordination effort between the owners and the companies involved can be significantly reduced.

The value of the order is not disclosed. The order has been recognised within the Regional Operations Business Group order stock in Q3/2016.

FirstGroup signs first US commuter rail contract

hull-trains-big

FirstGroup plc welcomes the announcement by the Denton County Transportation Authority (‘DCTA’) Board of Directors that First Transit has been awarded the contract to operate and maintain the A-train commuter rail service.

The A-train is a 21-mile regional rail system connecting Denton and Dallas Counties in the state of Texas. DCTA has five A-train stations; two in Denton and three in Lewisville. The A-train also connects with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) at their Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton where passengers can transfer to the DART Green Line and gain access to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. First Transit and DCTA’s new contract agreement, which covers a period of nine years with an additional five-year option, will go into effect 1 October 2016, and will earn revenues of approximately USD9m per year.

First Transit already has a strong presence in the area through a transit management contract with DCTA. The Group’s First Student division operates buses in Lewisville within the same county, and the Greyhound division is headquartered in nearby Dallas. FirstGroup continues to explore opportunities for future growth which meet its criteria for returns and create long-term sustainable value, while ensuring focus on core operations. The US rail sector offers a number of potential opportunities in a market that is increasingly focused on outsourcing.

Commenting, Tim O’Toole, FirstGroup Chief Executive said:

“We are very pleased that the Denton County Transit Authority has awarded us the contract for A-train service; our first rail contract in North America. This contract for A-train service represents an exciting new development for the Group and we welcome the opportunity to develop and share our rail expertise with a progressive partner such as the Denton County Transportation Authority. Our US rail team blends our significant experience in rail in the UK with North American transit expertise in both rail and bus. We look forward to building on this success as we explore further opportunities in the sector.”

Jim Cline, DCTA President said:

“We’re excited to extend our partnership with First Transit to our A-train rail operations and maintenance. First Transit’s innovative solutions in rail infrastructure maintenance will enable us to provide enhanced rail services for the many communities we serve.”

First all-electric train runs on Great Western Main Line

Hitachielectric600x300

A new electric train has been successfully tested on the Great Western Main Line for the first time, in a major milestone for the electrification project.

new Class 800 Intercity Express Train, built by Hitachi Rail, was driven from Reading to Didcot on the mornings of Saturday 16 July and Sunday 17 July in a series of exercises designed to test the overhead electric power system.

The train made two test runs between the stations, at speeds of up to 125mph, having arrived from its London depot.

The test was managed by Network Rail, which is currently electrifying the entire line between London Paddington and Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford and Newbury, while the train was supplied by Agility Trains and Hitachi Rail Europe. The electrification between Reading and Didcot has been completed first to enable it to serve as a testing ground for the power systems and the trains themselves.

Hitachitrain600x300

This is a great step forward, and I’d like to pay tribute to the team who have worked very hard to make this happen.

This is the future of rail being built before our eyes and it’s a very exciting time to be involved in this project. This weekend we’ve come a big step closer to providing faster, quieter, and more efficient services to the people of the region who depend on railways.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Western

Testing will now continue as construction proceeds on the Greater West programme, with public services scheduled to begin from 2019.

RAIB has today released its report into a freight train collision near Logan, East Ayrshire, 1 August 2015.

2016-07-13 13_32_00-R132016_160713_Logan.pdf - Nitro Reader 3

Aerial image of the accident site (image courtesy of Network Rail)

On 1 August 2015 at about 11:11 hrs, a freight train travelling within a work site collided with the rear of a stationary freight train at 28 mph (45 km/h).

Engineering staff had authorised the driver of the moving freight train to enter the work site at New Cumnock station, travel about 3 miles (4.8 km) to the start of a track renewal site, and bring the train to a stand behind the stationary train.

There were no injuries but the locomotive and seven wagons from the moving train and eleven wagons from the stationary train were derailed; the locomotive and derailed wagons were damaged. One wagon came to rest across a minor road. There was also substantial damage to the track on both railway lines.

The immediate cause was that the moving train was travelling too fast to stop short of the rear of the stationary train when its driver first sighted the train ahead. This was due to a combination of the train movement in the work site not taking place at the default speed of 5 mph (8 km/h) or at caution, as required by railway rules, and the driver of the moving train believing that the stationary train was further away than it actually was.

An underlying cause was that drivers often do not comply with the rules that require movements within a work site to be made at a speed of no greater than 5 mph (8 km/h) or at caution.

Recommendations

As a consequence of this investigation, RAIB has made four recommendations addressed to freight operating companies.

One relates to the monitoring of drivers when they are driving trains within possessions and work sites.

Two recommendations relate to implementing a method of formally recording information briefed to drivers about making train movements in possessions and work sites.

A further recommendation relates to investigating the practicalities of driving freight trains in possessions and work sites for long distances at a speed of 5 mph (8 km/h) or at other slow speeds, and taking action to address any identified issues.

RAIB has also identified three learning points including:

  • the importance of providing drivers with all of the information they need to carry out movements in possessions and work sites safely
  • a reminder to provide drivers (before they start a driving duty) with information about how and when they will be relieved
  • the importance of engineering staff giving instructions to drivers through a face to face conversation when it is safe and practicable to do so.

On publication of RAIB’s report concerning a freight train collision near Logan, East Ayrshire Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents, said:

“Collisions between trains within a work site create the potential for very serious harm to those involved, major damage and days of disruption to the travelling public. I believe that our report on the collision near Logan will provide an important insight into the types of issues that need to be addressed if the risk is to be more effectively managed.

“Train movements within work sites and possessions are not regulated by normal railway signalling systems – which is why special care is needed to make sure that trains are always able to stop in the distance that the driver can see to be clear, and that communications between drivers and engineering staff are precise and mutually understood.

“In the past ten years there have been six significant collisions between trains in work sites. A number of recommendations have been made by RAIB to address the ways that movements of trains in work sites are regulated, and ways of ensuring clear and accurate communications. Although I am disappointed that these recommendations have not yet led to substantive action to fix the problem, I am encouraged to see that the railway industry has now decided to reconsider some of the issues.

“Driving heavy freight trains over long distances within a work site or possession, and ensuring that the train can stop in the distance seen to be clear, is a very different challenge to driving a freight train on an open line. ‘Line of sight driving’ at speeds above 5 mph requires high levels of discipline and concentration, as well as detailed knowledge of the line ahead so that drivers do not find themselves travelling too fast. I hope that RAIB’s recommendations will lead to a careful evaluation of:

  • what practical steps can be taken to reduce the lengths of worksites
  • the skills needed to drive freight trains over long distances without the protection of signals in work sites and possessions
  • the human factors that may influence the behaviour of drivers and their ability to drive trains at an appropriate speed in work sites and possessions
  • ways of monitoring the performance of drivers when driving in work sites and possessions
  • ways of conveying important information to drivers when entering work sites and possessions so as to minimise the risk of confusion and misunderstandings.”

R132016_160713_Logan PDF, 7.76MB, 61 pages

CZ LOKO Introduces the EffiLiner 3000 Electric Locomotive

2016-07-09 18_56_40-CZ LOKO Introduces the EffiLiner 3000 Electric Locomotive

The top-of-the-line EffiShunter 3000 shunting vehicle, the first electric locomotive of western provenance to be completely modernised in the Czech Republic, was introduced at the railway trade fair in Ostrava, Czech Raildays, by both Josef Gulyas, The General Director of the CZ LOKO Company, and Marie Vopalenska, The General Director of the Association of the Czech Railway Industry, ACRI.

The two system, four-axle EffiLiner 3000 is designed for long-distance freight train shunting on 3kV DC and 25kV AC power circuits within the Czech Republic and other European countries with a 1 435mm gauge.
“Now, we are able to provide Czech and European railway transporters a vehicle, which ranks among leading European vehicles, at a very interesting price. I believe this to be another impulse that will strengthen railway transport of goods,” Josef Gulyas stated and went on to appraise the level of cooperation and technical solutions provided by suppliers.

Under CZ LOKO’s leadership, over 10 Czech and Slovak railway companies, primarily ACRI members, participated in this project, which began three years ago, and has now reached its final stage. Initially, in April 2013, an obsolete Class12 electric locomotive was imported from the Belgian state transporter, SNCB, in order to be entirely modernised. Another 11 vehicles of the same class, all of which have been transported to the Czech Republic, are to ensue.

According to Marie Vopalenska, the cooperation of Czech and Slovak companies gave rise to a locomotive that is easily able to compete with vehicles made by foreign producers. “We welcome every enrichment to what the Czech railway industry has to offer. The CZ LOKO Company is evidence of the capability and success that a traditionally Czech representative of railway machinery can create with strong foreign capital,” she added.

Due to the EffiLiner project, the CZ LOKO Company has expanded its production programme, based initially on deisel-electric locomotives and special vehicles, by progressing into a further segment of modernisation. “We can now provide railway operators with the optimal solution for freight transport with independent electric traction, including complete after-purchase service,” explains Jaroslav Plhak, CZ LOKO’s Sales Director.

While modernising this locomotive, emphasis was put on improving original parameters, high reliability, low operational and maintenance costs, environment-friendly operation, safety, modern design, and utilising unified solutions. Its continuous power are constant for both power circuits, and that being 2 910 kW. The maximum speed was decreased from 160 to 120 km/h, as this locomotive is intended for freight transport. Its total weight of 85 tonnes remains the same.

The complete bogies including traction motors and the hoods are all original. All other parts have been designed and constructed in accordance to current European standards.

This modernised locomotive is newly fit with EVPU traction transformer and traction equipment, GINO ESE brake resistors including, of course, dynamic brake usage with a recuperation function, Alfa Union vaccuum alternating switch, Secheron direct current switch, MSV Elektronika superior control system, as well as anit-skid and anti-slip devices to protect the wheelsets, and new cabling in accordance with current norms. All auxiliary drives are now driven by asychronnous motors. The Oerlikon air brakes have completely been replaced with the new DAKO system.

“These projects enable us, of course, to gain new experience, know-how, and new technology. However, they also open new job opportunities for current, as well as new, employees,” concludes Josef Gulyas.

Russian Railways and Italian State Railways sign memorandum on cooperation

16191

The President of Russian Railways, Oleg Belozerov, and the CEO of Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Spa, Renato Mazzoncini, have signed a memorandum of cooperation in Rome.

The document is intended to promote cooperation between the two companies in the field of railway transport, in particular with regard to the development and implementation of joint projects in areas such as the construction of new and the modernisation of existing rail infrastructure and the provision of international transport and logistics services and products for international freight and passenger traffic.

Thus, according to the memorandum, the two parties will undertake the necessary efforts to increase the efficiency of the existing rail network in the Russian Federation and the Italian Republic, increase the competitiveness of rail transport and its operational safety and minimise its impact on the environment.

Russian Railways and the Italian state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane also intend to work on creating the conditions to attract additional traffic flows and improve tariff policy and information systems.

In addition, the parties agreed to promote the development of mutual contacts in the framework of international organisations, including the International Union of Railways, in order to ensure effective cooperation between the railway systems using the narrow gauge 1435 mm track and the 1520 mm broad gauge lines.

The sides expressed an interest in developing cooperation on projects for high-speed rail links as part of the programme to organise high-speed rail transportation in the Russian Federation.

In addition, the document provides for cooperation in the field of scientific research and the technological and innovative development of railways, as well as cooperation on the markets of third countries.

“In order to achieve greater efficiency in transporting goods and passengers, the railways of different countries must work as a single integrated mechanism. The memorandum that we signed with Italian colleagues is yet another bridge in the development of railway communications not only between our two countries, but also across the European continent,” commented Oleg Belozerov.

German debut for link trains powered by MTU rail drive systems from Rolls-Royce

2016-07-05-pr

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, GERMANY – Link railcars supplied by Polish manufacturer PESA and driven by MTU PowerPacks are now in operation on routes in Germany for the first time. Following the recent certification by the German federal railway office EBA, seven two-car vehicles, each with two MTU type 6H 1800 R85L PowerPacks, will enter service with rail company Niederbarminer Eisenbahn (NEB) on regional lines. NEB has also placed orders for two additional three-car Link trains equipped with PowerPacks based on Series 1600 engines. The environmentally friendly MTU drive units meet EU Stage IIIB emissions specifications and are capable of taking the vehicles up to a maximum speed of 140 kph. The MTU brand is part of Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

Bernd Krüper who heads the Industrial business at MTU said: “The commissioning of these first Link trains marks the start of a new chapter in the success story achieved by our innovative and efficient MTU PowerPacks.” Developed by MTU, the compact PowerPacks incorporate engine, gearbox and generator as required as well as all the sub-assemblies needed to power the train and supply the vehicle’s auxiliary systems. This means they can be easily integrated in the vehicle and customers benefit from particularly simple service and maintenance.

The introduction of the Link Diesel multiple units (DMU) at NEB is an important milestone for these vehicles in the German marketplace. In 2014, Rolls-Royce reached an agreement with PESA to supply the Polish company with up to 940 MTU PowerPacks for Link vehicles. These railcars are scheduled to go into service at the behest of Deutsche Bahn over the next few years and other operators have likewise expressed interest in the diesel-powered railcars.

All Link models are fitted with MTU drive systems. The one- and three-car trains have one and two PowerPacks respectively, each based on Type 12V 1600 R70 engines producing 565 kilowatt. Two-car vehicles are driven by two Series 1800 PowerPacks each generating 390 kilowatt. All of the PowerPacks installed in Link DMUs meet the stringent emissions specifications of EU Stage IIIB and are equipped with SCR units for cleaning exhaust gases.

MTU and PESA have been working together since 2001. In addition to drive systems for Link trains, MTU also supplies type 16V 4000 R84 engines for PESA’s Gama locomotives along with drive units for other vehicle series, newbuilds and repowering projects.

NEB will be running the new trains on its lines from Berlin-Ostkreuz/Lichtenberg to Templin, Werneuchen, Rheinsberg and Kostrzyn (Poland). The trains are certified for operating on both the German and Polish rail networks and are thus suitable for service on cross-border routes. Link trains have been operating successfully with rail companies in Poland and the Czech Republic since 2012.