SmartRail World

What were the most read rail stories of 2014?

As the year comes to an end, SmartRail World Editor Luke Upton digs through the year’s stories to find the ten most popular by page views. From lost trains, BatTrams, man vs tube races and mega budgets it’s an eclectic mix! What’s your favourite? Honourable mentions to those not making the top ten include: The Shinkansen, the Japanese 'super express of dreams' turns 50 , How did BART know about the San Fran quake before anyone else? and How the 2014 World Cup is being embraced by rail and metro

A big thank you to all our readers, contributors and partners for your support in 2014. We look forward to sharing more international stories from the world of rail and metro in 2015! We have some very exciting plans which will be revealed soon!

Regards, Luke Upton (Editor, SmartRail World)

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Nigerian railway modernization presses ahead despite challenges.

Today SmartRail World is in Nigeria to welcome a guest contribution from Marina Tolchinsky of Global Risk Insights who analyses the recent $12 billion dollar agreement signed between the Nigerian government and the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and the increasing excitement over the potential of Nigeria's railway sector...

In the past few years, the Nigerian government has been shopping for private investors to help modernize the sector through Public-Private Partnerships. Simultaneously, Nigeria has pursued legislative reforms, proposing an amendment to the 1957 Railway Act in the spring of 2013.

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Privately funded passenger Wi-Fi launches across Moscow Metro.

News today from Moscow where the installation of free but privately funded passenger Wi-Fi on all Metro lines is now complete. All 12 Moscow Metro lines, a total length of 325km are now equipped with the service, which operates through 5000 routers, offering a data transfer rate exceeding 100 Mb/s and has come online one month ahead of schedule. The Russian capital’s metro network is the world’s second busiest, with some seven million passengers a day. A spokesman for the Moscow Metro, quoted in Russia state press agency, TASS stated; “In some cities of the world there is Wi-Fi Internet access at underground railway lines, but no access in the tunnels, this makes this project incomparable in the world as it offers access in the tunnels.” The project for equipping Moscow Metro trains was launched on September 1st, 2013 with the Kakhovskaya and Circle Lines of the first to be equipped with free wireless Internet connection. (Picture top right, courtesy of Christophe Meneboeuf)

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Token gestures soon to be over in Philadelphia as Smartcard arrives.

Progress tinged with nostalgia in Philadelphia as the sixth-largest transportation system in the USA says goodbye to its metal fare tokens and finally embraces smartcard technology and mobile ticketing. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the last remaining mass transit system in the USA using tokens as a payment method. Although it does offer magnetic swipe monthly passes and paper tickets the principal payment mode for them requires cash upon entry or tokens pre-purchased from cashiers, vending machines in transit stations or vendors around the city. However, token machines aren’t at every station nor do they take credit cards, and cashiers aren’t always on duty. Septa has been promising the change since at least 2007 but a mix of budgetary and technological challenges didn’t see the awarding of the $130m contract until 2011.

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Event review: SmartRail Asia Congress & Expo 2014.

Today we are in Bangkok, Thailand to review SmartRail Asia Congress & Expo 2014, the continent's definitive rail and metro technology exhibition and congress. Bangkok is at the heart of plans for a connected ASEAN rail network and has ambitious plans to significantly develop its metro network amongst US$93 billion of confirmed rail infrastructure spend planned by 2021 so made a perfect venue for this event. Taking place at BITEC, over three days it brought together industry professionals from around the world particularly from the region's rapidly developing rail sectors in Southeast Asia, the Far East, China and India. SmartRail Asia’s inaugural exhibition attracted a record audience from across 41 countries and 123 participating companies. The co-located conference welcomed 250 delegates including senior representatives from over 40 separate rail and metro operators. Of the 2,000 trade professionals the event attracted, 32.7% were international. Plans are already underway for the next edition on 25-27 November 2015 so mark those dates in your new diaries!

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Could New England line herald a new era for privately-funded passenger rail in the US?

A proposal to build a privately funded passenger rail service from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island, if succesful, would buck a long-term trend of no privately funded passenger railways existing in the US. The plans announced by the Boston Surface Commuter Railroad Co. would operate across the Providence & Worcester Railroad freight network and potentially be open in as little as 18 months. To launch the service around $3 million is required, to purchase five trains and lease five others to deliver three round trips planned a day and an initial proposed cost of a ticket of $16 one way

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Landlocked Central Asia linked to Persian Gulf by new Silk Road on rails.

The final section of the 900-kilometre (560 mile) rail link through Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Iran has been inaugurated linking Central Asia to the strategic trade routes along the Persian Gulf. The latest version of the fabled Silk Road linking East to West and agreed in 2007 and following five years of construction at a reported cost of about two billion dollars the line is one of the most significant recent Asian rail developments. The route permits train service from Kazakhstan's city of Uzen through Turkmenistan to Iran's Gorgan where it will connect with Iran’s national rail network before making its way to the Persian Gulf ports. (Picture top right: A newly constructed railway station in Bereket city, Turkmenistan)

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How high-res 3D imagery is helping grow Victoria’s rail asset database.

Today SmartRail World is in Melbourne, Australia to learn how Public Transport Victoria (PTV) who operate public transport across the region have worked with Geomatic Technologies to develop a high-resolution 3D panoramic imagery system that enables a fast and comprehensive update to their rail asset database and improve significantly their data management system.

PTV operates a web-based Asset Information System known as ‘Privatised Arrangement Support Systems’ or PASS-Assets. The data standard for PASS-Assets is governed by the Victorian Rail Industry Operators Group (VRIOG) and is designed to facilitate the sharing of asset information and to help manage data maintenance obligations between VRIOG members including PTV, Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), Metro Trains Melbourne, VicTrack, V/Line and Yarra Trams. PASS-Assets is a web-based spatial information solution containing authoritative track alignment, signal and other rail asset data such as demanded by network ATP (Automatic Track Protection) and PTC (Positive Train Control) initiatives. Users including rail asset owners, track maintainers and industry stakeholders are able to visualise, search, interrogate and generate reports on a wide range of track and trackside assets.

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Train lost in desert for 8 years to finally make return journey.

We are all familiar with waiting for a delayed train. But spare a thought for anyone waiting for this train in Egypt which eight years after it went missing has been found in the country’s Western desert ending a lengthy mystery. The story begins when a line connecting the remote Western Desert to the Red Sea coast was opened in 1996. But the reality of running a railroad through a desert led to high maintenance and security costs and the railway was forced to close. This opportunity was seized upon my metal thieves who duly ripped up and stole over 150km leaving areas of the line isolated, and one particular German-made Henschel train with nowhere to go (Not pictured above, we couldn't find a picture of it sorry, though there is a video below). The train was last scheduled for a journey in 2006 but at some point on this line without track disappeared from the company’s inventory the Gulf News.

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Industry Insights: The (wood) ties that help bind our growing industry.

“What may have once been seen as a staid industry is now moving to be more proactive in service, development and most importantly growth.”

Today SmartRail World Editor Luke Upton is in Georgia, USA to learn more about a crucial but often overlooked area of rail – ties. Whether you know about this area of not, take a read as we speak to leading expert, Tim Carey, Industrial Products Specialist, at Arch Wood Protection Inc.

Luke Upton (LU): Thanks for the time today, Tim as means of introduction could you tell us a little about the work of Arch Wood Protection within rail?

Tim Carey (TC): No problem at all Luke. Arch Wood Protection is a world leader in the manufacture of wood protection chemicals, with various chemistries available depending on the product and the environmental exposure concerns. As such, we were approached during a time of a creosote shortage for rail and other uses for a possible alternative means of protecting wood ties. Our ACZA product was a proven performer for many years protecting difficult to treat wood species in harsh environments including marine exposures in the South Pacific to Formosan Termites around the world. The product had also performed admirably in a past formulation during WWII, when creosote had also been in short supply to protect wood ties in the Western United States. To further fortify ACZA’s protection abilities of wood products, ties in particular, we have developed the ability to incorporate boron technology providing a good and thorough protection of wood ties.

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What were the most read rail stories of 2014?

As the year comes to an end, SmartRail World Editor Luke Upton digs through the year’s stories to find the ten most popular by page views. From lost trains, BatTrams, man vs tube races and mega...Read more

Nigerian railway modernization presses ahead despite challenges.

Today SmartRail World is in Nigeria to welcome a guest contribution from Marina Tolchinsky of Global Risk Insights who analyses the recent $12 billion dollar agreement signed between the Nigerian...Read more

Privately funded passenger Wi-Fi launches across Moscow Metro.

News today from Moscow where the installation of free but privately funded passenger Wi-Fi on all Metro lines is now complete. All 12 Moscow Metro lines, a total length of 325km are now equipped with...Read more

Token gestures soon to be over in Philadelphia as Smartcard arrives.

Progress tinged with nostalgia in Philadelphia as the sixth-largest transportation system in the USA says goodbye to its metal fare tokens and finally embraces smartcard technology and mobile...Read more

Event review: SmartRail Asia Congress & Expo 2014.

Today we are in Bangkok, Thailand to review SmartRail Asia Congress & Expo 2014, the continent's definitive rail and metro technology exhibition and congress. Bangkok is at the heart of plans for...Read more

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