SmartRail World

Could the bitterly disputed €9bn Lyon-Turin line be back on track?

It is perhaps the most bitterly fought and controversial rail project in modern European history but French President François Hollande has announced that the long-disputed Lyon-Turin railway line will be constructed by 2020. At a summit in Paris with his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi, Hollande announced; “We can now say the Lyon-Turin railway line is not only in the pipeline, but has been launched. It will take time to come to fruition, but there are, as of today no brakes on the project and no obstacles lying in the way of its completion.” The European Commission will contribute around €3.4bn (approx. 40% of the total) with France providing €2.2bn and Italy €2.9bn, a billion Euro has already been spent on the preparatory work. On completion the line will reduce the Lyon – Turin journey times from 3h 30 minutes to 1h 47 minutes.

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5 key points from today's $137bn (£88bn) Indian Railways Budget.

$137bn (£88bn) has been confirmed as being invested in the ageing Indian railway network over the next five years. Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu presented his first budget for the ministry today promising to balance the needs of passengers and the long-term interests of the network with an aim of it ultimately being benchmarked globally on quality, safety and delivery. "Railways facilities have not improved substantially for the past few decades which is the result of under-investment that affects capacity, leading to poor morale. This fed into vicious cycle of chronic under-investment for a long time," Railway Minister Prabhu said. He said safety, quality of service, standards and efficiency all suffered due to poor financial resources available with the Indian Railways, which further fed into the vicious cycle of poor investment. The state-run Indian railways operate more than 12,000 trains, carrying some 23 million passengers daily.

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Consolidation continues as Hitachi swoops for $2.2 billion Finmeccanica rail business.

"With the addition of these companies we are in an excellent position to transform Hitachi Rail into one of the strongest global players in the sector..."

The Italian aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica has agreed to sell its rail business, which includes Ansaldo STS and AnsaldoBreda to Hitachi Ltd in a deal that will cost the Japanese conglomerate 1.9 billion Euros ($2.2 billion). The Japanese group has already moved its global rail division to London and represents a further step in its ambition to become an international leader in total rail solutions and compete further with Canada’s Bombardier, Germany’s Siemens and France’s Alstom as well as the emerging strength of Chinese rail companies. Whilst significantly expanding its global footprint, the acquisitions will enable Hitachi to strengthen its position in signalling / traffic management systems, expand turnkey operations and enlarge its product portfolio. This is the latest in a series of rail company mergers as the industry consolidates in the face of stronger competition.

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Fines to help fund roll-out of passenger Wi-Fi on UK trains from 2017.

Rail passengers will benefit from free Wi-Fi on trains across England and Wales from 2017, the UK Rail Minister Claire Perry has announced.   The £47.8 million funding required for Wi-Fi rollout will be reinvested from fines given to Network Rail for missing punctuality targets – the first time such money has been used for improvements targeted at passengers. Critics had long questioned the point of fining Network Rail for poor service, as in the end it would deprive it of cash that could be used to improve the lines. Train operators are now being asked to outline how they will meet the commitment to provide this important service for passengers. And train operators bidding for new franchises and direct award agreements will have to include this specification in their bid.

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Five company consortium confirms for major Doha Metro contract.

Doha in Qatar is the latest city in the Middle East to aim to overcome the challenge of urban congestion and traffic gridlock with the development of a Metro network. And this week has seen a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries along with Mitsubishi Corporation, Hitachi, The Kinki Sharyo Co. and Thales receive a Letter of Conditional Acceptance from the Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) for a systems package for the Doha Metro, the first metro system to be constructed in the State of Qatar. Its first phase is set for completion in late 2019 and is one of the largest single metro system projects in the world. The development of the Doha Metro is overseen by Qatar Rail who are responsible for the design, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance of the entire system.Consisting of 4 lines, the Metro network will cover the Greater Doha area and will include connections to town centres and vital commercial and residential areas throughout the city. In central Doha, the Metro will be underground, whilst at the outskirts; it will mainly be at ground level or elevated. 

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Postcard from Charlotte: “America needs passenger rail.”

"We're expecting 70 million more people over the next 30 years and a 45 percent spike in freight volume..."

SmartRail World today reports from Charlotte, North Carolina to hear from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Vice President Joe Biden. The two political heavyweights have visited the city as part of their five-state bus tour highlighting the importance of infrastructure investment and encouraging Congress to pass the Grow America Act - a $478-billion, six year transportation spending plan. It’s a familiar venue for Secretary Foxx, both as a former Mayor of Charlotte and having spoken at the 2014 edition of SmartRail USA Congress and Expo in the same city.

Foxx talked about his time in Charlotte as mayor and the growth that he saw on the city's transit network. He also proposed that Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Washington could be connected by high-speed rail. Vice President Biden who is famously a regular Amtrak user from his Delaware home to the Washington called infrastructure spending "a virtuous cycle" that will boost business by moving goods faster while adding construction and engineering jobs with the expansion of transportation networks.

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Business travellers and new routes boost Eurostar in its 20th year.

“2014 was a pivotal year for our business…”

A year in which Eurostar celebrated its 20th anniversary saw it enjoy continued growth thanks to a rise in the number of business travellers and the expansion of the London-South of France route. The high speed rail service, which links the UK and mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel sold £867m of tickets during the year – 1 per cent more than in the previous 12 months. Last year, passenger numbers rose by 3% to 10.4 million (2013: 10.1 million) bringing the total number of passengers travelling on Eurostar since the start of services in 1994 to over 150 million. 

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SmartRail Speaks: Serge Chelly, Founder and CEO of IKOS Group.

"...the optimization and renovation of existing railway facilities is a big challenge for the future."

Today SmartRail World is in Paris to speak to a 24 year veteran of the rail industry, Serge Chelly, Founder and CEO of IKOS Group. A graduate of ENSEEIHT, he began his career at LORE where he expanded the group into Switzerland, Italy and Spain before joining Altran where he became Senior Executive International Vice-President, COO of the southern region : Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Spain (4,500 people and 45 subsidiaries) and head of the Altran Organizing Committee. In 2005, he founded IKOS, which is today an international consulting group, specialized in the rail sector and composed of 500 engineers.

Luke Upton (LU): Many thanks for the time today Serge, Ikos is a technology consulting firm specializing in the rail sector, for readers less familiar with you, could you share some further information about the company?

Serge Chelly (SC): We founded IKOS Consulting in 2005, starting in a little office in Paris. Our main goal has always been to become a leader in the rail sector. Nowadays, many railway players rely on our expertise: our railway specialty allows us to take care of innovating and challenging projects.

Three years ago, in order to support the innovation, we created the IKOS Lab entity. The role of IKOS LAB is to be an incubator of ideas and to capitalize the methods, the tools and the state of art. It’s an internal network of experts, a place where researches and general studies are carried out.

We are now an international group composed of 500 engineers: we have just opened an office in New York in January 2015, and we are also based in France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.

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Foxx on PTC: "...continuing to hold the industry’s feet to the fire."

US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx in testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee told the industry that the Department of Transportation is “continuing to hold the industry’s feet to the fire in getting Positive Train Control done as quickly as possible,’’ instead of granting “a blanket extension” on the federally mandated deadline of Dec. 31, 2015.

Foxx’s comments are in contrast to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, whose chair, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) last month addressed the upcoming deadline and stated: "Although the PTC deadline is quickly approaching, it remains unattainable. Through the end of 2014, railroads have invested over $5 billion in PTC, and they expect to spend billions more in the coming years." Senator Thune’s comments are in line with a growing opinion led by the Association of American Railroads to extend the deadline.

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Fireball destroys 14 cars as oil train derails in USA (inc. video).

At least 14 train cars burst into flames and two towns were evacuated as a CSX train hauling crude oil derailed in West Virginia on Monday. It was reported that at least one of the tank cars entered the Kanawha River, and one car ran into a house before bursting into flames. The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars and was traveling from Bakken, North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. All of the oil cars were the CPC 1232 models. One person was being treated for potential inhalation issues, but no other injuries were reported, according to a news release from CSX, the train company. The company is working to contain oil found in a creek that runs parallel to CSX tracks, and water utilities on the nearby Kanawha River are taking precautions. Fires around some of the cars will be allowed to burn out. (Picture top right: REUTERS/Marcus Constantino). Click read more to see a video of the explosion.

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Could the bitterly disputed €9bn Lyon-Turin line be back on track?

It is perhaps the most bitterly fought and controversial rail project in modern European history but French President François Hollande has announced that the long-disputed Lyon-Turin railway line...Read more

5 key points from today's $137bn (£88bn) Indian Railways Budget.

$137bn (£88bn) has been confirmed as being invested in the ageing Indian railway network over the next five years. Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu presented his first budget for the ministry...Read more

Consolidation continues as Hitachi swoops for $2.2 billion Finmeccanica rail business.

"With the addition of these companies we are in an excellent position to transform Hitachi Rail into one of the strongest global players in the sector..." The Italian aerospace and defence giant...Read more

Fines to help fund roll-out of passenger Wi-Fi on UK trains from 2017.

Rail passengers will benefit from free Wi-Fi on trains across England and Wales from 2017, the UK Rail Minister Claire Perry has announced.   The £47.8 million funding required for Wi-Fi...Read more

Five company consortium confirms for major Doha Metro contract.

Doha in Qatar is the latest city in the Middle East to aim to overcome the challenge of urban congestion and traffic gridlock with the development of a Metro network. And this week has seen a...Read more

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