As growing numbers of the world’s populations choose cities and major towns as their home (the UN predicts that 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, a 13% rise on today’s percentage), so too does the requirement for efficient light rail and metro networks that enable them to run as efficiently as possible. Filling the transport gap can be achieved through a variety of means but as many of the world’s cities will attest, an efficient and fast metro network does a pretty unbeatable job of transporting tens, hundreds and – on the world’s biggest – sometime more than a million people a day. Unsurprisingly, the increased demand for modern transport solutions has been good news for the companies and suppliers providing the infrastructure, among them rolling stock manufacturers.
Many of the new light rail and metro trains won’t be destined for brand new networks, but owing to the development of larger interiors that boost capacity with innovative walk-through designs, wherever they are used they will be helping cities, towns and conurbations to transport more people at a time. Taking such steps to provide citizens with quick and efficient means to get around can do wonders for a city, aiding economic development and improving social mobility. Here, we’re providing a snapshot of some of the latest rolling stock deals to have gone through in, with news of new manufacturing plants, train fleets and signalling systems from across Europe, North and South America and Asia.
Staking its commitment in the US market, Stadler announced in April that it has been nominated to provide Atlanta’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) network with 127 trains in a deal worth $600 million. The deal held extra significance for Stadler owing to the fact that its trains would be the first to be built at its new manufacturing plant, after the Swiss train builder moved its American operations to Salt Lake City. The 230,000sq. ft unit will now according to Stadler be able to handle all US train production, including California’s electric CalTrain trains and 16, six-car KISS model double-decker electric multiple-unit trains.
The site, which is located in the sparsely populated region, has been fitted up with testing facilities in the form of a 1,000-metre track with overhead catenary systems, allowing Stadler to test all of its fleet as they come off the production line and before they’re transported to US customers via the nearby freight and Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway lines. In other news, Stadler unveiled the first train that it had made for the Belarusian market, with the launch of six, four-car and four, five-car trains for the Minsk Metro that will run on the Zeleny Lug to Kurassovshina line – the first phase of which will reportedly open in the second half of 2019.
Medellín to London
From Switzerland to Germany; Siemens has thrown its significant weight behind the metro network in Medellín, Colombia – the metro network that made such a positive difference to the city when it first began operating in 1994. Today, Siemens has been tasked with the installation of its latest rail signalling technology on one of the city’s two lines, a €42 million contract that includes the system design, implementation and certification for the wayside system.
Due to be switched on in 2021, the upgraded infrastructure will bring a welcome upgrade to the current infrastructure that was installed more than two decades ago and will as a result increase capacity on the line and provide a safer experience for passengers. The news comes around six months after Siemens was chosen by Transport for London to supply the next-generation trains for the London Underground, an agreement that will see the introduction of 94 trains that will replace the network’s 40-year-old fleet of Piccadilly Line trains from 2023. With an open, walkthrough-style design that boosts capacity, the £1.5 billion deal has been awarded with the expectation that Siemens Mobility will build trains for three other London Underground lines.
India to France
With two major deals that were announced within days of each other, it’s been a good March and April for Alstom. The French train manufacturer will be providing more trains for Paris Metro, while Pune and Mumbai in India will both be upgrading its metro lines with communication-based train control (CBTC) systems, Urbalis 400. Alstom’s involvement in the two lines adds up to a deal value of more than €90 million that will include the combined lengths of Mumbai’s Line 2 and Line 7, work that according to the company will make them among the most extensive signalling projects in the South Asian country.
In France’s capital, meanwhile, Alstom has won a contract worth more than €100 million to supply 23, three-car trains for lines 16 and 17 – part of “the government's determination to double the Paris metro network over the next 15 years”, said Alstom. That deal, which adds to Paris’ existing 25-train agreement, will reportedly secure more than 1,000 jobs in France and see the first vehicles leave the manufacturing plant in 2022 to enter service around two years later.
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