Classic stations: Newcastle Central

Newcastle Central is a listed building, the city’s major transport hub, and acts as both a terminus and a through station. Graeme Pickering recalls the station’s impressive past and assesses plans recently outlined for the future. NEWCASTLE Central station is widely regarded as one of the finest in the country. Its

Swiss Combi buys stake in SBB Cargo

SWITZERLAND: Swiss Combi AG, a joint venture formed of four road transport and logistics companies in the private sector, has bought a 35% stake in SBB Cargo AG for an undisclosed sum, although SBB AG retains a 65% majority holding. Swiss Combi consists of Planzer Holding AG (40%), Camion Transport AG

Work to resume on Transnordestina

BRAZIL: Construction of the huge Transnordestina project in northeastern Brazil was due to resume at the end of August, Governor of Piauí state Wellington Dias announced during the Forum on Regional Infrastructure held in Teresina on August 22. Participants at the forum included the Brazilian Infrastructure Association and numerous investors. Work began

Rail projects funded to support housing plans

UK: The government has announced the allocation of grants from its Housing Infrastructure Fund to transport projects which are intended to facilitate the development of new homes. This includes £80·8m for the Greater London Authority’s East London Line – Growth Capacity programme to support the development of 14 000 new homes in

Estonia plans rail electrification to meet 2030 climate goals

ESTONIA: The Ministry of Economic Affairs & Communications and the Ministry of the Environment are preparing a railway electrification strategy after receiving cabinet backing for the development of proposals.  The government envisages that electrification works could be undertaken in 2022-28, supporting the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from

South Eastern franchise competition cancelled

THE Department for Transport has cancelled the competition for the next South Eastern franchise, and confirmed that the existing contract with Govia will now continue until April 2020. The decision to cancel the bidding has come only days after the High Court rejected an attempt by the DfT to quash

Bid to run Southeastern rail route scrapped

Bid to run Southeastern rail route scrapped. Photo: Southeastern. The bid to run Southeastern rail route has been scrapped, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced. Incumbent operator Southeastern’s rail route contract was due to expire in November, but this has been extended until April 1 next year. The franchise competition was

Trenitalia plans €2·7bn regional EMU spend

ITALY: State-owned passenger operator Trenitalia has invited expressions of interest by October 1 for the supply of up to 250 single-deck EMUs with an estimated total value of €2·7bn. The FS Group subsidiary is looking to award two four-year framework agreements for EMUs to operate regional passenger services on the 3 kV

Sakhalin regauging makes progress

RUSSIA: The first 1 520 mm gauge long-distance overnight passenger services on the island of Sakhalin began running on July 18, following conversion of the 500 km Vzmorye – Nogliki route from 1 067 mm to broad gauge. This marks the latest stage in a programme launched in 2003 to regauge the island’s network

Trans-Pennine ETCS procurement begins

UK: Network Rail has begun the process of appointing a contractor to supply and maintain ETCS Level 2 for the line between Stalybridge near Manchester and Cottingley near Leeds as part of the Trans-Pennine Route Upgrade Programme. The selected contractor would be expected to maintain the ETCS equipment over its anticipated

New lines go ahead as FS infrastructure spending approved

ITALY: A €28bn package of funding for FS Group infrastructure spending was formally approved by the government’s Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning on July 24, the state railway group has confirmed. CIPE has also approved updates to the programme contracts between the Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport and the group’s two

Sheffield City Region rail vision launched

UK: An ‘ambitious’ Integrated Rail Plan for the Sheffield City Region was launched by Mayor Dan Jarvis on July 18. The plan was produced by the region’s local authorities supported by organisations including Transport for the North. The proposals include a Barnsley Dearne Valley station in Goldthorpe on the Northern Powerhouse

‘Drone train’ completes first trial

FRANCE: National operator SNCF has successfully tested a remotely-controlled train over a distance of 4 km in the Paris suburbs. Representing a key stage in SNCF’s programme to develop automated operations, the ‘drone train’ ran from Villeneuve-Saint-Georges to Juvisy and was driven from a control centre established at Vigneux-sur-Seine. Describing the test

More issues mean delays for SWR Class 442 return

PLANS by South Western Railway to re-introduce Class 442s to the third rail network have been delayed again. The refurbished sets were due to enter traffic between London Waterloo and Portsmouth last December, but bodyshell corrosion was greater than envisaged. SWR Class 442 Nos. 442408/411 arrive at Woking, having

Bayern awards two operating contracts

GERMANY: Bayern railway agency BEG awarded DB Regio two overlapping operating contracts on June 24. The first is an interim contract covering the operation of long-distance regional services on the 220 km route from München to Lindau via Memmingen for one year from December 2020, while the second covers the operation

Midlands Hub plan to boost east-west connectivity

UK: The Midlands Connect consortium of local authorities and regional transport bodies has unveiled proposals for a £2bn package of targeted improvements to boost rail services in the East and West Midlands. The group is seeking £25m in government funding to develop the business case for its Midlands Rail Hub programme,

Dublin seeks battery-electric DART fleet

IRELAND: National railway Iarnród Éireann and the National Transport Authority have invited expressions of interest in a 10-year framework agreement covering the supply of between 250 and 600 vehicles for Dublin Area Rapid Transport suburban rail services. Expansion of DART electric services to Maynooth, Drogheda and Hazelhatch forms part of the

‘Intelligent’ bogie manufacturing workshop

CHINA: CRRC Zhuzhou has begun production at what it describes as ‘the world's first intelligent bogie manufacturing workshop’. The manufacturer said this provides ‘30·1% more production efficiency’ with 50% fewer staff and a 35% shorter R&D time compared to traditional manual operation. Automated guided vehicles retrieve and transport materials to the workstations which undertake

KUBE to support internet of things on GSM-R

ASSET MONITORING: Kapsch CarrierCom is planning the first trial deployment of KUBE, an industrial internet of things device which can be used to collate and preprocess data from a range of asset monitoring sensors before using existing GSM-R networks to send the information to an infrastructure manager’s data hubs. Staff

Germany Hosts Rail Summit | Focus on Digitalisation

On 7 May the German Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) hosted a rail summit where it presented an interim report on the ‘Zukunftsbündnis Schiene’ – the partnership between government, business and associations to promote rail. The key topics of the event were digitalisation and the Deutschland-Takt –

Fuel cell proof-of-concept train to be tested

UK: A collaboration agreement for the development of a multiple-unit able to operate on either hydrogen or battery power was announced by Vivarail and fuel cell specialist Arcola Energy on May 8. The companies said they ‘share a determination to help de-carbonise the UK’s transport system’.  A diesel version of Vivarail’s

Graz-Köflacher Bahn announces electrification plan

AUSTRIA: A plan for the electrification of the 91 km Graz-Köflacher Bahn network at 15 kV 16·7 Hz by December 2025 was announced by Director-General Franz Weintögl on May 6. GKB operates routes from Graz to Köflach and Wies-Eibiswald, diverging at Lieboch. It currently carries around 6 million passengers a year, which it

Mongolia’s Northern Railways signs EPC agreement

MONGOLIA: The Northern Railways subsidiary of coking coal mine project developer Aspire Mining Ltd has signed an engineering, procurement and construction agreement for the proposed 547 km Erdenet – Ovoot railway with a joint venture of China Gezhouba International Engineering Co and China Railway 20 Group Corp. The agreement was signed

RDG proposes arms-length body to oversee UK rail

UK: Greater accountability to rail users and devolved authorities is envisaged under proposals from the Rail Delivery Group published on April 30, along with the establishment of an ‘independent national organising body’ to co-ordinate and oversee the entire rail sector. Unveiling its proposals to the Williams Rail Review, which has been

East Coast Rail Link back on

MALAYSIA: Construction of the East Coast Rail Link to open up the country’s eastern seaboard is set to resume next month, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced on April 15. Contracts had been awarded in 2017 for China Communications Construction Corp to develop the 530 km ECRL linking Port Klang on the west

Ghana eastern line concession agreed

GHANA: A US$2·2bn build-operate-transfer concession agreement for the 340 km Accra – Achimota – Koforidua – Bososo – Boankra – Kumasi railway project was signed by the Ministry of Railway Development and Ghana European Railway Consortium on April 4. The agreement must now be approved by the cabinet and parliament. GERC

Gas fuelled railcar pilot project planned

ITALY: A memorandum of understanding setting out plans to test the conversion of diesel railcars to run on natural gas has been signed by national railway FS Group, rolling stock manufacturer Hitachi Rail Italy and gas supply infrastructure company Snam. Trenitalia plans to provide one or two ALn668 or ALn663 railcars

Rumo wins Norte-Sul operating concession

BRAZIL: Rumo has won the tender for a 30-year concession to complete and operate the 1 537 km southern section of the Ferrovia Norte-Sul corridor linking Porto Nacional in Tocantins to Estrela d'Oeste in São Paulo state. When the offers were opened on March 28, Rumo’s bid of R$2·72bn was significantly ahead of

Togo railway plan

TOGO: Construction of a 760 km railway from the capital Lomé to Cinkassé on the border with Burkina Faso is included in a national development plan unveiled by the government of Togo. It is envisaged that the line could eventually run to Ouagadougou. State-owned Togo Invest Holding has been tasked with with

Bielefeld – Hannover high speed line proposed

GERMANY: Commissioner for Rail and Parliamentary Secretary of State for Transport & Digital Infrastructure Enak Ferlemann has said that a new 300 km/h line needs to be built between Bielefeld and Hannover. Speaking to Deutsche Presse Agentur on March 18, Ferlemann said that the new line was required to cut the

DB unveils details of ECx Talgos

GERMANY: Deutsche Bahn has announced further details of the 23 push-pull trains that it ordered from Talgo for €550m in February as part of a framework contract for up to 100 trainsets. At an event in Berlin on March 13 attended by the government’s Commissioner for Rail and Parliamentary Secretary of