Category Archives: Rail

General Electric to buy Alstom’s energy business for $17bn

The Board of French engineering company, Alstom has given the green light to US energy giant General Electric to purchase its energy business at a price of $17bn. In order to protect the country’s interests and facilitate the deal, the French government will purchase a 20% stake in Alstom from its main shareholder, Bouygues.

Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries also submitted acquisition proposals, but General Electric’s proposal won unanimous approval from Alstom directors. General Electric will now acquire Alstom’s power grid business, renewable operations, and nuclear steam turbines to form three joint ventures. In doing so, it hopes to open up its operations in China and Africa.

Conversely, General Electric (GE) is to sell its railway signal business to Alstom, who are the manufacturers of France’s TGV high speed trains. The deal is expected to close in 2015.

General Electric’s Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt said of the deal: “We will now move to the next phase of the Alstom alliance. We look forward to working with the Alstom team to make a globally competitive power and grid enterprise. We also look forward to working with the French government, employees and shareholders of Alstom. As we have said, this is good for France, GE and Alstom.”

According to a Reuters report, the two companies already have history. In Alstom’s home town of Belfort, 2,500 of its employees have worked for more than a decade ‘building electrical turbines just a few dozen metres away from a GE plant, whose workers they meet each day at lunchtime in a shared canteen’.

The article continues: “GE’s history in Belfort stretches back even further, to 1928, when one of its subsidiaries, Thomson-Houston, merged with the Socieate Alsacienne de Construction Mecanique to form Alssthom, then spelled with an ‘h’”.

Written by Gail Taylor

Edinburgh’s new trams on track at last!

Lesley Hinds, transport convener for Edinburgh City Council discusses the lessons to be learned from one of Scotland’s most controversial – and delayed – new public transport projects. The city’s new tram system finally opened three years late on 31 May 2014 and is now operating between York Place in the city centre and Edinburgh Airport.

Credit: Edinburgh Trams One of Edinburgh's 27 new trams makes its inaugural journey. Each cost around £2 million.

Credit: Edinburgh Trams
One of Edinburgh’s 27 new trams makes its inaugural journey. Each cost around £2 million.

Beset with disruption, bitter disputes, and angry traders, the project was not only late but came in at double the budget and with only half the originally planned network being realised. So great has been the outcry for answers as to what went wrong that last week Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, ordered a judge-led inquiry to investigate.

In the meantime we spoke to Councillor Lesley Hinds, who shared her personal views, not only on what went wrong, but how in the past two years the ailing project has been dramatically turned around. Some of her insights are gold dust to other cities thinking of commissioning a new tram system whilst avoiding the same pitfalls.

To start with, as is so often the case, the news isn’t all bad. Cllr Hinds reports that in their first week on the tracks, the new trams have attracted some 130,000 passengers. On one day alone 27,000 people used the new transport system (although admittedly it was partly down to boy band, One Direction, performing in town).

Credit: Edinburgh Trams Crowds throng to be aboard the first tram journey.

Credit: Edinburgh Trams
Crowds throng to be aboard the first tram journey.

Edinburgh’s tram system was granted funding by the Scottish Parliament to the tune of £500 million in 2007. The City Council formed an arms-length company called Transport in Edinburgh (TIE) to manage the project. TIE then appointed Bilfinger Berger/Siemens as main contractor.

Off the rails

Things soon went badly wrong and a protracted and entrenched dispute arose between the two. At one point, the roads were up and the contractor’s tools were down, while local businesses complained of resulting financial losses and even closure.

We asked Cllr Hinds what caused the problems. “In my personal opinion there were three reasons. The first and main one was the contract [between TIE and Bilfinger Berger/Siemens] which I believe was flawed. It was not detailed enough.

“In my experience, with any large project, if you want to ensure its success, all the details must be sorted out, everything must be tied down, before you sign a contract with any contractor. What happened in this case is that the contract then started to change after it had been signed. So I think there are many lessons to be learned from that.”

Cllr Hinds cites political conflict as the second reason, as at that time local government was a coalition between Liberal Democrats who were pro the Edinburgh tram project, and the SNP who were against. This, she feels, meant that no-one had outright control.

And it didn’t stop at local level. Cllr Hinds continues, “Thirdly, there was a change in administration of the Scottish government where the SNP came into minority control following a vote. Labour, Conservative, Lib Dems, and Greens voted to approve the £500 million to be spent on the Edinburgh trams, carried against the minority SNP administration. As a result, the Scottish government then withdrew the Transport Scotland government agency’s experts and advisors from the project. So what you had was the government signing off the money but then having no direct supervision or input.”

A change in approach

After all the stalling, the project did finally gather steam over the past two years. We asked Cllr Hinds how and why this happened, and, unsurprisingly, it all came down to improved communication. “About two years ago [around the same time Cllr Hinds became the new transport convener] a new chief executive, Sue Bruce, came into the council as a new appointment. One of the tasks she was given by all the councillors was obviously to sort out the tram project, which had come to a total impasse.

“She convened a meeting. Key councillors and the contractor sat down together for at least a week and they came up with a proposal that they both signed up for. That mediation has led to a very, very structured process of any decision-making or dealing any disputes on either side. If there’s a dispute there is a clear way of taking it through process at regular twice-weekly meetings. It stops things festering. It’s put on the table and gets resolved.”

Two years ago, Cllr Hinds was given a revised budget that raised the figure to £776 million* – which has been kept to – and a revised schedule to open the tramline in summer 2014. As she points out, they’ve managed to open slightly earlier, and she credits the strict structure and process they now work within for this.


Credit: Edinburgh Trams
Route map

Looking forwards

And what of the retailers and businesses that suffered along the way? Might things start to improve for them now? Cllr Hinds says, “Yes. There is evidence that people are already starting to come back into the city centre. Even those that didn’t want the tram initially are thinking that now it’s here they’ll use it and just get on with it and seem reasonably happy.

“However, you can’t underestimate the damage done to the reputation of the city of Edinburgh.” To help address this, a £1 million campaign named ‘This is Edinburgh’ was launched last February to promote the city’s attractions and encourage people back into the centre after the tram disruption.

Finally, we asked Cllr Hinds what her advice would be to other cities considering a tram system. She replies, “Listen to others who have done it, find out and learn. There will always be disruption when you’re putting in an on-road system, so think about ways of mitigating that and keeping businesses and people on-side. And bear in mind, some people will just be anti-tram whatever happens, although once they’re up and running that can change completely!” Nice in the south of France and Ireland’s capital, Dublin are both good examples of this particular phenomenon.

“But probably the most important point, to me, is the contract – communication between contractor and client – and to get all-party support if possible. Manchester didn’t face anything like the challenges we’ve had to because they had backing from all sides from the outset.”

* Edinburgh City Council financed the additional funds through a loan it will pay interest on for the next 30 years. Taking into account this interest, the total cost of the tram project is estimated to be nearer £1 billion.

Written by Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
June 10, 2014 12:04 pm
Posted In Rail

New designs revealed for UK Overhead Line Structures

The rail industry’s FutureRailway, in conjunction with HS2 Ltd and the RIBA, invited architects, engineers and designers worldwide to submit new, aesthetically pleasing designs for the gantry and cantilever structures on the UK rail network.

62 entries were received from 14 different countries by the 4 February deadline and the Judging Panel met on 11 February to select a shortlist for the next stage.

Ten designs have been identified for the shortlist and the teams in alphabetical order are:

  • Bystrup Architecture, Design and Engineering, Denmark (with two designs shortlisted)
  • COBE, Denmark
  • Grimshaw
  • Gorton, Paul, Scheuvens + ARUP
  • IDOM UK Ltd with Alan Baxter & Associates and SEMI
  • Lariko/Urbanski
  • Moxon Architects
  • PWA
  • Ramboll UK

The ten shortlisted designs will be revealed at an exhibition at the National Railway Museum in York and on the competition website from 1 April 2014 (today).

Interviews will be held with the ten teams on the 6 & 7 May with up to four designs then selected and the names revealed at a press event to be held at the National Railway Museum on the evening of the 7 May 2014.

Up to £150,000 per design will be available to develop the selected designs further by undertaking detailed technical and mathematical modelling and considering the route to market.

Written By admin 
April 01, 2014 14:49 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Rotterdam Centraal Station: New transport hub for Europe

Rotterdam Centraal Station is the first in a series of new and larger stations in the Netherlands, which are part of the largest railway stations development and innovation since the creation of the Dutch railways, 175 years ago.

Every day 110,000 people pass through the station area making it an important transport hub where rail, metro, bus, tram, bicycle and taxi merge together. With an expectation of more than 320,000 passengers per day in 2025 due to the HSL and light rail the station had to be expanded and prepared for international rail passenger.


The new station is more spacious, visually enhanced by a large glass window with direct views of the city, tram and bus station. A large proportion of the 250m-long roof structure is transparent and more than a third of the entire roof features solar cells, estimated to generate 320 megawatts per annum.

Rotterdam Central Station

The 18 track platforms are accessible via a 50m wide passage under the tracks on either side of commercial facilities. The station also houses another 4,000m2 of offices. The north side that faces the Provenierswijk neighbourhood features an entrance where the public area flows seamlessly into the station and the existing tunnel has been retained, further connecting the station to the port.

Before the construction of the new station could start a temporary station had to be completed with a replacement station, temporary bicycle storage and a new passenger bridge built over the tracks. The existing western bicycle tunnel was converted into a temporary passenger tunnel. Existing concourses also had to be demolished.

A statement from the design team (Benthem Crouwel Architects, MVSA Meyer and Van Schooten Architecten, and West 8) reads: “The city of Rotterdam is drawn to the new station via the compaction of the small-scale urban texture surrounding the public transport terminal. The entire railway zone becomes one with the city. This finer urban texture with new sightlines and a mixture of living and working will dramatically improve the quality of life and the environment of the station area.”

480_Rotterdam_Centraal_N105_Team CS

From the start in 2004, ARCADIS for this project all engineering and technical advice for ProRail. This involved the whole process of feasibility studies, structural, installation and rail design, integrated design coordination, contracting to construction management. ARCADIS worked together with other parties such as design TEAM CS, the consortium BTRC and the Engineering Public Works Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Central Station

Written By admin 
March 26, 2014 13:00 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Balfour Beatty/Jardine Matheson joint venture Gammon Construction wins £100 million (S$210 million) Singapore contract


Gammon Construction Limited, a joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Jardine Matheson has been awarded a £100 million (S$210 million) contract by the Singapore Land Transport Authority for the construction of Havelock Station for the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore. Work is due to start in the first quarter of 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Havelock Station is in close proximity to residential housing estates and commercial buildings and is on the Thomson Line – a fully underground, 30-km long line comprising 22 stations linking the North-South-East-West Line (NSEWL), Downtown Line (DTL), North-East Line (NEL) and Circle Line (CCL), providing greater accessibility and significantly improving travel time for the local community.

This is the second contract awarded to Gammon Construction for the Thomson Line, following the award of the contact for the design and construction of the Mayflower Station in 2013.

Commenting on the contract award, Andrew McNaughton, Chief Executive of Balfour Beatty said: “Rail is a key focus for Balfour Beatty and I am very pleased that we are announcing another prestigious contract for Gammon in Singapore. Balfour Beatty has considerable expertise in rail infrastructure and this contract adds to our significant wins in Denver USA and Melbourne, Australia in 2013.”

Written By admin 
March 25, 2014 09:48 am
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Atkins wins railroad construction management contract in Texas


Atkins has been awarded a construction management services contract by the Fort Worth & Western Railroad (FWWR) to provide on-site personnel to oversee safety and minimise the effects of a multibillion dollar expansion project undertaken by North Tarrant Express to relieve congestion, improve safety and provide for anticipated traffic growth in one of the country’s fastest developing regions.

Jon McDonald, Atkins’ transit and rail business sector manager, said: “This contract demonstrates a growing need in the freight rail industry for our technical expertise in both the freight rail and highway industries. Atkins will support FWWR with engineering, environmental and inspection services throughout its rail system in north central Texas.”

FWWR will be affected by the bridges and other structures being built on and near its facilities, and Atkins will review construction submittals and requests for information. FWWR is a short line freight railroad that operates 276 miles of track through eight counties in north central Texas. It serves more than 100 customers and moves more than 36,000 carloads annually.

Atkins is a national leader in the US, having provided decades of construction management, contract support, operations and maintenance, planning, programming, production and design services for transit and rail agencies US-wide.


Written By admin 
March 19, 2014 15:30 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Massive rail investment to benefit millions of Victorians

The multi-billion dollar program to transform the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines will deliver a 30 per cent capacity boost for one of Melbourne’s busiest rail corridors.

Dr Napthine said the project would deliver:

  • 25 new next generation, high-capacity trains;
  • 21st century high-capacity signalling on the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines – one of the first uses of this technology in Australia that will enable more trains to run, more often;
  • four level crossing removals at Murrumbeena Road, Murrumbeena; Koornang Road, Carnegie; Clayton Road, Clayton; and Centre Road, Clayton;
  • planning and preconstruction funding to remove a further five level crossings;
  • newly-rebuilt stations at Clayton, Murrumbeena and Carnegie; and
  • a new train maintenance depot at Pakenham East, which will create local jobs.

Dr Napthine said the project was another significant win for public transport that would see the number of trains running every peak hour increase to a total of 18 services.

“This significant investment in next generation technology will give us high capacity trains that can carry more passengers and high capacity signaling that will allow trains to run more frequently,” Dr Napthine said.

“With more trains running more often, that’s an extra 4,500 people in the peak hour who can get where they need to go as quickly as possible.

“This initiative will cater for an additional two million passengers per year to meet growing demand.”

Dr Napthine said Melbourne’s south east was one of the fastest growing employment and population centres in Melbourne.

“The Pakenham and Cranbourne rail corridor serves one in 10 Melburnians and by delivering this project we will provide a more frequent and reliable journey for passengers on both the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines,” Dr Napthine said.

“V/Line Gippsland commuters will also benefit from a more reliable journey with new signalling providing a smoother journey through the metropolitan area.”

With the $4.8 billion Regional Rail Link project currently underway and progressing well, the Coalition Government is delivering better services for V/Line passengers in western Victoria and providing increased capacity for metropolitan services in the western and northwestern suburbs.

The project announced today is a further stage in the Coalition Government’s vision to provide a 21st century rail service with increased and improved services for eastern Victoria and the southeastern suburbs.

Dr Napthine said the multi-billion dollar transformation of the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines would be delivered by MTR, with John Holland Construction and UGL Rail Services, with construction starting in 2015 and concluding in 2019.

More than 3,000 jobs will be created during the five-year construction phase.

“This project is the first under the Government’s new unsolicited proposals process, which is designed to harness the innovation of the private sector and hasten the delivery of better infrastructure and services to Victorians at the best possible price,” Dr Napthine said.

“It is clear that Victoria is open for business and the Government will continue to encourage the private sector to be part of our efforts to Build a Better Victoria with infrastructure like the transformation of the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines.

“This innovative proposal will deliver significant value for money for taxpayers and allows us to bring forward this investment.”

The Minister for Public Transport and Roads Terry Mulder said the project would also improve traffic flow and safety through the removal of four level crossings.

“This project will remove bottlenecks on our road networks and dramatically improve travel times and productivity for motorists, particularly those who travel on our public bus system,” Mr Mulder said.

“There are more than six million bus travellers on eight different routes that will benefit from the removal of these four level crossings.

“With these boom gates gone, these bus services will be more reliable, more efficient and will also increase in frequency.”

A further five level crossings have been allocated planning and preconstruction funding for future removal at Corrigan, Heatherton and Chandler Roads in Noble Park; Grange Road, Carnegie; and Poath Road, Murrumbeena.

The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to building better transport through the $4.8 billion Regional Rail Link, the $6-8 billion East West Link and hundreds of other Moving Victoria projects.


Written By admin 
March 06, 2014 12:07 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Poland’s first underground railway interchange


At a ceremony on 14 February, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Willa Parkowa opened the refurbished Kraków central station by Polskie Koleje Państwowe SA (PKP SA) Polish State Railways, Inc. It is located under the surface of the platforms and is one of the most modern hubs in Poland.

The new station in Krakow railway integrates local, long distance, bus station and public transport. The total surface area is 12,630.39 m2. The investment cost amounted to over 130 million zł gross and was co-financed from EU funds under the Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment.

The complex comprises a total of four levels – two above and two below ground. Passengers access the 5 platforms, via 10 elevators and 15 escalators. The building is fully accessible for people with disabilities.

Krakow station is another investment on such a large scale, realised through the EU co-financing. This demonstrates the ability to efficiently use these resources. Through the Infrastructure and Environment priming also modernised stations in Gdynia and Wroclaw. Further projects are being prepared.

Elizabeth Bieńkowska , Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Infrastructure and Development. said: “I’m counting on the fact that an increasing number of facilities in Poland will be implemented like here in Krakow”.

The complex is located in Krakow’s commercial zone with dozens of different shops and dining options with a total surface of 3.830 m2. The focal point and showcase of the station is built in 1996, a six-foot, cast-iron globe, which originally stood at the level of the platforms.

Written By admin 
February 19, 2014 16:09 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

В 2014 году на реализацию проекта реконструкции и развития Малого кольца Московской железной дороги будет направлено 16 млрд рублей.

В 2013 году были развернуты работы по реконструкции 19 искусственных сооружений, формированию 6 остановочных пунктов (Лужники, Площадь Гагарина, Новопесчаная, Коптево, Открытое шоссе, Белокаменная), выполнена реконструкция и укладка 53 км верхнего строения пути, установка 1158 опор контактной сети, технологическое присоединение к сетям электроснабжения (27 км), переустройство 166 инженерных коммуникаций.

Также завершена реконструкция станций Пресня и Канатчиково в части переустройства верхнего строения пути, систем сигнализации, централизации и блокировки, устройства контактной сети.

Всего на реализацию проекта в 2013 году было направлено 16,85 млрд рублей.

В 2014 году в рамках лимита капитальных вложений (16,04 млрд рублей) планируется реконструкция 95 км верхнего строения пути, установка 3101 опоры контактной сети, реконструкция 225 км линий сигнализации централизации и блокировки, а также 64 км линий связи. Кроме того, будут развернуты работы по реконструкции 11 искусственных сооружений, строительству 15 остановочных пунктов, сооружению 108 км шумозащитных экранов.

Цель проекта – гармоничное развитие транспортной инфраструктуры железнодорожного транспорта и внутригородских пассажирских перевозок, а также сопутствующих и дополнительных видов бизнеса. В Москве появятся новые точки экономического роста, будет создано более 10,4 тыс. современных рабочих мест, в том числе около 4 тыс. будут заняты в перевозках пассажиров.

В рамках реализации проекта МК МЖД планируется электрификация кольца со строительством 2-х новых и реконструкцией 3-х существующих тяговых подстанций, строительство 38 км третьего главного железнодорожного пути, строительство и реконструкция новых искусственных сооружений, возведение 31 остановочного пункта.

За счет электрификации Малого кольца Московской железной дороги значительно улучшится экологическая обстановка в городе и повысится привлекательность территорий зоны тяготения.

В соответствии с актуализированными прогнозируемыми ГУП “НИиПИ Генплана Москвы” пассажиропотоками, предусматривается организация тактового пассажирского движения с размерами 100 пар электропоездов в сутки на двух выделенных путях МК МЖД.

В результате этого у москвичей появится более 350 возможных вариантов пересадок при перемещении по городу, существенно уменьшится нагрузка на центральную часть столицы.

Городская железнодорожная система обеспечит освоение “пиковых” пассажиропотоков при интервалах движения до 6 минут. Все грузовое и технологическое движение выводится на вновь строящийся третий путь.

С начала реализации проекта (2011 год) направлено 23 млрд рублей. Окончание строительства запланировано на 2015 год.

English translation:

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Written By admin 
February 11, 2014 16:30 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Bombardier wins £1bn Crossrail deal


Bombardier today confirmed that it has been notified by Transport for London (TfL) and The Department for Transport (DfT) of their intention to award a contract to deliver rolling stock and a new depot for Crossrail.

The intended contract between TfL and Bombardier covers the supply, delivery and maintenance of 65 new trains and a depot at Old Oak Common. The contract award is subject to a 10 day standstill period.

Dr. Francis Paonessa, Managing Director, Bombardier Transportation UK, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been recommended as the winning bidder for the Crossrail rolling stock and depot contract and look forward to closing the contract with the customer.

This is a resounding endorsement of our proposed BOMBARDIER AVENTRA train for Crossrail, which has proudly been designed and developed in the UK as an iconic and world-technology leading train for London.

Today’s decision is a credit to the efforts of our entire workforce in the UK, including our 1,600 strong Derby-based design, engineering and manufacturing team who form a global centre of excellence for the rail industry, as well as our outstanding maintenance teams who support train operators right across the country and particularly in London as demonstrated during the London 2012 Olympics.”

Written By admin 
February 06, 2014 15:17 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT