Category Archives: Rail

UK Storm causes rail devastation in Dawlish

Dawlish ITV News West Country

The railway between Exeter and Penzance is shut after damage at several locations caused by strong winds, heavy seas and flooding as storms continue to batter the UK and the South West of England in particular.

In a press release, Network Rail stated the following,

‘On the coast at Dawlish, around 80m of both tracks has been severely damaged by the sea, washing away ballast and the foundations on which the track is built. There is also severe damage to the sea wall and the track and platforms at Dawlish station.

We’re on site at a number of locations in the south west of England and are making repairs where the weather conditions permit. It is hoped that these repairs will enable some services on the main line between Plymouth and Penzance to resume today 5 February 2014, however the line between Exeter and Plymouth will remain closed until further notice because of the damage at Dawlish.

We’ll carry out an initial assessment of the damage at Dawlish as soon as the weather subsides to help us identify the extent and scope of repairs required to enable trains to run safely.’

Before setting off, check with your train operator or National Rail Enquiries for the latest information on how the weather is impacting rail journeys .’

Patrick Hallgate, Route Managing Director at Network Rail was interviewed on BBC News today stating ‘it’s very difficult with the high tide to give a full assessment of the works. Off the tops of our heads we’d have to say between four and six weeks’ worth of work but there’s damage in three of four separate locations and until we can get in and do a proper structural assessment, it really is too early to say.

I’d say this is probably the biggest structural engineering feat we’ve faced in the South West for at least the last decade. The local teams working here have said that this is the worst damage they have seen in their careers to the sea wall but obviously we are absolutely keen to  make sure that as quickly as possible we can restore this for the community of Dawlish.’

Jim Davis

Written By admin 
February 05, 2014 17:04 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Sochi 2014 Infrastructure


When the Opening Ceremony begins at the Winter Olympics & Paralympics in Sochi it would have already faced numerous challenges, not only in the political spectrum but also in the complex matter of providing infrastructure for the vast amounts of athletes, spectators and journalists that will be arriving in Russia for Friday. Especially in the harsh climate befitting such Games.

It is claimed that the Winter Olympics will be the most advanced ever in terms of technology to connectivity. People arriving by Aeroflot have already been promised WiFi connectivity on some flights

As far as overland is concerned, Russian Railways are building the key transport route of the Sochi games — a combined road and railway line between Adler and the Alpica-Service mountain health resort.

From the resort, it will be possible to get to the Sanki Sliding Center and other Olympic facilities. The line stretches for 30 miles, passing through 12 tunnels and over 46 bridges. The combined length of roads built for the project exceeds 80 miles.

Another new railway line will connect the centre of Sochi and the local airport. Estimated travel time will be under one hour. The line will be served by Lastochka trains. This new type of electric locomotive, based on the Siemens Desiro design, has been developed for commuter transportation in the Russian environment, under both humid and icing conditions. Furthermore, these units will be the first trains in Russia to have wheelchair lifts fitted. In fact, all Russian Railways facilities in Sochi have been built or retrofitted to provide step free access.

Special care has been taken to ensure uninterrupted mobile and Internet connectivity at peak times with over 700 new 2G/3G/4G cell towers now in place.

Sochi 2014 will be the first Olympic Games to offer 4G connectivity at a speed of 10 MB/sec. Subscribers to other operators will be able to access roaming services through the settings menu of their mobile devices.

The entire Olympics transportation and telecom infrastructure will be preserved in and around Sochi after the Games, not least for Sochi’s role as a host city in the FIFA World Cup 2018, turning this resort area into one of the most technologically advanced and developed regions in Russia. Many of the innovations being tried and tested in Sochi will then be rolled out elsewhere across Russia.

Jim Davis

Written By admin 
February 04, 2014 10:54 am
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Network Rail chooses suppliers to deliver £2bn programme to electrify railway across Britain

displaymedia copy

Four suppliers have been appointed by Network Rail to deliver a £2bn programme to electrify more than two thousand miles of Britain’s railway over the next seven years, providing faster, quieter, greener and more reliable journeys for passengers and freight users and cutting the cost of the railway.

The successful bidders – Balfour Beatty, AmeyInabensa, CarillionPowerlines and ABC Electrification – will work with Network Rail to plan and deliver a range of schemes which will see key routes in England, Wales and Scotland electrified for the first time.

Once electrification schemes including the Great Western and Midland main lines, Liverpool to Manchester and Preston, the Valley lines in south Wales and the ‘electric spine’ from Southampton docks to the West Midlands and Yorkshire are complete, more than half Britain’s rail network will be electrified with electric trains accounting for three-quarters of all traffic.

Simon Kirby, managing director of Network Rail’s infrastructure projects division, said: “Our work to electrify two thousand track miles represents the biggest programme of rail electrification in a generation and will provide faster, quieter and more reliable journeys for millions of passengers every week while cutting the cost of the railway.

“Thanks to a firm commitment from government to invest in electrification schemes across the country, we are transforming the railway and providing Britain with a sustainable, world-class transport system that is fit for the future. To deliver this work in the safest and most efficient way possible, we need to make the most of the huge potential within our supply chain.”

Six geographic framework contracts have been awarded, with each having a defined workbank of schemes to be delivered. This approach has been endorsed by the supply chain and industry groups such as the Railway Industry Association. Continue reading

Written By admin 
February 04, 2014 09:45 am
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Borders Railway prepares for installation of longest new bridge


The £200m Borders Railway project in Scotland is preparing for one of its most significant construction milestones to date as the longest bridge to be built from scratch is installed at Hardengreen roundabout near Eskbank, just south of the Edinburgh Bypass.

The installation will see a 1200 tonne crane used to hoist the bridge’s four beams into place, each weighing 107 tonnes; the equivalent to around 55 cars. A 30-strong construction team will work around the clock during the road closures to install the bridge beams and create the new bridge deck.

The preparation works at Hardengreen Roundabout started in September 2013 saw the project’s main contractors, BAM, carry out extensive piling works and construction of bridge abutments.

Hugh Wark, project director, Network Rail, said: “The installation of this new bridge structure is a major construction milestone for the team. Not only will it transform the visual impact of the landscape and connect the railway from north to south but it is the longest bridge to be built from scratch along the new route.”

Transport for London awards key rail infrastructure project to Laing O’Rourke

Willesden CGI

Transport for London has awarded a key rail infrastructure contract to Laing O’Rourke for the capacity upgrades of operational railway facilities at Willesden, in North West London.

The major infrastructure project, part of the London Overground Capacity Improvement Programme (LOCIP), will see capacity upgrades associated with the rail maintenance and stabling facilities in the Willesden area, in addition to platform extensions and a major rail junction remodeling to Willesden low level to enable increased train lengths from four to five cars to be implemented.

The £22m contract represents the first multi-disciplinary rail infrastructure win for Laing O’Rourke in the UK, and will see the company self delivering a broad package of track, overhead line and third rail electrification, depot M&E and signaling upgrades.

“Our various rail discipline teams worked together seamlessly during the Willesden bid to ensure the project challenges were thoroughly understood and most appropriate delivery solutions developed,” said Laing O’Rourke Project Leader Paul Taylor MBE. “This project, like many rail projects, has specific challenges associated with the limited access to the tracks, amplified further at Willesden with upgrades works being delivered in and around an operational maintenance depot. Our construction smarts and approach to staging that minimizes schedule risks were key attributes to securing this important project.”

“London Overground has seen great success in recent years with passenger numbers doubling since 2008 with a forecast to increase even more by 2021,” said Laing O’Rourke Rail Infrastructure Operations Leader Nick Sarai. “Willesden is a key project for TfL in providing additional services in response to this predicted growth and we are delighted to have been selected for delivering these works. This project has seen elements of our complete Unique Business Offering, through digital engineering, DfMA and direct delivery which were greatly received by the client and provided the competitive advantage to our bid. We’ll be working closely with the TfL team over the next few months to further develop this offering and ensure the benefits of direct delivery established across our other sectors have a huge impact in the rail sector.”

TfL’s Director of London Overground, Mike Stubbs, said: “This is a key contract in the development of the network as we work to provide 25 per cent more capacity as part of TfL’s continued investment in London Overground. It will ensure we remain able to meet the growing demand for London Overground services which – at 89 per cent – have one of the highest levels of passenger satisfaction in London and the South East.”

Laing O’Rourke recently began pre-construction development work with Network Rail as part of the £250m Staffordshire Alliance, which will deliver significant upgrades to the UK’s West Coast Mail Line between Stafford and Crewe. This was the first major rail infrastructure to be awarded under Network Rail’s revised procurement model, with the partners, Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Network Rail, all working together in an integrated single-team structure.

“We have shown that we have the skills, passion, innovation and ability to deliver significant rail projects across the world, but naturally we’re delighted to secure our first multi-disciplinary win in the UK,” said Arith Liyanage, Laing O’Rourke Rail Sector Leader. “Laing O’Rourke’s approach integrates the latest digital engineering and off-site manufacturing capabilities with our direct delivery model, which will bring great efficiency and an improved safety culture to the industry.”


Written By admin 
January 30, 2014 13:46 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT

Aéroports de Paris welcomes the revival of CDG Express project by the Minister of Transport

Frédéric Cuvillier, French Minister for Transport and the Maritime Economy, said in the
presence of Augustin de Romanet, Chairman and CEO of Aéroports of Paris, during his
visit at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, that the CDG Express project had been revived
through the creation of a research company that will bring together the French state, RFF
(owner and manager of the French railway infrastructure network) and Aéroports de Paris.

The CDG Express project involves the construction of a dedicated non-stop rail link
between the centre of Paris and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, which should strengthen
the attractiveness of the airport and, thus, France.

The research firm will aim at ensuring the feasibility and the technical, legal and financial
viability of the CDG Express link.

Augustin de Romanet, Chairman and CEO of Aéroports de Paris said:
“I welcome the commitment of the government and the personal commitment of Frédéric
Cuvillier which will today allow the CDG Express project to enter a new study phase, giving
this non-stop link every chance of seeing the light of day. This is a priority project in terms
of quality of service for passengers and competitiveness for Paris-Charles de Gaulle

That is why as soon as I took up my duties at the head of Aéroports de Paris, I ensured
Aéroports de Paris’ commitment to the success of this project.”

CERT and Thales sign MoU to set up UAE Rail Academy

The Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT) and Thales have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which aims at establishing a Rail Academy in the United Arab Emirates.

This cooperation between CERT and Thales is in line with the UAE Government strategy to develop and sustain national assets and human capital in the UAE’s high-tech industry fields.

The Rail Academy will be dedicated to the creation and deployment of high-level professional and academic training programmes to support the UAE’s main line rail and urban transport developments.

This MoU adds to an already long-term partnership initiated in 1999 between Thales and HCT/CERT when both companies set up the Joint Venture CERT Thales Institute, providing technical training solutions in the UAE in the domain of defence. Now that the UAE is significantly expanding its railway networks, the need for providing talented Emirati experts, with both professional and academic training in various railways fields, has arisen.

Dr. Tayeb Kamali, Group Chief Executive of CERT Group of companies, said: “Whilst contributing to the UAE Railway initiative, this cooperation will greatly help to develop a new generation of highly skilled UAE nationals ready to serve the long-term development and strategic goals of the UAE and the Gulf region. Our significant partnership with Thales enables CERT to extend its provision of world-class professional and academic programmes to future managers, technicians and engineers, while benefiting from Thales’s unique experience in delivering turnkey solutions.”

Thibaut Trancart, Thales country director for UAE, added: “Our partnership with CERT is a key milestone for genuine local empowerment in the railway field. We offer recognised turnkey training solutions from design, development, implementation, up to leadership coaching and support to operations for large-scale technical academies and institutes. This new partnership with CERT will definitely support the development of the railway industry in the UAE and add value in the Emirati training & education market”.

Thales has a wealth of experience in knowledge transfer across all its areas of expertise, with a strong presence in the Middle East. Over the past 35 years, in the UAE Thales has provided training for over 5,000 professionals. With this latest MoU, Thales, through its in-house university training organisation, is further extending its involvement in human capital development.

Written By admin 
January 24, 2014 13:24 pm
Posted In Business, Rail

Leipzig’s Gain after the Pain

© Andreas Schmidt

© Andreas Schmidt

After more than ten years since ground breaking, the Leipzig City Tunnel officially opened to rail traffic on 15 December, providing a vital link for S-Bahn trains between the north and south of the city via the central Hauptbahnhof Station. The project was complex; two tunnel bores, each measuring 1.4 km in length had to be built in difficult subsoil conditions at a depth of up to 16m beneath the city centre. Four underground and two above ground stations were also constructed.

The location of the construction site not only made it difficult to master the site installations and material deliveries for the completion of the stations; the necessary transport and assembly technologies and procedures also had to be individually developed and selected for each station – the reason being lack of space. All lower escalator sections had to be delivered before the start of construction on the stations, as there would not have been enough space once the facades were complete. In addition to all the spatial challenges, it was also necessary to work without interruptions to rail traffic, especially in and around Hauptbahnhof Station.

Such a connection in Leipzig has been under consideration for over a century with passengers until now having to circumvent the city to travel north-south in a very time consuming process. The construction of the City Tunnel has been very time and money consuming going beyond programme and budget by a considerable margin. However, with travel time on some routes being reduced by up to 40 minutes and new stations, each designed by different architects wanting to leave a strong aesthetic and functional mark on such an important scheme, the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is especially applicable to the immense challenges and rewards faced in this project.

Jim Davis


Written By admin 
December 23, 2013 16:47 pm
Posted In Rail, Tunnel

Smarter Mobility: an evening of debate hosted by Intelligence Squared

Smarter Mobility_Web Res-191

This debate, held at The Royal Institute of Great Britain and supported by Shell, aimed address the question of delivering smarter mobility options in ever-increasingly congested megacities, such as Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. Leading the line were five of the field’s most innovative thinkers, brought together in an effort to sketch out the future of smart mobility, and was chaired by Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).


Professor Paul Newman
A Professor of Engineering and leader of the Mobile Robotics Group at the University of Oxford, Professor Newman is an expert in driverless vehicle technology. He argued that, while the growth of driverless technology was inevitable, it will not occur overnight. Rather, the proliferation of autonomous vehicles will be a gradual progression. Key to this, Professor Newman stated, was the ability of vehicles to interpret their surroundings and learn without the help of external inputs such as GPS.

Robin Chase
Founder and CEO of Buzzcar, as well as co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, Robin is a pioneer in the car-sharing marketplace. Focusing on the potential benefits of a city fully embracing car-sharing schemes, Robin observed that the development of car-sharing schemes would reduce the number of vehicles on the road, highlighting the vast majority of time personally owned cars spend parked and unused. This development also spells the proposition of the most functional, appropriate vehicles being made available to users at opportune times.

Jerry Saunders
Jerry is the CEO of Skytran, a company developing a rapid transit system that utilises maglev technology. Skytran, a NASA Space Act Company, has initially been developing this system for Tel Aviv. Skytran’s transportation pods run along tracks fitted above street level, and can travel at speeds of 100-200 kmph. Skytran will be capable of taking up to 11,500 passengers per hour on each guideline, with each pod using only one third of the energy of a hybrid car. When questioned on the greatest challenge facing this ambitious project, Jerry responded that it was not technological or developmental, but rather obstacles created by governments unable to fully understand and categorise this transportation alternative.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie
Ben is an urban designer and one of the leading proponents of the idea of ‘shared space’, a proposed solution to city congestion that involves the removal of street furniture and traffic controls. This low-tech and cheap congestion solution will increase road safety and vehicle flow by increasing user awareness of fellow users sharing the space around them, Ben argued.

David Rowan
The final speaker, David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of WIRED, attempted to tie together the various solutions proposed today. Key to David’s final messsage was the requirement of societies to reduce their fixation on personal ownership and embrace the idea of collective information, resources and ownership in the pursuit of smarter mobility.


The event concluded with a Q&A during which concerns raised by the audience focused on issues such as the transportation of goods, and what driverless cars and car-sharing schemes meant for those holding a passion for vehicles themselves. The first concern was met with a general consensus that there remains a considerable way to go in the development of goods transportation systems, especially within cities themselves. The second issue was handled by Professor Newman, who, reiterating an earlier point, argued that technology exists to provide its users with choices, and that an individual wishing to continue driving their own car will be free to do so.

Alexander Malden

A new link for Asia and Europe as Turkey’s tunnel under the Bosphorus opens

Turkey Bosphorus tunnel

Tuesday 29th October 2013 has seen the inaugural opening of a new rail tunnel under the Bosphorus linking the Asian and European sides of Turkey’s capital, Istanbul. The 8.5 km tunnel is the first phase of what will eventually be the 76 km-long Marmaray rail transportation project from Gebze to Halkalı. Japan has provided $1 billion of Marmaray’s overall cost of $4 billion.

The tunnel aims to ease the infamous daily traffic jams on the two bridges that currently span the Bosphorus. It will carry up to 150,000 passengers per hour, with trains arriving as often as every 2 minutes. It is also hoped that the tunnel will one day enable the creation of a major new trade route between London and Beijing via Istanbul.

At some 60m below sea level, the 1.4 km immersed section of the tube tunnel is claimed to be the deepest in the world. Fire-resistant concrete developed in Norway was crucial for the safety of the project.

Furthermore, the tunnel lies just 18 km or so from the active North Anatolian Fault, which has posed great challenges for engineers and seismologists. The result is a tunnel now built to withstand earthquakes of up to 7.5. Its walls are made of waterproof concrete coated with a steel shell, each independently watertight. The tunnel will flex and bend much in the same way tall buildings are built to withstand earthquakes.

Heading up engineering services on the project is Avrasyaconsult, an international team made up of three partners from Japan – Pacific Consultants International, Oriental Consultants, and JARTS – and one local partner, Yüksel Proje Uluslararası. In addition, Parsons Brinckerhoff International is providing special expertise in immersed tunnels to the team, with Turkish firms TMM and SIAL advising on geotechnical engineering. New rolling stock is being supplied by Korean firm, Hyundai Rotem.

The idea was originally conceived in 1860 by Ottoman sultan, Abdoul Medjid, but was thwarted by lack of engineering know-how. Construction finally started back in 2004 but long delays have been caused by major archaeological finds. These include examples of Byzantine ships, and traces of the city wall of Constantine the Great.

Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
October 29, 2013 15:46 pm
Posted In Rail, TRANSPORT