News from Asia

27 March 2017

TURKEY   Siemens Velaro high-speed trains have been introduced on the Ankara – Konya       high-speed route.   The service provided has been increased from 7 return trips to 10 taking around two hours for the journey.    The earlier CAF trains are now concentrated on the two other high-speed routes from Ankara.   Eskisehir is reached in one hour 40 minutes six times per day (formerly five daily services).    The important route to Istanbul takes four hours with seven trips daily (formerly six).   This route faces intense competition from very frequent buses and also quite frequent air services.     The new trains can accommodate 45 Business Class passengers plus those booking one of the three 4-seat private rooms.    There are 424 economy class seats per train.

23 February 2017

CHINA   An alarming incident occurred at 1914 on 09 February 2017 at Tsim Sha Tsui station on the Tsuen Wan Line of the Hong Kong Mass Transit System.    A passenger ignited a petrol bomb and the train started to fill with acrid smoke.    The driver ordered that all passengers leave the train (there were about 2000 passengers on board) and the fire service soon had a fire inside one coach under control. Tsim Sha Tsui station remained closed on the next day while anti-terrorism police investigated the circumstances and there were considerable delays on the Tsuen Wan Line during the next day.   The passenger who ignited the petrol bomb was taken to hospital with severe burns and the incident may in fact have been a suicide attempt rather than a terrorism incident.

INDIA   Indian Railways are seeking a speed-up for services along the 245km long Delhi – Chandigarh corridor.    Both the French and Spanish railway industries have offered to help with planning the necessary track upgrade work to permit speeds of 160, 180, or 220km/hour speeds.
At present there are three Shatabdi express services daily between the cities but when higher speeds are achieved there could be as many as twelve very fast services each way daily by 2030.

10 February 2017

CHINA    With the opening on 28 December 2016 of the high-speed line between Kunming and Guiyang the 2252 km long line between Shanghai and Kunming was completed.   This is just one of a network of high-speed lines being built across the nation    This is one of four east – west routes and there are a further four north – south routes.     On 26 December 2016 a new section of Intercity railway was opened from Changsha to both Zhuzhou and Xiangtan.   Trains will run at speeds of up to 160 km/hour initially but after the track has bedded in properly a speed limit of 200 km/hour will be allowed.

SOUTH  KOREA   Hyundai-Rotem has secured an order to supply 84 EMU-250 emus for use on a number of cross-country routes on which speeds are limited to 200 km/hour.

JAPAN   The route for an extension of the Hokuriko Shinkansen was agreed by the Government on 20 December 2016.   The line will run from Tsuruga to Shin-Osaka via Obama and Kyoto.   The last part of the extension will duplicate the Tokaido Shinkansen.   In Tokyo the Hibiya Metro Line is to receive forty two seven-car trains that are being built by Kinki Sharyo.

INDIA   The Delhi Metro is to be expanded with 103 route km of route and 72 new stations in three new lines.   Work has begun on two new Metro lines in Mumbai and one in Pune.   The government is looking at the development of suburban railway services in several cities where the heavy rail lines do not generally carry many short distance commuters.   Only in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, and Chennai are there significant heavy rail suburban networks.

TURKEY   Bursa is the fourth largest city in Turkey with a population nearing 2.5m.   Situated just south of Istanbul the city has an east – west Metro and a circular single track tramway running round the city centre.    Two of the twelve stops connect with the Metro.   The fourteen  5-section LRVs were built by the Turkish form Durmaray and the line was opened on 12 October 2013.   The city is a popular holiday destination with ski resorts just to the south but until now its only railway service has been by a secondary branch line.      A 105km long high-speed branch from the Istanbul – Ankara high-speed railway is nearing completion and will give a running time of around two hours 10 minutes to Ankara.    The railway route to Istanbul will be somewhat roundabout and the time from Bursa to there will be two hours 15 minutes – beatable by fast buses running 250 times per day and taking more direct roads.    The trains will operate at 250km/hour.     The high-speed station will be in the northern suburbs and the tramway is being extended to provide a link with the city centre.

28 January 2017

INDIA    The Hirakhand Express, between Jagdalpur and Bhubaneswar was deliberately derailed in the Vizianagaram area of Andra Pradesh on 23 January 2017.     Saboteurs had cut through the rails to ensure that the train would crash.   41 passengers were killed.       This is the third significant  derailment since November 2016.

CHINA – TAIWAN   Alstom has achieved a break through in the LRV market securing an order for fifteen Citadis LRVs for phase two of the Kaohsiung tramway project.    Phase two is for 13.4km of route with 23 stops and added to phase one will result in a route curving through the suburbs 22.1 km long with 37 stops.    The line will connect with the Red and Orange Mass Transit lines.    The LRVs will be manufactured at Alstom’s La Rochelle factory in France.

10 December 2016

TURKEY    The new city centre station in Ankara for high-speed trains was opened on 29 October 2016.    It is situated immediately alongside the existing city centre station which remains a busy hub for conventional passenger services and commuter services.   The new high-speed station has three island platforms serving six running lines.

INDIA    Work began on 21 October 2016 on the construction of Line 3 of the Mumbai Metro.   Test running began on the Lucknow Metro on 01 December 2016.    The trains are being built at Alstom Transport India’s factory at Sri City.    Twenty 4-car trains are being built.     Alstom has contracted with ABB for the supply of 1600 traction transformers for the 800 Prima India locomotives that are being built for service across much of the national rail network.

CHINA – HONG  KONG    A two stop 2.6km long extension of the Kwun Tong Line from Yau Ma Tei to Ho Man Tin was opened on 23 October 2016.    There is severe road congestion in the area and the Metro will link the communities in just five minutes compared with 20 minutes by bus.

25 November 2016

THAILAND / MALAYSIA   Planning is under way for a proposed high-speed railway linking the capitals, Bangkok of Thailand and Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia.    Trains would take about six hours and could connect with another planned high-speed route from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

22 September 2016

CHINA –  METROS:  The construction of new Metro lines in cities across the nation continues at a remarkable rate.   In Qingdao 181.7 route km is to be built – made up of five new lines.     40% of the cost will come from Central Government sources.     In Chegdu five Metro lines totalling 124.2 route km will be added to the existing extensive system bring it to a grand total length of 508 km in 2020.  Finally  in Guiyang four lines are to be extended by a total of 114 route km by 2022.    The local province is to fund 30% of the cost.    Services on all of these lines will be worked by 6-car metro-trains.

CHINA  –  HEAVY  RAIL:     The signalling along the long railway to Lhasa is being upgraded to allow more frequent services to operate.

SOUTH  KOREA   Line 2 of the Metro in Incheon, the port city adjacent to Seoul, was opened on 30 July 2016.  It is 29.1 km long and there are 27 stations.   It connects with the Seoul Metro and the Seoul Airport Link line.

11 August 2016

PHILIPPINES   Korail, the South Korean national rail operator is to provide consultancy services for the design of Manila’s new Metro Line 7 between Quezon City and Bulacan.   The 22.8 km long line will have 14 stations and is planned to open in April 2020.

29 July 2016

INDIA    Trials commenced on 29 May 2016 on the Bareilly – Moradabad main line in Uttar Pradesh with Spanish Talgo stock in order to test the ride quality at speeds of up to 180 Km/hour.

5 July 2016

ISRAEL    Two additional light rail lines are being actively planned in Jerusalem.   The alignment of the 19.6km long Green Line has been approved and will connect with the existing Red Line and the new heavy rail line to Tel Aviv.   Planning for the Blue Line is advanced and construction of the Green Line will start early in 2017 with construction of the Blue Line following about a year later assuming that the planned route is accepted.

INDONESIA   A new 1067mm gauge railway is being built from Terminal 3 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport  in the capital Jakarta to Bata Ceper on the existing suburban railway network. The local rolling stock builder PT Inka with Bombardier will supply ten 6-car emus for the future service with delivery expected in mid 2018.

PHILIPPINES    Construction of a 23km long railway, designated as Mass Rapid Transit Line 7, has begun and is expected to be completed by 2020.    It will link Quezon City in the south, pass through Manila city centre, and terminate at San Jose del Monte in Bulacan Province.    There will be fourteen stations.

10 June 2016

CHINA    An alarming sink hole 15m deep and covering an area of 100 sq m opened up close to the Beijing – Shanghai high-speed railway in Zaozhuang City on 26 May 2016.    Engineers confirmed that the subsidence did not endanger the railway which is carried on a long viaduct through the area.

23 May 2016

INDIA    The recently introduced “Gatimaan Express” between Delhi and Agra – the fastest train in India operating for much of the way at 160 km/hour – is now operating at revised timings.  The train now leaves Delhi at 0810 reaching Agra at 0950.   It returns from Agra at 17.50 and reaches Delhi at 19.30. The train runs daily except Fridays, when the Taj Mahal is closed.    There are ten coaches, two of them executive class and eight superior standard class.  On-board hostesses serve refreshments, and a variety of entertainments are available to all passengers    The train is hauled by a class WAP5 class electric locomotive.

7 May 2016

INDIA   Doubts have been raised about the viability of the planned high-speed line from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.   There will need to be sufficient traffic for 100 services daily on the line – about 100,000 passengers each day.   The fastest train in India commenced service on 6 April 2016 between Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin station) and Agra (Cantonment station).    The “Gatimaan Express” is hauled by an electric locomotive and leaves Delhi at 1010 running non-stop to Agra (200km), arriving at 1150.    Passengers are ushered to their seats by train hosts and hostesses and will be able to see free films, cartoons, and news bulletins.   The initial train carried 237 passengers, many of them enthusiasts.

8 April 2016

SAUDI  ARABIA     Siemens is to supply trains, signalling, and train control systems for lines 1 and 2 (64 km route length) of the planned six-line Metro in Riyadh which will eventually total 175 route km.

QATAR   Construction of the 11.3 km long tunnel taking the Metro Red Line under the central area is reaching an advanced stage.    The entire Red Line is about 70% complete and will extend for 41km including a branch to the International Airport.

INDONESIA    Atkins Transportation has been appointed to design the high-speed line between Jakarta and Bandung.

25 March 2016

ISRAEL    More information has emerged about the State Railway’s plans to obtain more carriages.   A fleet of 60 Regional Trains in the form of 4 or 6 car emus capable of being lengthened to 5 or 7 cars.     These are to be able to run at 160 km/hour.     The new coaches are to be double deck but the 6 or 7 car units will include just four double deck coaches the end units being single deck from the existing fleet.    The  four car emus will be made up entirely of double deck cars.     The Railway is exercising an option with Bombardier to supply a further 60 double deck coaches – locomotive (electric or diesel) hauled.

14 March 2016

IRAN   Work has begun on the electrification of the 926km route from Tehran to Mashad.    The 25kV AC 50Hz project will take 3½  years to complete and will halve the journey time to six hours.
An extension to Line 1 of the Metro in Mashad to Hashemi Nejad Airport  was opened on 6 February 2016.

CHINA   Despite a moderate downturn in the nation’s economic performance new railways continue to be built across China so that an efficient transport system is available to all areas.   For transport within cities light railways/tramways are being built and the newest development is a project to  develop a prototype hydrogen fuel cell based on one used in buses.    The fuel cells can power a bus for journeys of up to 100km and a similar result is expected from its use in a tramcar.    “Refilling” a fuel cell after this amount of use takes around three minutes so is an ideal function to be performed at the end of a route.

JAPAN    The Hokkaido Shinkansen to Sapporo is to open at the end of March 2016 and the introduction of much faster daytime services to and from Tokyo will see the end of the existing overnight trains including the “Cassiopeia” between Tokyo and Sapporo, and the “Hamanasu Express” between Aomori and Sapporo.     The “Sunrise” services between Takamatsu and Izumo to Tokyo will then be the only overnight trains left in Japan.

28 February 2016

ISRAEL    Remarkable developments have given the main line and light rail systems in Israel a major boost.   On 3 February 2016 the Israeli Transport Minister announced an investment programme in the railways that will cost US$7.24bn.    Nearly half will be spent on the electrification of most of the existing railways and the construction of new train depots for the electric trains.    A new signalling system (ETCS Level 2) will be installed and a new suburban line will be built in Jerusalem.    Funds are being allocated to quadruple most of the Tel Aviv – Haifa main line while the station at Ben Gurion Airport will be enlarged.    Two additional stations will be built on the Beer-Shiva line.    It is expected that the number of trains operated each day will rise from 450 to 860 with the goal of boosting passenger totals to 70 million.   The Spanish firm SEMI  has been declared the preferred bidder to design,  build, and maintain the electrification work.   Siemens, Alstom, and Elecnor were unsuccessful bidders.

In Jerusalem a third light rail line – the Blue Line –  is planned to run north – south across the city.    It will be 20.3km long and will include an underground section below the heart of the city.   The second line for the city – the Green Line will be 18.3 km long and construction work has begun.    Three extensions are now planned for the first light rail line in the city – the Red Line.   This has proved to be enormously successful and one of the extensions will serve the Hadassacha Hospital.

The Tel Aviv Metropolitan Transit System has selected  CRRC (a subsidiary of Changchin – the Chinese railway and tramway vehicle builders) as preferred bidders to supply 90 LRVs with an option for a further 30.   The 24 km long light railway is due to open in 2021.

6 February 2016

CHINA   The concourse of the main station in Guangzhou was packed during early February 2016 by 100,000 migrant workers hoping to catch a train to take them to their distant rural family homes to celebrate the Chinese New Year (8 February).     They come to work in the factories in this and other major cities and create a logistical problem at each major festival as they try to travel home.   This year, 2016, has seen a new serious additional problem.   Very heavy snow falls in rural China have blocked roads and railways and 23 trains, each capable of carrying over 1000 people, are stuck in the drifts as they attempt to reach Guangzhou and take the waiting crowds home.

19 January 2016

MYANMAR   The first light rail line in the capital Yangon (Rangoon) was opened on 10 January 2016 linking Wardan Jetty in the city centre with Linsadaung in the suburbs.   Once extended the new line will connect with two stations on the Circular Railway which links many communities around the suburbs.   However initially there are only six services each way daily, soon to rise to ten but an all-day service remains some distance in the future.     A second light rail line may be built if this first line is a success.

JAPAN    The intense nature of high-speed services from Tokyo is seen in recently issued statistics.  There are 323 Shinkansen departures from Tokyo each weekday and they carry around of 400,000 passengers daily.    When a train arrives at its Tokyo destination a team of train cleaners descend on the train with a separate team for each coach.   The rubbish is removed from all trash containers, the tray at every seat is wiped clean, the seat is brushed and generally freshened up, and the carpet along the floor between the rows of seat is also brushed.    It must all be completed is no more than seven minutes because loading of the passengers for the next departure must then begin and be completed within five minutes.    Then the train sets off on its next high speed trip.

9 January 2016

ISRAEL   The contract was announced on 6 December 2015 for the supply and maintenance of 420 route km of 25kV 50 Hz electrification equipment which will include 14 substations.   Sociedad Espanola de Montajes Industriales will start work during February 2016 and will cover 13 lines.   The first electric trains will operate on the new Jerusalem route in March 2018.    The preferred supplier of rolling stock for the planned Tel Aviv Red Line light metro is China’s Changchun Railway Vehicles.

SINGAPORE    The second phase of the Downtown Line was opened to Bukit Panjang on 27 December 2015.    This 16.6km long section has 12 stations and the public opening was preceded on 26 December 2015 by a formal opening by the Prime Minister at Botanic Gardens station.   Free travel was available until 01 January 2016.   A third phase, 21 km long to Upper Changi, is being complete and when opened the Downtown Line will be 42 km long with 34 stations and will become the longest driverless line in Singapore.

CHINA    In Qingdao the 12 km long northern section of Metro Line 3 between North Station and Shungshan opened on 16 December 2015.     The next to open will be the southern section of Line 3 to Qingdao South Station – the principal station in the city.     Two further metro lines are planned.

22 December 2015

ISRAEL   SEMI, the Spanish contractors, are the preferred bidder to design, build, and maintain the 420 km electrification project.   They were chosen in preference to bids from Alstom, Siemens and Elecnor.    Work is expected to start in February 2016  and the first electric trains between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will run in March 2018.    Bombardier have already been selected to supply 62 Traxx 25kV AC locomotives.

INDIA    The Indian Cabinet approved early in December 2015 a plan to build a high-speed railway linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat.

WORLD’S  BUSIEST  STATIONS  –  JAPAN.     The remarkably busy Japanese railway network includes 45 of the world’s 51 busiest stations.     Extend the statistics to include the busiest 100 stations in the world and Japan has 82 of them.    The busiest of all is Shinjuku (Tokyo) in the middle of the new business district to the west of the traditional city centre.     It is really four stations in one serving the subway network as well as the complex suburban and long distance National Railways networks.    It is used by around 1,260,000,000 passengers each year.    Next busiest are Shibuya in the southern part of the city centre with 1,090,000,000 users.     Ikebukuro (910,000,000), Umeda (820,000,000), and Yokohama (760,000,000) stations, all in the Tokyo area, take the next three positions.    There is a rival for “the busiest” title but counting procedures are so chaotic that the massive total must be viewed with serious doubt.   Chatrapati Shiva terminus in Mumbai, India, claims over 3,000,000,000 users per year – nearly three times the Shinjuku total.    Compare these totals with the UK’s busiest station, London Waterloo where there is a tiny 92,000,000 users each year – almost negligible compared with the Japanese totals.

5 December 2015

SAUDI  ARABIA   Alstom has started production of train sets for the Riyadh Metro at its Katowice factory in Poland.

INDIA    Alstom is supplying 800 articulated electric freight locomotives from a new manufacturing plant at Medapura in Bihar.    Two maintenance plants are also being built.

2 November 2015

ISRAEL   A total of 420km of the State Railways is to be electrified with the coastal main line the most important section to be converted.

SOUTHERN  ASIA    A major earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan on 26 October 2015 and major tremors extended right across Pakistan and into northern India.   Trains on the Delhi Metro were halted for several hours while the integrity of the tunnels and elevated structures was checked.

INDONESIA   Construction of the 160 km long Jakarta to Bandung high speed line will start during 2016 and services are expected to commence in 2019.   The trains will operate at speeds of up to 250km/hour.

CHINA – HONG  KONG   Consultants have recommended that the “obsolete” street tramway should be scrapped in order to make space for more conventional road vehicles.   The Mass Transit Railway can achieve many journeys much faster than the tram but 200,000 tram passengers are carried every day and the consultants ignored the fact that the trams do not add to the dreadful air pollution that affects the city centre.    Known by locals as “ding-ding” the trams are the best way for tourists to see the city centre and it is likely that the consultants’ report will be rejected.

1 October 2015

SAUDIA  ARABIA   During 2016 Siemens will supply 74 driverless trains (some 2-car and some  4-car) for lines 1 and 2 of the new Riyadh Metro.

INDIA   The first stage of the planned metro in Lucknow is going ahead.   This 22.8 km section would include 3.4 km below ground with the rest on an elevated structure.   It will link the International Airport with Munshipulia via the Charbagh main line railway station, and an initial section is expected to open in December 2016.

SRI  LANKA    Long-term plans to electrify the suburban railways operating both north and south of the capital Colombo have at last been activated.     The route north to Panadura and south to Veyangoda total 70 route km, all of which has double track.   The electrification will be at
25 kV 50Hz.   A new 900 MW Chinese built coal-fired power station was commissioned recently.

INDONESIA    A Japanese consortium is likely to be chosen to build the initial section of a planned high-speed railway between Jakarta and Bandung which will be extended in the future to Surabaya.

4 September 2015

ISRAEL    A contract to supply 62 new electric locomotives has been awarded to Bombardier.   They will be used on the new main line linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and will able to haul a train of eight double deck coaches or twelve single deck coaches at a speed of up to 160 km/hour.

INDIA   The 10km long elevated section of Chennai Metro Line 2 or Green Line was opened on 29 June 2015.   Forty two 4-car Alstom Metropolis trains, assembled in Brazil are operating services.   This line will be 22km long when completed.

14 August 2015

INDIA   A tramway 2.5 miles long is to be built through the centre of Delhi linking various top tourist attractions.    Although following highways the route will be completely fenced off from other traffic.   The Edwardian tramway network in the city was abandoned in 1964 because the jumble of other traffic on the roads made it well nigh impossible to keep to any timetable.

SINGAPORE    New bargain fares have been introduced on the Metro during the past couple of years.    From June 2013 unusual arrangements have been introduced to reduce the number of passengers packed the morning rush hour trains.    Passengers who exit any of the eighteen city centre stations before 0745 travel free.    Those exiting between 0745 and 0759 are charged a reduced fare.     The effect of these changes has been a reduction in the numbers arriving between 0800 and 0859 of over 7% making a significant reduction of overcrowding during the busiest period.     An off-peak Pass was introduced on the Metro on 28 June 2015 allowing unlimited travel on the Metro and all ordinary bus routes.

3 August 2015

INDIA  The first 10km segment of the Chennai Metro Line 2 was opened on 29 June 2015. Running north – south the line will eventually be 22km long, of which 12.3 km will be on an elevated structure and the remainder in tunnel.   Line 1 will be 23.1 km and will serve the Airport.  Forty two air conditioned 4-car train sets have been ordered from Alstom of which nine will be built at Alstom’s plant in Brazil and the remainder in India.     The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has awarded the contract to supply 162 Metro cars to Bombardier and these will be built at its Savli and Vadodara plants.

17 July 2015

SAUDI   ARABIA     Construction of the Haramain high-speed line linking Mecca and Jeddah with Medina has gone smoothly and the opening is expected to by 1 January 2017.   Tunnel construction work on the planned 6-line, 85 station Metro in the capital Riyadh has begun.   The system will total eventually 176 route km with 35km in tunnel.   Seven tunnel boring machines will be used in a project that will cost US$ 23bn. For futher information please follow the Wikipedia link below.

Haramain High Speed rail project, Saudi Arabia

CHINA    A new traction system has been developed at the Zhuzhou Institute in Hunan Province. It will permit trains to reach a speed of 310 mph greatly reducing journey times between the widely scattered cities of the country.    The 10,000 route miles high-speed network is set to nearly double in length by the early 2020s.

1 July 2015

ISRAEL   A 50km long 17 stop tram-train service is planned to run between Haifa, Kiryat-Ata, and Nazareth.   100,000 daily riders are expected.

INDIA   Bombardier is to supply 162 MOVIA metro cars for the Delhi Metro with delivery starting in late 2016.

JAPAN   An elderly man committed suicide on board a Shinkansen train that was bound from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka.    He poured petrol over himself and several seats before setting fire to himself.   The train was halted near Odewara station and the train crew extinguished the fire but several coaches were filled by smoke.    An elderly woman was found to be dead but the other 1000 passengers were de-trained safely at Odewara.     Services were halted for several hours.

SOUTH  KOREA   The new Urban Railway 3 in the city of Daegu is a 32.95 km monorail using trains of cars that straddle the beam.    Services commenced on 23 April 2015. For more information please click on the link below.

Daegu Urban Railway 3

22 June 2015

JAPAN   Hiroshima tram 653, which was badly damaged in the atomic bomb attack on the city in 1945, has been restored and was unveiled at Senda Depot on 7 June 2015.   It carries a livery of grey on the upper parts of the body and dark blue on the lower parts.    From 13 June 2015 it will be used on special trips starting at the main railway station and will then run through the rebuilt city centre to the spectacular preserved ruins.    Monitors inside the tram will show victims’ experiences of the bombing and of the rebuilding of the city.   These special services leave from the station at 1030 and 1400 on Saturday, Sundays, and Public Holidays.   Advance booking is essential.

8 May 2015

KAZAKHSTAN   The first of the KZ4AT locomotives which have been developed jointly by Alstom and Transmashholding entered service from early April 2015 on the Astana – Kokshetau route.    The 25 kV 50 Hz locomotives can operate at 200 km/hour and have been designed with possible use on many European systems.

JAPAN   East Japan Railway is introducing a new emu on services operating on the key Yamanote Loop line which encircles downtown Tokyo.     The eleven coach E235 trains includes a single coach transferred from the E231 stock which has operated on the line since 2002.     Seating is provided along both sides of the coaches leaving abundant space for standing passengers.   The seats are 10mm wider than on the E231s reflecting the fact that today’s citizens are wider, and taller, than their parents or grandparents.

26 April 2015

CHINA   Thirty Alstom Citadis trams are being obtained to operate services on the new two-line network in Songjiang, a town that forms part of the Shanghai conurbation.

JAPAN  A East Japan Railways seven-car maglev train on a test run at the Yamanashi Test Centre broke the world speed record on 16 April 2015.  It reached a speed of 366 mph. The record did not last for long. In a further high-speed test the train achieved 374 mph (603km/hour) on 21 April 2015.

10 April 2015

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES  The new tramway in Dubai  commenced regular services in November 2014.   It is unusual in several respects.    The trams can operate successfully in temperatures as high as 50’C (122’F), and they are equipped with APS ground level power supply so the tramway is the first in the world to be entirely catenary-free. It is also the first to use platform edge doors at stops.

QATAR   A turnkey contract to supply trains, design and operate Line 1 of the new Metro in the capital Doha has been awarded to a Japanese consortium lead by Mitsubishi and including Hitachi, Kinki Sharyo, and Thales.     The contract includes the supply of seventy five three-car driverless trains.    A twenty years maintenance responsibility is included in the contract.

INDIA   The government has agreed to invest £88bn over the next five years to upgrade the railway infrastructure and provide faster trains serving modernised stations.

INDONESIA   Sumimoto with Nippon Sharyo are to supply sixteen six-car trains for the first metro line in Jakarta, the congested capital city.

KOREA    The 113 miles long Honam High-Speed railway, branching off the existing high-speed route was opened on 2 April 2015 to serve the cities of Gwanju and Mokpo in the south west of the nation.    An hour has been trimmed from the previous trip time from Seoul.   A new high-speed link between Seoul and Beijing (1056 miles) and could be opened throughout by 2030.   The first section would run from Seoul (where it would connect with existing and planned High Speed lines) north through North Korea serving Pyongyang and Sinuiju to reach the Chinese border.  The second phase would link the border with Shenyang to which a line is under construction from Beijing and will open in 2019.   The Seoul – Beijing trip will take about 6 hours.

9 March 2015

TURKEY    Turkish Railways ordered seven Siemens Velaro high-speed trains in 2010 and these are now being delivered with the first eight coach train now undergoing tests and driver training.  A further ten trains have now been ordered with delivery expected during 2017.   The 188 mph trains will operate on the emerging high-speed network that will link Ankara with Istanbul and Konya.

29 January 2015

INDIA   Alstom is to supply signalling, telecommunication systems, and electrification equipment for the new 25km long, 22 stations Kochi Metro Line.    Kochi (Cochin) is a major port city on the south west coast of India.   Twenty five Metropolis trains will be supplied and services are due to start in 2016.

For further information please follow the link below:

Kochi Metro plans

CHINA – HONG  KONG    Alstom with Thales are to supply advanced CPTC signalling system for all seven Metro Lines in Hong Kong.

8 January 2015

CHINA  Fares on public transport in Beijing rose sharply at the start of 2015.  The former flat fare of 2 yuan which allowed limitless transfers between the Metro and connecting bus routes was changed to a starting fare of 3 yuan covering only about four miles of metro travel with an added charge for transfers. 4 yuan is now charged for longer metro trips and the effect is that most commuters are now paying at least double the old fare.

13 December 2014

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES  The first 10.6 km phase of the Dubai tramway was opened ceremonially on 11 November 2014 with normal services commencing on 12 November.   Services operate every 12 minutes, 10 minutes at peak hours, using a fleet of eleven Alstom Citidas 402 low floor trams.   The route connects with the Metro Red Line at Jumeirah Lake Towers and Dubai Marina, and with the monorail at Palm Jumeirah.    A second phase of the tramway is being built and a further 14 trams will be needed  to operate the extended route. A replica Milan Peter Witt tram has been put on display in Dubai Airport.

INDIA   The Indian Government is in discussion with the Chinese Government about the possible construction of a high-speed railway between Delhi and Chennai (1089 miles).   The Japanese firm Mitsubishi Electric is to build a rolling stock factory in India – in the suburbs of Bangalore.

MALAYSIA     Six additional four-car trains have been ordered from Changchun Railway Vehicles Coy for the KLIA Express service (two trains) and the KLIA Transit service (four trains).   Both routes link Kuala Lumpur with its International Airport to accommodate rising traffic levels.

CHINA   The high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Hami (530km) Xinjiang region of western China was opened on 16 November 2014.    The existing railway will become freight only once 250km/hour passenger services have bedded in.   By 2017 following the completion of other sections of high-speed route through services will be established between Urumqi and Beijing.  The first tram route in the city of Suzhou was opened on 26 October 2014.   It is 18,1 km long and runs through the south western suburbs linking with Metro Line 1.

Follow this link for pictures of the Suzhou tramway:

Suzhou tramway pictures

CHINA – TAIWAN   Taipei Metro Line 3 was extended 8.5 km to Songshan on 15 November 2014.   Services on all three Metro lines were reorganised from that date with increased peak period introduced on Lines 1 and 2.

20 November 2014

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES   The initial 6.6 mile long section of the Dubai tramway was opened on 12 November 2014.   It links the Marina area with Al Sufouh.

VIETNAM    A network of five Metro lines is planned in the city of Ha Noi, the capital of Vietnam. Work is well under way with line 3 which will be 13 km long of which 5.5km is on viaduct, 4km in tunnel, and the remainder  at ground level.     The line will run from the Depot beside the main railway station and there will be twelve stations in all.    This line will cost of $419m, and the Chinese Government has lent this sum.     The line was due to open early in 2015 but construction is running significantly behind schedule.    Work has begun on Line 2, originally due to open in 2016 but this also is running late.    On 6 November 2014 a steel beam for the elevated structure was dropped accidentally at the site of Thanh Xuan Station killing one construction worker and injuring two others.    The Transport Ministry halted all construction work while the cause of the accident was established and to check on the safety measures to protect both workers and local residents.

JAPAN    The first passengers rode on a service operating on the 27 mile long test track in Yamanashi Prefecture on 14 November 2014.    100 passengers were carried at up to 311 mph between Uenohara and Fuefuki.  In all high-speed testing with passengers was undertaken on eight successive days.

7 November 2014

INDIA   Twenty five Metropolis train sets are to be obtained from Alstom to operate on the new  Metro in the city of Kochi.   The Metro is 25.6 km long, will have 22 stations and will be standard gauge.   Each train set will comprise three cars, will be 65m long, and will have a capacity for 975 passengers.  (Is there any space for them to breathe?)  They will be fully air-conditioned and there is an option for a further 25 trains to be built later.

28 August 2014

TURKEY   The high-speed railway between Ankara and Istanbul is now almost completed.   A major 188km long section between Eskisehir and Pendik, in the outer suburbs of Istanbul, was opened on 25 July 2014.     Just 25km remains between Pendik and Istanbul before the 533km route is finished.    A regular service of six trains each day started operation on 26 July being worked by CAF HT65000 class emus, capable of 250 km/hour, which take under four hours for the journey. Shorter journey times are expected once the new railway has “bedded in”.    The cities are linked by a frequent bus service which in the past has been faster than the train.   Something much more frequent than the initial rail service will be needed to make much of an inroad to the bus traffic.

4 August 2014

IRAN    The main line from Tehran to Mashhad (926 km) is to be electrified by a Chinese/Iranian consortium. The infrastructure will be upgraded to allow operation to rise from 160 km/hour to 200 or 250 km/hour.   Trip times will be halved from 12 hours to six.   Seventy electric locomotives will be required.

SINGAPORE   Alstom has delivered the first two of forty two Metro trains ordered by the Singapore Land Transport Authority for the growing Metro network across the island state.

CHINA   The 570km long high-speed railway between Taiyuan and Xi’an was opened on 1 July 2014 slashing the journey time from ten hours to three.    Eventually the line will be extended from Taiyuan to Datong giving a 900 km long route from Xi’an suitable for 350 km/hour operation.

CHINA – TAIWAN    Electric operation on the East Coast Main Line between Hulien and Taitung (162 km) was started on 28 June 2014, nearly a year ahead of the original plan.   As a result the Taipei – Hualien journey has been shortened by 3 hours 30 minutes.

16 July 2014

QATAR    Alstom has won a contract to supply a turnkey 4-route tramway network in the new city of Lusail on which the APS ground-level current collection system has been specified.    No unsightly overhead power wires will therefore be needed.    Nearby Dubai has also requested the APS system for its  new tramway.      Lusail is situated a few miles north along the coast from Doha and an extension of the system will connect with the Doha Metro.

For an explanation of the APS ground level system please follow this Wikipedia link:

APS Ground-level power supply
INDIA   The massive railway network carries around 23m passengers every day but much of its equipment is time expired and funds to replace infrastructure is not available locally.   Although there is some modern rolling stock in use, pictures of massive overcrowding inside coaches, and with some travellers riding on the roof or hanging on to the outside of carriages illustrate how urgent the need is to modernise the system.   Overseas investment is seen as the only way to achieve this and international firms may be invited to undertake some of the work.   Alstom delivered the first two Metro trains from its new factory at Sricity in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai.    These are the first Metro trains to have been built in India and a total of 42 trains are to be delivered for the new Chennai Metro by 2015.

CHINA   Alstom with its Chinese Joint Venture SATEE (Shanghai Alstom Transport Electrical Equipment Co., Ltd.) are to supply from 2015 traction equipment for 550 Metro cars which will be used on Metro Lines 3 and 4 in Chengdu and Line 3 in Xi’an.

1 July 2014

CHINA    The first segment of Metro Line 1 in Ningbo was opened for public services on 30 May 2014.   Trial operations along the 29km long first Metro line in Wuxi commenced on 26 May 2014 with public services starting on 1 July 2014.

For more information about Ningbo please follow the Wikipedia link:

Ningbo Rail Transit

For more information about Wuxi please follow the Wikipedia link:

Wuxi Metro

3 June 2014

TURKEY    The State Railway (TCDD) is to order a further ten high-speed trains.    In July 2013 an order was placed for seven Siemens Velaro trains that will be able to operate at up to 300km/hour.   There are already twelve six coach CAF trains capable of running at 250km/hour and these are used on services from Ankara to Konya and Eskisehir.    Three new high-speed routes or extensions of the present routes are under construction.

SAUDI  ARABIA   Ceremonies marked the official start to construction of the network of six metro lines in the capital Riyadh.   Lines 1 and 2 are being built by a consortium including Bechtel, Line 3 by the ArRiyadh New Mobility Coy, while Lines 4, 5, and 6 are being designed and built by the FAST consortium.   The network is to be completed by 2019.   In Makkah (Mecca) work is poised to begin on the construction of Phase 1 of the metro – a route from the city centre to the university in the south east suburbs.    Metro routes are planned to operate to the north, to the south, to the north east and to the west.

IRAN   A 12 km extension to Metro Line 3 in Tehran between Azadegan and Vali-e Asr was opened on 22 April 2014.   There are plans to extend the line by a furthyer 17 km to Hossein Abad.

INDIA   Construction in Calcutta (Kolkata) of Metro Line 2, and the Circular Line continue to make progress, albeit slowly.    Metro Line 1 now runs from Dum Dum Airport in the north, to Dum Dum village then south through the heart of the city and the interchange stop at Central.     The route then continues south through Tollygunge before turning to the south east and ending at New Garia station on the suburban railway to Canning.  Metro Line 2 will start at Howrah, one of the area’s most important main line stations, then runs east under the Hooghly River to reach Central, then Sealdah which is below the city’s most important main line station.   The route continues east to Salt Lake Sector V.   It is hoped to open Line 2 in 2016.    The Circular railway is part of the heavy rail network and the completed section comprise Hastings to Dum Dum village, mostly along the east bank of the Hooghly River; Dum Dum Village south to Tollygunge then east to Majerhat.   Majerhat to Hastings remains to be completed.

CHINA   The growing network of high-speed railways across the nation has attracted a lot of traffic from the internal air services resulting in major financial problems for some of the airline companies.     The first section of the new Metro system in Changsha opened on 29 April 2014.  This is a 22.3 km section of the east-west Line 2.     The north – south Line 1 is to open in late 2014.   Four other Metro lines are planned together with a maglev link to the airport.

JAPAN   Construction of JR Central’s Chuo Shinkansen between Tokyo and Nagoya (286km) using Maglev technology will start before the end of 2014.     The line will incorporate the test track at Yamanashi which was extended from its initial 18.4km to 42.8km in 2013.

13 May 2014

CHINA    Four knife-wielding men launched a sudden and unexpected attack on passengers at Guangzhou station on 30 April 2014 seriously injuring six people before they were stopped by police.    Guangzhou has grown rapidly to become China’s third largest city.   It is situated in the south of the country not far from Hong Kong.

8 April 2014

TURKEY    Line 2 of the Ankara Metro, running 16.6 km between Kizilay and Cayyolu, was opened on 13 March 2014.   Metro Line 3 had been opened just a month earlier.

INDIA   The first section of Bangalore Metro Line 2 was opened on 28 February 2014.   Two extensions are under construction and an interchange station with Line 1 at Majestic is planned.

JAPAN   JR East plans to open in late 2014 the 3.8km long  “Tohoku Jukan Line” between Tokyo and Ueno stations providing through services for the Tohoku, Takasaki, Joban, and Tokaido main lines that hitherto have had to terminate at Ueno (trains from the north) or Tokyo (services from the south).

5 March 2014

SAUDI  ARABIA   The planned six line driverless metro network is to be completed by 2019.  A monorail operating around the King Abdullah Financial District will connect with Metro Lines 1 and 6 while the light metro running through the Princess Nora University will connect with Line 4.New metros are planned for the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, and for Jeddah.    A heavy rail network is also being built to complement the long-established Riyadh – Dammam line.  In the far west of the nation the railway between Makkah and Madinah is being built as is the route running north west from Riyadh to Hail where it will connect with the under construction east – west line from Ras Az Zawr (a port on the Gulf coast) to Al Jalamid.   These new lines will open up the northern parts of the nation and provide a means of opening up many potential mines.   The so-called Landbridge railway will link Riyadh with the port of Jeddah, just north of Makkah but this remains at the planning stage.

SINGAPORE  The first 4.3 km section of the driverless automated Downtown metro opened on 21 December 2013.

CHINA   The high-speed railway network is to be doubled in size through work that will be started during 2014 and $99bn has been allocated by the Government for this work.   Since 2008 6000 miles of high-speed track have been built and 1000 high-speed trains have entered service.  The most advanced high-speed train is the CRH380A which is now the world’s fastest train having reached 302 mph during a test run.   It will be limited to 237 mph during normal services.   Seven new sections of railway were opened for business on 28 December 2013.  The 514km line along the east coast between Xiamen and Shenzhen completed the high-speed route between Beijing and Shanghai. Other new lines were Hengyang – Liuhzhou;  Nanning – Liuhzhou;  Nanning – Beihai (an important port); Quinzhou – Fangchenggang.    New express emu services were inaugurated from both Harbin and Dalian to Shanghai using a section of line opened on 1 December 2013.   In addition to these new sections of main line railway, six metro extensions were opened on 28/29 December 2013.   Two sections opened in Shanghai, and one each in Suzhou, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Guangzhou.    In Shenyang the first new tram line opened in China for many years with five routes commencing operation on 15 August 2013.

5 January 2014

JAPAN   The Tokaido Shinkansen, the world’s first high-speed railway, is to have a total makeover during the next ten years.    An important part of the upgrade will be strengthening measures for bridges and tunnels to protect these structures during  earthquakes which are a frequent occurrence in Japan.

CHINA   Alstom is supplying the traction equipment for 550 new underground cars for use on Lines 3 and 4 of the Chengdo Metro and Line 3 of the Xi’an Metro.

THAILAND   A Japanese Consortium led by the East Japan Railway has been selected to build and operate a 23 km long commuter railway in Bangkok.

INDONESIA   Construction of a 15.7 km long rapid transit railway linking Jakarta city centre with the southern suburb Lebak Bulus commenced in mid November 2013.   The railway will have sixteen stations.

U.A.E.   The first of eleven Citadis trams ordered for the new tramway in Dubai has been delivered.     The tramway will run along Al Sufouh Road.

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