News from Europe

15 June 2017

FRANCE SNCF is to discontinue the “TGV” brand after its successful use for 36 years. Some faster long distance trains were rebranded “OUIGO” in 2013 and such services often provided lower fares. This effort to attract younger travellers has been successful so now the crack very fast “TGV” trains are to be renamed “inOUI” in a renewed drive to attract additional passengers. The TGV brand will disappear totally by 2020.

17 May 2017

GERMANY   A high-speed train from Düsseldorf to Berlin was derailed on pointwork as it arrived at Dortmund Station. The train remained upright but two passengers sustained minor injuries.

22 April 2017

CZECH  REPUBLIC   A new tram route in Prague – No 23 – has commenced operation seven days per week between a point near the Castle to Zvonařka across the Vltava River and passing through much of the historic city centre.   Designed to attract tourist traffic the route employs heritage T3 trams and shares much of its alignment with very busy route 22.     Normal tickets are accepted on route 23 unlike the Museum tram route 41 (operates at weekends and public holidays only) on which special tickets are required.

GERMANY  Bombardier is to build twentyone 3-car  Talent 3 emus for services in the Saar Region.   Each emu will have 180 seats, two wheel chair and nine bike spaces.

NETHERLANDS    The Rotterdam Central – Schiedam – Hook of Holland line was closed on 31 March 2017 and is being converted for light rail operation.    A viaduct is under construction at Schiedam to connect the line to the Rotterdam Metro and the future service will operate from Rotterdam Central Low Level to a new terminus at Hook of Holland which will replace both the heavy rail station and the summer-only station at Strand.   Freight traffic will use part of the light railway to Vlaardingen where there will be a third track for the freight trains.   Light rail services will commence in October 2017 and will serve the former stations and a number of new halts.  The railway was opened in stages during 1891 and 1893 and was electrified at 1500 V DC in 1935.   There was a special boat train from Amsterdam to connect with the fast ferry to Harwich.   When the fast ferry service was discontinued in 2006 leaving only a slow traditional ferry, the boat train ceased operation.    A number of long distance passenger services ran to Hook (this writer rode one that followed the Rhine to end at Basel) and the last such service – to Warsaw – came off in 1993. Since 2007 the only passenger service was a suburban shuttle using Sprinter emus.

FRANCE    SNCF has signed an agreement to operate the 230 route km Leman Express lines which operate around Geneva crossing the border from Switzerland into France.

TURKEY    Construction of a new 10km long double track tramway between the southern end of the Galata Bridge, along the shore of the Golden Horn to Alibeykoy began on 20 March 2017.  The new tramway will interchange with Metro Line M2 at Kucuk Pazar, tram line T1 at Eminonu, and Metro Line M7 at Alibeykoy

8 April 2017

LATVIA    The architects PLH and engineers Cowi have won the international competition to rebuild Riga station into a multi-modal hub.   Part of the job is the construction of a new railway bridge across the nearby Daugeva River.

RUSSIA   An explosion, thought to be by a bomb, in a train moving out of the city centre Sennaya Ploshchad station on the St Petersburg Metro on the morning of 03 April 2017 killed ten people and badly injured a further twenty.    The side of a train coach was blown out.    A bomb was discovered at another station on the system soon after and was made safe without further damage.

SWEDEN    Central Stockholm was brought to a standstill during the afternoon of 7 April 2017.     A hijacked lorry was driven into a crowd of pedestrians and into a department store building killing four people.  An adjacent Tunnelbana station and nearby Central Station were closed for several hours.

GERMANY   DB announced on 30 March 2017 their decision to purchase a further 25 double-deck intercity train sets from Bombardier.

FRANCE and SPAIN   On 28 March 2017 the two national railways invited expressions of interest from rolling stock manufacturers in the supply of wagons capable of carrying lorries on planned “rail motorway” services between the two nations.

IRELAND   Options are being explored to revive the Hill of Howth Tramway. One plan is to operate the 3’0” gauge Giant’s Causeway No 9 along part of the route from Howth Station using battery power. No 9, the oldest surviving tram in Ireland, is at the National Transport Museum which supports the plan. There are two alternative schemes involving the restoration of the original 5’3” gauge track.

27 March 2017

SWEDEN    The Roslagsbana is a network of 891mm gauge railways operating in the north eastern suburbs of Stockholm and extending into the neighbouring countryside.   Over the years the rural areas have been built over so that virtually all the services operated are commuter/suburban in nature operating over 65 route km with 38 stations open for business.    Many sections are single track and several sections are to be double tracked starting with the 5km between Tibble and Ensta. Additional rolling stock is required to handle the growing traffic and an order has been placed with Stadler for twenty two 3-car trains.    These have more doors than earlier stock to speed up station dwell times.

FRANCE   Alstom has been awarded the contract to refurbish thirty one 4-car emus used on RER Line B.     Alstom has an option to upgrade a further ten units.    The overhead catenary on part of RER line C  between Bibliothèque François Mitterand and Bretigny is to be renewed by the RC2 consortium    Some of the equipment is 75 years old and long past the time for renewal.    An additional ninety nine 4-car double deck emus are to be ordered from Bombardier’s Crespin factory  where 80 similar trains are already being built.    Eighty of the additional order will operate services on Line N between Montparnasse and Rambouillet, Dreux, and Mantes-la-Jolie.    Nineteen will handle services between Gare-de-Lyon and Malesherbes.

NETHERLANDS    a new half-hourly service was introduced on 23 January 2017 between Den Haag (Centraal) and Breda using High-Speed Line Zuid.     The services are operated with sets of refurbished coaches and a class 186 locomotive on each end.

GERMANY   A man attempting to break into a ticket machine at Dortmund Scharnhorst station on 21 March 2017, was killed when the machine exploded blowing the man across the concourse and striking his head on the concrete floor.    He died soon after from the head injury.

SWITZERLAND   Rail fares have jumped by an average of 5.6% despite inflation in the retail market rising by just 2.1%.    The cost of the National Rail Pass has leapt by an astonishing 25%.
A Basel to Milan emu carrying 160 people was derailed as it left Lucerne station at 1400 on 21 March 2017.   One coach tipped on to its side while the next coach brought down the overhead power cables delaying rescue efforts.   However there were no fatalities and only three passengers were injured.

SPAIN   The electrification at 1500 V DC of the metre gauge branch on Mallorca between Inca and Manacor is to be undertaken by a consortium comprising Siemens, MAN, and Sampol.    There will be four subsations, five transformers, and 31km of overhead catenary.

PORTUGAL    Electrification of the lines south of Faro serving the Algarve is expected to be completed by late 2020.     Electrification of two sections of the Minho Line have been put out to tender by private engineering firms.

12 March 2017

NORWAY   The State Railway (NSB) is developing three routes radiating from the capital Oslo in the expectation that important towns 100-200 km away will be knitted into a new economic area with Oslo at its centre.     Double track routes suitable for 200/250 km/hour operation are being created south west to Skien, north to Lillehammer, and south east to Halden.    The opening of the 12.3km long Holmestrand Tunnel on the south west route has transformed services.   The new route complete with a new station in central Oslo replaced 15 km of slow running because of 26 level crossings.    Tonsberg is now reached in 62 minutes and once the new track has bedded down a time of well below one hour will be achieved.

LATVIA    Major changes are planned during the next decade.   The east-west 1520 mm gauge freight route terminating at the Baltic port of Liepaja is to be electrified at 25kV AC.   The line into Russia will similarly be converted followed by the electrification of the line into Belarus.   Next the Rail Baltica project will see the electrification at 25 kV AC  of the 1435 mm gauge railway from Kaunus in Lithuania to Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia.     Finally, the suburban network around Riga is to be converted from 3kV DC to 25 kV AC during the period 2025-30.   A new fleet of emus will be required but the new trains will be needed long before the power supply is altered. A contract was signed with CAF in 2013 but was then cancelled.    Instead a fleet of dual voltage 3kV DC/25kV AC units will be obtained during the period 2019 – 21.

NETHERLANDS   Additional high-speed services were introduced on the HSL Zuid from 23 January 2017.     Loco worked in top-and-tail mode with Bombardier Traxx M5 class 186 locos there are half hourly Den Haag – Breda services throughout the day supplementing the existing half-hourly Amsterdam – Breda services along HSL Zuid.    The Breda trains will be extended to Eindhoven in December 2017.

FRANCE   A decision to replace the Guided Trolleybus system in Caen was taken as long ago as 2011 and a conventional light rail system is being built to replace it.     Twenty three Citadis LRVs have been ordered and the new tramway is expected to open in 2019.
Conventional SNCF long distance services have for long been big loss-makers (in contrast to the TGV network which is profitable).    The majority of the conventional inter-city trains have now been hived off to the Regional Governments with the loco-hauled trains comprising conventional coaches replaced by new emu/dmus paid for by the Government topped up with an annual subsidy payment.   The expectation is that the services worked by cheaper to run but attractive new stock will attract more passengers and that the overall loss will be slashed.   The Local Government will have the power to develop the service adding or removing services as appropriate.

ITALY  CAF is to supply three five-section Urbos LRVs to Cagliari so that services on its 950mm gauge tramway can be increased.   In Catania the standard gauge Metro was extended with the opening on 20 December 2016 of a short branch to Stesicoro.    A further extension to Palestro is expected to open in 2019.    The line to Porto has however been closed to allow heavy maintenance. Information about the metro in Catania can be found by following this link:

Catania Metro

23 February 2017

BELGIUM    A passenger train was derailed on 18 February 2017  shortly after leaving Leuven station for De Panne via Brussels.   One carriage fell on to its side crushing and killing a bystander.   Twenty passengers were injured.     Major upgrade work to permit an increase in the number of trains will require the closure of the line between Brussels Nord and Midi stations from 29 April 2017 until 01 May 2017.

LUXEMBOURG   A collision between a passenger and a freight train at 0840 on 14 February 2017 near Bettembourg close to the French border resulted in one person killed and several injured, two seriously.

10 February 2017

FRANCE    Paris  –  During the morning peak on 6 February 2017 dozens of passengers had to be evacuated from smoke-filled Place d’Italie station on Metro Line 6 following an electrical explosion at the station.    Eight people were injured during the evacuation process but there were no fatalities.

28 January 2017

SWEDEN   The section of the Stockholm – Malmö main line between Flackarp and Arlöv is to be quadrupled.   This is the most intensively used route in Sweden and planning for this project has been on-going since 1999 but only now has the finance become available.    Services between Stockholm and Oslo have been increased to four or five each way on weekdays.   Since services were taken over by X2000 high-speed trains loads have risen by 25%.   However most of the route within Norway may be closed between 0930 and 1430 for most of 2018 to allow renewal of the overhead wires.    Swedish Railways (SJ) has indicated that bus substitution during these times is unacceptable for a top quality international express.

GERMANY/AUSTRIA   From 11 December 2016 Austrian Railways (ÖBB) took over the operation of the overnight sleeping car trains that German Railways (DB) had found produced high losses.   ÖBB plan to obtain some new coaches to supplement those purchased from DB.   ÖBB are operating seven routes under the brand name “Nightjet”,and additional routes may be added later.    These routes are Vienna to Zürich, to Venice, and to Bregenz, Zürich to Graz, Düsseldorf and Hamburg to Innsbruck and Vienna, Hamburg to Zürich via Berlin and Frankfurt, Vienna and Munich to Rome, Milan and Livorno.

FRANCE    SNCF has selected Alstom/Bombardier to supply 255 high capacity Xtrapolis Cityduplex double deck trains for two suburban lines in Paris.    There will be 130 trains for Line D and 125 trains for Line E.    They will have wider doors compared to earlier trains to speed up loading and unloading and therefore reduce dwell times at stations.    In Nantes an extension of Tram route 1 across the Jonelière Bridge to Babinière is being actively planned.   A fourth tram route is also being considered.    In Bordeaux Tram route C was extended by 7.2km to Gare de Blanquefort on 12 December 2016.    In Strasbourg the International route D across the River Rhine will be opened during February 2917 by President Hollande.

ITALY   Commencing with the timetable change on 11 December 2016 two additional Frecciarossa high-speed expresses have been added between Milano and Roma.    Taking just 2 hours 59 minutes the new trains leave Milano Cle at 1030 and 1730, and leave Roma Termini at 0830 and 1430.    These trains are operated with ETR 400 sets and call at Bologna Centrale only.

17 January 2017

AUSTRIA – SLOVAKIA   The corridor between the capitals, Wien and Bratislava, has seen many changes over the years.    A metre gauge tramway linked the cities until it was closed in 1938.   Ferries along the River Danube ceased to be a competitive form of passenger transport after the railway alternative was opened during the 19th century but the River remains heavily used by freight vessels and the ever-growing number of tourist cruise services.    In 2017 there is an hourly railway shuttle taking around 66 minutes between Wien Meidling, Wien Hbf, and Bratislava Hlavna – quite impressive considering that 37.5km of the route in Austria is single track and not electrified.    The railway is now to be double tracked and electrified throughout with a top speed of 160 km/hour compared with 120 km/hour today.   Thirteen level crossings are being eliminated and a direct link to the Vienna Underground Line U2 being created through the opening of a new station, Wien Aspern (close to Meidling).     The upgrades will be completed by 2023.     In August 2016 the Bratislava the metre gauge tramways started a “Music Tram” service using restored tram 18 which operated an hourly service around the city centre during the holiday season carrying a brass band but leaving lots of seats for passengers, both tourists and local residents.   The service was free for anyone to use and is likely to be repeated during the summer of 2017.

EUROSTAR   A Brussels to London Eurostar train together with a high speed train for Strasbourg were delayed for three hours on 30 December 2016 because of ice on the overhead wires.      300  passengers on the London service froze in the intense cold half way to the border with France.

BELGIUM   CAF has been selected as preferred supplier of 146 low floor LRVs for De Lijn, the national light rail operator.    62 of these would be for use on the long Coastal Line with others going to Antwerp and Gent.    Bombardier lost out in the bidding and lodged an appeal claiming that De Lijn had not assessed the competing bids correctly.

FRANCE  In Paris Alstom has supplied 26 Citadis trams for service on a new branch of Line C which opened for traffic on 17 December 2016.   On 11 January 2017 SNCF selected Alstom with Bombardier to supply a new emu fleet to operate on Lines D and E.

ITALY   The major servicing centre for the Bombardier/Hitachi Frecciarossa high-speed fleet at Martesana, just north of Milan Central station, is being expanded to handle the growing fleet most of which run to or through Milan regularly.    There are two classes of trains – there are fifty nine ETR500 sets now largely used on the east – west Genoa – Venice route, and fifty ETR400 sets now used mostly on the north – south Genoa – Milan – Rome – Naples route.    Twenty six of the trains are serviced at Martesana each day, with a full external and internal cleaning together with safety checks on wheel profiles, brake systems, and power collection systems taking around six hours.   Periodic overhauls on the trains are undertaken At Gianturco Depot in Naples.

23 December 2016

FRANCE   Construction and electrification work for the route between Paris Gare de l’Est and Troyes (166 km) commenced on 22 November 2016.

12 December 2016

FRANCE   SNCF ordered on 24 November 2016 forty of Bombardier’s double-deck Omneo Premium intercity emus.     These are to be delivered by the end of 2019 and will feature wi-fi and wider seats than in the similar regional version.  This initial order will be for services between Paris and Le Havre or Cherbourg.

GERMANY   Major plans to improve transport within and around Berlin between now and 2030 have been announced.     The recently elected coalition Berlin Government has indicated that its first priority is the introduction of a 5 minute frequency on the Circle route.   The S-Bahn lines to Spandau and Nauen would also be upgraded and served more frequently.     The provision of double track on all sections of the S-Bahn that have just a single track is another priority permitting the provision of a more reliable service.    A major expansion of the tramway network is seen to happen in three stages.  Four existing routes are to be extended with work commencing in 2018.   Detailed work is to be completed on five other sections of new route so that construction can start in 2021.  A further six completely new tram routes are to be built giving West Berlin a comprehensive network for the first time in around fifty years.    Work will start if sufficient finance can be found during 2021-26 with the network completed by 2030.

29 November 2016

HUNGARY / SERBIA     Agreement has been reached to build a 300 mile long high-speed line between Budapest (capital of Hungary) and Belgrade (capital of Serbia).   At present the journey takes around eight hours but the high-speed route will require just 2½ hours.   A Chinese consortium will build the railway but a start date for the work is still to be agreed.

GERMANY / AUSTRIA   DB will cease to operate its CityNightLine overnight services from the major timetable change on 11 December 2016 but Austrian Railways has announced that it will take over the operation of some routes with its new Nightjet services.    Details of the trains affected are as follows.   The “Pollus” between Amsterdam and Munich will be withdrawn but a new Nightjet service will link Düsseldorf – Frankfurt – Nürnberg – Munich – Innsbruck with a section running on to Vienna.     The Köln – Berlin – Warsaw “Jan Kiepura” and the Köln – Berlin – Prague “Kopernikus” will be withdrawn with no replacements.      The “Canopus” Zürich – Frankfurt – Leipzig – Prague will be diverted via Innsbruck and carry the Zürich – Budapest coaches between Zürich and Linz.     The “Komet” Hamburg – Basel – Zürich and the “Sirius” Berlin – Basel – Zürich will be replaced by a Nightjet service running from Hamburg to Berlin, Basel and Zürich. The un-named Hamburg – Passau – Vienna service will become a Nightjet service carrying  also the Hamburg – Nürnberg – Munich – Innsbruck coaches.   The “Lupus” between Munich – Innsbruck – Rome is to be diverted via Villach as a Nightjet service.   The “Pegasus” between Amsterdam and Zürich will cease operation but the “Pictor” Münich – Venice will continue to run.
Despite the failure of the overnight services long distance travel on day time trains has risen by over 10% during the first half of 2016.    Going against the Europe-wide trend a new twice weekly sleeping car service will be introduced by Russian Railways between Berlin and Moscow.

LITHUANIA  Lithulanian Railways are taking delivery of three Skoda class 575 double deck emus which are based on the Czech “Cityelefant” design and they are on trial on the Vilnius – Kaunas route.    Once the cross-border route to Belarus has been electrified at 25 kV AC they will be used on a new fast service between the two capitals Vilnius and Minsk.    The next major project in Lithuania will be the construction of a standard gauge line from Kaunas to the border with Latvia  leading to the introduction of fast though services to points in Latvia.

BULGARIA   The six ex-BR class 86 locomotives sold to freight operator Bulmarket have been refurbished and given a smart new livery – grey over the body with both cabs in bright red –  and confusingly have been reclassified as Class 87.    There is already a class 86 loco in the fleet so the ex-BR locos have to be given a different class number.

12 November 2016

NETHERLANDS    CAF has been selected as the preferred bidder to supply 146 new trams for the Flemish Transport Company De Lijn.

GERMANY   DB Regio has ordered twenty four Coradia Continental emus from Alstom for use on the Breisgau S-Bahn.     They will be a mixture of three or four car units and will be assembled in Alstom’s Salzgitter factory.

ITALY     A strong earthquake struck Central Italy early on 30 October 2016 and tremors extended to the area around Rome.    The Metro was closed immediately so that the tunnel structure could be inspected.    There was no evidence of damage and train services resumed after  a gap of several hours.

12 October 2016

ROMANIA   A nine mile long Metro is to be built from Bucharest city centre to the Airport.   There will be twelve stations and construction will commence in 2017.   A provisional opening date will be in 2022.

RUSSIA   The Moscow Central Ring Railway was opened to passenger services on 10 September 2016.    Work to modernise and electrify the 54 km long route began in 2011 and 26 out of the planned 31 brand new stations were completed in time for the opening.   The others will be opened before the end of 2016.    Services run every 6 – 12 minutes and a fleet of 33 five-car emus has been supplied by the Ural Locomotive Works to the Siemens Desiro design.   Each set can accommodate 1200 passengers and on board information screens are in both Russian and English.

22 September 2016

SWITZERLAND    Four classes of modern freight locomotive have been banned from using the new Gotthard Base Tunnel.   They are all Bombardier products – Classes Re 486,  Re 487,  186 and 187.   The problem concerns the unreliability of detecting the state of the ETCS Level 2 signalling that is installed along the approach tracks to the Base Tunnel.   The trains hauled by these locomotives are mostly BLS Cargo services.   These locos are allowed to haul freight services through the tunnel if there is a suitably equipped pilot loco at the front of the train.

SPAIN   A Renfe railcar service from Vigo to Porto (across the border in Portugal) derailed on 08 September 2016 and struck a pylon supporting the overhead catenary.   Four of the 60 people on board were killed, including the driver.

6 September 2016

NETHERLANDS   The State Railway (NS) has decided to concentrate it efforts on its core business – the operation of heavy rail passenger trains.    The company is selling its bus and tram operations.

GERMANY    Work commenced in February 2010 and is now advanced on the gigantic Stuttgart21 project which will see the total reconstruction of the Hbf and the reorganisation of the railways around the city.    The work is part of the partly new and partly upgraded route to Augsburg which in turn is part of the very major Trans Europe Express Paris to Vienna Project.    The 17 track stub end Hbf is being replaced by a new underground Hbf with 8 through platforms linked to 57km of new railways, 30km in tunnel and 25km high-speed.     The new Hbf is linked by a high-speed connection  to a completely new Filder Station serving the Airport, the Trade Fair site, and the Filderstadt district.

24 August 2016

NORWAY   The light rail line extension in Bergen to serve Flesland Airport is opening in two stages.   On 15 August 2016 the line opened to Birkelandsskiftet where the route will cross the main road to the Airport on the level.   A 280 space car park and a bus interchange there are being provided and a bus shuttle will take light rail passengers to the Terminal buildings.    When the light rail station at the Airport is completed (?early 2017) the rail service will operate through between Airport and the city centre.

AUSTRIA    Tram route 6 in Innsbruck is again threatened with closure.   It climbs up through the hills to the village of Igls giving attractive views en route.    Most of the passengers are tourists during the summer months since locals prefer the quicker alternative bus service.   The new Flexity trams that operate most services on the system are unsuitable for the Igls line and one of the last surviving older trams might be given an overhaul (expensive) before taking over the service.  Alternatives include summer weekend only service to meet the needs of the tourist industry, or operation purely as a museum line enabling higher fares to be charged without costly changes to the tram to meet the needs of passengers with limited mobility.

HUNGARY    Line 3 of the Budapest Metro is to be rebuilt with the work undertaken in three stages.   The first section, the most recently built portion involving six stations, will take 13 months to complete.   Both the central section of the line  including nine stations, and the section nearest the city centre  (five stations) will take nearly three years each to complete.   The work includes rebuilding the station and tunnel structures, waterproofing the tunnels, modifying the escalators and building extra elevators at some stations.    Bus shuttles will operate along sections of the route that are closed for this work.   The cost is expected to be at least Euro 435m.

SLOVAKIA   The extension of the metre gauge tramway network from Bratislava city centre to Petrzalca on the opposite side of the River Danube was officially opened on 8 July 2016.    The 2.43 km extension includes impressive structures including a 465m long bridge across the Danube, and two bridges across a Motorway.   Dual gauge tracks have been laid across the river since there are plans to introduce standard gauge heavy rail services into the suburbs.

PILGRIMAGE  SERVICE  ENDS     For 95 years Dutch and Belgian Railways have operated Pilgrimage trains to Lourdes but the Maastricht – Lourdes special on 11 September 2016, returning on 18 September, will be the last.    The rolling stock used requires costly upgrades or replacement and the use made of the specials has been falling steadily over recent years.   Many pilgrims now prefer to fly or use chartered comfortable coaches.

EUROSTAR   Siemens has delivered the first ten of the e320 high-speed trains but delivery of a further seven trains has been halted until problems with the first batch have been resolved.   The trains have proved to be generally unreliable and give a rather rough ride at speed.    Until the sets become reliable in routine service the second batch will remain at the Krefeld factory where presumably any modifications will be undertaken before eventual delivery.

FRANCE    At about 1545 on 17 August 2016 a double deck regional service from Montpelier to Nimes struck a tree that had been uprooted by a storm and fallen across the tracks.   The train had been running at 140 km/hour and a whirling cloud of giant hail had obscured the view ahead.  The nearest station is Saint-Aunes.

ITALY   Trenitalia has issued contracts worth in total $4bn for new rolling stock that will operate Regional Services, replacing stock dating from the 1970s/1980s.   Three hundred bi-level 100 mph emus will be manufactured in Hitachi’s plant in Pistoia which was owned by Ansaldo Breda  until sold to Hitachi Rail Italy in 2015.    There will be twenty five 5-car sets seating 656 passengers, and  fourteen 4-car sets.    Costing in total $3bn they will be delivered from 2019 until 2026.
Also ordered are 150 regional emu coaches to be delivered over the period 2019 – 2030 at a cost of $1bn.   They will be built in Alstom’s plant at Savigliano, near Turin, and will have electrical equipment made in Italy and France.

11 August 2016

SWEDEN    SL, the local transport agency in Stockholm, has awarded contracts for the double tracking of a 5.2km section of the 891mm gauge Roslagsbana.

FRANCE    The Isle-de-France transport authority STIF has announced a programme to renew or replace the 708 trainsets used on the five RER lines that operate around Paris.    The refurbishment of trains on Line B will be completed by the end of 2016 and studies will have started leading to the procurement of new double-deck trains on Lines D and E.    STIF will fund the purchase of more Bombardier emus for suburban lines J and L.   Bombardier will also produce a fleet of Regio 2N emus for suburban Line N, which runs southwest from Gare Montparnasse.  RER  Line E is to be extended to Nanterre-La Folie by 2022, and to Mantes-la-Jolie by 2024.   Tram routes T1 and T3 are also to be extended but the time scale has not yet been agreed.
The metre gauge tramway is St-Etienne is obtaining sixteen five-section CAF Urbos LRVs in an effort to meet the needs of ever-growing traffic.   The new trams are 35m long compared with 25m of the older trams in the fleet.

SWITZERLAND   Stadler is to supply eleven “Flirt” emus which will operate services on the St Gallen – Luzern “Voralpen Express” route from December 2019.    There will be six eight-car trains seating 361 passengers, 70 of them in first class; and five four-car sets with 198 seats (23 in first class).     These services will be provided by the Südostbahn which is hoping to replace the State Railway (SBB) in the provision of service over the traditional Gotthard Pass route on which SBB plans to provide an hourly local service after the intercity expresses are diverted via the new Base Tunnel line.

ITALY    Trenitalia has signed two contracts for the supply of new emus.    Alstom is to build 150 single deck trains for the middle distance market.    Hitachi is to supply 300 double deck Caravaggio commuter cars which will be formed into articulated trains of varying lengths.

GEORGIA   The State Railway launched its new fleet of 25 Stadler-KISS four car emus on 25 July 2016.    The trains are being used on express services linking the capital Tbilisi with the Black Sea resorts of Batumi, Kobuleti and Ureki.

29 July 2016

GERMANY    A terrorist attack in a shopping centre is central Munich on 22 July 2016 brought travel around the city to a halt for several hours.    The sole gunman was thought to have escaped into a U-Bahn Station and all forms of public transport in the city were halted until the following morning after the gunman had committed suicide.

NETHERLANDS    The State Railway (NS) confirmed on 15 July 2016 an order for inter-city emus from Alstom after a court challenge from rival firm Siemens was rejected.   Based on the Coradia design, there will be 49 five-car sets and 30 four-car sets.    They will be capable of operating at up to 200 km/hour on conventional lines and new high-speed routes.

FRANCE   The waiting hall at Paris Gare du Nord is proving to be too small because of rising traffic on Eurostar services.    Passengers are advised to arrive one hour before a London train is due to leave and a single train load can completely fill the waiting space.    If a second service is scheduled to run half an hour later the passengers for that service will find that there is no space for them and they must wait outside in insecure areas.      On 18 July 2016 the station was thrown into a state of complete confusion because of a fire in the main building.   This was later confirmed as being the result of vandalism.

GREECE   The Italian State Railways are the preferred bidder (and only serious bidder it seems) to take over the important Greek railway company TrainOSE.    This will make possible an upgrade of the Greek Company since local funds are not available

12 July 2016

FRANCE   The second major segment (106km) of the TGV-Est from Baudrecourt to Vendenheim was opened on 03 July 2016.   The first section from the edge of Paris to Baudrecourt had been opened in June 2007.    The new line had been planned to open on 03 April 2016 but testing was halted following a serious derailment of a test train on 14 November 2015 killing 11 and imjuring 42 on board.    Repairs to the infrastructure are still not complete resulting in a 27km single track section.    Until the repairs are complete and bedded in most of the sixteen trains each way daily will take 1 hour 49 minutes.    The first service to Paris in the morning takes just 1 hour 46 mins.
Several important routes around eastern France are improved following the extension of the TGV-Est.  SNCF and DB have increased the Paris – Frankfurt service to six train pairs daily while between Strasbourg and Frankfurt there are now three high-speed services daily.  The journey time between Strasbourg and Luxembourg has been slashed by 30 minutes and the trains now take 1 hour 39 minutes.

26 June 2016

REPUBIC  OF  IRELAND    The long planned 16.5km long Metro North route to the Airport costing Euro 2.4bn may never be built.    A simple 7km long branch from the Dart commuter route could be built for Euro 200m.

POLAND   Regional train company LKA has commenced weekend through services between Łódź and Warsaw – a line linking the two largest cities in Poland which was recently upgraded for 160 km/hour speeds.     They are providing two return trips taking 1 hour 20 minutes each way using modern Flirt emus some of which are not used at the weekend.

AUSTRIA    The carriage of freight between northern and southern Europe on routes that go across Austria is one of the most important traffics handled by the State Railways.    Because long-distance freight traffic is growing quite rapidly the principal railway routes are being upgraded substantially and in most cases at a significant cost.   Three major routes are involved.   The Northern Line comes south to Wien from Breclav in the Czech Republic feeding in traffic from Praha, Berlin and Warsaw.    Planned upgrade work will be completed by 2026.    Next is the Westbahn linking Wien with Linz from where are connections across Western Europe.    Upgrade work is mostly complete with the major bringing together of stations in the centre of Wien and the construction of a single  new Wien station completed in December 2015.    A major freight terminal just south of the passenger station will open in 2017.    Last is the Südstrecke or South Main Line operating from Wien  through the Semmering Pass to Graz and Switzerland/Italy via the new Koralm Tunnel.     The parallel line just south of Wien through Pottendorf is being upgraded (by 2023) to provide extra track space through the southern suburbs of Wien.     A new Semmering Base Tunnel is being built (completion 2026), reconstruction of Graz station was completed in October 2015, and the new link with the Koralm Tunnel will open in 2023.

OVERNIGHT  SERVICES    DB’s decision to cease overnight and car carrying services from December 2016 has prompted other operators to plan alternative services.     Austrian Railways (ÖBB) will run a complex service comprising two portions from Hamburg via Hanover and from Düsseldorf via Köln joining at Frankfurt and continuing to Wien or Innsbruck.    ÖBB will order new sleeper or couchette coaches and car transporter wagons for use on these  overnight services.

SWITZERLAND     Standard gauge railways have been in the news in recent years with plans for Base Tunnels to provide faster routes for the very heavy international freight traffic that is hauled north – south across the nation.     The State Railways (SBB) are to use its Pendolino trains on a limited number of passenger services between Milan and Frankfurt through the Lötschberg Base Tunnel (northbound) and the Gotthard Base Tunnel (southbound).     Now the network of metre gauge railways is undertaking a series of major infrastructure improvements with the Berner Oberland Bahn opening on 21 November 2015 a new 703m long tunnel on the Interlaken – Grindelwald route replacing four short older tunnels.    The Rhätische Bahn is rebuilding its Albula Tunnel.    A totally new venture is a plan for a new railway 22 km long to connect the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway with the Luzern-based Zentralbahn at Oberwald.      This new railway will run under the Grimsel Pass and part of the business case for the £407m tunnel is its shared use by high voltage electricity cables that run over the Grimsel Pass detracting from the view.     The removal of the substantial pylons and the cables is seen as a useful improvement by the tourist industry.

10 June 2016

INTERNATIONAL  LINKS    Contracts worth £2.4bn have been signed for the construction of the 18km long immersed tunnel between Rødbyhavn on the Danish Island of Lolland, and Puttgarden on the German island of Fehmarn.    The main contractors are Vinci, and two divisions of BAM.  The tunnel will comprise 89 concrete segments which will be cast in a new factory at Rødbyhavn and will contain a four lane motorway plus a double track high-speed railway.    It will be the longest road-rail tunnel in the world when it opens in 2024.   It will take just seven minutes for a train to travel through the tunnel.  Travel times between major cities will be slashed; for example Copenhagen – Hamburg cut from 4hours 30 minutes to 3 hours.   Coupled with the Øresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö the Fehmarnbelt link will open up communication between Germany and the Scandinavian nations.

BELGIUM   A passengr train travelling at about 50 mph ran into the rear of a freight service at  St Georges-sur-Meuse on the Namur – Liege line at about 2300 on 05 June 2016.    Three people were killed and nine required hospitalisation.

FRANCE   Following very heavy rainfall severe floods halted many rail services across France during early June 2016.

23 May 2016

NORWAY    Bergen City Council has approved a plan to place Bybanen extension to Asane along the historic Bryggen Quayside instead of in a much more costly tunnel.  There was animated debate about whether the tramway would spoil the view along this UNESCO heritage site and it is possible that if forthcoming local elections result in a change of control in the Council the decision might be reversed.

RUSSIA   The TTK Consortium has been chosen by the City Council to build and operate an express tramway network in St Petersburg by upgrading existing routes 8 and 64.   Twenty 5-section and five 3-section trams are to be obtained to operate the services.

HUNGARY   Budapest Metro Line 3 is to be rebuilt although significant funding is being sought from the European Union to enable the work to proceed.

BELGIUM   The 1250m long tunnel under central Brussels between Schuman and Josaphat was opened on 04 April 2016.   The new line is designated as Line 161A and links Line 161, the main Brussels – Namur route, with the orbital route, Line 26, at Evere.   The link makes possible new direct links to the Airport cutting journey times from some suburbs by 16 minutes.   The city of Charleroi has significant sections of tramway/light railway that have never been opened for public services.   The City Council has now agreed to open a never used section together with a brand new 600m extension to serve a major hospital.

FRANCE   The Isle-de-France transport authority STIF has requested technical and financial plans for the total renewal of the suburban and RER fleets either by totally new trains or by the use of completely refurbished older units.   Around 1200 train sets will be involved with the oldest 700 replaced by 2021 at a cost of Euro 8.5bn. .   Nearly one third of the existing fleet is at least thirty years old and much of the present fleet gives an impression that the coaches are tired and antiquated.   Work to build a 6km long tramway in the southern city of Avignon began in April 2016 and services should begin during 2018.

ITALY   Hitachi Rail (formerly named AnsaldoBreda) delivered the first of 29 five section Sirio trams to the Florence system in mid-December 2015.    These trams are 100% low-floor , 32m long, and are bi-directional.     In Rome driverless Metro Line C has been open for nearly two years (opened 9 November 2014).    The 18.5km long line carried 6.2m passengers during its first year  with services running every 6 minutes along the busier half and every 12 minutes on the rest.

PORTUGAL   In Lisbon the Metro Blue Line was extended by just under 1 km to Reboleira on 13 April 2016.    This created an interchange with the State Railways Sintra Line.

7 May 2016

EUROSTAR    Planning is advanced for a proposed London – Amsterdam service and a test run is to be operated during May 2016 with a view to a public service starting in December 2016.   Border checks will be undertaken before the passengers board the train to avoid the problems with the Brussels service where passengers must leave the train at Lille for checks.

NORWAY    Traffic carried by the State Railway (NSB) in 2015 was 5.9% higher than in 2014.  The busiest individual line was the Vestfoldbane to Skien which carried 4.6m passengers – up 22%.  The Oslo – Göteborg and Oslo – Trondheim lines showed growth of 13% and 7% respectively.   The X2000 operated Stockholm – Oslo express service showed growth 0f 50% and additional services on this route are planned.   Traffic on some of the remote services in the far north fell slightly and local services to Stavanger recorded a nearly 2% drop reflecting the difficult economic situation in that locality.     In Bergen the 7km long extension in the south west suburbs of Bybanen light rail line from its terminus at Lagunen to the airport terminal has been completed but services cannot operate to the new terminal building since it will not be ready until the spring of 2017.     Trams are operating over the new line to  point about 1km from the airport and shuttle buses fill the gap.   An extension of Bybanen to the northern suburbs has been proposed but has caused controversy since tram tracks will be laid along the Bryggen quayside which is Bergen’s most famous locality.    In Oslo a new Metro line has been proposed to Fornebu in the south west suburbs.    A second railway tunnel under the city centre is also planned to relieve congestion in the existing tunnel.

FINLAND   A new Pendolino service designed to attract business traffic commenced operation on 29 March 2016 between Turku (dep 0708) and Helsinki (arr o846).    The return train leaves Helsinki at 1610.     The 194 km journey with two intermediate calls takes 98 minutes.

POLAND   A non-stop test run using new two-car FLIRT 3 emus was undertaken on 5 March 2016 between Łódź and Warsaw and the 126km journey was completed in 58 minutes.    Much of the infrastructure has been upgraded with a line speed of 180 km/hour..    A public service with the new trains, initially at weekends only, commenced on 13 March 2016 with two return trips each day calling at several stops in each city and along the route taking 93 – 117 minutes.    An underground station at Łódź Fabryczna is nearly ready and will replace the existing surface station and adjacent level crossings.   The overall journey will then be cut by around 15 minutes.     Several 3-coach FLIRT emus are to be bought so that many services radiating from Warsaw can be upgraded.

GERMANY    The unique freight service on Dresden tramways has ceased to run.  This service was established in 2001 using five segment trams to bring parts to a new Volkswagen (VW) factory  where Phaeton and Bentley cars were produced.   The use of lorries to serve the factory was ruled out – hence the tram solution.   VW owns the freight trams which has faced widespread criticism over its flawed pollution emission tests that gave false low results.   Production of the Phaeton has ceased, and both the factory and its freight trams are out of use.  An all-electric Phaeton is being designed and the factory with its tram freight service will start again in about 2019.   DB has awarded a contract to the Swedish firm Icomera to install Wi-Fi in all 260 high-speed ICE trains and in the latest design of high-speed trains of which at least 100 will be ordered.

AUSTRIA    Traffic on the Federal Railways (ÖBB) has risen for the 6th successive year.   During 2015 34.3m passengers were carried (of which 34.3m were long distance travellers) and 300,000 migrants were conveyed in 674 special trains.   More rolling stock is being ordered to meet the rising demand.     Thirty three companies are competing for freight traffic and ÖBB carried 1.4% less domestic freight but 5.5% more international freight.

ITALY   A metro driver who crashed his train on Line 1 into the service operating in front of him on 17 October 2006 has been jailed for five years.    It had become the practice for drivers to switch off the automatic brake system  in order to travel a bit faster.    One woman was killed and 236 injured in what was described as “an inevitable crash”.    Managers has turned a blind eye on the practice which enabled drivers to catch upon schedules if they were running late.

TURKEY   The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has awarded Hyundai-Rotem a contract to build  driverless Metro coaches to operate on Metro Line M7 which is being built from Mahmutbey to Mecidiyeköy and later to Kabataş.

SPAIN  –  TRAMS  There are several plans to unite the two quite separate sections of the standard gauge tramways in Barcelona.      Most favoured is a new surface line along the Avenue Diagonal which would attract 220,000 passengers daily and take about 12,500 cars of the roads.   It would cost Euro 175m to build.    An underground version of this link would cost much more – Euro 475m –  and would attract 236,000 daily users.     The link could be diverted on adjacent streets costing Euro 210m and attracting 189,000 daily users.    Very much cheaper would be to operate a new network of electric bus routes at a cost of just Euro 20m but this would attract only 49,000 daily users.   City authorities have backed the first option since once built it would generate a return of 11% on the investment.     Although the tramway along the Diagonal would remove many cars from the road, it would be necessary to close one lane in each direction to make space for the tramway.

SPAIN  –  RAILWAYS     The FC de Soller faces an accessibility problem following complaints from a group for the disabled.    The 914mm gauge line between Palma and Soller is used mainly by tourists to enjoy the scenery as the line passes through the mountains but it remains part of the normal public transport of Majorca.   It will be very difficult to install wheelchair lifts in century-old coaches and then adapt the coaches so that wheelchairs can be accommodated inside each coach.

8 April 2016

GERMANY    A new north – south light rail line passing in tunnel below Düsseldorf city centre was opened on 20 February 2016.     Free travel on the 3.4km long route was given on the opening day only.     The new line has six stops equipped with low platforms capable of use by low-floor trams or LRVs and is used by routes U71, U72, U73, and U83 which replace street running tram routes 701, 703, 707, 712 and 713.     Services are worked by 76 NF8U LRVs which are based on the Siemens Combino design.

SWITZERLAND    New tunnels, recently built or planned will alter travel across the Alps in the direction of Italy.    The longest of the tunnels is the new Gotthard Base Tunnel (57km) from Altdorf to Biasca.   It will open in December 2016 and three times the length of the first Gotthard Tunnel between Göschenen and Airolo.      A little to the west the metre gauge route between Innertkirchen and Oberwald will be improved by the proposed 22km long Grimsel Tunnel.    Further west the main line from Bern and the Simplon Tunnel will be speeded up and its capacity increased by the new Base Tunnel from Frutigen to Visp and the Simplon Tunnel.

25 March 2016

EUROSTAR     Services were halted for several hours on Good Friday,  25 March 2016 just as crowds were gathering to travel at the start of a major public holiday.

SWEDEN    Stadler is supplying thirty three four-car KISS emus that will operate on outer suburban on inter-city services to neighbouring large towns scattered around Stockholm.

FRANCE    Siemens has been awarded the contract to supply a communications based control system for the busy central section of RER Line E allowing trains at up to 22 per hour.   The system will cost Euro 186m.    All but two overnight services worked by SNCF are to be withdrawn following a Government decision to discontinue the funds that have kept the services running.  Earlier changes included the removal of proper sleeping cars so that the overnight trains had just couchettes and seating cars.    The services to be withdrawn from 01 July 2016 are  from Paris Austerlitz to Cerbère; to Irun/Tarbes;  to St Gervais/Bourg St Maurice; and to Nice.   The cross-country service linking Luxembourg and Strasbourg with Nice and Port-Bou will also disappear.    The services that will survive link Paris with Briançon and Paris to Rodez/Latour de Carol.

12 March 2016

IZY (FRANCE – BELGIUM)  This is the name for a new low-cost service between Paris Nord and Brussels South which will operate over the classic railway between Paris and Arras rather than use the high-speed line for which the access charges are considered too high. It is a brand of Thalys and will start on 3 April 2016.  Prices start at Euro 19 for tickets bought two months in advance to Euro 59 for purchases four hours before departure (the latest one can book). Tickets have to be bought on-line or through a mobile app. There will initially be two return trips daily. “Simple and Izy” so says the English language website.

NETHERLANDS   A local train running east from Zwolle ran into a very slow moving crane on a level crossing at Dalfsen on 23 February 2016.     The crane driver had waited until a train in the other direction had passed through the crossing before entering the crossing.     The train was derailed and some coaches ended up in an adjacent field.   The train driver was killed and five of the fifteen passengers were injured.   A rush hour train would have been tightly packed with commuters. The Netherlands Government is making a Euro 3m investment in its railways over the next seven years.   One third of the rolling stock fleet will be replaced and although space for second class passengers will be increased there will still be no guarantee of a seat for everyone.   Facilities at stations will be improved and the provision of train timekeeping information will be a priority.

FRANCE CDG EXPRESS   After years of debate and in-fighting between different political groups it has been agreed that a high-speed rail link will be built from Paris Gare de l’Est to Charles-de-Gaulle Airport taking just under 20 minutes for the trip.   At present the Airport’s only rail link is provided by RER line B which has an extremely heavy commuter traffic making a journey to the Airport at busy times extremely uncomfortable.   The service is to be called “CDG Express” and will start operations by 2023.
FRANCE   The city of Caen is to convert its TVR guided bus network into a tramway by the end of 2019.    There will be a number of short extensions to the present network that will then comprise three tram routes.     Twenty three LRVs are to be obtained and services will operate every three minutes at peak times.     SNCF has a Euro 186m contract to Siemens France to supply a train control system on the central section of RER Line E.

SWITZERLAND   The Federal Office of Transport has approved the initial 4.6km long segment of a new light rail line in Lausanne starting in the city centre at Flon where it will connect with Metro Lines 1 and 2.    The light rail route will run west to Renens ending at the Swiss National Railways station.   A major housing development will be built close by using a former industrial site.

SPAIN   A further section of driverless Metro was opened in Barcelona on 12 February 2016. The 19.6 km line 9 runs roughly north – south and connects Zona Universitaria with both terminals at the Airport.   Trains operate every four minutes at peak times and every seven minutes off peak.

ITALY    The Government is considering selling 40% of the National railway company to the public.   The Ferrovie dello Stato (FdS) was formed in 1905 when all the major railway companies were brought together.      The FdS has since then become more of a holding company with the operation of freight and passenger services the responsibility of Trenitalia.   The network is maintained by another company Rete Ferroviara Italia.     The Government has not clarified which companies could be sold but it is generally expected that 40% of Trenitalia will be sold while the Government retains ownership of tracks and structures.

22 February 2016

SWEDEN   Construction of the new 6km long tunnel link between Stockholm Södra (South) Station and  Tomteboda in the northern inner suburbs has advanced sufficiently for diesel powered trains to be able to run along the new route.   It will provide a by-pass avoiding Central Station and the grossly congested two track link between Södra and Central stations.   The installation of electrification equipment is incomplete and power will be delivered through aluminium rails fixed to the tunnel roof rather than through catenary wires.

BELGIUM   A Bombardier-Alstom consortium is to build up to 1300 bi-level coaches over an eight year period.   They will be of the new M7 design developed from the earlier M6 design and will be able to travel at 125 mph and provide 145,000 extra seats on each weekday along the overcrowded cross-city tunnels through the centre of Brussels.

GERMANY    A head-on collision between two emu commuter trains on 09 February 2016 at 0648 killed ten people including both drivers and injured about one hundred.    The crash happened near Bad Aibling in wooded country on the single-track Rosenheim – Munich route.   Both trains were  each carrying a little over 100 passengers but because it was Shrove Tuesday and also Carnival Holiday Time many people were on holiday and the schools were shut.    On a normal day the Munich-bound train would have been packed by 1000 scholars and commuters.    The trains were operating round a bend so the drivers had only a brief opportunity to see the approaching train and had little chance to brake before the impact.      The trains carried black boxes to record  how the trains were driven, would identify any breaking of the rules, and will give key information about the cause of the collision.     An error at the train operating centre allowing two trains to enter the single track section has been identified as the cause.

FRANCE    Line 4 of the Paris Metro is to be upgraded to automatic operation.    Siemens has won the contract to transform the signalling and control systems allowing trains on the 12km long line to run as close as 85 seconds apart.   Line 4 is one of the busiest in the city handling 700,000 passengers each weekday.    Line 1 has already been converted to automatic operation by Siemens and Line 14 was built with automatic operation.

ITALY   A 4-line tramway network opened in Palermo on Sicily on 30 December 2015.   It is standard gauge and power is supplied at 750 V dc.

SERBIA    The first major phase of the new Center Station in the heart of the capital Belgrade was opened on 27 January 2016.   Planning for the station began around 80 years ago and on several occasions construction work started before a lack of money halted progress.    Five of the six platforms are now in use.

6 February 2016

SWEDEN   Large numbers of refugees have opted to travel to Sweden and have caused massive delays to rail services taking them from Denmark to Malmö in Sweden via the Öresund Bridge. All services using the Öresund route to Malmö are now terminated at Malmö C (Low Level) to avoid delays to through services continuing further into Sweden.   The operation of heavy rail suburban services around Stockholm has been awarded to MTR (Hong Kong).   Local passenger services have been restored on the Malmö – Trelleborg branch forty four years after the service was discontinued.

NORWAY   Parliament is considering proposals to electrify all lines that remain diesel worked and has identified two freight routes that merit conversion ahead of the others.   These are the Røros Line (the secondary Oslo – Trondheim route) and the connecting Solør Line which together give alternative routes for heavy freight traffic.

GERMANY   The Leipzig and Halle – Erfurt high speed line was opened on 9 December 2015 and features three tunnels with a combined length of 15.4 km and the longest railway bridge in Germany at 8.1km.    Most of the route has a 300 km/hour speed limit.

AUSTRIA  Vienna Hauptbahnhof became fully operational from the start of the new winter timetable on 13 December 2015.    The State Railway ÖBB has cancelled plans for a new passenger coaches fleet for most of its inter-city routes since the competitor WESTbahn will have put into service its new fleet well ahead of ÖBB making the building of the planned fleet uneconomic.   However ÖBB is going ahead with obtaining a new fleet of 20 sleeping cars in contrast to neighbour German Railways which is phasing out its entire sleeping car services.

SWITZERLAND    With the Gotthard Base Tunnel now complete test operations are operating through the tunnel every day.    By May 2016 there will have been 3500 test runs through the tunnel with freight stock operating at speeds of 275 km/hour which is 10% higher than planned speeds when regular services are run.   The tunnel is to open officially on 1 June 2016 and regular timetabled passenger runs will commence with the timetable change on 11 December 2016.

19 January 2016

ITALY    The Milan Metro Line 5 (the Purple Line) is the first fully automated driverless rail light rail system in the city.   It operates between Bignami and the San Siro stadium (13km) and has 19 stops.   The platforms are 50m long – sufficient for 4-car trains but the present stock comprises twelve 3-car trains capable of seating 100 passengers plus up to 200 standing.    There is therefore a capability of lengthening the trains should traffic grow substantially.   Trains operate every three minutes.

9 January 2016

INTERNATIONAL    The main line between Serbia and Hungary is to be greatly upgraded by Chinese engineers so that the journey time between Belgrade and Budapest will fall from eight to three hours.    The service between Praha, Czech Republic, and Kosice in Slovakia has been equipped  with new emus from Stadler.    The service, marketed as the “Leo Express”, has boosted passenger numbers by 30%.

IRELAND    Seven Citadis trams have been ordered from Alstom for use on the extended Green Line which is due to open in 2017.   The new trams will have nine sections and be 54.6m long compared to the 45m long earlier trams.    They will seat 60 people but with a crush load of standees 369 people will be able to fill one of the new trams.   At the moment there are 40 trams on the Red Line and 26 on the Green line and the platforms along the Green line will be extended to accommodate the longer trams.

RUSSIA    Suburban services are to be introduced on the “Small Ring”, a 54km long route running round the outer parts of the Moscow city centre.   Transmashholding is supplying 35 six-car emus for this service.

FINLAND / ESTONIA   The two governments have agreed to explore the feasibility of building a 80 km under water twin tunnel (plus small third maintenance bore) rail link between the two capitals Helsinki and Tallinn.    The cost would be about £9.5bn but the transit time would be only 2 hours 30 minutes and would replace an all-day sea crossing through waters that are often very stormy.     The tramway in Tallinn is to be extended to the airport.

SWEDEN   The Stockholm suburban rail network is to be operated by MTR Gamma for ten years replacing a subsidiary of the State Railway, Stockholmståg, since 2006.

GERMANY   The private passenger rail company “Hamburg – Köln Express” now operates as far as Frankfurt  and now serves Bonn, Koblenz and Bingen.     The high-speed line from Leipzig to Halle and Erfurt (123 km) was opened on 9 December 2015.

SWITZERLAND    The Waldenburgbahn is to be rebuilt from 750mm gauge to metre gauge and equipped with a new fleet capable of carrying many additional passengers.   The line will be closed for a year while the work is undertaken.    The 13.1 km long route runs from Liestal, where it connects with SBB, to Waldenburg and is the only 750mm gauge line in the country.

ITALY   large quantities of Coca-Cola are produced in the city of Verona and the bulk of drink, in cans or bottles used to be shipped into Central or Northern Europe across Switzerland in a large fleet of lorries.   Following a successful trial of using rail for this traffic about 80% of the drink is now moved by a weekly freight service powered by SBB Cargo.    The four-line 17km long light rail network in Palermo opened on 6 January 2016.

22 December 2015

POLAND   A three line tramway network was opened in Olsztyn – a city in north eastern Poland – on 19 December 2015.

BELGIUM    The National Railways has agreed contracts with Bombardier/Alstom to supply up to 1362 double deck coaches for local services across the nation.   The initial firm order is for approximately one third of the total.

ITALY   Newag, the Polish rolling stock manufacturer, has been awarded a contract to supply the Regional railway operator South East Railways between 5 and 15 emu trains.   The first five units will be delivered by the end of 2016 and will be used on local services around Bari.

5 December 2015

TERRORIST   ATTACKS    A co-ordinated series of attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 left  130 people dead and resulted in considerable disruption to transport across the city for several days.    Because some of the terrorists had connections with Belgium, this nation went on to full alert and forms of transport involving tunnels were shut down.   The Metro was closed for a week before it was considered safe to restart the service.   The last restrictions to movement in Brussels were eased on 5 December 2015.       A home-made pipe bomb exploded at Bayrampasa underground station in Istanbul during the evening rush hour on 4 December 2015.    Happily there were no fatalities and only five people were injured.    Calls at the station were cancelled for several hours while police inspected the area.

EUROSTAR   The first of the Siemens e320 trains entered public service on 20 November 2015.

THALYS   A thirty minute check-in period is being introduced at all stopping points for Thalys services.

NORWAY   Atkins has won a role in the £1.5bn overhaul of the State Railway’s signalling system.

2 November 2015

DENMARK    A completely new timetable is being introduced in December 2015 with interval  timetables introduced on almost all lines.  Aarhus – Fredericia will have services running every 15 minutes at busy times but the Padborg – Flensburg line will lose its through trains to Copenhagen.

FRANCE   The 100th Regiolis train has been delivered by Alstom for use in the Midi-Pyrénées Region.    Earlier deliveries are in active service in this Region and three other Regions across France.

ITALY   A further eight seven-car Pendolino trains capable of an operating speed of 250km/hour have been ordered from Alstom by the private operator NTV.     They will expand the company’s fleet which is used on high-speed services between eleven major cities across the nation.

SPAIN   A new fast shuttle service is planned operating half-hourly between Atocha and Barajas Airport calling only at Chamartin.   At present the only services between the city centre and the airport are locals calling at several suburban stations.

SWEDEN  On Saturday 24 October trams began running again on the Lidingöbana, Stockholm Linje 21, after a closure of some two years. During this period a number of double track sections has been increased to enable a more frequent service to be operated with more cars. A new depot at Aga is being built, due to be opened in 2017, and which will hold about 30 cars. The line runs from Ropsten, where there is a connection to the Tunnelbana (Underground), to Gåshaga brygga a total of 9.2 km. The replacement bus service ceased the next day. Follow this YouTube link for a cab ride.

1 October 2015

RUSSIA   Regional services around Volgograd and Samara are to be enhanced ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament that will feature matches in both of these cities.   A branch to Volgograd International Airport will open in 2017.   Work has started to modernise the 100 route-km suburban network in Volgograd and to electrify the 90 km long Saratov – Volgograd – Rostov main line.    A rapid regional express link  will link Samara with Tolyatti via Kurumoch Airport.  Two train operating companies that provide longer distance suburban services around Moscow has been given new contracts lasting fifteen years instead of the usual five years.   This will give them the opportunity to invest in new rolling stock and recover the cost from fare income.

FINLAND   The State Railway (VR) has lost 10% of its passenger traffic on short or middle distance routes during the past year.   Competing bus companies have launched a successful campaign to win traffic from the railway.   Significant cuts in train services, typically around 25% of services, will be imposed from 25 October 2015.

POLAND   A further upgrade to longer distance services across the country will take place this December.     Pendolino services were introduced a year ago between Warsaw and both Gdansk and Krakow.      Twenty eight-car Dart emus, built by Pesa, will have been delivered by the end of October 2015 the first having arrived in May 2015 and has now substantially completed dynamic testing.    They will take power at 3kV DC. The emus will operate at up to 160km/hour although the design speed is 200 km/hour and longer term plans call for some trains capable of 250 km/hour. Plans to upgrade the Warsaw – Katowice main line to 25kV AC have been dropped on cost grounds.

CZECH  REPUBLIC   The State freight railway is seeking bids for the supply of five locomotives capable of operating cross-border services.   They will need to operate under 15kV and 25 kV AC and also 3kV DC with ETCS Level 2.   There will be an option to obtain an additional three locomotives.

AUSTRIA   Contracts have been issued to local engineers for the construction of the 7.4 km twin bore eastern section of the Semmering Base Tunnel.

NETHERLANDS   Half of the 2890 route km rail network uses electricity generated by wind power.   It is planned to extend this to the entire network by 2018.

FRANCE  Services in the Aquitaine Region are to be upgraded by the purchase of 46 new multiple units.    All TER services in the Region will then be worked by new or refurbished trains.  Passenger services on the branch line between Nantes and Chateaubriand (64 km) were discontinued in May 1980 but it was reopened in February 2014 having been electrified at 25kV AC so that hourly regular interval services could be worked by new Citadis Dualis LRVs.    The restored service has attracted high levels of traffic – a rare example of a rural French railway branch line being upgraded in such a spectacular fashion.    Vintners in the Sauternes region of south west France are opposing the construction of 200 miles of new high-speed railways which would link Bordeaux with both Toulouse and Dax.   They claim that the passage of the trains would destroy the misty local climate which helps to sweeten the grapes.

ITALY   Trenitalia has called for bids for 500 emus during the next six years.   150 of the trains would be to upgrade regional services and the remaining 350 would be for commuter routes.

4 September 2015

GERMANY   A long-term idea has been publicised for train services across the nation to be redrawn in a clock-face pattern.   However various bottlenecks in the system would have to be relieved, sometimes involving major costly civil engineering work.    This would take many years to achieve.    The ideal timetable would result in long distance and branch services all making regularly perfect connections.

GUNMAN  ON  THALYS  EXPRESS       There was drama on the 1518 Amsterdam to Paris “Thalys” high-speed train on 21 August 2015 as it neared Arras in Belgium close to the border with France.       At 1745 a gunman from Morocco carrying an AK47 gun started to fire at passengers.    He was brought down by three unarmed passengers from USA  and one from UK.   A disaster was avoided and the French President announced that the four heroes were to be awarded the Legion d’Honneur – the highest award that France can give to a civilian..

HUNGARY   The Russian firm Metrovagonmash has been contracted to refurbish 222 Budapest metro coaches that were built originally by another Russian company.

BULGARIA   Large sections of the tram network in the centre of the capital Sofia are being grassed over.   Turf is being laid along the strip between the rails allowing rainwater to soak away from the rails into the grass.    It is the intention to improve the appearance of the city centre by converting the tram routes into attractive green strips.

3 August 2015

EUROSTAR    The new class 374 trains, known better as the e320 trains have been built by Siemens at the factory in Krefeld     The cost of supplying 17 of the new trains and refurbishing all of the older trains will be £1bn.     During the second quarter of 2015 Eurostar carried 2.8m passengers, and increase of 3% over the corresponding quarter of 2014.

FINLAND   A new 18 km long line in Helsinki was opened on 10 July 2015.   Linking the Lahti main line with the Martinlaakso branch the new line serves Helsinki International Airport taking 30 minutes for each trip.

HUNGARY   MAV has ordered from Stadler twenty one “Flirt” emu trains for use on Budapest suburban railways.

FRANCE   Paris Gare du Nord station is to be expanded to handle increased traffic.   It is already the busiest station in Europe with over 700,000 passengers each weekday (around 80% of them using the RER line under the main station and various suburban services).     A large increase in numbers using the Chunnel route to London will require larger lounges with additional retail facilities.    Each new e320 train will carry 900 passengers compared with 750 in the present trains so there will be larger crowds to handle.   Separate arrival and departure areas will be used by other  long distance services and the new departure hall will be on a 250m long glass sided structure spanning the tracks just outside the classic train shed.   This will be reached from roads at both ends and will be linked to the platforms by escalators.     Gare de l’Est is adjacent and better connectivity between the terminals will achieved so that passengers arriving for example from London will be able to transfer easily to the new Airport express services that will use the l’Est station.   The 1860s building fronting the station will be cleaned, repaired, and given new lighting throughout.    The area immediately outside the main entrance will be pedestrianised.

SWITZERLAND    A tunnel is to be built for an additional track that will remove the last single track bottleneck  on the lakeside line west of Biel on the Zurich – Solothurn – Geneva line.   SBB has ordered twenty nine 11 car non-articulated, non-tilting, ET259 trains from Stadler.  SBB prefers to name them “Geruno”.    There is an option for a further 92 of these train sets.   They have been designed for the Zurich – Milan service once the Gotthard and Ceneri Base Tunnels have been completed.    The journey will take 3hours but a time of  2 hours 40 minutes could be possible if paths could be found in Italy.

17 July 2015

FRANCE    Alstom and Bombardier have celebrated the departure from their factory at Crespin of the 100th M109 duplex emu for service on the Paris RER Line A.     Each five car double-deck train can accommodate up to 1300 people and travel at speeds of up to 75 mph.   A total of 140 of the trains are on order, 70 having been completed earlier as part of a different contract.      SNCF’s traditional inter-city trains have lost traffic during recent years as the company has concentrated on developing its high-speed  network.      Because of mounting loses a Commission was set up to study whether these routes had any future and the results have been mostly positive.   Control of several routes is to be transferred to the local regions, on many routes the conventional trains are to be replaced by modern emus or double-deck emus.   The service frequency is to be increased on the following routes:-  Bordeaux – Nice; Nantes – Tours – Lyon;  Paris – Amiens;  Paris – Toulouse.   A handful of routes will be discontinued or be replaced by bus.

HUNGARY    A plan to build a fourth Metro route in Budapest has been dropped on cost grounds but a less costly tram route will be built along the same corridor.

RUSSIA   The first of Stadler’s “Metelica” trams has started testing in Samara.     The city plans to obtain 30 of the trams to operate services during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

1 July 2015

CHUNNEL    Services through the tunnel were halted for much of 23 June 2015 following a strike by Calais Port workers resulting in huge queues of lorries on roads around the ferry and Eurotunnel terminals.    Large numbers of would-be migrants to the UK attempted to board lorries that were stuck in the traffic jams and fires were lit across the tunnel entrance by other migrants.   All services across and below the Channel were halted for the rest of the day but normal operations resumed during the morning of 24 June 2015.    Further delays to rail services continued over the weekend of 27/28 June 2015 and into the following week.    Striking port workers piled tyres on to the tracks leading into the Chunnel and set them alight preventing the operation of rail services which had been taking traffic diverted from the ferries.

FINLAND   The Tralli Consortium has won the €250m contract to build a 23.5km long light rail line in the city of Tampere.

22 June 2015

DENMARK   Preparations for the construction of an immersed tube tunnel to carry a 200 km/hour rail link between Denmark and Germany are under way in Denmark.   The Euro 5.5bn project is expected to open in 2021.   Meanwhile the Aarsleff/Siemens consortium has been selected to take over the project to electrify at 25kV 50Hz railways throughout the nation.

CROATIA   The State Railway has ordered thirty two 25 kV AC four-car emus and twelve three car dmus from local builder Koncar.    Most of the emus will be for suburban services and each unit will have just 135 seats with lots of standing room.   The remaining emus will be for Regional services and will have 211 seats of which twenty will be first class.    The dmus will be used on regional services and will have 163 seats (no first class).

SWITZERLAND   The new cross-city link in Zürich, Durchmesserlinie, including the new Löwenstrasse station under Zürich Hbf station opened officially on June 14, with services starting the next day.     The new through route will be used by Altstetten – Löwenstrasse – Oerlikon S-Bahn services when the new Weinberg Tunnel opens to the west of Löwenstrasse allowing two other cross-city suburban lines to be diverted through the station.   These are S8  Weinfelden – Löwenstrasse – Pfäffikon, and S2 Airport – Löwenstrasse – Ziegelbrücke.    Also route S14 from Hinwil will terminate in Löwenstrasse.     The new low level station is extremely spacious and includes a large number of shops and cafes.

SPAIN   In what has been described as the largest investment for at least 20 years in its suburban rail services, the Government is to spend Euro 1,26bn over the next three years.    The work includes new signalling, track renewal, level crossing elimination, improved stations, and rolling stock modernisation.

4 June 2015

SWEDEN   The open-access service between Stockholm and Gothenburg commenced operation on 21 March 2015.    Initially there are just four return trips on weekdays and two at the weekend.  The operator is MTR Express, a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s MTR.    A fleet of six 5-car Flirt 3 emus is providing the service and the last of these will be delivered in August by the builder, Stadler of Switzerland.    These brand new trains will eventually provide eight round trips daily and will provide competition for the National Railway’s (SJ) eighteen return trips.   SJ uses X2000 emus and these are to be refurbished.     The city centre to city centre journey time by rail is around 3½  hours easily beating the time taken by rival air services.

NORWAY   New trains are on order for the Oslo International Airport service.   CAF is to supply eight four-car Oaris emus that will be capable of speeds of up to 250km/hour.    Some of the sixteen Bombardier Class BM 71 emus, top speed 210 km/hour, will be replaced by the new stock      The Airport is 50km north of the city and the ten minute frequency Airport service uses a specially built high-speed route with trains covering the trip to Oslo Sentral in 20 minutes.     It is planned that the new trains will take a couple of minutes off the journey time once some infrastructure modifications are completed.

IRELAND    The long planned branch to Dublin Airport is again being discussed since the alternative proposal to build a Metro Line seems to be too costly.

NETHERLANDS    NS has ordered 60 Flirt emus from Stadler in Switzerland in order to relieve overcrowding on many routes.    They will be delivered in 2016.     The contract was not put out to tender by all interested builders.    Bombardier and Alstom have launched legal action because they had been denied the chance to bid but NS’s defence is that they wanted the new stock “urgently” and could not waste time going through a time consuming competition between builders.
The main line between Rotterdam and The Hague has been relocated as it passes through Delft. The railway was taken across the city on a viaduct and this has been replaced by a tunnel 2.3 km long.   Delft station was served by the viaduct route and this has been replaced by a new below ground station.    Last trains ran on the viaduct route on 20 February 2015 and the tunnel route opened for public services on 28 February 2015.   The speed allowed through the tunnel has been reduced to 80 km/hour since higher speeds caused too much of a pressure effect in the new station.  The speed allowed on the viaduct was 140 km/hour.     The viaduct is to be demolished and the old station site cleared for redevelopment.

22 May 2015

TURKEY   The 3.3 km long Line 6 of the Istanbul Metro was opened by the President on 18 April 2015.    It links Levent (interchange with Metro Line 2) with University.

Follow the link below for more information.

Istanbul Metro line 6

IRELAND   Public transport is being used by approximately half of all commuters who work in Dublin city centre.  Many cycle or walk to work and the proportion driving their own car is down to about one third of the total.    Traffic on the LUAS trams has risen by 8% during the past year and the bus services are carrying about 1.5% more.    The number using trains including longer distance commuters is up 4% but there is a problem on the DART electric suburban services.   They are so crowded that it is impossible to pack any additional passengers on to many of the trains.   The frequency of peak hour services is being increased from a train every fifteen minutes to a service every ten minutes.     With services to inner or outer suburban destinations and to different routes overlapping each other the result will be an extremely frequent service to/from the city centre.

GERMANY   Train drivers started a strike on 20 May 2015 over pay, working conditions, and for the GDL Union to be given the right to negotiate on behalf of its members.

ITALY   Following the collapse of a major bridge on the A19 highway between Palermo and Catania, just two weeks after it opened, fast through trains between the two major cities in Sicily have been increased from one per day to seven (weekdays) six (Saturdays) and three (Sundays) using Minuetto emus. The bridge collapse caused the resignation of the president of Italy’s highway management agency.

SPAIN The overnight sleeping car service between Madrid and Barcelona was withdrawn at the start of the summer timetable.   The growth of traffic on the new high-speed railways has taken most of the traffic from the slow overnight trains.

8 May 2015

 CZECH  REPUBLIC   A 6.1 km long extension to Prague Metro Line A was opened on 6 April 2015 and operates west in the direction of the Airport.    A further 6.9km extension to the Airport terminals is planned but no date has been set for a start to construction work.

GERMANY    Much of the railway network was brought to a stand during the first week of May 2015 as the trade unions called a seven day strike following the failure of negotiations concerning pay and working conditions.

BELGIUM   Design work for a third Metro route in Brussels is under way.    The new Bordet –  Albert line will feature automatic operation and will use a pre-metro tunnel operating north – south below the city centre.

FRANCE   Toulouse Airport is now linked to the city by a new tramway line (T2) that is operated by Alstom Citadis 302 light rail vehicles.   The new service started operation on 11 April 2015 and runs every 15 minutes.

SWITZERLAND    The Zurich – Geneva main line was blocked by a major landslip during the afternoon of 2 May 2015 near Fribourg, a little south of Bern.     The nearby River Morge had burst its banks following very heavy rain and this had led to instability in the side of a cutting.   There was no immediate indication of how long this important line would remain closed.

SPAIN   Electric services on the RENFE broad gauge main line between Coruna and Vigo were started on 18 April 2015.  Class 121 emus operate most trains including expresses which cut the travel time by 58%.    There has been a major increase in traffic during the first couple of weeks of the new services.       The high-speed line between Valladolid and Leon (162.7 km) is to be opened in early summer this years.

26 April 2015

FRANCE   Alstom Citadis trams are to provide the service on the new 2.4km branch from the centre of Toulouse and the Blagnec Airport.  The 32m long trams each carry 200 passengers.
There was near disaster when a cycle race was routed across the Paris – Roubaix main line using a level crossing.    Large numbers of cyclists continued to cycle across the tracks as a high-speed train approached and several were nearly struck by the train.

GERMANY   Siemens continues to receive massive orders for new stock the most recent being for its largest ever order for emus.   Eighty two four-car Desiro HC emus have been ordered for service on the Rhine-Rhur Metropolitan Region.   Linked to this order is the requirement to undertake servicing of the new emus for a period of 32 years and Siemens will build a maintenance depot at Dortmund-Eving for this purpose.

BULGARIA   The Sofia Metro extension to the Airport opened on 2 April 2015 following successful trial operations since February 2015.    A branch of the line will be extended to Business Park in May or June 2015. For more information follow the link below.

Sofia Metro

10 April 2015

SWEDEN   A new Open Access fast passenger service between Stockholm and Göteborg commenced operation on 21 March 2015 using a fleet of Stadler “Flirt” emus. It is operated by MTR Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of MTR Corporation based in Hong Kong. There are around six or seven return trips each day.

POLAND   Line 2 of the 6.5 km long east-west Warsaw Metro opened on 8 March 2015.    Siemens has supplied Inspiro trains to work the new line.

ROMANIA   CAF has won the order for forty three six-car trains to work on the 6.1 km long Line 5 of the Bucharest Metro,  which is still to be built.

FRANCE   Following the sale of British owned shares in the Eurostar service, SNCF has taken over operational control of the service.

25 March 2015

NEW  INTERNATIONAL  ROUTE    The French and Italian Governments have approved a plan to build a new railway capable of handling services at 140 mph, between Lyon and Turin.   The railway would include a new tunnel, the Mont d’Ambin Tunnel, 35.6 miles long under the Alps.  This would run between St Jean de Maurienne in France and Susa in Italy.     There have been  attempts to build this line in the past but this time it looks likely that construction will commence late this year.    The line will be linked to the French LGV network at Lyon and to upgraded lines near Turin in Italy.    Travel times between Paris and Milan will be cut to just four hours. Further information can be found at the link below.

Lyon to Turin high speed railway

SWEDEN   The reopening of the Lidingöbana (linking the island of Lidingö to the mainland at Ropsten, Stockholm) was to have taken place on 28 March 2015 but has had to be postponed because of problems with the axle counters and the new signalling system.   It may take six months to identify the problem and obtain new equipment. The line has been closed for rebuilding since June 2013.

AUSTRIA   Heavy snowfalls during February 2015 have disrupted tram services in Vienna with many routes curtailed or completely closed due to snow drifts forming across the tracks.

HUNGARY    Forty seven CAF Urbos five-section low floor trams are being delivered for use on line 3 of the Budapest tram network.

GERMANY   The State Railway (DB) has been losing long distance traffic to coach services which were released in 2013 from restrictions on the services that they could provide.   DB will upgrade fast services between the larger cities to half hourly frequency and have ordered from Siemens 130 trains, 120 of them of a striking double deck design, to begin to replace the older ICE-1 trains by 2020.  Routes on which the double-deck trains will operate will include Stuttgart – Munich, and Karlsruhe – Stuttgart – Nürnberg.   DB carried 130m long distance passengers in 2014 and plan to increase this to 180m by 2030.

FRANCE   The new tramway in Besançon has carried 6m passengers during its first six months of operation.   Use of the bus network has risen by 20% during the same period showing that the new tramway has attracted more passengers to the entire network.

9 March 2015

CZECH  REPUBLIC   The nation’s Transport Ministry together with the rail infrastructure manager, S2DC, have started a study into the conversion of the country’s 3kV DC electric network to
25kV AC that will be compatible with the routes in the south of the country that already use 25kV AC and with the railways in neighbouring Hungary and Romania.    The Czech railways already possess many dual voltage locomotives but an increasing number of 3kV DC locomotives are being converted to operate at 25kV AC only.

28 February 2015

ITALY   The Japanese Company, Hitachi, has purchased the Italian train construction and telecommunications company, Ansaldo Breda.

14 February 2015

SWEDEN   Alstom is to supply twenty five Coradia Nordic emu regional trains to Skånetrafiken for service on the network of lines in the Skåne area.   The 510 seat trains are needed to handle the rapidly rising traffic.

BELGIUM    Bombardier with Alstom have been awarded a contract to supply 1000 double deck coaches at a total cost of Euro 1bn with delivery phased between 2017 and 2025.  They will replace older locomotive hauled single deck coaches and older single deck emus.    The new double deck coaches will increase capacity  required because of increasing traffic.   Stadler have raised objections to the deal and the formal contract will not be signed until this matter has been resolved.

GERMANY    National Express GmbH have been selected to operate from December 2018 the 5 line S-Bahn in Nuremberg.   They will obtain 38 five-car Skoda RegioPanther emus to operate the services.     DB Regio operates the system at the moment carrying 20m passengers per year.

FRANCE   Alstom has been selected to supply the Paris Metro with new trains for Lines 1, 4, 6, 11, and 14 at a cost of Euro 2bn.     In all there will be 217 MP14 eight-coach Metro trains supplied over a fifteen year period.    The work will begin with thirty five rubber tyred trains for Line 14.     The Alstom-Bombardier consortium has won the contract to supply ten additional M109 five car trains for service on the RER Line A.     This line is used by 1.2m passengers daily making it the busiest regional line in Europe.    Each train can carry 1725 people hopefully leaving just enough breathing space for all of them.

16 January 2015

ITALY   A proposal to build a high-speed line between Verona and Padua has raised a major furore.   The planned route taking the line through Vicenza would cause a major disturbance to the glorious gardens around the 17th century Palladian mansion, the Valmarana ai Nani, recognised as Palladio’s finest work.    The mansion and grounds comprise a World Heritage site but supporters of the railway say that it will transform the economy of the area where a lack of industry coupled with high unemployment are worrying features.    Perhaps the line can be rerouted to spare the Palladian house and garden.

23 December 2014

FRANCE    New Citadis trams entered service on the Paris tram route T8 on 16 December 2014. The Marseille – Aix-en-Provence line has been modernised during the past couple of years and the hourly service increased to half-hourly for much of the day.   Traffic has risen from 3000 to 8000 passengers per day and further modernisation which will include installing double track along some sections will allow a fifteen minute frequency at the peaks and a hoped for significant further increase in passenger numbers.

ITALY   Bombardier has won the contract to maintain the fleet of 50 new Zefiro high-speed trains for a ten year period.   CAF has supplied two new four-car class ETR 452 units for service on the Bari Airport branch of the Bari – Barletta line.   Two further units will be delivered during 2015 and a fifth train has now been ordered.

13 December 2014

NETHERLANDS    A 2.3 km long tunnel under the centre of Delft with a new Delft station is to open in the spring of 2015.    Test running along the new section of line began on 1 November 2014.    The new railway will replace the present route which runs on a viaduct that effectively cuts the town centre in two.   The State railway, NS, has chosen CAF as the supplier of a new fleet of emus.  The new stock will be based on the “Civity” range of stock.   CAF beat off a strong challenge from Alstom for the contract, details of which will now be worked out.

SWITZERLAND   The laying of track through the Gotthard Base Tunnel was completed ceremonially at noon on 31 October 2014 with the pouring of a Gold coloured sleeper at a point close to the southern portal on the 57km long tunnel.   The fitting of electrification and signalling systems will be completed during 2015 and some test running has been under way in a section of one bore.    An official opening ceremony has been fixed for 2 June 2016 with Swiss Railway services commencing with the December 2016 timetable change.

ITALY   The first section, 12.5 km long, of Metro Line C in Rome was opened on 9 November 2014.    It operates partly on the track bed of the 950mm gauge Rome – Fiuggi light railway and links  Parco di Centrocelle with Monte Compatri – Pantano to the east of the city.   Two further phases will bring the length to 25.5 km of which 17.6 km will be underground.   Thirty six-car automated train sets have been supplied by Ansaldo-Breda.

20 November 2014

FRANCE       The “Cour des Comptes” (a body that analyses Government spending and advises on how activities can be undertaken more efficiently) has criticised the growth of the High-Speed train network especially routes where up to 40% of a new route is on conventional railways.   It recommends the cutting back of sections of routes that are off the high-speed lines and seeks ways to make SNCF’s statistics more understandable.    On a more positive note Alstom has reached agreement to supply up to 50 new Citadis trams to serve extended routes as new sections open.

ITALY    The first section of Metro Line C in Rome was opened for public service on 9 November 2014.   The start of services had been delayed by 14 years, partly because as the engineers dug their tunnels they kept uncovering items of major archaeological importance.   Each had to be studied and recorded in great detail in-situ by experts before being removed to a museum.    There was in addition some mismanagement and significant cost overruns.    It was unfortunate that a train broke down after only a few minutes – a door had stuck – but the delay lasted only 11 minutes.    A disabled rider in a wheel chair had difficulty boarding a train because the car floor was at a higher level than the platform.    It was explained that when the line is properly established the crowds on board will be sufficiently heavy to lower the coach making the floor and platform at the same level.
Only 15 of the planned 30 stations along the initial 12.5km long section running through the eastern suburbs were opened.   The most important section of the new line will open next year and will link together Lines A and B.

AUSTRIA   Wien Hauptbahnhof was opened for traffic on 10 October 2014 although a fair amount of work is still to be completed.    Soon there will be ten through tracks instead of the present four.     The new station is built on the site of the old Süd Station and will take over the traffic handled at the adjacent West Station.

SPAIN   The new Malaga Metro carried over a million passengers during the first three months of operation.

7 November 2014

SPAIN   A downpour on 29 September 2014 over Girona resulted in the flooding of the 7 km long tunnel under the city resulting in the closure of the Perpignan – Barcelona main line for six days until the local fire brigades managed to pump the bore clear.    International TGV and AVE services were halted.

EUROSTAR    The UK Government announced on 13 October 2014 that it had decided to sell its 40% share of the Eurostar train service, the remaining 60% being owned by French and Belgian railways.   The sale would raise capital to reduce the National Debt.

DENMARK   A programme to electrify all the main lines is making good progress and the Folketing (Parliament) is expected to give approval for the last stages soon.    Already electrified are most of the shorter routes radiating from Copenhagen plus the main line west to Odense, Fredericia and Lunderskov then south to Padborg and Sønderborg.   Due for completion in 2015 is the Lunderskov to Esbjerg line completing the east to west main line.    Next to be completed in 2018 will be Køge – Næstved just south of Copenhagen followed in 2021 by the line south from Næstved to Nykøbing.   The significant route west from Copenhagen to Kalundborg will be converted in 2022-24 to complete the electrification of all lines radiating from Copenhagen.    Work will then switch west to Jutland with conversion of the line north from Fredericia to Århus – perhaps as early as 2023 – then north to Frederikshavn (2023) and north west to Struer (2026).    This will complete the electrification of all main lines and the operation of some of the surviving rural branches may be turned over to local operators while the main lines will have been upgraded to something close to high-speed lines.

FRANCE   Twelve Citadis trams are to be ordered from Alstom for delivery in 2016-7.   Alstom with Bombardier are to supply twelve Metro trains for the Paris Metro lines 2, 5, and 9.  The contract includes design work, development of the design ideas, and construction.    The new trains will be fully air-conditioned.

GERMANY   Veolia Verker is to discontinue its InterConnex passenger service linking Leipzig, Berlin and Rostock/Warnemunde from 13 December 2014.    This was the only long distance private service operating on DB metals and had been running for twelve years.    The long distance bus market was liberalised in 2013 allowing a rival bus service to be introduced along roads parallel to the railway and the result was a drop in patronage on the trains.   In addition DB increased the track access charges for the InterConnex trains making them financial non-viable.

GREECE   Upgrading work to the track and signalling on the main line between Athens and Thessalonika has been agreed by the Government with contracts awarded to Alstom and the engineering consortium TOMI.

RUSSIA      Tramrus LLC – the joint company formed by Alstom and Transmashholding – is to supply the St Petersburg tramway with its first low-floor tram.   This is in effect a test operation and if successful many more trams may be ordered.   The three-section tram is to be 25m long and will have a capacity of 200 passengers.

10 October 2014

FRANCE    Five TGV Duplex trains have been introduced on many of the Paris – Lille workings enabling the withdrawal of original “Three Capitals” sets which are felt to be in rather poor condition..   Several “North of London” trains, intended for use on never introduced through services between Paris and points well beyond London, are also being retired although they could see service with another operator.     Paris Metro Line 14 is being extended northwards 5.8 km from St Lazare to Marie de Saint Ouen.   There will be four intermediate stations.   Line 14 employs rubber tyred trains and fourteen sets have been ordered from Alstom to operate on the extended line.     They will enable some of the earlier MP89 trains to be cascaded to Line 4 which is to be converted to automatic operation by 2020.

NETHERLANDS    The tramways in The Hague celebrated their 150th anniversary on 5 July 2014.  Historic preserved trams operated through the city during the following days and three routes were worked entirely by preserved trams on 12 July 2014.    Meanwhile tram 3035, a rebuilt three section GTL 8-1 tram now with an overall black livery, has become a magnificent moving restaurant.    Diners must pre-book and receive a four course dinner during a 2½ hour long trip around the city at a cost of Euro 69.50.   The tram has a kitchen and toilet.

CZECH  REPUBLIC   In an effort to boost the proportion of urban peak travel by rail a new halt was opened at Podbaba in the western suburbs of the capital, Prague.   Five additional halts are to be opened on lines around Prague during the next couple of years.

POLAND   Alstom has delivered on time sixteen Pendolino trains from an order for twenty.  The  Office of Rail Transport has certified the trains as being compliant with the ERTMS2 signalling system and suitable for operation at 250km/hour.   From December 2014 the trains will be introduced on routes radiating from Warsaw to Gdynia and Krakow.

28 August 2014

BOMBARDIER    The company received orders for ten TRAXX  DC  locomotives on 21 August plus options for a further ten.    They will be used to haul freight services in Italy and Poland.

SPAIN    Lines 1 and 2 of the Malaga Metro opened as planned on 30 July 2014 using Alstom Urbalis TM 400 LRVs.     A wireless control system allows the trams to operate a 90 second frequency.    High-speed rail services between Madrid and Barcelona continue to carry more passengers than the frequent rival air service.    During the first half of 2014 rail traffic rose by 9.3% and 62.3% of passengers between the two cities now chose to go by train.

FRANCE   The new 14.5km long tramway in Besançon was opened on 30 August 2014.   It links the suburbs of Hauts-du-Chazal and Chalezeule via the city centre.   The main railway station is served by a short branch.  Nineteen CAF 23m long three section trams will provide the services. Further information (in French) can be found at the following link:

Besançon Tramway

GERMANY   DB’s City Night Line (CNL) services are to be pruned from the timetable change in December 2014.    The CNL routes have lost £20-25m each year as new very fast daytime services  capture the traffic.   Routes axed include Copenhagen – Hamburg – Basel;    Paris – Hamburg – Berlin.   There will now be just two core CNL routes with individual cars split off or added en route.    Through cars will link Warsaw with Köln and Praha.    From Amsterdam cars will run through to Munich and Innsbruck, to Berlin, Praha, and Zürich.    From Munich there will be through cars to Berlin, Rome, and Venice.   This rump of a once comprehensive network will survive only if it is profitable.    If usage continues to fall away then they will end within a year or two as has happened in adjacent France where routes from Paris to Spain and Rome have already gone.

SWITZERLAND   An eight coach loco hauled train from St Moritz to Chur was derailed by a landslide following very heavy rain near Tiefencastel early on 12 August 2014.   One carriage fell into a ravine but was prevented from falling to the bottom by a tree.   Of the 200 passengers on board only eleven were significantly injured and they were taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

5 August 2014

FRANCE    On 17 July 2014 a high-speed train carrying 178 passengers was in collision with a Regional TER service carrying 70 passengers near Denguin on the Pau – Bayonne line.   Twenty five passengers were injured, four very seriously.   A possible signalling fault is being blamed.

SWITZERLAND  The first section of the Durchmesserlinie in Zürich was opened on 14 June 2014.   The new double track route starts at Oerlikon to the north of the city centre then travels through the 5km long Weinberg tunnel to reach the new Löwenstrasse station which lies 50 feet below platforms 4-9 on the south side of the Hbf.     The initial service is confined to shuttles between Oerlikon and Löwenstrasse but once the new route running mostly on viaduct in a westerly direction to Altstetten opens in 2015 through services will run to and from many outlying suburbs and the Airport.     Main line trains between the Airport and Bern or Geneva will use the route avoiding a reversal in the stub end platforms of the Hbf. Please use the link below for more information.

SPAIN   The signalling system on lines 1 and 2 of the new Metro in Malaga was commissioned during July 2014 with the lines opening on 30 July for most of their length.
Please visit the following websites for more information.

Malaga Metro signalling system

There are many photos (and a video in Spanish) at this website: Malaga Metro

16 July 2014

CHUNNEL   Services through the Channel Tunnel were disrupted on 7 July 2014 when the 0620 Shuttle service from Folkestone ran into trouble about one quarter way through the tunnel.   A fault caused the overhead power wire to sag and  become entangled with the train’s pantograph.   There were 382 passengers on board together with their cars and a rescue train was brought from France stopping alongside the failed train.   The passengers were then guided across the central service tunnel and into the rescue train which then reversed taking them to the French terminal at Calais.  They were not reunited with their cars until later that day.     Meanwhile normal services both northbound and southbound had to run via the one undamaged bore and the normal timetable was abandoned for the day with batches of trains sent through the Chunnel first in one direction and then in the other.    Services returned to near normal on the next day.

FINLAND    Road traffic around the capital Helsinki has become so congested that a major initiative has been launched to create complete co-ordination between all forms of public transport by 2025 so that it will be unnecessary to own a car.    Suburban trains, Metro, bus, ferry, taxi and hired bikes will all work together so that all a traveller will have to do is specify the start and finish addresses and a door to door form of transport will immediately be set up.

RUSSIA   A violent emergency stop was made by a Moscow subway train during the morning rush hour on 15 July 2014.   Three coaches of the train were derailed and became jammed against the tunnel wall.    Twenty three passengers were killed and 160 significantly injured of whom 42 required intensive care treatment.    The incident happened on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line in the western suburbs between Slaviansky Boulevard and Park Pobedy stations.   This line appears in dark blue on the Subway map. Park Pobedy station is the deepest (84m) on the Metro which made rescue attempts difficult. Several causes are being investigated however a new switch (turnout) was installed two months ago and a fault with this is suspected to have contributed to the cause.

FRANCE     A team led by the French civil engineering firm Bouygues has been awarded a contract to build a tunnel 2.2km long in Paris extending from Pleyel to Clichy-St Ouen and to construct a new station at the latter point.  This work forms part of the scheme to extend Metro Line 14.   Citadis Dualis LRVs are to enter service on the upgraded Nantes – Chateaubriant line from February 2015 after 34 years of closure.   Conversion to a tramway will result in the best ever service on the route.

ITALY   The 14.3km long suburban tramway from Milan to Seregno via Desio is being totally rebuilt by Alstom and associated contractors.  There will be new track, electricity supply equipment, and signalling.   Limited services will still be available since the work is being undertaken during quieter hours.   The upgrading will be completed by late 2016.

SPAIN   Alstom with Isolux Corsan are to design, build, then maintain traction substations and overhead catenary on the new 44.3km high-speed railway between La Robla in Leon and Pola de Tena, Asturias, which will eventually form part of the Leon to Gijon high-speed line.

1 July 2014

SWEDEN     The 9.1 km long Lidingöbana light rail line in the eastern suburbs, on the island of Lidingö, was closed for total reconstruction on 20 June 2013.  Seven CAF Urbos four segment low floor LRVs were ordered to replace the old trams and the first of these has started test operations.  The new LRVs will seat 102 passengers with space for 157 standees.  The route is expected to restart public services in March 2015 until then rail replacement buses operate.

BELARUS    Electrification of the line from the capital Minsk to Bobruysk was completed early in 2014.   New five car FLIRT emus have been introduced on this and other local routes radiating from Minsk to replace earlier 4-car units.

GERMANY    Violent storms on 9 June 2014 brought down trees damaging the overhead wires over about 1,500 km of track mostly in the Rhein Ruhr region.

SWITZERLAND   Services on the Durchinesser Line which provides a through route for east-west services across Zurich without requiring reversal in the Hauptbahnhof (Hbf) opened on 15 June 2014.    The 9.6km long link includes the 4.8 km long Weinberg Tunnel.   The new line commences at the western approach to Hbf then curves in tunnel to serve new platforms 31-34 16m below the surface level platforms in Hbf before joining the existing tracks near Oerliken to the north east of Hbf.   Local routes S2, S8 and S14 were diverted to the new platforms in June but Intercity services will not be diverted to the new route until December 2015 by which time the new Altstetten Viaduct  west of the city will have been completed.    Eventually Low Level platforms 31-34 will be used by 320 suburban and 140 long distance trains each weekday.

FRANCE    The French railway network suffered severe disruption from 11 June 2014 when many railway staff came out on strike to protest against the Government’s decision that SNCF, the train operator, should be merged with RFF, the owner of the infrastructure.    This would start the process of opening up the railway network to competition.    The railway unions fear that this will result in a loss of jobs as inefficient practices on SNCF are modified.    The Government continued to put the required legislation through parliament and the public became more and more frustrated as the major holiday season got under way, senior school pupils faced problems getting to major exams, and commuters had problems getting to work.

SPAIN    AVE (high speed) services carried 6.2m passengers during January – March 2014, a rise of 14.6% compared with 2013.   Domestic air services carried 5.96m people, a drop of 4.4%.

16 June 2014

FRANCE   Alstom is to supply a further fifteen Citadis Dualis Tram-Trains for service on the Epinay-sur-Seine and Le Bourget lines in the Ile-de-France.

SPAIN   The number of passengers on long distance trains surpassed the number using air services during January 2014. Rail ridership rose by 22% from the previous year while air users fell by 7%.

3 June 2014

GERMANY    The new north-south Stadtbahn across Karlsruhe between Heilbron and Neckarsulm was opened on 14 December 2013 using a new fleet of 3-section Flexity Swift LRVs.

AUSTRIA   Gmunden station is to be totally rebuilt on a site about 200m north of the present station.   A connecting tram route will be realigned to run into the new station.

BULGARIA   Bids have been called for the construction of the 7.2km long first phase of Metro Line 3 in the capital Sofia.  It will operate along a SW – NE route between Oveha Kupal and Vrazhdebna.

HUNGARY   Budapest tram route 17 is being rebuilt and will be linked to route 61 to form a long north – south route from Beesi ut to Morisz Zsigmond.   CAF is building 47 LRVs in its Zaragoza factory paid for mostly from EU funding.   The order was initially for 37 LRVs but they could not be completed in time to qualify for agreed EU funding which had a time limit on its availability.  If the order was increased to 47 LRVs CAF agreed to open an additional production line and the EU funding was increased to cover the extra vehicles, which would have become needed soon.

FRANCE   Major work has started to improve capacity along the Marseille – Toulon – Nice main line.   A low level station with four platforms is being built under the present Marseille Saint-Charles terminus allowing trains to proceed from the north to the Nice line without having to reverse.   The Marseille – Aubagne section will be quadrupled creating space for 21 local trains and nine expresses every hour.   A relief line will be built running north of Nice serving the airport and relieving congestion along the present coastal route.

ITALY  The planned high-speed railway between Venezia and Trieste has had to be completely redesigned and will now operate partly as an upgrade of existing railways with the elimination of level crossings and the provision of extra track at bottlenecks.    The initial plans were for a line running along the coast but this was decreed to be environmentally undesirable.

BELARUS   Construction of a third Metro Line in Minsk started on 19 March 2014.   The 17.2 km north – south line will be opened in two phases, in 2017 and 2020.

13 May 2014

AZERBAIJAN   Fifty KZ8A electric freight locomotives have been ordered for use on the State Railway.   These extremely powerful machines will take power at 25kV ac.   At present much of the railway network is electrified at 3kV dc but the power supply is being altered to 25kV ac which will be installed by the time the new locomotives are delivered from Alstom’s assembly plant in Astana, Kazakhstan.

SWEDEN   Long sections of the 891mm gauge Roslagsbana which operates suburban services in the area north east of Stockholm are to be double-tracked.   The existing single track routes can no longer cope with the rapidly growing traffic.

HUNGARY   Metro line 4 of the Budapest Metro opened on 28 March 2014.   The 7.4km line is  entirely underground operating in twin bored tunnels and using automatic operation.   For the first year there will be an attendant in a front cab to ensure that the system operates reliably after which time the attendant will be removed and the trains will be fully automatic.

BELGIUM   The De Lijn public transport company is to obtain 146 new 30m long trams to replace the fleets operating services on the Coastal Tramway, and on the networks in Gent and Antwerp.   This is the largest order ever placed by the company.

SPAIN   A consortium including Bombardier and Thales has won the contract to modernise the main line along the Mediterranean coast through Valencia and Castellon.   Computer based interlocking will be a key feature of the new system.

28 April 2014

ALSTOM   At the end of April 2014 a fierce battle was under way for ownership of the French engineers between GEC of USA and Siemens of Germany.

RUSSIA    The 115th anniversary of the Moscow tramway system was celebrated with a magnificent procession of historic trams on 13 April 2014.    This was led by an open-top tram hauled by four horses.    Delivery of the 120 new trams ordered last year will start in July 2014 and at least 70 are expected to be in service by the end of 2014 and the remainder by summer 2015.

GERMANY   DB Regio launched on 14 April 2014 a new low-cost service between the country’s two largest cities, Berlin and Hamburg.    A train leaves Berlin early in the morning and is routed via Stendal taking 3 hours.   A return service leaves Hamburg late in the afternoon.   There are numerous InterCity trains operated by ICE sets and using the more direct route taking 1 hour 40 minutes.    Also using the direct route are Eurocity trains taking 2 hours 10 minutes.   The latter trains may include coaches from Hungary, Austria, Poland or the Czech Republic.      However DB Regio offers very low fares of Euro 19.90 single or 29.90 return and the company hopes to attract passengers would not be willing to pay much higher fares for the InterCity or Eurocity trains.

SPAIN   Alstom is to supply its Atlas 200 signalling system for the new Valladolid – Leon high-speed line.

8 April 2014

NORWAY     Flytoget, the operator of the Oslo to Airport service, is to obtain eight new emus to help handle rising traffic.     All of the present fleet of 16 emus have to be pressed into service on busy days and an additional airport terminal will open in 2017.    The new trains will operate at up to 210 km/hour and will seat about 236 passengers.   It is intended to order a manufacturer’s off-the-shelf train but a decision as to who will get the contract has not yet been made.

SWEDEN     MTR Corporation, the private operator based in Hong Kong that already runs the Stockholm Metro has ordered from Stadler six intercity trains for a proposed Stockholm  – Gothenburg service.   Based on the Flirt design, these aluminium bodied trains will operate at 200 km/hour in Sweden’s harsh winter conditions and will give considerable comfort to the passengers.

RUSSIA    832 metro cars have been ordered from Transmashholding for the Moscow metro.   They will form 8-car trains and will be used on Line 8 the construction of which is under way.

GERMANY   Alstom is to build 29 Coradia Continental regional emus for services in Saxony.

HUNGARY    A second tram/light rail in Debrecen was opened on 26 February 2014.   In Budapest CAF is to supply 37 LRVs – some with five sections and some with nine sections – to operate on routes that include long light rail sections.    Alstom is supplying 15 Metropolis trains for service on the new Metro Line 4.

GREECE   Two sections of the standard gauge Athens – Thessalonika main line are electrified at 25kV ac – Athens to Inoi and Paleofarsalos – Thessalonika.   The intervening section is being converted and the northern  half is being rebuilt on a roughly parallel route which will allow much higher speeds.  Suburban lines to Chalkis and to the Airport are also electrified at 25kV ac.    South west of Athens similar 25kv ac electrification continues across the Corinth Canal to Corinth  and along the north shore of the Peloponese Peninsula to Kiato and an extension is being completed to Patras.   Almost all of the once substantial metre gauge network has been abandoned.

More information about the lines in the Peloponese is available at the following Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piraeus,_Athens_and_Peloponnese_Railways

ITALY   The first five of sixty three double deck train sets for use on the suburban network around Milan was unveiled in Central Station on 28 February 2014.    The order comprises of different designs from a total of five manufacturers.   The delivery began on 27 March 2014 of 70 Alstom Coradia Meridian trains ordered for use on local lines across the nation.

28 March 2014

SWITZERLAND Swiss Federal Railways enjoyed especially good trading results during 2013.    Passenger traffic was up 3.7% and for the first time the numbers carried exceeded 1m per day.   The introduction of many new double-deck coaches on urban services across the system plus the introduction of a half hourly service between Zurich and Schaffhausen  all helped to attract extra passengers.   Freight traffic rose by 1.5% which is an exceptionally good result in view of the economic woes afflicting much of Europe.   For the first time in 40 years the freight business produced a modest profit.

24 March 2014

FRANCE   Ten Citadis Dualis tram-trains entered service on the reopened Nantes – Chateaubriant line on 28 February 2014.   The branch had been closed as a conventional railway 34 years earlier.
Air quality around Paris deteriorated significantly during the winter months and early spring of 2013/4 with consequential bad effects on the health of the citizens.    An Order was released on 12 March 2014 limiting the use of private cars to alternate days.   It was hoped that this would promote car pooling arrangements or an increase in the use of public transport.

5 March 2014

FINLAND   The Finnish State Railway is to obtain eighty 25 kV AC  locomotives for passenger and freight work over the next decade.    Siemens has been declared to be the preferred bidder with their Bo-Bo “Vectron” design.  These will be the first Vectrons built for use on the 1520mm broad gauge used in Finland and Russia.    An option  may be negotiated to supply up to a further ninety seven of these locomotives.    The class Sr1 locomotives built in Russia during the 1970s and 1980s will be replaced by the Vectrons.

FRANCE   The Regional Transport Authority (STIF) which plans and organises transport around Paris, has agreed to finance the purchase of 709 new coaches to create 91 new emus.    There will be 43 new articulated single deck Francillien sets – Twenty four 8-car emus for services out of Paris Nord, and nineteen 7-car sets for services radiating from St Lazare.    For local services out of Gare de Lyon there will be forty eight 8-car double deck emus.

FRANCE / SPAIN    Following the introduction of high-speed daytime services between Paris and Madrid, the traditional overnight service has been axed.     Hardly anyone wants to spend the night in a sleeper when the daytime service gives a much superior running time.    The only international overnight trains still operating in Spain are those between Madrid and Lisbon, and Irun and Lisbon.
The introduction of through high-speed services between cities in France and Barcelona in Spain on 15 December 2013 has been an immediate success.   The two return services
on weekdays between Paris and Barcelona have been booked out on many days so a third service each way was introduced from 31 March 2014.     Single return services daily are operated to Barcelona from three French cities – Toulouse, Lyon, and Marseille.   These services are doing well but so far there has been no need to introduce additional workings.

GERMANY   The older tunnels on the Berlin U-bahn are being widened to accommodate twenty six new trains which are 10cm wider than the earlier stock giving passengers a little more room.   They that will be delivered during 2014-5.     However the coaches will not meet regulations when  using the older tunnels.    There should be 20” (50.4 cm) between the tunnel wall and the coach to  give room for a passenger to escape in an emergency.    Sections will be closed during summer of  2014 for the widening work.  The Leipzig City Tunnel linking Hauptbahnhof with Bayerische Bahnhof was opened on 15 December 2013 allowing the complete restructuring of local services around the city.

ITALY   The 14.3km long tramway from Milan to Seregno which was closed in October 2011 is to be rebuilt.   The engineering firm CMC has been contracted to undertake major improvements.    The track is to be placed in a central reservation and the route will be extended through the city centre.   A fleet of new LRVs will be obtained and the line is planned to reopen at the end of 2016.

NORWAY  The contracts for the building of the light rail line extension  to Bergen Airport have been issued.   There will be 7km of double track, 90% of which will be ballasted track and the remainder will be slab track.

RUSSIA   To serve the needs of the Winter Olympics at Sochi,  new railway branches have been opened to Sochi Airport, and 30 miles to Krasnaga Polyan (where the main alpine events will take place).   Thirty eight 5-car emus have been built by Desiro-Rus to provide the Games services and afterwards eighteen of them will transfer to the Moscow area leaving twenty to continue operating around Sochi.    A total of 1280 Desiro-Rus coaches are being supplied for services all over Russia and most are being built at a new factory in Yekaterinburg.      New double deck sleeping cars have been built for service between Moscow and Sochi.

5 January 2014

BELGIUM   Government approval has been given to the construction of three light railways (the Brabantnet) linking Brussels to communities outside the city boundaries.   These new routes would be linked to the city tram system.   Route 1 will run from Brussels Nord to Willebroek via Bockstael.   Route 2 from Brussels Nord to the Airport via Schaarbeek and Haren.   Route 3 will follow the Orbital Road around the north side of the city linking the Airport and Jette.

BOSNIA   When the country began to emerge from the 1992-5 civil war it was decided that a high speed railway service would be a sign that the good new times had arrived.   Nine high-speed trains were purchased from Talgo and in due course were delivered to the Bosnian-Croat Railway.    The trains were shunted into sidings in Sarajevo where they have remained never turning a wheel in revenue service.    The tracks are capable of trains running at up to 45 mph and much of the equipment in daily use is up to 140 years old.   There is no money to upgrade the old tracks or build new tracks for 150 mph trains.    It had been hoped that foreign investors might have supplied the cash and then run the new trains but nobody seems to be interested.

CZECH  REPUBLIC       Prague City Council has approved plans for the construction of Metro Line D which will be a 10km long branch from Line C.   Actual construction will start in 2017 with trains running from 2022.

ESTONIA    A dispute between CAF and Stadler as to which company should have won a contract to supply 15 LRVs for the new Line 4 in the capital Tallinn has been resolved in favour of CAF.   The Court decided that Stadler’s bid did not meet the precise terms of the contract.    CAF now has an option to build a further 15 LRVs in order to replace older cars in the fleet.

EUROSTAR    The Channel Tunnel service carried over 10m passengers during 2013 – the highest total ever achieved.    New routes are to be trialled with a weekly train between London, Lyon and Avignon introduced in December 2013, to complement the summer-only service which has operated for a few years.

FRANCE  Bombardier is to supply an additional thirty of its double-deck Regio 2N emus for service on the Picardie, Midi-Pyrenees, and Pays-de-la-Loire Regions.    129 of the units were already on order.

FRANCE / SPAIN Through high-speed services were introduced on 15 December 2013 between Paris and Barcelona.     The service is provided by French TGV Duplex sets and Spanish  AVE S100 single deck stock.

GERMANY   The deep-level tunnel running north-south under the centre of Leipzig opened for traffic on 15 December 2013.    Suburban and regional rail services around the city have been reorganised to form six routes across the city centre as part of an integrated transport system.
Services on the Wuppertal Schwebebahn were halted on 17 October 2013 after a 260m section of the conductor rail was torn from its mountings after the collector shoe on one train had caught the edge of the rail.   This train was left stranded and the 76 passengers had to be rescued by the fire brigade.   New collector shoes have been designed and fitted incorporating a warning device to alert the driver if the shoe moves out of alignment.    If the shoe catches the power rail the shoe will be torn off the car leaving the rail undisturbed.

POLAND   A new speed record was set on 2 December 2013 when an Alstom Pendolino train achieved 293 km/hour on a test operation near Krakow.

SWITZERLAND   The BLS Railway is obtaining twenty eight “KISS”  double deck four car emus from Stadler for use on the suburban network around Bern.

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