News from Asia

12 October 2020

CHINA The first section of Chengdu Express Metro Line 18 was opened to public services on 27 September 2020, exactly ten years since the opening of the city’s first section of Metro. The completed line will run from South Railway Station to Tianfu New Area, 66.2 km.

1 October 2020

JAPAN On 26 August 2020 JR East started remedial work on many of the concrete columns supporting the elevated structures carrying the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines, built nearly 50 years ago. Innacurate calculations regarding how much these columns might move during earthquakes means that some columns might now be at risk of failure. They are being strengthened by building a “cuff” around them.

CHINA Metro Line 4 in Kunming 43.4 km long, was opened on 25 September 2020. An extension to line 6, 7.3km long, was opened at the same time. In Ningbo an extension to Metro Line on 27 September 2020 this being a southern extension of the existing elevated route from the central area into the suburbs.

AZERBAIJAN Modernisation is under way on both north – south, and east – west routes in the neighbourhood of the port city of Baku. Baku sits at the head of the Abseron Peninsula which juts into the Caspian Sea. The north – south line was built as recently as 1963, but soon fell out of use. It is now being double-tracked and electrified so that quite heavy freight traffic can be routed that way and not have to go through the Baku conurbation. This will free up space on the railways running east – west into the city including the Baku Circular Railway on which services can now be increased. The electrified railways serving Baku itself were upgraded during August 2020 from 3kV DC to 25 kV AC 50 Hz.

INDIA The design of new emus for use on the 82 km long Delhi – Meerut commuter route has been inspired by the appearance of the famous Lotus Temple in Delhi. Bombardier has built coaches to form thirty 6-car sets for use on longer journeys, and ten 3-car sets for what is described as “intra-urban services”. In effect these are short distance routes with frequent stops within a single urban area.

ISRAEL Test running on the newly electrified Jerusalem – Tel Aviv line commenced on 6 September 2020. The line uses 25kV AC 50 Hz and commercial services are expected within a few weeks. Trains will operate at up to 160 km/hour. The journey from Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon station to Tel Aviv University will take 47 minutes, and to Hertzliya 55 minutes. Nation-wide connectiions are available at Hertzliya.

3 September 2020

CHINA Two new Metro lines were opened on 18 August 2020 in the city of Shenzhen. Line 6, the Guangmin Line, is 49 km long and runs from the north west suburbs to the Science Museum in the city centre. Fifty one 6-car aluminium bodied trains have been supplied by CRRC for this line. Line 10 runs north-south and much is parallel to the earlier Line 4 which has attracted so much traffic that the trains are dangerously overcrowded for much of the day. Some of Line 4’s traffic will switch to the new Line 10.

JAPAN The East Japan Railway has embarked on a three day trial of moving freshly caught fish from Sendai (dep 1041) to Tokyo (arr 1248). The fish is then delivered to city centre restaurants including many in the station complex itself. Fresh fruit and vegetabbles have been moved on the Joetsu Shinkansen reaching Shinjuku station at 1430. The first coach of the high-speed train is used to carry the foodstuffs which travel in boxes placed on the coach seats.

UZBEKISTAN The first short (2.9km) section of the orbital Metro in Toshkent was opened on 29 August 2020. A much larger event came on 30 August when the first 11km section of the Halqa Line was opened. The route is entirely on an elevated structure and has seven stations.

3 August 2020

CHINA The construction of a two-line tramway in the city of Turpan was commenced on 22 July 2020. The lines will run to tourist sites from transport facilities such as the main station.

MALAYSIA & SINGAPORE A ceremony was held on the causeway linking Johor Bahru in Malaysia with Singapore to mark the restart of work on the Johor Bahru – Singapore Rapid Transit System Link that will create a high-capacity urban corridor between the two nations. Work was suspended on 1 April 2019 at Malaysia’s request in order to give more time to review the plans. A few changes have been made – notably a decision not to use the existing Mandai Depot in Singapore but to build a new depot at Wadi Hana in Johor Barhu.

13 July 2020

ARAB GULF STATES A $15bn railway network will open in two phases starting in 2023 with a line between Saudi Arabia, Oman, and United Arab Emirates. In 2025 a line will enter service between Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

IRAN Track laying began on 7 July 2020 on the first section of the 628km long railway that will link Zahedan, on the existing rail network, with Chabahar, Iran’s only ocean port on the Gulf of Oman. When the whole route is opened in two-three year’s time, passenger trains will operate at 160 km/hour and freight services at 120 km/hour.

INDIA The first section of the new 308km long railway between Nadikudi and Srikalahaste has been completed. The new line will eventually provide a direct railway between Secunderabad and Andra Pradesh, reducing the distance between these localities by 96km. In contrast to many other areas in the world India Railways is embarrassed by the volume of traffic that it carries on its 1350 daily trains. It could fill a further 7000 trains each day but does not have sufficient rolling stock or the funds to obtain more. The result is the loss of traffic to airlines or long distance bus routes. There are 109 city pairs in India each of which needs an improved service so private operators are being invited to bid for franchises of up to 35 years. Each operator would obtain new rolling stock using their own funds. 151 train sets each with at least 16 coaches will be required.

CHINA New heavy rail lines continue to be built across the nation making it easier to travel between distant centres. Shanghai to Nantong, 143km was opened during June 2020 and is designed for 200km/hour operation. The line includes a road and rail bridge 1092m long spanning the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The initial passenger service comprises 29 trains each way daily the fastest requiring 70 minutes. Many of the trains are extended to Chengdu or Guangzhou.

In Beijing a new suburban line was opened on 30 June 2020 to Liangxiang, 31.31 km and taking 25 minutes. The suburban network around Beijing now totals 353 route km.

JAPAN On 13 June 2020 the Central Japan Railway launched its first Series N700S high-speed train on a special service filled by press reporters along the Tokaido Shinkansen. The trains entered service for normal fare-paying passengers on 6 July 2020. The “S” in the train designation stands for “Supreme”. These have improved suspension giving a smoother ride and have a top speed of 223 mph, compared with 177 mph on the older N700A trains.

2 July 2020

INDIA The contract to install a new signalling and telecommunications system along a 417km long freight line between Bhauper and Meghalsarai in Uttar Pradesh has been cancelled. This is partly because of the very slow progress with the work, and partly because relations between India and China have deteriorated recently.

THAILAND The Bangkok Mass Transit system has taken delivery of the first of three two-car Bombardier Innovia 300 automated people-movers. To operate on the 2.7km long Gold Line that will connect the Green Line (Silom Line) at Krung Thon Buri with new housing areas and the Taksin Hospital. A 4.5km extension to the Green Line was opened on 5 June 2020.

MYANMAR A Chinese railway group has expressed interest in conducting a feasibility study for a 650km line between Mandalay and a new seaport. Services would operate at up to 160km/hour. A further extension back from Mandalay to Kunming in China would take the length to 1215km. The cost would be $9bn for the line south from Mandalay, or $20bn for the extension into China.

INDIA With 15,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, the army has been called in help with hospitals becoming overwhelmed. With actual rail travel now at very low levels several dozen carriages have been turned into emergency wards.

18 June 2020

PAKISTAN A major upgrade to the main line between Karachi and Peshawar (1872km) costing $7.2bn will transform communications within the nation and help create links with the Chinese railways. The effect will be a significant improvement to the country’s economic position.

INDIA The regular operation of double-stack container trains under overhead electrification power wires commenced on 10 June 2020 between Palanpur and Botad (270Km) on the Western Railway. The concept of operating double stack container trains was developed in 2008 but agreement to launch this service took several years.

JAPAN The Kobe Rapid Transit Railway’s standard gauge Kitajia Line was transferred to the Kobe City Transport Bureau on 1 June 2020. It is now named the Kobe Municipal Subway Kitikami Line and the fares charged have been reduced by a modest amount.

CHINA Through freight trains to Europe are running more frequently due to a sharp growth in business. On 6 May 2020 the number of such trains run so far in 2020 reached 1000 carrying 1,923m tonnes of cargo – up 41.79% compared with 2019. All services from China start from the freight depot at Xi’an and a new service to Barcelona commenced during April 2020. The freight trains are taking business from air-freight rivals since both take around 10-15 days for the journey. Air takes this long because of substantial delays in handling the freight at airport terminals and air freight is four times as expensive as the cost by rail.

5 June 2020

JAPAN A drop in the number of passengers carried on Tokyo suburban services happened as the virus pandemic struck in March 2020. During the period since then work patterns have been altered so that the peak periods are spread out over significantly longer periods. The result in early June is that trains are almost as crowded as ever and be-gloved platform staff still have to push people tightly into carriages – only now the period when this is necessary is longer!

CHINA Twenty four 6-car train sets have been supplied by CRRC for the driverless automated metro in Taiyuan Line 2. The line is expected to be carrying passengers in late 2020. In Hong Kong there have been delays in the construction of the Shatin Central Link but a Commision of Enquiry looking into reasons for the delays has concluded that work done will be suitable for public use. The work is now 93% complete and the opening of the Kai Tak – Hung Hom section is expected during 2021 with the Hung Hom – Admiralty section below the Harbour early in 2021.

INDIA A major increase in the number of long distance trains running across the nation commenced operation on 1 June 2020. From 30 pairs of trains the number operating daily rose to 200 pairs. Large crowds gathered at stations hoping to get a seat. Many of the workforce move from their homes in rural areas to the major cities where they work for several months before returning home with savings from their earnings. In 2020 work for itinerant labourers has been hard to find making it difficult for some to afford a ticket.

25 May 2020

ISRAEL A bidder is sought to design, build, and operate the planned new route between Haifa and Nazareth. The first electric trains operated between the major stations in Tel Aviv on 5 May 2020.

INDIA The 9000hp class WAG-9HH electric locomotives built at Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) has been certified for operation at 100km/hour hauling freight services on main lines. The 9HH is an upgrade of the WAG-9H 6000hp class designed by staff at CLW. Each of the new 9HH locomotives costs 110bn Rupees, 10bn more than for one of the 9H machines. CLW is now working on a passenger version of the 9HH. Indian Railways are upgrading the track and obtaining new more powerful locomotives in order to attain a more powerful position in the travel market in which internal air services and road haulage firms are emerging.

Indian Railways has completed tests on the first of 800 of new Class Prima T8 freight locomotive. The twin Bo-Bo loco 60027, hauled a load of 118 wagons on the East Central Railway broad gauge (1676mm) freight corridor line. On these lines the overhead catenery is higher above the tracks than on a mixed traffic line making it easier to transport out-of-gauge items.

The Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation has called for bids to design the elevated sections of a planned two line Metro in Surat, a city of 6m people 230 km north of Mumbai. Line 1 will be 21.6 km long and 4km will be on an elevated structure. The entire 18.7km Line 2 will be elevated.

BANGLADESH The Dhaka Metro has increased its order for 6-car sets for the standard gauge 1.5kV DC line. The trains are being produced by Kawasaki + Mitsubishi. The construction of the 19.9km elevated line is now 45% complete and passenger services are planned to start I December 2021.

13 May 2020

CHINA A light rail line was opened on 1 May 2020 in the city of Tianshui, 300 km west of Xi’an. The line runs from the main line railway station 12.9km along the north bank of the River Wei and River Jei to the suburb of Wulipu. There are eleven stations with another to be opened in a few months time. The trams are battery powered with recharging at all stations from a pantograoh on the tram roof and an overhead conductor rail. The trams are low-floor and each can carry 370 people of whom 58 are seated. There are plans for a network of five lines and a combined route length of 90km.

INDIA A gradual re-introduction of passenger services on the State Railways began on 12 May 2020.

1 May 2020

INDIA In Delhi contracts have been issued to LT Construction for the building of 32km of railway much of which will be on elevated structures and will include seven stations.. The Delhi – Meerut Regional Rapid Transit system will eventually have three routes linking Delhi with satellite townships. It will provide rapid journeys on 1676mm (5’6”) gauge tracks electrified at 25kV AC with trains operating at 160km/hour and a top speed of 180km/hour.

CHINA An astonishing 70km of new metro lines was opened in Hangzhou on 23 April 2020.

21 April 2020

JAPAN The East Japan Railway opened Takanawa station in late March 2020. It is the 30th station on the Yamanote Loop which links together all the railways radiating out from central Tokyo, and has platforms also on the Keihin Tohoku line which links the station to the Tokyo Metro. The Takanawa area is about to see major office developments that will attract heavy traffic to the already busy railways.

JAPAN MAGLEV LINE Construction work on the Tokyo – Nagoya Maglev line has been suspended. The new line will be 236km long and a Maglev train will cover the distance in 40 minutes. At present the Tokaido Shinkansen links the two cities and Central Japan Railway journey times for the various types of service are:- Nozomi trains 1 hour 40 minutes, Hikari trains just over 2 hours, and Kodama trains 3 hours. The Maglev line was due to open in 2027.

JAPAN & VIRUS EFFECT Although the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across Japan, Taiwan, and Korea the effects are so far less severe than in UK. There is however a feeling that there is about to be (from 20 April 2020) a sharp deterioration in the position. However I believe that in Japan when clear advice is given by the Government, it is followed closely by most people. In UK compliance is poorer. In Tokyo commuter trains are operating to the normal basic timetable but overcrowding is less severe due to some folk working at home. It is now possible to achieve 2m distant apart from a fellow traveller in the middle of the day. Long distance travel is affected significantly. Almost all international and many domestic flights have been cancelled. On the Shinkansen, two additional Nozomi services were added each hour to the Tokaido Line schedule on 14 March 2020 but almost immediately were cancelled. These services were to be in addition to 10 Nozomi, 2 Hikari, and 2 Kodama services each hour. The delay of the Olympic Games until 2021 adds another factor and Japan could even lose the right to hold the deferred Games since venues may not be ready. Travelling numbers on the Shinkansen lines have halved and the ability to reserve a seat has been cancelled. The other high-speed lines, JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR West, and JR Kyushu have trimmed their timetables in a similar way.

CHINA Public transport operations restarted in Wuhan, where the virus pandemic started. It had not been possible to enter or leave the city for 78 days but pandemic seems to be past its peak and normal services are beginning to restart.

INDIA The first 5.7km of the east – west Metro were inaugurated on 13 February 2020. The line will continue below the Hooghly River to end at Howrah Station. To tackle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic 5000 passenger coaches are to be converted for hospital use. The cancellation of passenger rail services was extended on 15 April 2020 to 3 May 2020. Long distance, suburban, the Kolkata Metrorail, and mail trains were all removed from the timetable to create additional space for freight trains bringing urgent supplies to area hit by the coronavirus.

INDIA – NEW CONTRACTS L&T Construction has won two contracts to build the infrastructure for a new regional Rapid Transit route. This is for a 32 km long route between Duhai to Modi Nagar and Shatabdi Nagar. The line will be used by longer distance commuters using faster services with fewer more spaced out stations.

TURKEY The Ankara – Sivas high speed railway will follow a much more direct route than the present conventional rail link. A journey on the new H-S Line will take 2 hours 50 minutes for the 405km journey. At present it takes 10 hours for the 602km journey.

1 April 2020

TURKEY All intercity trains have been discontinued and most domestic flights cancelled in an effort to reduce the movement of people during the virus pandemic.

ISRAEL The State Railways have adopted an updated, accelerated plan to electrify at 25kV 50Hz 13 lines totalling four hundred and twenty route km. The cost has risen to US$139m and the work will be undertaken by contractor SEMI. The first regular passenger service between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem via the newish A1 fast line ran on 21 December 2019.

INDIA The suspension of passenger services as a reaction to the coronavirus pandemic has been extended to 14 April 2020 and will be subject to review.

30 March 2020

JAPAN As a result of the coronavirus pandemic traffic on JNR’s Shinkansen network has plunged by 56%.

CHINA The Hong Kong MTR Corporation is using automated hydrogen peroxide robots to perform deep cleaning and decontamination of its trains and platforms. The robot equipment takes four hours to clean an eight coach train.

INDIA Indian Railways cancelled the entire passenger service (long distance and commuter) on 22 March 2020 until the end of March at which time the position would be reviewed.

ISRAEL All public transport in the nation was limited to operate between 0500 – 2000 on Mondays to Thursdays inclusive from 18 March 2020. There will be no public transport on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.

13 March 2020

LONG DISTANCE FREIGHT Because of the Coronavirus epidemic in China the through freight service to Europe was halted early in 2020. The weekly through train restarted from Xian in China taking 18 days to reach Duisburg in Germany. As traffic rises the service will operate twice weekly. Freight for the UK is trucked to Rotterdam and on a ferry to Purfleet.

SINGAPORE Contracts have been let for the design and construction of the Jurong Region Line stations and a viaduct adjacent to one of them. The work may be completed by 2026.

INDIA The first 5.7km of Kolkata’s second Metro Line was opened by the Minister of Railways on 13 February 2020.

TURKEY Testing began on the 405km long Ankara – Sivas High-Speed line on 5 March 2020. The new line has 49 tunnels, 55 substantial viaducts, and 611 bridges. The trip time will by 2 hour 50 minutes compared to 10 hours using the rather indirect 602 km long conventional railway.

ISRAEL Consultations are getting under way about three possible heavy Metro routes across the city of Tel-Aviv totalling 145 route km with around 100 stations. The cost would be about $45bn and would connect with Red light rail line (which is under construction) and the planned Green, Yellow, and Purple light rail lines.

1 March 2020

INDIA The Hyderabad Metro Green Line was opened on 7 February 2020. The 11km long elevated route runs between Jubilee and Mahatma Gandhi. There is a major bus station at both of the termini. The first 5.7km section of the standard gauge east – west Metro Line in Kolkata was opened formally on 12 February 2020 with revenue service commencing on the next day. The completed Line 2 will be 16.5km long and will provide a link between the two major stations – Howrah and Sealdah – which are on opposite sides of the Hooghly River.

SINGAPORE Hyundai Rotem is to supply sixty two 3-car trains for the new Jurong Line at a cost of S$416.5m. The fully automated trains will be ready in 2026 just in time for the planned opening of the Jurong Line. The first 3.2km of the Tomson – East Coast Line was opened on 31 January 2020.

CHINA Bombardier Sifang is to build 160 CR400AF carriages for use on Chinese high-speed railway routes. Hong Kong MTR’s Tuen Ma Line was opened for revenue service on 14 February 2020. It is a prolongation of the Ma On Shan Line through eastern Kowloon.

JAPAN Automated Train Operation (ATO) is being tested on JR West’s Osaka Loop Line as a precursor to the introduction of ATO on the busiest routes around Osaka. JR East is to introduce ATO on Joban Line local services in Tokyo during 2020.

2 February 2020

CHINA All forms of transport within and radiating from the central industrial city of Wuhan (pop 11m) was halted at 1000 on 23rd January 2020 in an effort to stop the spread of a serious virus infection. Large numbers were planning to travel to celebrate the Lunar New Year but the airport and railway station were closed and all departures cancelled. Local subway and bus services were halted and river ferry services were stopped. The city is situated around 400 miles inland from Shanghai and steel, fertilizer, and textile factories were all closed for the holiday period, and were to remain shut until after the infection had been brought under control. During the next few days local transport within most of China’s major cities was halted and intercity travel by rail, bus, or air was halted as authorities sought to stop the traditional “travel to see family and friends” during the Chinese New Year as a means of reducing the spread of the deadly virus.

31 January 2020

TURKEY Track laying on Metro Line 11 in Istanbul began on 18 January 2020. President Erdoğan attended the ceremonial welding of the first rails. The Airport Line will use the GoA4 automated system and the line will have an operating speed of 120 km/hour. Trains will operate with a headway of 300 seconds and services are expected to commence in August 2021.

CHINA In Guanzhou a high-speed metro is planned linking relatively far-out suburbs with the city centre at speeds of 250 km/hour.

2 January 2020

QATAR The first phase of the driverless third line in Doha was opened on 10 December 2019.

CHINA Many new railways have been opened. The 74km central section of the 140km long Guangzhou – Shenzhen inter-city line was opened on 15 December 2019 and is served by 37 trains daily each way. A new line between Yibin and Guiyang was opened on 16 December 2019 and trains will operate at 250km/hour. This completes the 648km Chengdu – Guiyang line which has opened in three stages from 2014. There are 20 trains each way, rising at the next timetable change to 44 each way. The fastest service takes 2 hours 59 minutes compared with 7 hours 27 minutes on the conventional railway. The 173km Subir – Mahai section was opened on 18 Dec. 2019. The construction of the 671km route which will lead eventually to Tibet was launched in 2012. The Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed line, 1174km, was opened on 30 December 2019 along with a 53km branch to Taizicheng which will serve Chongi Olympic Village for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The 16.3km long Pingtan Bridge across the Haitan Strait provides a road and rail link to Pingtan Island slashing journey time when it opened in 2019. Bombardier-CRRC Sifang Transportation are to supply the State Railway with a further ten 16-car CR400AF 350km/hour trains by mid 2020. This is the third order for trains of this type as traffic soars on the new railway.
The Beijing Metro is now the world’s longest at 699.3km and it has 405 stations.

20 December 2019

SAUDI ARABIA High-Speed services were launched from Jeddah Airport Station on 11 December 2019. The station has six platforms at the end of a 6.6km long branch from the 450 km long Haramain high speed line linking Mecca and Medina.

CHINA A new elevated rubber tyred metro was opened on 10 December 2019 in Macau.

23 November 2019

BANGLADESH A collision between two packed trains at Mondobhag early on 11 November 2019 resulted in 16 killed with at least 58 badly injured. A failure in the signalling system is suspected to be the cause.

CHINA CRRC Qingdao Sifang is to supply eight hydrogen fuel trams for use on a route in the city of Foshan. A 350 km/hour automated railway between Beijing and Zhangjikou (where some of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be held) is poised to open before the end of 2019.

SOUTH KOREA Hyundai Rotem is to develop a hydrogen fuel tram – the latest type of LRV to tackle the problems of climate change.

JAPAN The East Japan Railway has realigned its Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku suburban lines in Tokyo during a blockade on the lines on 16-17 November 2019. The work is part of a project to build a new station at Takanawa Gateway between Shinagawa and Tamachi on the site of a former locomotive and carriage depot. The new station will have two island platforms – one for each line – and a four storey building that will include a variety of uses including several restaurants. The building has been designed by Kenyo Kuma who is also designing the stadium for the 2022 Olympic Games. The new station will connect with the Asakusa Metro Line.

9 November 2019

CHINA The new Daxing Airport serving Beijing was opened to public services on 26 October 2019. It is linked to the city by a high-speed railway 47km long taking 20 minutes for the journey. There is also a metro line serving many intermediate suburbs and requiring nearly an hour for the journey. The 1813km long north – south coal railway, the Menghua Line, was opened on 28 September 2019. The Jingshen Line, a feeder line, opened on 27 September 2019.

JAPAN The Nagoya Railway has updated its emu fleet by introducing Nippon Sharyo 9500 emus on its Meitetsu network. The new trains will result in a 20% saving in energy consumption. Automatic Train Operation is to be introduced on the East Japan Railway Co. Joban Line in Tokyo. The trains will run through to Tokyo city centre by through operation over the Chiyoda Line of the Metro. Typhoon Hagibis on 12-13 October 2019 resulted in major flooding and inundated ten high-speed trains that were stored on a low-lying cluster of sidings. The electric equipment on these trains was destroyed and the cost of restoring the trains is so high that instead of being repaired they have been scrapped. It is cheaper to obtain new trains.

INDONESIA The first of 31 six-car emus for Jakarta’s Jabodebok light rail line has been delivered.

25 October 2019

INDIA Delhi metro line 9 (the Gray Line) was opened on 4 October 2019. The 4.2km line connects the satellite township of Najafgarh to Line 3 (The Blue Line) at Dwarka. Major improvements are being introduced to inter-city services as the railways tackle the growing competition from air services and improved roads. A new service commenced operation between Lucknow and new Delhi on 4 October 2019. Leaving Lucknow at 0610 the “Tajas Express” reaches New Delhi (500km) at 1225 making just two intermediate stops. It returns at1630 reaching Lucknow at 2215. This service operates six days per week with maintenance etc taking place on Tuesdays. The Vaude Bharat Express between New Delhi and Varanese commenced operation in February 2019 and a second return service on this route was added on 3 October 2019. These services are worked by upgraded emus. Other new routes to be added include New Delhi – Katra (615km) to carry pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi Shrine and Mumbai Central – Ahmedabad (starting in December 2019).

NEPAL Feasibility studies are to take place into a rail link between the Chinese network, through Nepal, and south across the open Nepal:India border. China has invested significantly in improving the infrastructure of Nepal so that Nepal will become “land linked” rather than “land locked”.

THAILAND Government plans to build a 220km high-speed (250 km/hour) line linking the three airports in Greater Bangkok have fallen apart as the Board of the State Railways has resigned making it impossible to sign the contracts to allow land acquisition to commence. The Bangkok Metro Blue Line was extended from Bang Wa to Lak Song on 21 September 2019. The first two of the twenty five new Hitachi trains for the Red Line were shipped from Japan at the end of September 2019.

INDONESIA The main line between Jakarta and Surabaya (710 km) is to be upgraded in two stages starting with Jakarta – Semarang (426 km) which will be completed by 2024. Work on the Semarang – Surabaya (284 km) will follow on immediately. The 1067mm track will be improved, several sections will be elevated, and all level crossings will be eliminated. The end-to-end journey time will be halved to 5 hours 30 minutes.

JAPAN Automatic Train Operation is to be introduced on the 29.7km suburban section between Ayase and Toride. This stopping service runs on into the city centre on the Chiyoda Metro Line. Platform screen doors are to be erected. This is part of JR East’s “smart train” programme. Trials of automated trains took place on the circular Yamanote Line earlier this year. Eventually JR East will operate driverless trains on many similar routes. Super typhoon Hagibis bore down on Central Japan on 12/13 October 2019 causing major damage to structures. Deep flood waters covered highways and railways. A picture received quite widespread publicity showing a Tokaido high-speed train stationary in deep flood water. The Hokuriku Shinkansen and Chuo Main Line were both badly damaged by the typhoon and it will take several weeks to complete the repairs.

CHINA – TAIWAN The State railway has ordered 34 locomotives from Stadler at a cost of $182m. This is the first major order by Stadler to any railway in the Pacific Region. The Danhai Light Rail Transit serves New Taipei with public services commencing on 24 December 2018. Taipei (pop 2.7m) is the capital and New Taipei (pop 4m) is a rapidly growing area more or less surrounding the capital. It contains the International Airport which is linked to the capital by a metro opened in 2017. There are plans to extend the system to the wharfs along the Tamsul River and perhaps across the river on a bridge shared with road traffic.

CHINA There has been a great deal of activity in many Chinese cities as new light railways and extensions to existing systems are opened partly to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Communist State. In the capital BEIJING 88km of new lines were opened coinciding with the start of commercial flights at the new Daxing Airport on 26 September 2019. The Daxing Airport Express uses 41km of suburban metro branching off Metro line 10, and is served by twelve 8-car trains built by CRRC Qindao Sifang. The 47km high-speed line starting at Beijing West also opened on 26 September. Work is under way on building a 3.5km extension to Lize Business District opening in late 2020. Trial services started on a 34.2km north-south line in CHANGZHOU. A 19.9km extension is planned to open in 2021. In XUZHOU operation started on 28 September 2019 on a 22km east – west line which uses 23 6-car trains built by CRRC Nanjing. The same day saw a start of services in WENZHOU on the 19.1km Line S1 between Olympic Centre and Shouang’ou Avenue. In WUHAN, a regional capital, metro line 4 was extended by 16km on 25 September 2019 and is operated by 70 6-car trains built in two factories – CRRC Zhuzhou and CRRC Changchun. Line 1 in the ancient capital XI’AN was extended by 6km on 26 September, while in NINGBO line 3 was extended by 5.6km on 26 September. In WUXI line 1 grew by 5.2km on 28 September 2019. ZHENGZHOU, a provincial capital, limited services started on a 3.2km section of line 14 on 19 September and a further 4.3km will be added during 2020. In the southern major city of SHANGHAI CRRC Nanjing has delivered the first of 8-car metro trains for the 38.5km line 14 which is to open in late 2020. SHENZHEN metro line 5 was extended on 28 September to a length of 7.6km. Finally, the provincial capital CHENGDU has been given permission to extend its Metro to a massive 31 lines totalling1557 km.

MACAU is a special Administrative Region of China, a former Portuguese colony, situated near Hong Kong. A new light rail line 9.3km long is almost ready to commence public services. It will connect the International Airport, the ferry terminal, the Casino, and the Lotus Bridge border check point with China.

8 October 2019

CHINA SHANGHAI The Songjiang light rail system in the south western suburbs of Shanghai was enlarged on 10 August 2019 by the opening of a 12.86 km extension from Zhongchen Road in the northern suburbs to North Sanxin Road in the south west suburbs. The new line forms part of route T2 which, with the extension, has become a circular route which takes 46 minutes for a complete journey. Route T2 interchanges with Metro Line 9 at two points. A 4.4km extension to route T1 in the north west suburbs will open during 2020 from Xinmiaosan to Xinqiao railway station. It is expected that up to 170,000 passengers will be carried every day on a fleet of just thirty Alstom five segment Citadis trams, assembled locally, and providing a service every ten minutes throughout the day. The Songjiang locality is growing rapidly and now has a population of 1.8 million. It has also one of the largest university campuses in China. The tramway has been operated by the Shanghai Shentong Metro Group – Keolis joint venture since the first section was opened on 26 December 2018 and the same joint venture Group has been selected to operate the 7.8km long light metro to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. This line will provide services using CRRC built 94m long automated trains.
XUZHOU This is the latest Chinese city to open a new Metro to the Airport. The first metro line runs east – west between Xuzhou Dong Airport and Luwa (21.9 km) via the city centre and was opened on 28 September 2019. It uses a fleet of CRRC trains each of which can carry a remarkable 2146 tightly packed passengers.
BEIJING The new Daxing Airport was opened on 26 September 2019 together with the 47km long high-speed railway to the city centre, and the 41km suburban metro feeding into orbital line 10 at Caoqiao station.
NEW COAL LINE The 1813 km long Menghua coal railway was opened on 28 September 2019 running from the coal fields in the north of China to areas in the far south which uses the coal. Known also as the Haoji Railway the line is one of the few to run north – south rather than west – east to the coal exporting ports. The new railway intersects with many of the west – east lines making possible country-wide connections.

CHINA – HONG KONG Violent protests from residents have disrupted the city over plans by the Hong Kong Government to make important changes to extradition laws. Following a night of especially severe riots it was decided that the Metro would not operate at all on Saturday 5 October 2019.

SOUTH KOREA The 23.7km long driverless metro Gold Line was opened during late September 2019. Hyundai Rotem has supplied twenty three 2-car trains to operate the service.

JAPAN The Nagoya Railway has updated its emu fleet with the introduction of four series 9500 emus on its 444 km long 1067mm route. Existing 3500 series emus will continue to see use but only on peak hour trains.

RUSSIA Passenger trains have commenced running to the remote Siberian city of Yakutsk which is at the end of a 700 mile long branch from the Trans-Siberian Railway. The terminus, at Nizhny Bestyakh, is on the opposite bank of the Lena river which can be crossed by a ferry during the short summer. During most of the winter the temperature averages -35C and a connection links the city and station across the ice. Eventually a three kilometre bridge will be built across the river. Most passengers travelling the 3100 miles between Moscow and Yakutsk use a frequent air service.

ISRAEL The Jerusalem light rail line is to be extended by a CAF:Shapir Engineering consortium. The Red Line will be extended by 6.8km north to Neveh Ya’acov and south to Hadassah University Medical Center. A new 20.6km long Green Line will extend from Mount Scopus to Gilo and Malha. Branches will reach the Hebrew University Givat Ram Campus and Givat Shaul. CAF will provide 114 new low floor Urbos trams. In addition CAF will supply signalling, energy, depot, and communications systems and will upgrade the original 46 Alstom Citadis 302 trams. The Electra Infrastructures consortium has been selected to build civil engineering work on the planned 30km line between Rishon Le-Ziyyon and Modi’in which will mostly follow the median on Highway 431.

6 September 2019

CHINA – HONG KONG The rail link between the International Airport and the island city was halted on 1 September 2019 as very large numbers of protesters occupied stations along the line together with an adjacent shopping complex. This was the 13th weekend of protests disrupting the transport hub. The protesters object to new proposals that would legalise the extradition of someone from Hong Kong island to the adjacent mainland China.

JAPAN A 75mph passenger service travelling between Yokohama and Tokyo hit a lorry loaded with lemons and oranges on 29 August 2019. The lorry burst into flames but remarkably there was only one fatality and 30 passengers with mostly minor injuries.

28 August 2019

INDIA On the Delhi Metro services on the Blue Line were halted for several hours after kites flown by local children became entangled in the overhead power wires. An electric locomotive built in the Chittaranjan Works has achieved a speed of 180 km/hour – officially the maximum speed allowed on the Indian Railways.

5 August 2019

TURKEY Construction has begun on a 8km extension to Ankara’s Başkentray suburban railway from Sincan to Yenikent. Services are expected to start in June 2022.

INDIA A super-fast service is being introduced between Delhi and Katra, the location of the much visited Vaishno Devi Temple. At present a fast train takes 12 hours for the journey but the new Vande Bharat Express using a new set of luxury coaches cuts the travel time by four hours. Initially it runs three days per week leaving Delhi at 0600 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and reaching Katra after three intermediate stops at 1400. The return service leaves Katra at 1500 and arrives Delhi at 2300. Meanwhile extremely heavy rains caused extensive flooding in the Mumbai area. Over 1000 passengers were trapped on the Mahalami Express which became stuck in 2m of flood water some 40 miles from Mumbai. A rescue exercise involving helicopters and boats took eight hours to bring the passengers into Mumbai. The rescue teams started with the nine pregnant women on board, then other women and children, before collecting any disabled men and finally fit and able bodied men. Very heavy rains on 04 August 2019 caused the River Godavari to burst its banks and flood the Financial District. Train services were halted and hundreds were trapped in their offices.

INDONESIA A blackout affected the island of Java on 4 August 2019 following weather related disruptions at the power plant. The new rapid transit system in Djakarta was evacuated.

CHINA Six metro projects/extensions have been opened recently. In Lanzhou the 26km long Metro Line 1 was opened on 23 June 2019. In Hangzhou the first section of Metro Line 5 (17.8 km) was opened on 25 June 2019. The first 7km of Line 3 in Ningbo opened on 30 June 2019. An 11.9 km extension of Line 2 in Nanchang was also opened on 30 June 2019. The second phase of Line 1 in Shijizhuang, 13.5 km long, was opened on 26 June 2019. Finally, in Urumqi a 10.7 km extension of the only Metro line was opened on 28 June 2019.

24 July 2019

INDIA It was announced on 6 July 2019 that Indian Railways were to acquire the necessary technology to build aluminium bodied coaches that would be able to operate at a speed of 250 km/hour The Indian Government is investing in improvements to the infrastructure of the railways ranging from the track, signalling, and rolling stock to enable a shift from road to rail for much of the long distance passenger and freight markets. In major urban areas steps are being taken to provide commuter networks that can operate on separate tracks and therefore will not interfere with long distance services. A separate announcement concerned improvements to major stations over the next decade.

THAILAND The nation’s Mass Rapid Transit Authority has allocated an increased budget to build the 42km phase 1 of a light rail line between Chalong Circle in Phuket and the International Airport. Construction work is to begin in late 2020 with passenger services starting in 2024.

PHILLIPINES Ground breaking for the construction of the 11.7km southern extension of Manila Metro Line 1 to Bacoor took place on 7 May 2019. Alstom will provide the signalling, communications system, power supply and track. Civil engineering work will be handled by local firm Bouyges, and CAF/Mitsubishi will build 30 LRVs. The line is planned to open by 2022.

JAPAN News has come concerning the Kumamoto Electric Railway on Kyushu Island. Opened in 1911 as a three foot gauge steam worked line, it was regauged to 3’6” using 600 V DC electric power in 1923. The northern 13.5km section was closed in 1986 leaving the busier 9.7km in service together with a short branch to Kami Kumamoto where the trains connect with a JNR route. The “main line” operates through the densely populated community which is served by several handy halts.

CHINA Alstom is to supply train control and traction systems for the 318 new cars to be used on the driverless Line 7 in Nanjing.

6 July 2019

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) Stage One of the plan to build a 1200 km network across the nation – 264 km of railway between the port of Ruwais, east to Liwa Junction, then south to serve the oil and gas fields around Habshan and Shah. This was opened in December 2015 and is operated by a joint venture of Etihad Rail and DB Cargo. The China State Construction Engineering Corporation has won the contract to build the 139 km from near Ruwais to the Saudi border at Ghuwaifat where a connection will be established with Saudi Railways. Details of the planned line from Liwa Jct along the full length of UAE serving ports at Khalifa and Fujairah are being finalised together with a long-term plan for a link to the railways in Oman.

INDIA The heaviest monsoon rains for a decade struck the Mumbai area on 2 July 2019 bringing down several structures and killing at least 18 people. Rail services around the city were disrupted due to flooding, and at least 100 flights at the city’s airport had to be cancelled. Studies for a high-speed railway running west from Chennai through Vellore to Bengaluru then south west to Mysuru (500km) would be built for operation at 350km/hour cutting the journey time from 7 hours to 2 hours. An hourly service would be improved to half hourly as traffic built up. This will serve the third most important economic region in India including Chennai (population 9m) and Bengaluru (8m). It is likely that the railway will be built to broad gauge (1676 mm) rather than standard gauge to maximise train capacity. The line would open in stages between 2028 and 2038 A branch service is suggested between Arakkonam, west of Chennai, north to Tirupati, a religious centre attracting 2 million pilgrims each month.

CHINA China leads the way in the operation of the fastest passenger services in the world. The train pair G17 and G22 operating between Beijing Nan Station and Shanghai, 1307 km, take just 258 minutes with one intermediate stop – an average speed of 304 km/hour. Train G1 between Beijing Nan and Nanjing, 1021 km, achieves this in 204 minutes, an average speed of 300 km/hour. These are the only inter-city services in the world to operate at over 300 km/hour. Much higher speeds are in the sights of Government planners. The CRRC Group are being funded to develop a Maglev system capable of speeds of up to 600 km/hour. A test track has been built and two prototype vehicles were unveiled on 23 May 2019.

JAPAN HIGH SPEED The East Japan Railway has begun test operations of its Alfa-X high speed experimental Shinkansen train. This train is expected to run between Tokyo and Sapporo when the Hokkaido Shinkansen opens in 2030. A trip time of 4.5 hours is planned and this will require higher speed limits on the Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen. At the moment 98% of the traffic between Tokyo and Sapporo goes by air and to compete with this, rail services will need to operate at 320 km/hour. Initial test running has shown this to be easily achievable.

JAPAN FLOODS One million people living in three cities on the island of Kyushu were ordered to leave their homes on 2 July 2019 because extremely heavy rains had resulted in a danger of mud slides and floods.

SOUTH KOREA Woojin Industrial Systems is to supply 200 cars for Seoul Metro Line 5 and 136 cars for line 7.

7 June 2019

QATAR The driverless Red Line of the Doha Metro was opened on 08 May 2019. A branch to the Hamad International Airport will be in service before the end of 2019.

INDIA Women are to be allowed to travel free on the city’s bus and metro networks. Attacks on women have become a disturbingly frequent crime in India and as a result many women have stopped using public transport. The “travel free” approach is a move to attract back women who will be able often to ride in “women only” services or coaches in the knowledge that men will no longer be able to assault them.

BANGLADESH The 18.9 km line running north – south across the capital Dhaka is the first Metro line in the nation but is designated Line 6. This reflects plans for additional lines. Construction of Line 6 began in August 2017 and it will open in 2020.

CHINA Driverless metros are becoming the way ahead for transport within the world’s megacities – especially in China. The first driverless metro opened in 1981 and there were in July 2016 55 fully automated lines in 37 cities world-wide totalling 803 route km. Important lines include the Beijing Airport Link (op 2008), Shanghai Line 10 (2010), and the Yanfang Line opened in Beijing in 2017. The city of Chegdu (in SW China) has a population of 15.9m and opened its first metro line in 2010. By the end of 2017 a further six lines had opened and a further seven lines are planned to open by the end of 2020. Alstom has developed the signalling system appropriate for automated lines and this is used on the lines listed above in Beijing and Shanghai. It has been installed also on the Hong Kong South Island line, the Singapore NE and Circle lines, and the Lausanne M2 line.

22 May 2019

INDIA Alstom has been awarded the contract to install a signalling and communications system on Mumbai Metro lines 2A, 2B, and 7. The new system will be based on the Urbalis ATO system.

SINGAPORE The Land Transport Authority is to build a Metro train test centre at Tuas, close to the Tuas West Depot. It is proposed that facilities there will be robust enough for the Centre to take on major work including mid-life train refurbishment.

16 April 2019

JAPAN A new track connection between the Sagami Railway and JR East was opened on 28 March 2019 allowing the introduction of new services between the Sagami Railway and central Tokyo. The Sagami Railway is essentially a commuter/suburban railway serving suburbs of Yokohama.

31 March 2019

INDIA The fastest passenger trains in India are the nineteen pairs of “Rajdhani Express” trains that link Delhi with regional capitals. Rajdhani means “The Capital” in many Indian languages. The trains are given top priority above all other services. The first Rajdhani service left Howrah station in Kolkata on 03 March 1969 and its Golden Jubilee was marked with the train be-decked with flowers from end to end. In 1969 the 1450 km journey took 17 hours 20 minutes and this has been trimmed slightly to 17 hours exactly. The family of trains uses air-conditioned coaches, with three categories of sleeping car. The dining car used in the early years has been removed and food is taken to passengers throughout the train, the cost being included in the fare. The Delhi – Kolkata service runs daily each way leaving both terminals at 1655, and reaching the destination at 0955.

INDIA DELHI METRO Fourteen 8-car air-conditioned trains are being built in China and will replace non-air conditioned stock on the busy north – south line. All rolling stock on the Delhi Metro is air conditioned.

CHINA The Government is to invest in railway developments a record $125bn during 2019 – an increase of around 10% on what was originally planned. The largest development is the construction of 30,000 km of high-speed railway by the end of 2020. The network has already opened 10,000 km of high-speed railway at a cost much lower than in Europe or America. Many components are standardised so that items such as beams for viaducts can be produced in bulk and therefore at lower unit cost. Tunnel construction also follows a standard procedure to keep costs down. In a nation with an authoritarian attitude it is relatively easy to clear the right of way for a new railway since existing buildings can be emptied of people and demolished quickly without the need to pay inflated sums for the unwanted property.

CHINA NEW LINE SUCCEEDS The high-speed railway between West Kowloon station in Hong Kong and Guangzhou via Shenzhen was opened on 23 September 2018 and West Kowloon station was used by 160,000 passengers during the first three days of operation. The new line has continued to build up traffic with the total now around 70,000 each weekday.

CHINA The deepest (102m) and largest (36,000 square metres) high-speed station is to be built at Badaling close to the most visited section of the Great Wall in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics which will be held near Badaling. High-Speed services will operate from Beijing and Shanghai in connection with the Games.

JAPAN The Kyushu Railway Company has operated a very special train on the island of Kyushu, the most southerly of the major islands in the Japanese archipelago, since October 2013. The “Seven Stars” train comprises seven coaches and carries no more than 30 passengers in extreme luxury. The accommodation is of the highest quality and is fitted out with top quality examples of Japanese art. There are twelve suites on the train each with private bathroom facilities and the train takes passengers on gentle relaxed 2 or 4 day journeys around Kyushu. Top quality cuisine is served by dedicated staff. For a fare of up to £10,000 per ticket the passenger will expect the highest level of service.

14 March 2019

INDIA The Government has approved the building of a test track 40 km long in Rajasthan which will enable much of the testing of new techniques to be done away from the main railway routes.

MUMBAI MONORAIL The first section of the Mumbai Monorail, between Chembur and Wadala (where the Depot is sited) was opened in February 2014 but operations have been subject to breakdowns with hardly a day without an incident. The opening was delayed 15 times due to problems and should have happened in 2010. A start to building the second phase between Wadala and Jacob Circle took place during the first week of March 2019. When completed the line will be 191.5 km long. There are only ten rakes of carriages available and it will require perfect operation if a reasonable frequency can be sustained.

SRI LANKA The Government has approved a proposed light rail line in the capital Colombo. The 17km long line would run from a transport hub at Colombo Fort to Malabe. There would be 16 stops and the line would open in 2025.

CHINA A suburban heavy rail service commenced operation in the city of Wenzhou on 23 January 2019. The route is being extended to the east and a second suburban line 71km long is to be added once the first line has been completed.

SOUTH KOREA The high-speed railway between Seoul (in the north west of the nation) and Daegu (in the south east) was opened in April 2004 and the route was extended to the major port of Busan (357km from Seoul) in 2010. A 4 hour 10 minute journey came down to 2 hours 18 minutes. The Honam HS line branches from the first route at Daejeon and runs South West to Gwangju and an extension to Mokpo is now being built and will serve Muan International Airport. A 2 hours 38 minute journey from Seoul to Gwangju has come down to 1 hour 30 minutes. A separate line runs east from Seoul to Gangneung (207km) on the east coast (207 km). A relatively high speed line links Seoul with Incheon Airport with trains running at up to 150km/hour

3 March 2019

INDIA The nation’s fastest train, the Indian designed and built Vanda Bharal Express, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on 15 February 2019. The train reached 180km/hour during trials and travelled from Delhi to Varanasi. On the return trip the brakes jammed on bring the train to an abrupt stop. It is thought that it may have struck cattle that had wandered on to the right of way.

CHINA The last section of the high-speed railway from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong island was opened on 23 September 2018 completing the 2439 km long route between Beijing and Hong Kong. The route serves four major cities along the route including Wuhan before serving three stations within Hong Kong itself.

14 February 2019

SAUDI ARABIA Services are growing on the Haramain High-Speed railway with the introduction of services on Wednesdays from 13 February 2019. The 453km long route between Mecca and Medina calling en route at Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City opened on 11 October 2018 with four return trips on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Most of the users are large parties visiting the holy cities and load factors on the trains have stabilised at 79%.

INDIA Eleven coaches of the Jagbani – Anand express train heading for Delhi were derailed passing over a broken rail at Sadadai Buzung at 0330 on 3 January 2019. The line is operated by the East Central Railway. 8 passengers were killed and 37 injured.
All inter-city expresses are to be equipped with European style bio-toilets by July 2019. The move will cut the dangers of a spread of infections via waste material dumped from trains on to the tracks

JAPAN Hitachi and Kawasaki are working together to design a passenger train capable of operating safely at up to 250 mph. They are tackling possible ways to reduce the noise made by a very fast train and on ways to reduce wind resistance. At present the top speed reached by existing trains is 200 mph and the noise generated by these trains is a major problem that will increase with greater speeds.

1 February 2019

INDIA Kolkata – At least two new tramway routes within two Kolkata townships, New Town, and Nabadiganta, are planned but new routes into the heart of the city are unlikely because they would have to be built along extremely busy roads that could not possibly be closed to allow construction. Many tram routes in the city have been closed and the former fleet of over 400 trams has been reduced to 85 but most of these have been rebuilt locally.
Delhi – The 11 mile elevated section of Metro route 7 between Shiv Vivar Trilokpun and Sanjay Lake was opened 31 October 2019. A section of the route linking the two sections of Line 7 has not yet been completed.
Mumbai – A completely new fleet comprising 63 six-car trains has been ordered from BEML at their Bangalore factory. They will be delivered in 2020 – 2022 and will include a driverless capability. The stainless steel trains will be used on Metro Corridor 2A,2B, and 7.
Nagpur – The first of 23 CRRC three car metro sets was delivered in November 2018. They will be used on the north – south 19.7km long route which is the first of two routes planned for the city.

7 January 2019

CHINA Five sections of railway opened in widely scattered parts of the nation on 25 December 2018. The two most important are

1. Harbin – Midanjung (293km) cutting the journey time between the cities from 4 hours 30 mins (by a rather roundabout route) to 1 hour 30 mins (by the new much more direct route).

2. Hangzhou – Huangshan (287 km). This is a high-speed line designed for fast (250 km/hour) passenger traffic only. Much of the route is built on an elevated structure.

26 December 2018

TURKEY The high-speed train disaster involving a collision between a service bound for Konya with a locomotive involved with maintenance work, a derailment, and finally the destruction of a footbridge across the tracks left nine dead and 47 injured.

UZBEKISTAN Photography in the metro in the capital Tashkent was banned until June 2018 because several of the stations are able to act as shelters if the city suffers a nuclear attack. The city reached a population of 1m in the early 1960s – a size requirement for a metro which would be paid for by Central Government. A major earthquake in 1966 resulted in early plans for a metro to be revised. The tunnels were to be less deep – often just below road level- and the tunnel and station walls were to be strengthened. Actual tunnel work began in 1971 and the metro opened in 1977. Very simple entrances from the street to the stations lead to the highly decorated stations themselves. The platforms are commendably wide and can cope with the numbers travelling at the peaks. Art works featuring Uzbek people, or the pioneers of space travel, or simply Uzbek style art and statuary are to be found in all of the stations. The Metro cars are very similar to those used in Moscow – i.e. seats along the sides of the coaches leaving plenty of standing room. The trains are rather noisy when they are moving.


DELHI Two extensions to the Delhi Metro have opened recently. A 17.9 km long section of Line 7 (Pink Line) was opened on 31 October 2018. This is entirely on a elevated structure and is not yet connected to the earlier section of Line 7 although this part is expected to be completed in 2019. A short 3.2km long extension of Line 6 (Violet Line) opened on 19 November 2018. The Delhi Metro now extends for over 300 km.

CALCUTTA Plans are advancing for the building of new tram routes in the old city and in outlying townships. There used to be an extensive network of routes but much of the system was closed in recent years largely because the equipment was run down and there were no funds to upgrade the system. The construction of the Metro resulted in roads being dug up and tramways not reopened after the work was completed. A small network remains and like anything that moves in this massive city traffic is extremely heavy. 250,000 passengers are carried each day and 85 trams remain in the fleet, a few of which have been modernised.

BOMBAY Sixty three six-car metro trains have been ordered from BEML in Bangalore and will be delivered in 2020-23. They will include an ability to operate without a driver. I shudder at the thought of a driverless train negotiating Metro Corridor 2 and 7. People may understand that they have to keep away from the moving trains but cows (sacred), donkeys, and an assortment of other livestock are not so careful of themselves.

13 December 2018

TURKEY A high-speed train from the capital Ankara to Konya crashed into a engineering service at the suburban Marsendiz station, was derailed with two coaches left on their sides, and then struck a pedestrian bridge that crossed over the tracks. Nine people were killed, including the train driver and around 50 were injured.

30 November 2018

CHINA The high-speed network across China is the world’s longest and now links most areas of the vast nation. For the first time a route will pass below the open sea in a 16.2 km long tunnel. Running from Ningbo in Zhejiang province south of Shanghai the new line will run below Hangzhou Bay on its way to the Zhoushan, an archipelago off the east coast.

12 November 2018

SAUDI ARABIA Metro Line 4 in Riyadh is being built by the “FAST” consortium and this group has been awarded the contract to build an extension to the King Khalid International Airport.

QATAR Kinki Sharyo is to supply a further 35 three-car driverless trains for the Doha metro.

INDIA A prototype 16 coach emu labelled “Train 18” after the year in which it was built, is planned to enter service in January 2019 on the Delhi – Bhopal (707 km) route. In the medium term it is planned that “Made in India” trains costing about half of those imported from international firms will capture significant traffic between city pairs that are a moderate distance apart. The train has two “Executive” coaches each seating 56 and fourteen “non-executive” coaches with 3 + 2 seating for 74 passengers. A 17.3km south eastern extension to the Hyderabad Metro Red Line was opened on 24 September 2018. The new line connects with the Blue Line in the city centre.

VIETNAM The first Metro Line in Hanoi commenced passenger-carrying tests on 20 September 2018. Initial frequencies of 10-12 minutes will fall progressively to 5 minutes and full normal operations will commence in mid 2019.

31 October 2018

ISRAEL Passenger services started to operate between Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem via the new fast line on 25 September 2018. Although both tracks have been laid along the new fast line only one has overhead catenary with power at 25kV 50 Hz. The maximum speed allowed is initially 120 km/hour but the design speed of 160km/hour will be achieve once everything has settled down. Two trains per hour are operating on the 20 minute trip. The next step will be the extension of services from the Airport to Tel Aviv HaHagana with a journey time between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem of 30 minutes for the 57km.

INDIA On 22 October 2018 an express train speeding round a curve approaching the station at Amritsar ploughed into a large crowd attending a religious festival. There were so many at the festival that they spilled across the tracks. At least 50 were killed and a further 90 injured. The organisers had not obtained permission for an event with so many present from numerous local agencies but had repeatedly warned attendees to keep clear of the tracks.

MALAYSIA Construction of the 350 km long high-speed railway between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore has been delayed by up to five years while the Malaysian Government reconsiders its plans. A new Government was elected in May 2018 and feels that commitments to spend large sums must be reviewed. If Malaysia decides that the new railway cannot be afforded it will refund expenditure already made by the Singapore Government.

CHINA On 23 September 2018 revenue services commenced on the high-speed line between Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bei (North). The first train was the “Vibrant Express” and carried 500 passengers. The route is being extended to Guangzhou where it will join the rest of the nation’s high-speed network which now extends to over 25,000 route km.

KOREA Talks and detailed planning have begun between North and South Korea with the aim of reopening the railway and main highway between the two nations. If reopened, South Korea would have a rail route right across China and Russia to its markets in Europe. A through freight train would take about twelve days for the journey – much shorter than the present sea route Hyundai Rotem is to supply 48 train sets to operate on Line 1 of the Busan Metro.

JAPAN The East Japan Railway has ordered a further 745 E235 suburban coaches to replace the older rolling stock on the Yokosuta and Soba Kaisoku lines in Tokyo. Thirty 11-car E235 trains are being rolled out on the circular Yamanote Line which connects with all the radial routes and many of the Metro underground lines.

10 October 2018

SAUDI ARABIA The 280 mile long high-speed line between Mecca and Medina via Jeddah was opened on 11 October 2018. The line links the two holiest sites in Islam and twenty million religious tourists travel between the cities each year, two million of them during the Hajj period. Until now they have had no alternative to using the highway between the cities and experience many delays due to major traffic jams that occur most days. Now about a third of the pilgrims will be able to use the trains and it is expected that the road traffic will be able to move smoothly. In addition work is under way on the construction of al-Faisaliah – a new city next to Mecca that will provide one million new jobs with many of these workers travelling from Jeddah and other local communities by train. The King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea coast will also be served by the new railway which looks as though it will be overcrowded as soon as services are established.

HIGH-SPEED DELIVERY! The China Railway Corporation (CRRC) has awarded Bombardier Sifang Transportation a 2.2bn yuan contract to supply ten CR400AF trainsets within THREE MONTHS. There will be five 16 car trains and five 8 car sets, all capable of travelling at up to 350 km/hour. These trains have been developed for CRRC under the “Blue Dolphin” name.

27 August 2018

JAPAN The East Japan Railway has set up a group to examine proposals for driverless operation of its trains. Pilot schemes will be assessed on the circular Yamanote Line which links most of the radiating suburban railway routes and Shinkansen terminals, and also on a section of the Tohoku Shinkansen.

ISRAEL The opening of the new high-speed railway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem has been delayed again. The first test run along the new line was in January 2018 with opening expected on 30 March 2018. However some electrical work was still unfinished and safety procedures had still not been worked out fully. Evacuation procedures should a train fail inside the 11km long tunnel half way along the route will have to be finalised before a high frequency service is allowed to start. An end-to-end run will take under 30 minutes.

29 June 2018

ISRAEL Tenders for the construction of the 43km long tram:train service between Haifa and Nazareth have been issued. Costing Euro 1.44bn, the line will combine operation along side major highways, with use of the central reservation, and some street running. There will be 17 stations, abundant park and ride facilities, a single depot with control centre. Thirty two LRVs obtained and run every four minutes at speeds of up to 100km/hour.

INDIA Two extensions of the Metro in Chennai (formerly Madras) totalling 7.4km were opened on 25 May 2018. In Delhi Metro Line 8 measuring 24.8km was opened to public services on 29 May 2018.

JAPAN   HELLO KITTY! A Shinkansen high speed train has been given a white and pink colour scheme based on the popular cartoon character “Hello Kitty”. The branding continues inside the train with pink floor coverings, seat covers, and on the windows. The train will operate between Osaka and Fukuoka for three months and is part of a project to boost tourism. Profound apologies were issued after a Tsukuba Express service operated by the West Japan Railway left Notagawa station on the Biwako Line 20 seconds early during June 2018. There is no indication that any passengers missed their train as a result. A similar error occurred in November 2017 when a rush hour service left 25 seconds early and this time some passengers complained. They had to wait 6 minutes for the next train!

7 May 2018

TURKEY The Başkentray suburban railway service running more or less east – west across the capital Ankara was opened on 12 April 2018. There have been limited suburban services operated on the main line tracks on a Kayaş – Ankara – Sincan route but the suburban trains will now operate on new separate tracks allowing trains to operate at up to every five minutes with high-speed, long distance, and freight services will be able to run without local trains getting in the way.

INDONESIA The first section of the new light metro line in Jakarta is expected to open in time for the 2018 Asian Games. The initial 5.8km section will serve five stops including the Athlete’s Village and the Stadium. Hyundai Rotem are supplying eight two section trains to operate the services.

CHINA Shanghai’s driverless people mover, the Pujiang line, was opened on 31 March 2018. The 6.6 km line runs from Shendu Highway (terminus of Metro Line 8) to Huizhen Road and is expected to carry 71,000 people each day. Peak frequency is a train every 4 minutes. The line uses rubber-tyred Bombardier Innovia APM 300 trains.

20 April 2018

ISRAEL  Siemens is to supply six four-car and eighteen six-car double deck Desiro train sets with a final total of sixty trains.

QATAR The first phase of a light rail network is expected to open in January 2019. Alstom is supplying twenty eight five-section trams that are being assembled in Alstom’s factory in La Rochelle.

INDIA Three footbridges to provide more routes for pedestrians at key stations in the Bombay area were commissioned on 27 February 2018. The decision to build the bridges followed a stampede by passengers at Elphinstone Road station on 28 September 2017. The first of 800 WAG12 twin-section electric locomotives being supplied by Alstom is now on test. The first five locomotives are being built at Alstom’s Belfort factory but the remaining 795 will be built in India.

CAMBODIA A half-hourly shuttle service to the International Airport started operation on 10 April 2018. The 9.6km trip takes 25 minutes and uses a new 1.6km branch from the Sihanoukville main line.

INDONESIA Nippon Sharyo is building sixteen 6-car trains for the 15.7 km Line 1 of a planned light metro network in Jakarta.

CHINA There are now Metro or light rail lines operating in no fewer than 31 cities. Proposals for new metros in Hohhot, Baotou, and Xianyang are on hold while finance is arranged but new lines were completed in early December 2017 including the 38.6km circular line in Chengdu that interchanges with five radial lines and serves the three major railway stations. The Chengdu network comprises six lines totalling 179 route km. Two extensions are due to open during 2018 and eight new lines are scheduled to be completed in 2019-20. In Nanjing the 36.3km Line S3 also opened in December 2017. The first phase of Metro Line 8 was opened in Wuhan on 26 December 2018.

2 March 2018

INDIA A twelve car train of air-conditioned coaches has proved extremely popular on the run between Virar and the Churchgate terminus in Mumbai. The train gives six return services on weekdays and replaces services by conventional coaches. During the intense heat of summer the train will transform travel along the route but it will be some time before funds are available to equip further trains with air conditioning.

MALAYSIA The firms Siemens, Alstom, F d S Italiane, and George Kent are to work together in the preparation of a bid to plan, build, operate, and maintain the proposed high-speed railway linking the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, with the island State of Singapore. This is by far the largest civil engineering project in the Region. During late February 2018 Siemens delivered the equipment for the signalling system for Kuala Lumpur Metro Line 3 – which will be a fully automated line.

13 February 2018

CHINA Suburban trains are to be introduced in the capital Beijing using the 9.2km long tunnel opened in 2015 and running right across the centre of the city. Eight car emus capable of holding 1479 passengers will run east along the Harbin main line calling at just four carefully positioned stations. A 9km extension to the west would serve just one new station and a further route to the north west will be added later.

CHINA – HIGH-SPEED NETWORK  Nowhere in the world are high-speed railways being built to such an extent as in China. Two thirds of the world’s H-S lines are in China and there is no sign that the construction of new routes is slowing up. A key spine route runs south from Beijing to Hong Kong. From Shanghai on the east coast a long route runs north west to Lanzhou and Urumqi intersecting the north to south route at Zhengzhou. From Shanghai another line runs south west to Kunming intersecting the north – south trunk line at Changsha. Other routes run north east from Beijing to Harbin with a branch leading to the border with North Korea. A Beijing – Nanjing – Shanghai route links the two greatest Chinese cities following a route fairly close to the east coast. China is set to have a network measuring 38,000km by 2025 with over half of the travel within the nation being made on a high-speed train. Read more by following the link below.

High Speed Rail in China

JAPAN A three car set of 60 year old Metro cars has been put on display in Tokyo. The series 500 cars served on the Marunouchi Line from 1957 and were gradually displaced by Series 02 cars from 1988. One hundred and ten of the 500s were sold on to Argentina for a second life on Buenos Aires Metro Line B. Now CAF Series 5000 and 6000 trains, obtained second hand from Madrid are displacing the 500s and Tokyo Metro have repatriated four of the 500s to become part of their museum collection. Three have been beautifully restored to original condition complete with red and white livery. These old cars with simple body and traction systems will be used to train young engineers and may eventually operate special services on the Metro.

16 January 2018

ISRAEL Israeli Railways is to purchase a further fifty four Bombardier Twindexx Vario double deck coaches comprising eleven control cars, eleven intermediate cars that have space for reduced motility passengers, and thirty two trailer cars. Meanwhile Bombardier is updating two hundred and ninety three existing double deck coaches to allow them travel at up to 100 mph with electric traction. The new trains will be used on the Tel-Aviv – Jerusalem main line which is being electrified.

INDIA Suburban services using power at 25kV AC commenced operation from Mumbai on 25 December 2017. The Delhi area was hit by unusually cold weather over the Christmas period resulting in dense fog with “zero visibility” at times. Many services were cancelled and over 3000 trains ran significantly late. The initial sections of the Hyderabad Metro opened on 28 November 2017.

CHINA HIGH – SPEED RAIL Construction has begun on the long high-speed railway into the remote north west of the nation. Passenger services commenced on the high-speed line between Xi’an and Jiangyou (511km) on 6 December 2017. The 153km section between Jiangyou and Chengdu had opened on 20 December 2014. Xi’an to Chegdu will now take just 4 hours 7 minutes instead of 11 hours, and this time will fall to 3 hours 37 minutes once the new track has bedded in fully. 84% of the new railway is in tunnel or on viaducts. High speed rail is bringing a new unity to a widely scattered nation in which important cities have had no easy means of contact between them.

CHINA METROS Improvements to local transport in many widely scattered cities is being pursued very actively. In 1990 there were only three Metros in the nation – now there are forty with several more in the pipeline. Two recent extensions have kept the Shanghai Metro as the world’s longest Metro system with a route length of 637km serving 387 stations. On 30 December 2017 two major additions to the network were opened. Line 9 was extended eastwards by 13.8 km while the completely new Line 17 is 34.72 km long and is partly in tunnel and partly on an elevated structure. It serves the westward suburbs and is the first line to be fully automatic in operation.

13 December 2017

INDIA  Keolis has started services on the first 30km section of the automated Metro in Hyderabad from Myapur to Amerpet and Nagole.

THAILAND  Completion of the Green Mass Transit Line in Bangkok between Bearing south to Samut Prakan will be achieved early in 2018 allowing test operations to commence with a start to public services later in 2018.

CHINA  The last section of the high-speed railway between the ancient capital Xi’an and Chengdu (511 km) was opened on 06 December 2017. The first 153 km from Chengdu to Jiangyou opened on 20 December 2014. 84% of the line is on high and striking viaducts and much of the rest is in 62 tunnels. There is a 250 km/hour speed limit and end-to-end trip time has fallen from 11 hours to 4 hours 7 minutes.

8 November 2017

THE GREAT SILK ROAD Part of the medieval road linking China with Europe has been re-created with the opening on 30 0ctober 2017 of the Kars – Tbilisi – Baku railway which runs through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey linking railways from China, via a ferry across the Caspian Sea from Kazakhstan, thus bypassing Russia. A freight consignment from China to London will take 15 days compared with 30 days by sea. Air freight is much faster but much more expensive. Oil and gas pipelines already exist along the same route but the new railway is expected to carry 6.5m tons of freight and 1m passengers per year by 2034.

INDIA The IndRail pass which allows the purchaser to travel in AC2 class coaches on any trains that they wish to use across the entire nation is to be discontinued probably from the end of 2017. Valid for three weeks it costs £152 approx. The Mumbai – Ahmedabad high-speed line, which had been reported as having poor loading figures, has now been turned around with all trains along the route having 100% occupancy and leading to a small overall operating profit. The are nine expresses daily between the two cities plus 25 others that operate beyond Ahmedabad to more distant points. All are now totally filled nearly every day. Test running has begun on the first section of the Nagpur Metro using two trains leased from Hyderabad. Nagpur is awaiting delivery of its own 23 train sets which are not expected to be delivered until late 2018.

CHINA A new railway between Minxian and Lanzhou was opened on 29 September 2017 to complete the 862 km long north – south artery between Lanzhou and Chonqing shortening the route between these cities by 650km and the trip time from 21 to 12 hours. The new route presented many challenges having 285 bridges totalling 104km, and 178 tunnels (total length 506km). It is designed for speeds of 200km/hour passenger trains and 160 km/hour freight trains.

26 October 2017

SAUDI ARABIA Test operations have begun of the 72km long section of the Haramain Railway between Jeddah and Makkah. The Talgo 350 train achieved a top speed of 310 km/hour during the second test trip on 17 October 2017. The Haramain Railway will next connect Makkah with Medinah (453km) with trains every half hour. Later routes will extend over much of the nation.

INDIA Measures to speed up long distance trains that are now facing competition from air services will affect over 500 trains from timetable changes in November 2017. Very quiet station calls will be eliminated while busier stops will be retained but the time that a train stands at individual stations will be cut by several minutes. It is expected that overall journey times will be cut by between 1 and 3 hours. The Indian public have a very relaxed attitude to how quickly they board or leave a train so this exercise may have a turbulent beginning.

THAILAND Construction work on the long delayed railway between Thailand and China began during October 2017.

26 September 2017

ISRAEL The State Railway is seeking to obtain sixty double deck trains – 330 cars in all – to operate its longer distance fast services. Six companies submitted bids but those from Hitachi, Bombardier, Skoda, and Stadler have been eliminated leaving the bids from Alstom and Siemens. A decision will be announced in the near future. The winning company will build a maintenance plant at Ashkelon and will maintain the trains for several years. The first of the new trains will see service on the new high-speed line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem which is due to open in April 2018. Until the new trains are ready services will be provided by double-deck push:pull coaches powered by a locomotive.

SAUDI ARABIA A new passenger service is being introduced from 18 September 2017 on the recently built line from the capital Riyadh north to Gurayet. Day and overnight services operating at 125 and 100 mph respectively

INDIA Work began on 14 September 2017 on the construction of India’s first high-speed railway when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a ceremonial foundation stone. The line will run south from Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat, south for 316 miles to Mumbai, the financial capital of India, generally running close to the Arabian Sea. There will be a four mile long tunnel under the Sea to take the railway into Mumbai. “Bullet” trains will link the two cities in three hours compared to the present eight hours. The £14bn construction cost will be paid for through loans issued by the Japanese Government. The railway will create 36,000 jobs, a similar number will be involved in the construction work, and the new railway is planned to open in 2022 – to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

CHINA CRIC (China Railway Investment Corporation – the procurement arm of the China Railway Corporation) has awarded the contract to build ten 8-car trains seating 512 passengers plus 1026 standing to CRRC Sifang. The trains are for service on the 78km long high-speed railway from Beijing to Daxing International Airport and Bazhou which is planned to open in September 2019. The world’s fastest service linking Beijing and Shanghai has been launched using Fuxing sets that are allowed to run at 217 mph. The top speed allowed was formerly 300km/hour (186 mph). The Fuxing sets are capable of 400 km/hour (248 mph) but the track needs a significant upgrade to allow this for service trains.

5 September 2017

INDIA   Several new or altered long-distance expresses were introduced by the Northern Railway on 12 or 13 August 2017. Most of these new trains take well over 24 hours to complete their very long journey. The services are:- The Bhopal – Singrauli Express (runs twice weekly); The Singrauli – Nizamudin Express (once per week); The Jammu Tawi – Rourkilo Express (operates every day); The Patna Hunsafar Express (once weekly); The Gorakhpur Antyodaya Express (once per week); Anand Vihar – Ghazipur (twice per week); Bandra – Ghazipur City Express (improved from weekly to twice weekly). The new services have been widely welcomed since they bring fast train travel to areas served previously by much slower local trains.

THAILAND   The ruling Junta approved on 12 July 2017 the purchase of high-speed Bullet Trains for the planned Bangkok – China high-speed railway at a cost of $5.5bn. This is the first order from outside China for these trains.

CHINA   Following two accidents to high-speed trains in 2011, Chinese Railways imposed a speed limit of 300km/hour (186 mph) on its high-speed trains. From early September 2017 one modified train will be allowed to reach 350 km/hour and by 21 September seven of the trains will be allowed to travel at the higher top speed. The trains are being fitted with an improved monitoring system that will slow or stop the trains in an emergency. Work is under way to find ways to improve the track so that eventually a top speed of 400 km/hour will be possible.

22 August 2017

THAILAND   Bombardier is to supply the trains to operate on two monorails that will feed into Bangkok city centre. The Innovia Monorail 300 system will be used and the Pink Line will be 21.4 miles long, will serve the northern suburbs, and will use 42 driverless train sets. The Yellow line will be 18.8 miles long and will serve the eastern suburbs. It will have 30 similar train sets.

5 August 2017

KAZAKHSTAN   Alstom has opened an electric locomotive overhaul and preventative maintenance plant in Astana. They will handle the Prima T8 and M4 locomotives which are used to haul heavy freight services at speeds of up to 75 mph. The Kazakhstan railways have a substantial number of Prima locomotives but some will be obtained by adjacent countries and the Astana plant will be able to handle them all.

20 July 2017

CHINA   The China Railway Corporation’s new 16 car 250km/hour high-speed sleeping car class CRH 2E trains entered service on 1 July 2017 between Beijing and Shanghai. The 412.8m long trains hold 880 passengers. There is one service each way daily taking 11 hours 52 minutes for the journey.

28 June 2017

INDIA   Indian Railways is to order twenty five standard gauge 10 coach high-speed trains based on Japan Railways East Series E5 train. They will operate on the 508 km long high-speed line being built north-south between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Gujarat state. Most of this new railway will be on an elevated structure apart from 21 km that will be in tunnel under the suburbs of Mumbai, and a further 7km in tunnel under the sea. Each train will seat 698 in Standard Class and 55 in Business Class. The trains will have a top speed of 350 km/hour and there will be 35 trains daily each way running twice per hour off peak, and three per hour during peak hours. The fastest services will take 2 hours 7 minutes making two intermediate calls. Slow stopping services calling at all eleven stations along the route will take 2 hours 58 minutes.

15 June 2017

INDIA   In Chennai on 14 May 2017 a 7.5 km underground green line extension from Thirumangalam to Nehru Park commenced operation bringing the total operational length to over 28 km.

27 March 2017

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

23 February 2017

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

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

10 February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

28 January 2017

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

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

10 December 2016

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

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

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

25 November 2016

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

22 September 2016

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

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

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

11 August 2016

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

29 July 2016

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

5 July 2016

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

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

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

10 June 2016

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

23 May 2016

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

7 May 2016

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

8 April 2016

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

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

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

25 March 2016

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

14 March 2016

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

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

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

28 February 2016

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

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

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

6 February 2016

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

19 January 2016

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

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

9 January 2016

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

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

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

22 December 2015

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

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

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

5 December 2015

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

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

2 November 2015

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

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

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

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

1 October 2015

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

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

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

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

4 September 2015

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

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

14 August 2015

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

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

3 August 2015

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

17 July 2015

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

Haramain High Speed rail project, Saudi Arabia

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

1 July 2015

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

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

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

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

Daegu Urban Railway 3

22 June 2015

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

8 May 2015

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

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

26 April 2015

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

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

10 April 2015

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

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

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

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

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

9 March 2015

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

29 January 2015

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

For further information please follow the link below:

Kochi Metro plans

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

8 January 2015

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

13 December 2014

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

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

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

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

Follow this link for pictures of the Suzhou tramway:

Suzhou tramway pictures

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

20 November 2014

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

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

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

7 November 2014

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

28 August 2014

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

4 August 2014

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

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

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

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

16 July 2014

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

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

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

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

1 July 2014

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

For more information about Ningbo please follow the Wikipedia link:

Ningbo Rail Transit

For more information about Wuxi please follow the Wikipedia link:

Wuxi Metro

3 June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 May 2014

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

8 April 2014

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

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

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

5 March 2014

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

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

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

5 January 2014

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

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

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

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

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




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