News from Europe

1 October 2020

TESCO TRAINS Following the success of its service between Central Scotland and Inverness, Tesco have introduced a new service that will operate fifteen times per week carrying fruit and vegetables from Valencia Almussafes terminal in Spain to London, Barking terminal. Each Tesco foodstuffs service is reckoned to take 76 HGVs off the roads.

SWEDEN The Transit Authority for the Göteborg area has received the first of forty Flexity trams to operate on the 160km long network of light rail lines.

LATVIA The independence won by the nation forty odd years ago has resulted in a sharp decline in its population and therefore in its transport needs. In the 1980s the capital, Riga, had almost 1m inhabitants but when separation from Russia became a reality many Russian citizens living there returned to their home nation and as a result Riga’s population is now just 629,000. Riga has a mixed local transport system including buses, trams and trolleybuses. The tramway network has three long routes reaching into the northern suburbs. Four cross the River Daugava to reach the western suburbs and one long line follows the river to the south. Plans for new routes and trams have been aborted in recent years. Most services are provided by LRVs that are over 30 years old.

UKRAINE The Lviv based tram builder, Electron Concern, is to supply ten low-floor LRVs for the Lviv system. They will be 30.2m long, contain five segments, and each cost Euro 1.2m.

BULGARIA Metro Line 3 in the capital Sofia was opened on 26 August 2020. It runs 7.8km in an east – west direction.

GERMANY DB Cargo has contracted with Siemens Mobility for the supply of 400 Vectron diesel-electric locomotives in a number of formats to accommodate particular traffic needs. The first of 47 Flexity trams has been unveiled at Grunewald Depot in Berlin on 7 September 2020. The city council in Halle has announced its intention to purchase 70 new LRVs by 2028. A new generation of ticket machines is being installed along lines U3 and U4 on the Hochbahn in Hamburg.

SWITZERLAND The lengthy task of creating a new north – south route across the country with gentle gradients and therefore suited for long-haul freight services was completed in September 2020 with the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel 15.4km long, between Lugano and Bellinzona. This follows the building of two other Base Tunnels – the Lötschberg 35km in 2007 and the Gottthard 57km in 2016. There is now a railway route across Switzerland that can compete with the road competition.

ITALY The city of Pisa has approved plans for a 4.4 km long “starter” light rail line linking the main station and the Cisanello Medical complex via a rebuilt Vittoria Bridge over the River Arno. It will cost about Euro 125m and take two years to build.

SPAIN A contactless payment system was introduced across the area around Malaga on 24 September 2020.

3 September 2020

CHANNEL TUNNEL London – Amsterdam through services will commence operation from 26 October 2020.

IRELAND Jacobs Engineering is to undertake a detailed analysis of possible route options for the proposed Euro 1bn east – west light rail route in Cork. The line will run from Ballincollig to Mahon Point.via the Science and Industry Park, University, University Hospital, City Centre, Kent Station, and the Docklands.

NORWAY GoAhead Norge operates passenger services on the Oslo – Stavanger route and restored overnight service on the line from 3 August 2020. The city centre tunnel between Oslo S and Oslo National Theatret stations is filled to capacity during peak hours with absolutely no way that additional services can be run. There is a special service 2 – 3 times per hour to the Airport and the idea has been floated that these trains be combined with more local services. The real solution is the construction of an additional tunnel potentially doubling cpacity. This is unlikely to open before the mid 2030s.

FINLAND Helsinki commuter services on the State Railways (VR), are to be operated by VR for the next ten years. VR outbid five other organisations.

LATVIA Komcar of Croatia has won the Euro 8.8m contract to supply a further six trams for the system in Liepaja.

HUNGARY Train operator MAV-Start is calling for tenders for twenty bi-mode multiple units with an option for fifty more. The trains must be able to take power at 25kV AC or run on their own batteries.

FRANCE A major electricity power failure resulted in trains on nearly all lines across France to grind to a halt on 30/31 August 2020. Some passengers were trapped for up to 24 hours.

SPAIN On 1 July 2020 Siemens Rail and two of its associated companiess were awarded contracts to install ETCS Level 2 on some of the routes radiating from Barcelona. The same system is already installed on some routes.

PORTUGAL The planned conversion to AC power of the busy 25km long Lisbon – Cascais commuter line is to receive a grant of Euro 50m from the Cohesion Fund of the European Union. At present the line operates on 1.5kV DC while the rest of the national electrified networrk uses 25kV AC. The line will be resignalled at the same time with ETCS Level 2. The existing fleet is now 60 years old and these emus will be replaced as part of the comprehensive modernisation programme. The Cascais route was electrified in 1926 and was the first part of the Portugese railways to be converted.

BELGIUM In Brussels the first of forty three 6-car M7 Metro trains was delivered by CAF on 13 July 2020. These driverless trains will be used on Line 3 which will use the north-south tram subway. They can be used on any other part of the network but in Manual Mode. They will be used on Lines 1 and 5 from early 2021.

NETHERLANDS New trams are being delivered by CAF for the Amsterdam system but none had entered service by the end of August 2020. Rotterdam Alexander station opened on 10 July 2020 and gives handy connections between heavy rail local trains, the Metro, and local bus services. A 1000 space storage facility for bikes is nearly completed.

GERMANY An S-Bahn network is being developed around Köln with frequent services along both sides of the Rhine south to Bonn, to the Köln/Bonn Airport, north towards Essen and Düsseldorf (and another Airport), north west a new extension to Mönchengladbach, and a number of branches to the west and south. Among major civil engineering works completed 20-30 years ago in anticipation of the S-Bahn project is the addition of a third span to the bridge across the Rhine from Köln Hbf which will allow five S-Bahn routes to cross the River to the east of Köln Hbf and still have sufficient track space for freight and ordinary passenger services.

POLAND In the city of Szczecin a 1.5km extension of Line 3 to Rondo Olszewskiego was opened on 25 July 2020. The operation of the extension was opened to bids from potential operators but only “Modertrans” tendered. Part of the deal was to deliver two low-floor articulated trams and assistance was available for assembly work in the tram workshops. A 3.2km extension in the city of Gdansk of route 12 from Migowo to the new Elementary School No. 6 was opened on 30 June 2020. A high-speed long distance route across the nation is also being planned centred on Warsaw and the new International Airport just west of Warsaw.

SLOVAKIA The Class 405.95 emus built in Switzerland 50 years ago were withdrawn from service on the metre gauge Štrbské Pleso–Štrba rack railway in July 2020. The line closed in 1932 when improved roads and growing motor car use made the line uneconomic. After 30 years the line reopened and the then new rolling stock has now become too old to continue.

ROMANIA A short branch in Timișoara to “Shopping City Timișoara” was opened to public services on 15 June 2020. The branch is served by Route 2.

SWITZERLAND The Rhaetian Railway has started to use a Stadler battery powered locomotive for shunting duties at Chur. It is much quieter than locos with conventional power supplies. Special events scheduled for 5-6 September 2020 to mark the 125th anniversary of electric tramways have been cancelled and may now take place in 2021. The wearing of face masks became compulsary on all forms of public transport from 6 July 2020.

3 August 2020

ROMANIA DB Cargo imported eight class 92 electric locomotives from the Uk several years ago. Four were sold on to Croatia where things did not work out and they have since been scrapped. The four remaining in Romania have been more successful hauling container trains. Two retain the names carried when working in the UK (472007 “Brittten” and 472 008 “Beethoven”).

BULGARIA is another country that imported former BR locomotives.including seventeen Class 87s, seven class 86, and five class 92s. Some of these machines have been used as parts donor to keep other locomotives in working order. Newag has completed the first of ten 3-car Inspiro trainsets ordered for the Sofia Metro in January 2019.

CZECH REPUBLIC The Negrelli Viaduct in Prague has been renovated and a celebration was held on 29 May 2020. The 1130m long bridge crosses the River Vltava. The double track viaduct has 100 arches and can be used by 14 services each way during a busy hour.

GERMANY The railway between Köln, north to Duisburg, then east to Dortmund before dividing into branches to Osnabrük, Minden, and Kassel has been upgraded into a frequent interurban operation using new class 462 emus. Battery multiple units are to be used on local services around Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken from December 2024.

FRANCE Access charges for freight trains travelling on SNCF routes are to be waived for 2020 and cut by half in 2021 in a clear statement by the French Government that more of the freight traffic moving on French highways should transfer to rail.

PORTUGAL A serious accident happened on 31 July 2020 when one of the “Alfa Pendular” high-speed trains struck a maintenance vehicle that was on the track. The location was 300m north of Soure station and 20 miles south west of the city of Coimbra. Up to 280 people were on board, two were killed and over fifty injured – seven very seriously. Air Ambulances attended at the scene.

NIGHT SERVICES With the steady acceleration to daytime inter-city services across Europe during recent years overnight trains became less popular and most were withdrawn. Regiojet and RDC have both seen a growth in overnight traffic recently and some service frequencies have been increased.

SWEDEN The 2km long link between Stockholm Central and South stations contains just two tracks but it forms the key link between the railways in the south and south west of the nation with the extensive mileage in the north. The tracks are used extensively for both passenger and freight services and both tracks and the infrastructure – bridges and other structures – face major wear and tear and repair problems. The link was last renovated in the 1950s and further work has to be tackled now. A programme of new work will last eight years including the reconstruction of two key bridges. Meanwhile Bombardier has delivered the first of 96 Movia C30 articulated train sets for use on Stockholm’s local railways.

BELGIUM A new CAF Urbos 100 light rail vehicle was delivered to Ostend on the Coastal Tramway on the night of 22/23 June 2020. Forty eight low floor five-section LRVs are on order for the 70km long tramway.

SPAIN CAF has been awarded a five year extension to its contract to maintain the fleet of fourteen Urbos 3 trains supplied in 2010.

IRELAND In Dublin public consultation has begun on a proposal to extend the Broombridge light rail line by 3.9km to Finglas where there would be a 600 space car park. The first of eight new 55m long Alstom Citadis trams has entered service. Twenty six of the existing 44m long LRVs are to be lengthened to 55m. By early 2021 the LUAS fleet will reach eighty one LRVs of which forty one will be 55m long. Capacity on the tram network will have been increased by nearly a third. Irish Rail has appointed Atkins JV to study and plan the expansion of the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) network looking first at the Kildare line so that the service frequency and passenger capacity can be increased. Finance of Euro 8.8m was obtained recently to fund this work. The railway from Heuston station to Park West will be widened from two tracks to four. While the Heuston – Hazelhatch section will be electrified and resignalled.

13 July 2020

DOMESTIC FLIGHTS Express trains – especially on new high-speed lines – are replacing domestic flights between reasonably close city pairs. London – Paris (city centres) can be achieved in 2 hours 28 minutes. A flight takes a matter of minutes but the road journeys between city centres and airports can take so long that the train is a significantly better option.

AUSTRIA The passenger service between Vienna Hbf and Salzburg Hbf provides 99 services each way most days with the fastest service taking only 2 hours 15 minutes. Some services run to/from Salzburg Airport and they have been increased from 3 trains per day each way to 31 daily with the extra trains replacing domestic flights. These changes commence on 20 July 2020. There will be an approximately hourly Railjet service each hour between 0500 and 2050 from Salzburg Airport station to Vienna with a journey time of 2 hours 49 minutes. The trains will have Austria Airlines flight numbers so that airline passengers can book the rail link along with their air travel. Business class passengers will travel First Class on the trains and have free access to the bar and buffet. Standard class passengers will be able to purchase a range of refreshments.

GREECE A 4km extension of Athens Metro Line 3 opened on 6 July 2020. It run s through a very densely populated area with three new stations. Roads in the area are so congested that travel to the city centre can take over one hour. The new Metro line will take just 14 minutes.

GERMANY Weekday services on the WUPPERTAL Schwebebahn are to be suspended for up to a year from 11 August 2020. Weekend services will continue to operate. Urgent repairs are needed to the guideway and it is important to preserve the tourist weekend business. BERLIN U Bahn station Mohrenstrasse is to be renamed Glinkastrasse. The old name refers to immigrants from Africa, many of whom were black. Mikhail Glinka (1804 – 1857) was an outstanding Russian composer whose name is used for a street close to the U Bahn route. MUNICH has ordered twenty one 6-car Metro trains from Siemens at a cost of Euro 185m.

SWITZERLAND A collision occurred near Oberwald between two services within a tunnel on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn on the morning of 3 July 2020. A car shuttle service carrying 15 vehicles sideswiped a regular passenger service with 30 passengers on board. The line serves the resort of Zermatt and was closed while the incident was investigated. Something projecting from a car that was being transported was suspected. The RHAETIAN Railway is ordering a further twenty Capricorn trains from Stadler at a cost of c£144m. The railway ordered thirty six of the 4-car emus in 2016.

BELGIUM The Mayor of the coastal resort, Knokke, wants to sue Belgian Railways for transporting people in overcrowded trains to the town during July 2020, bringing the coronavirus to the community.

PORTUGAL The State Railway, CP, has purchased fifty one very serviceable coaches from the Spanish State Railway RENFE. CP needs extra capacity to handle its rapidly increasing traffic while RENFE has decided to convert most of it services to emu operation and has many loco-hauled coaches in excellent condition which can be sold to other operators.

2 July 2020

EUROSTAR Through Channel Tunnel services between London and Disneyland/Amsterdam were restored on 9 July 2020.

SWEDEN The 891mm gauge Roslagsbana will be operated during a new 12 year term by Transdev Sverige. The three-line network in the north eastern suburbs of Stockholm totals 65 route km. Arriva operated the lines in the term ending 1 April 2021. Some sections will be double-tracked, a new Vallentuna Depot will be built to handle the new fleet of twenty two Stadler emus, and a new station will be built at Arninge on the Österskär line. For the Tunnelbana Bombardier handed over in April 2020 the first MOVIA C30 articulated sets which will operate on the Red Line. Six sets had been delivered and were available for testing by the end of June 2020.

ROMANIA The European Commision (EC) has declared that substantial payments made to the State-Owned freight train operator CFR Marfa are illegal. Euro 363m was aid to the railway in a sort of debt/equity swap and to make matters worse a further Euro 200m in social track access fees has not been paid by the railway company. The EC states that these debts totalling Euro 563m must be paid within six months. CFR Marfa cannot pay anything having huge other debts in addition to those to the EC.

BELGIUM The Belgian Government plans a 4.7% increase in the number of train services by 2023. Traffic fll from around 1m per day before the virus pandemic, and reached a low of 90,000 by early June 2020. By the end of June 2020 passenger numbers had recoved to 347,000 per day – still only a third of the pre-pandemic level.

SPAIN The Government has ordered that all passengers using public transport must use a face mask. Passengers on the Barcelona Metro (at Sagrera station) or the Madrid heavy rail suburban network (at Getafe station) travelling with no mask have been tackled by security guards and in both places brought down on the platform or passageway surface. In Valencia, Cobra has won the contract to install electrification equipment along the future Metro Line 10.

18 June 2020

SWEDEN A 4km long branch to link the main railway network and Stockholm Norvick Port handled its first container train on 9 June 2020. Rolling stock leasing firm AB Transitio has ordered a further twelve 4-car double deck trains for service on lines around Stockholm.

RUSSIA A bridge over the River Kola 15km south of the port of Murmansk collapsed on 1 June 2020. Damage to the bridge had been spotted on 30 May 2020 and no trains had run across it thereafter with a bus shuttle established between Murnmansk and Vykhodnoy (18km). An alternative route for freight traffic was strengthened and opened up for freight from 23 June 2020. Construction of a new bridge is progressing swiftly and is expected to open in October 2020.

GERMANY A new sleeping car service is being introduced running north – south across the nation from the North Sea holiday island of Sylt to Salzburg in Austria (750 miles) calling at Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich. The service will run twice weekly and take 16 hours. Sleeping car services in Germany started in 1852 but were defeated by faster daytime trains, new air services, and cheaper long distance coaches on improved highways. German Railways (DB) withdrew from the sleeper market in 2016 but two routes, Munich – Venice, and Berlin – Zurich, were continued by Austrian Railways (OBB) and passenger numbers have grown by 10% each year since 2016. OBB has invested Euro 200m in ordering thirteen new sets of carriages to re-equip the sleeper services.

FRANCE The operation of French Railways during the Spring and early Summer 2020 has been marred by drivers’ strikes. Co-incidentally testing is under way of driverless trains. The train cab would not be empty but the staff member would be simply supervising the automatic operation of the train – rather like how pilots are in change of an aeroplane which can fly long distances unaided.

ITALY An agreement has been reached between Turin city transport authorities in Italy and Hitachi Rail to supply eventually 70 trams. The first batch of 30 will be delivered by late 2021 with a further 20 in 2022. Further south, the Rome to Pantuno railway is to receive a major upgrade. The gauge will be changed to 1435mm to match Rome’s other light rail routes. Ownership of the line has been changed from Lazio Region to the Municipality of Rome. The line will link the city centre with the University of Tor Vergata.

SPAIN Barcelona Metro is working with cleaning companies and robot manufacturers to investigate the usefulness of UV light in the cleaning of rolling stock, stations, and passageways.

5 June 2020

STADLER & ABB A new facility to produce energy storage systems for ABB Ltd is being built in Baden, Switzerland. ABB is producing traction equipment for 100 regional trains in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Canada and USA. In addition it is producing with Stadler 71 units for Transport for Wales. These are 36 three-car tram-trains for use in the Cardiff Valleys, 11 Flirt dmus, and 24 tri-mode trains that could operate on the streets using 1500 V DC, 25kV AC, and diesel power.

SWEDEN In Stockholm Siemens Mobility has been selected to supply power supply systems to extensions of the Yellow and Blue lines totalling 19.4 km.

BULGARIA The National Railway, BDZ, has ordered from Siemens Mobility ten Smartron electric locomotives. They are to be delivered between February and May 2021 and will be used on passenger services.

CZECH REPUBLIC Work to upgrade the Negretti Viaduct taking important railway lines over the Vltava River was completed on 1 June 2020. Fourteen trains per hour can now run each way and the speed limit across the bridge has been railsed from 40 to 60 km/hour.

GEORGIA A Euro 75m loan has been organised to finance depot and tunnel wall modernisation on the Tbilisi Metro for which 40 additional metro cars have been ordered to encourage more travellers to travel to the city centre by Metro rather than use their own motor cars.

UKRAINE The Ukrainian city of Odesa called on 15 May 2020 for tenders to supply fourteen multi-section trams with a capacity for 250 passengers.

FINLAND The first of nineteen “ForCity” trams were delivered by Skoda on 25 May 2020. A light rail link is planned between Malmo Airport and the north east suburb of Viiki where it will connect with the city tram line and the Jokeri Light Rail route which is being built just now. Plans include connections with a further light rail line in the area.

POLAND The Dutch firm Edilon Sedra has been contracted to supply 20 track km of its ballastless track for extensions at both ends of Metro Line M2 in Warsaw.

GERMANY    BERLIN On display at the Innotrans Exhibition, the Chinese company CRRC has announced that it is working on an “intercontinental” high-speed double-deck train that will handle passengers on the upper deck, and freight/parcels on the lower deck. Bombardier has delivered the 200th Flexity tram where operator BVG has ordered a total of 231 trams.

HAMBURG Hamburger Hochbahn has started to us a reversable power substation situated at Rauhes Haus station on Line U2. This is the first deployment of a technology that both supplies traction power and simultaneously recovers braking energy.

FRANCE The Keiros Consortium has been awarded the contract to co-ordinate the construction of the automated Paris Metro lines 15 South, 16 and 17.

25 May 2020

CORONA VIRUS The spread of the virus has had major effects on Open Access freight operations and especially to some that cross borders. In Germany all Flixtrain services were cancelled from 19 March 2020.

GERMANY The State Railway, DB, is facing financial disaster due to the drop in business caused by the virus pandemic. It will need a cash injection in the Euro 11 – 13bn range to stay afloat. The Federal Government is likely to come up with around 80% of this sum.

CONDUCTOR RAIL TESTS Extensive tests have demonstrated that the delivery of power to a train through a fixed conductor rail in the roof of a single track tunnel works well. In recent tests in the 15.4km Cenen Tunnel with the ICE-S test train a speed of 275km/hour was reached without any difficulties in delivering sufficient power to the trains.

FRANCE Vinci Construction has been awarded the Euro 799m contract to build package 1 of the Grand Paris Express link under Paris. The work includes 11.8 km of tunnel between Orly Airport and Massy-Palaiseau. Line 18 will be extended to Versailles later. Three station will be built as part of the project at Antonypole, Massy Opera, and Massy-Palaiseau.

SWITZERLAND The metre gauge Frauenfeld-Wil-Bahn and the Appenzeller Bahnen carrying respectively 1.32m and 5.21m passengers annually are basically owned by the Federal Government and their Cantons. The companies have worked together for many years and a merger is being considered as a way to reduce costs.

NEW TRAINS Three companies are seeking to place a joint order for 194 single deck regional trainsets:- Swiss Federal Railways, 106 sets, Thurbo 70 sets, and RegionAlps 18 sets. Bids are likely to be around Sfr 1.5bn. There will be an option to increase the order to 500 sets.

ITALY The Turin City Transport organisation has agreed terms with Hitachi Rail to supply thirty trams with the possibility of a further forty.

SPAIN High-speed test runs using ETCZ level 2 have been made on the 111 km section of newly built high-speed line between Zamoro and Pedella de la Praderio in Galicia during mid-May 2020.

Class 112 electric set made several runs while two class 730 electro-diesels made runs passing each-other at speed. The maximum line speed is 350 km/hour and the commercial speed for class 112 trains is 330 km/hour. Driver training begins shortly with the line opening before the end of the year. The entire high-speed route between Madrid and Santiago de Compestela will have been completed.

TURKEY Bids are sought for a contract to supply 176 metro cars for Istanbul metro line M11, 37.5km long that will run to the new Airport. The new tunnels and other civil engineering work have been completed and track laying began in January 2020. Stations on Metro Line M11 are to be widely spaced out so that journeys to the Airport will be speedy.

AZERBAIJAN The Metro in the capital Baku was closed between 17 March and 20 April 2020 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

IRELAND In Dublin service levels have not been cut despite the substantial drop in passengers being carried, but if it becomes difficult to find sufficient staff to operate the services cuts may have to be imposed.

13 May 2020

EUROSTAR Passengers using the Channel Tunnel rail service have been told that they must wear a face mask.

NEW ROUTE A new international route from Valencia and Murcia in Spain to London has been established specifically to carry salad items and an assortment of vegetables and fruit for British supermarkets. There have been long queues outside many supermarkets made up of customers seeking these items. The new route has brought down travel times from Spain substantially.

SWEDEN An electrfied branch 4.4km long has been built at a cost of Euro 73m to serve the new Norvik Port, near Nynäshamn. The port is about 50km from Stockholm and will handle mainly container traffic.

GERMANY In Leipzig the VDL Bus and Coach Co. is to supply twenty one Citeas SLF-120 electrically powered battery buses and the necessary charging equipment. Initially they will be used on routes 74, 76,and 80, with route 60 to follow later.

FRANCE SNCF has lost revenue of Euro 2bn as a result of the pandemic lock-down. Air France has received Government funding of Euro 7bn to make up similar losses of revenue and SNCF has expressed a hope that it will receive similar aid.

SPAIN Major changes to rail services around Madrid are expected after December 2020 from which point high-speed services across the nation are to be privatised and new operators are expected to introduce more frequent services. Chamartin Station lies in the heart of the city and the area around the station is being redeveloped. An area 1km wide and 5.6km long is the subject of a Euro 6bn regeneration project. This area will have 348 large new buildings, 60% of them for office space with many of the others for residents. To ensure that most of those working in the area will travel by public transport there will be three new Metro stations, a new heavy rail station for suburban trains, a new bus station for local routes, and a new station for longer distance destinations mostly in the north of the country. There will be nearly a quarter of a million new jobs in the area around the station. With so many additional users at Chamartin and a need to look at how they can be safely handled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a plan has been developed for a series on one-way walking routes across the concourse. Passengers arriving at the station to catch trains will be segregated from those coming off trains. RENFE restored around 90% of its weekday commuter services from 11 May 2020, but fewer trains were added at the weekend. The service now provides about 60% of the former total.

1 May 2020

GERMANY – BATTERY POWER Baden-Württemberg State Rail Vehicle Authority (SFBW) has ordered twenty Mireo Plus B two-cat trains from Siemens Mobility. They can take power from an overhead power wire or operate on their batteries alone. On battery power they can operate a distance of about 80km. The trains will be built in Siemens at Krefeld factory and when using power from the overhead wire, the batteries will be re-charged while the train is “on the move”.

RUSSIA A all-aluminium three-section low floor tram is being developed at the Tver Electrical plant with final work to be undertaken at the Nevsky plant in St Petersburg.

ESTONIA The municipality of Tallinn has approved the route of a planned tramway between the Airport, the city centre, and the old port area.

FINLAND Turku city council decided on 20 April 2020 to re-introduce trams, the earlier system having been closed in 1972. More planning is to be done before a final decision is taken in 2024.

NORWAY The Norwegian transport group VY – part of the CAF Group – has been awarded the contract to maintain the trains used on the Oslo – Bergen line.

FRANCE The Government is considering moving the 9137km of secondary lines to Regional ownership and management. Earlier plans to close most of these lines have been dropped, partly because of strong local objections. Most still have both passenger and freight traffic but have the potential to carry much more business. They have now been placed in one of three tiers. Tier One accounts for 1500 km of the busier lines. These will be retained by SNCF and be part of the National system. Tier Two routes are 6500 route km of lines that as deemed important enough to be “shared” between SNCF and the local Regions. Government funding will be sought to bring these lines up to modern standards. The final 1000 km form Tier Three and will be transferred to the Regions which will be required to come up with detailed plans of how these routes may be developed and become more economically viable. In addition, there are 2900 km of freight only routes and the future of these lines will be considered separately.

LUXEMBOURG All railways in this tiny country now employ the European Train Control System (Level 1) – ETCS . All trains – long distance or commuter – freight or passenger – must now use ETCS if travelling into the country because in February 2017 there was a fatal collision on one major route due to incompatibility between the system on the train and the lineside signals.

SWTIZERLAND The Lötschberg Base Tunnel, which was flooded by the heavy rains during early February 2020, was finally fully reopened on 24 April 2020.

AUSTRIA The electrification of the 760mm gauge Pinzgauer Lokalbahn line between Zell am See to Krimml (52.7km) has been agreed by the State of Salzburg which took over the line from the National Railway (ÖBB) in 2008. Traffic is rising quite rapidly from a little over 900,000 in 2018 to one million in 2019. Electrification will cost Euro 50m and may see services extended beyond Krimml station to much visited waterfalls.

HUNGARY The planned upgrade to the Budapest – Beograd main line will be funded by the Exim Bank of China.

ROMANIA Work continues on planning for a new branch to serve the International Airport in Bucharest. The 2.95km long branch will include a viaduct 1.5km long over a major highway. The platform at the Airport will be 150m long. There were objections to the work being carried out because of noise but these seem now to have been resolved.

POLAND A 3km long double track tunnel is being built under the centre of the city of Łodź. It will run into the new terminal station at Łodź Fabryczna which will become a through station with local services giving a much faster overall service through the avoidance of level crossings etc.

TURKEY The Ministry of Transport has awarded a contract to CRRC of China for the supply of 176 metro cars for use on Istanbul Line M1 serving the airport.

21 April 2020

INTERNATIONAL The overnight ferry service between Malmö (Sweden) and Berlin (Germany) is set to continue despite the likely closure of the Trelleborg – Sassnitz ferry that is used by the overnight train. The ferry has been losing regular car, lorry, and foot passenger traffic in recent years and there is plenty capacity on alternative ferries. An overnight rail service is being planned operating between Malmö and Berlin but taking a different route so that it can use one of the other ferry routes.

EU FUNDS The European Union has allocated additional funds to enhance the railway links between Spain and Portugal. A further Euro 265m grant has been made to assist the completion of a 179km section of the715km route between Madrid and Lisbon. The route between these capitals will be partly new and partly upgraded existing route. Details of the eastern end of the route, probably serving also Toledo have not yet been finalised.

HYPERLOOP A Dutch engineer has proposed that a hyperloop system might be the preferred means of achieving a really high-speed inter-city system. The idea has been around for several years and consists of the building of a series of vacuum tubes along which are drawn passenger carrying magnetic hover-train pods moving along the tubes at 600 mph.

POLAND In Warsaw a 3.4km long western extension to Metro Line M2 was opened on 4 April 2020. Newag is to supply twenty one emus for use on the Warsaw rail network. They are to be delivered by the end of 2022.

GERMANY In Leipzig a magnificent new tramway museum has been created in the former Wittenberger Tram Depot. This represents a move from the Museum’s earlier location in the former Mockern Depot whose site is now being redeveloped. A full range of tram types that have served the city since 1872 when a horse tram network was opened.

HUNGARY An interchange in the southern suburbs of Budapest between Metro Line 3 and the main line railways at Nepliget, is a key part of a planned reorganisation of heavy rail services across Budapest.

ALBANIA The main line between Tirana and Durrës (34.5km) is to be upgraded and a new 5km branch to Rinas International Airport built.

SWITZERLAND The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn has ordered twelve 3-car rack emus for delivery by December 2022.

1 April 2020

SAINT CORONA This little remembered saint dedicated to those resisting epidemics was killed by the Romans 1800 years ago aged 16 because she professed the Christian faith. She is to be centrepiece of an exhibition in Aachen Cathedral this summer. The Saint is linked to a beautiful gold altar piece which will be displayed this summer as part of an art display but the recent pandemic has brought the saint’s name very much into the public domain.

RUSSIA Moscow Metro Line 15 was extended on 27 March 2020 by 14.4 km, with six new stations, between Kosivo and Lefortove. Construction lasted 8 years. All tunnel walls in the metro are being sprayed with a powerful disinfectant as part of the efforts to slow the spread of the corona virus. Construction of a metro station at Moscow Vnukovo Airport began during February 2020.

GERMANY Stadler’s selection as supplier of up to 1500 coaches for use on the Berlin U-Bahn has been confirmed by a decision of the Berlin Higher Regional Court. When Stadler was announced as winner of the massive contract objections were raised by a rival bidder, thought to be Alstom, The contract is for batches of cars to be produced every year or two plus spare parts for up to 32 years. With the Court’s decision the award has now been confirmed and made legally binding on Stadler. DB carried 150.7m passengers on high-speed and inter-city trains during 2019, an increase of 1.9%. Regional passenger trains carried almost 2bn passengers, an increase of 1.6%. These passenger figures set new records. Freight traffic however was down about 9% and special measures are being taken to find new sources of traffic.

FRANCE One of SNCF’s TGV trains has been converted into a mobile hospital with capacity of four very ill patients in each coach. It will be used to transfer very ill patients in the east of the country to hospital in the west where there is less pressure on beds. On 1 April 2020 Bombardier Transport received an order from SNCF for nineteen Regio 2N double deck trains (114 cars in total) that will operate on routes radiating from Lyon.

DENMARK The Copenhagen Metro Line 4 was opened on 28 March 2020. It runs from Orientkaj to Østerport where it joins the circular line 3 as far as Central Station.

30 March 2020

SPAIN Four pairs of “Avant” high-speed services were introduced between Seville and Granada on 16 February 2020 with a journey time of around 2½ hours, 90 minutes less than by the traditional route.

ITALY Open-access operator NTV introduced the following services on 17 December 2019. Five non-stop pairs of trains between Milan and Rome; two pairs between Milan and Venice; one pair between Rome and Venice; one pair between Rome and Verona.

FRANCE Traffic on the light rail line in Caen that replaced the TVR Guided Bus has risen 9% following the changeover. The tramway in Strasbourg has been a spectacular success with trams often packed so that some passengers cannot get on. A new tramway is being planned running from the northern suburbs, the city centre to the station. With the introduction of Smart cards in the Spring of 2019 , the practice of selling a carnet of ten single tickets at a reduced per-ticket price came to an end.

BELGIUM Belgian National Railways (SNCB) introduced the first of its new fleet of M7 double-deck coaches on 13 January 2020. When all 445 of the M7 coaches are accepted for use the 561 M4 coaches will be offered for sale to anyone interested in them. The M4s were built in Bruges in 1979-84, and upgraded quite recently by SNCB in their Malines Works.

RUSSIA All international trains between Russia and Latvia were to cease running from 17 March 2020 in order to restrict the spread of the coronavirus. For the same reason trains between Ukraine and Moldova were discontinued and all flights between Russia and all destinations in Europe.

HUNGARY In Budapest tenders are sought for building a new Metro line, M5, that will run north – south and connect with the HEV lines that run into the suburbs.

UKRAINE Because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and plunging numbers of passengers, operation of the Metro in the capital Kyiv (Kiev) was suspended late on 17 March 2020. Local tram and bus services are continuing to operate normal services.

AZERBAIJAN The last section of the 91km long Abşeron Peninsula circular railway was opened on 18 March 2020. Work had been underway since 2018 to upgrade and modernise several lines around the capital Baku and also reopen some disused lines.

IRELAND A new station on the suburban Maynooth route from Dublin is being built at Pelletstown, between Ashtown and Broombridge. It will serve the Ashington area.

13 March 2020

SPAIN CAF is to resignal the La Robla route between Bilbao and Leon.

DENMARK The State railway has added additional carriages to many trains, not because of overcrowding but to give existing passengers the chance to sit apart in order to reduce the danger of catching a Covid 19 infection.

FRANCE A 5.5km extension to BORDEAUX tram route D was opened on 29 February 2020. The extension cost Euro 250m and includes nine stops and two additional car parks. The city of STRASBOURG is to obtain a further seventeen LRVs at a cost of Euro 52m. This order forms part of a 2014 contract to supply up to fifty trams. Strasbourg will now have 80 Citadis vehicles, the oldest dating from 2003. The new order will be undertaken at the La Rochelle Works.

A TGV operating from Strasbourg to Paris was derailed at 0719 on 5 March 2020 while moving at 200 km/hour. Twenty one passengers and the driver were gravely injured and many were airlifted to nearby hospitals. The earthworks supporting the track had become distorted following heavy rainfall.

ITALY A Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000 train set was derailed while moving at 292 km/hour at 0534 when operating the 0510 Milan to Salerno express. Two crew members in the cab were killed but none of the other three crew members or the 28 passengers received significant injuries. Traffic on the train was light because of the very early start time.

IRELAND Traffic on the light rail routes in Dublin continues to rise. 48.1m passengers were carried in 2019, and increase of 15.1% over the 2018 total. Seven new 54.6m Alston Citadis 502 low floor trams have been added to the 19km long Green Line fleet and two newly extended trams from the existing fleet entered service at the end of 2019. A further 24 trams will be extended during 2020 and eight additional trams have been ordered.

1 March 2020

VIRUS RESTRICTIONS Rail links across the border between Italy and Austria were closed for several hours on 23/24 February 2020 after two persons, thought to be carrying the coronavirus, were prevented from crossing the border from Italy.

SPAIN High speed trains will be competing for business on key routes across the nation. Between Madrid and Barcelona – the busiest inter-city route in Spain – there will be 48 train pairs daily (three services per hour), while ILSA will operate 16 train pairs (hourly service), and Pielsfera will provide five train pairs (a service every three hours). Between Madrid and Valencia/Alicante the same three companies will provide 32 pairs, 16 pairs, and four pairs; between Madrid and Seville the figures are 48, 16, and four spaced out pairs respectively. These services represent a remarkable growth from the days when there were only three or four train pairs between the major cities – and most people either flew or drove in their own car.

FRANCE The first of Bombardier’s Omneo Premium inter-city emus entered service between Paris and Caen and Cherbourg on 17 February 2020.

AUSTRIA The completion and opening of the Semmering Base Tunnel has been delayed by geological problems resulting in significant water ingress.

RUSSIA The development of a network of Overground-style routes linking the city centre with outlying suburbs took a big step forwards with the opening of the first two of five planned routes by President Putin on 21 November 2019. The lines have been rebuilt with extra tracks at particularly busy locations, and greatly modernised stations. The routes are known as “Moscow Central Diameters” (MCD). Ticketing is integrated with the existing system used on the Metro, local buses, suburban rail routes. The Troika Card is used by passengers travelling throughout the area.

2 February 2020

ITALY The Frecciarossa brand of high-speed train was introduced on the Rome – Milan corridor in 2010 and there has been a steady shift of traffic from air to high-speed rail. In 2007-8 air had 52% of the traffic with fast trains carrying 36%. Now rail has 67% of the traffic with air falling to 21%. The road alternative was boosted initially by highway improvements. Around 12% of people drove between the cities, rising to 17% thanks to road improvements, but this proportion has slipped back again to 12%.

31 January 2020

FINLAND The technology company Teleste has won the contract from Alstom to design and supply information displays for the Montreal light rail system which now has 26 stations including one at Trudeau International Airport.

GERMANY Stadler has won the contract to supply fourteen 5-section LRVs for use in Darmstadt. There is an option for thirty more.

SPAIN The 46.5km Vaudellos cut-off was opened on 13 January 2020. Running between Vaudellos and Tarragona at a speed of 200km/hour, fast passenger services can overtake slower freight services which use refuge loops. Features of the new railway include Las Rojales Tunnel 1.9km long, and viaducts totalling 9.1km. Through services between Barcelona (Sants) and Valencia (Joaquin Sorolla), 303km, now take 2 hours 40 minutes instead of 3 hours 30m. The station at Valencia Joaquin Sorolla (named after a famous impressionist painter) was opened in 2010 for services operated by high-speed trains, and is about 800m south of the city centre Norte Station.

BOSNIA The railways around the capital Sarajevo are to be remodelled and resignalled with the contracts for the work won by a Czech consortium.

IRELAND The Dublin tramways carried 48m passengers during 2019 – up 15% on 2018 and setting a new record for traffic carried.

2 January 2020

LYRIA TOC All high-speed services between Switzerland and France have been operated by Lyria since 15 December 2019. Various changes have been made to cross-border services. The once daily Paris – Bern train has been discontinued. The Geneva – Marseille service, which operated throughout the year, has been cut back to a holiday service running in July and August only. More of the Paris – Lausanne trains have been diverted from the direct line to the Geneva route, which takes longer. The six trains daily between Paris and Basle are unchanged and most continue to Zurich. Three of the six call at Dijon.

NEW TRAMWAYS Construction of new tramways is going ahead in many cities across the continent. Tübingen, the German city, which has been a base for Professor Christopher Harvie, will soon be at the centre of the 104km long Neckar-Alb Stadtbahn which is due to open in four years time (2024).

LUXEMBOURG All standard class fares on buses, trams, and local trains will be abolished and no travel tickets will be required from 1 March 2020. TGV and cross-border services are not included and normal ticket arrangements will continue on these services. Residents will obtain a travel pass which shows that they are exempt from having to pay a fare. Local buses and trams will be free to everyone at weekends (even to UK citizens, who will have left the EU by then).

NORWAY The fleet used to service commuter services around Oslo has been strengthened by the delivery of more of the Class 75 FLIRT emus to Norske Tog. They have been leased to the train operator Vy and have allowed the most overcrowded services to be expanded from one unit to two, and by the addition of a few additional trains at the shoulders of the peaks. This has been welcomed especially by users of Line L12 (Moss – Oslo S – Stabekk which carries a particularly large number of short distance commuters.

RUSSIA The 18.1km railway bridge across the Kerch Strait between Russia and Crimea was opened formally by President Putin on 23 December 2019. It replaced a train ferry.

GERMANY Stadler is to supply fourteen 5-section trams to the tramways owner HEOD for use in Darmstadt. There is an option for 30 additional trams.

AUSTRIA & ITALY Construction of the Brenner Base Tunnel route has encountered problems near the Austrian end of the tunnel. A little over half of the tunnel bore has been excavated and the problems are being overcome but completion will be pushed back from 2027 to 2028. The tunnel will become part of a new Innsbruck – Fortezza route.

SWITZERLAND The Metre gauge Group, BVZ Holding, has awarded to Stadler the contract to supply five 222-car Abt rack emus for the 9.4km Gornergrat Mountain Railway.

ITALY Unusual news is the reopening of a 950mm gauge rural branch line in Sardinia on 23 November 2019. The Sassari – Alghero line, 30km long, had been closed 13 months earlier when it was found that the signalling system was faulty, several bridges required major repairs, and much of the track was worn out. The 2000 daily passengers were able to use a replacement bus service. However that was not the end of the branch line. Work started immediately to replace much of the track, repair three bridges and upgrade the signalling system. Stadler dmus are now providing a regular service.

20 December 2019

NORWAY The train operating company Vy Tog has won the contract to operate the Oslo – Bergen
daytime intercity service, the overnight sleeping car service between these cities, and the local service between Bergen and Arna. Vy Tog will start operating these services in December 2020 for a nine year period with an option for a further two years.

POLAND Stadler delivered the first of 50 trams to Krakow on 13 December 2019.

GERMANY Skoda is to supply thirty eight ForCity Smart trams for use in Bonn. The first of forty ForCity Classic trams entered public service in Chemnitz on 25 September 2019

FRANCE Extensions to tram networks in three cities were opened on 14 December 2019. In Paris route T4 was extended by 4.7km to Arboretum. A 3.5km extension to Line D in Bordeaux reached Marie du Bouset. A further extension to Cantinolle is due to open on 29 February 2020.
In Nice Line 2 was extended by 1.6km to Port Lympia.

SPAIN RENFE is to launch Avlo low-cost high-speed services between Madrid – Zaragoza – Barcelona on 6 April 2020. The trains will be operated with modified Class 112 Talgo sets with a special purple livery. As Avlo services expand some class 106 sets may also be used.

9 December 2019

RUSSIA The first RER-style “Central Diameter” routes that operate around the outer suburbs linking radial routes from the city centre were opened by President Putin on 21 November 2019. Line D1 operates in the west to north segment of the city sprawl, is 52km long, serves 24 stations including eight interchanges. Line D2 is in the west to south segment, is 80km long and has 33 stations with five more still being built. At present trains run every half hour but this will come down to every 12-15 minutes as the new services settle down, and perhaps could become every 5-6 minutes. Three more routes are planned to be opened by 2024. Line D3 will be 88km long with 43 stations, Line D4 86km long with 38 stations, and a possible Line D5 will measure 75km in length with 39 stations. Full details of these proposals are still to be confirmed.

FRANCE Alstom delivered on 14 November 2019 the first of a new generation of tram to the Lille Metro. This is part of an order for 28 four-car rubber tyre Metro trains that will each hold 405 passengers. Alstom is to undertake similar work on the Marseille Metro developing and supplying rubber tyre four-car Metro trains with a completion date of 2024.
Transport across France was disrupted on 5-8 December 2019 by a strike of a large proportion of the public service staff on the railways, metros, and buses. The Government proposes to make changes to pension arrangements. Eurostar services were affected with nearly half cancelled on some days. Air traffic controllers were also on strike and many air services from other nations that normally fly through French air space were cancelled together with most of the internal flights.

SPAIN Winning bids to operate high-speed services in Spain were announced on 27 November 2019. The winners are RENFE, ILSA (a local airline with Trenitalia), and Rielsfern (a subsidiary of SNCF). These organisations will provide services from Madrid to Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga, Sevilla, and Valencia. Details of how the winning organisations will emerge in coming weeks but ILSA have indicated that it may commence operations in January 2022 using twenty three Hitachi/Bombardier train sets that it has on order. Motor coach No 1 of the Soller tramway (which links the town and the beach/harbour area) was noted recently still going strong at 104 years old.

23 November 2019

LONG HAUL A regular China to Europe freight service was established on 4 November 2019. Starting at Xi’an the trains will operate to either Hamburg or Neuss taking 10 – 12 days for the 9400 km journey. The trains will be significantly quicker than traditional shipping services.

RUSSIA A hydrogen fuel tram commenced test operation on 1 November 2019 on the major
St Petersburg tramway network.

DENMARK Diesel locomotives on passenger trains are being replaced by Siemens “Vectran” electric locomotives. The new locomotives will all be in place by mid 2020. Parliament has given approval for plans to build the Vestfyn Fast Line which will be used by 250 km/hour trains between Odense and Kauslunde as part of a project to speed transport across the nation. Finance is still to be organised for the new railway.

SWITZERLAND The first of 70 “Flexity” trams was delivered to Zürich 13 November 2019. The trams are metre gauge seven section vehicles.

GERMANY Stadler has opened a depot at Herne to look after the Rhein-Ruhr fleet. Forty one “Flirt” emus will be based there. DB Regio has ordered from Alstom nineteen Coradia Continental regional emus to operate services radiating from Karlsruhe.

FRANCE In Nice, a third tram route, 3.8km long, was opened on 12 November 2019. This runs from Saint Isidore to Digne des Français where it joins the existing tracks. Trams then continue along the existing route to the Airport. The first new generation rubber-tyred trains for the Lille Metro were delivered from Alstom to Villeneuve d’Ascq Depot on 14 November 2019.

SPAIN The railway in the 7km long tunnel under the centre of Madrid between Atocha and Chamertin stations has been upgraded with a new power supply and signalling.

9 November 2019

TURKEY A freight service from Xi’an in China to Azerbaijan operated through the Marmaray Tunnel between Asia and Europe at around 0330 on 7 November 2019 – a twelve day trip. Freight services are permitted to use the tunnel during the small hours when the frequent local passenger service does not operate.

POLAND Warsaw is purchasing a fleet of 213 trams from Hyundai Rotem but the front end design of the trams is to be decided by a public vote. There are three choices and a decision will be announced during November 2019.

AUSTRIA Stadler has beaten CRRC for the contract to supply and maintain fifteen 6-car KISS double deck emus for the Westbahn.

GERMANY The leasing company Alpha Trains is to finance the purchase of new emus and refurbishment of older units for Regio-S-Bahn Bremen/Niedersechen.

NETHERLANDS Alstom is to conduct a two week test of its Coradia iLint Hydrogen fuel cell technology on a secondary route to demonstrate that this is an appropriate way to achieve zero emissions rail traffic on a non-electrified track.

25 October 2019

RUSSIA St Petersburg Metro Line 5 is being extended 6.4km south to a new terminus at Shushary.

DENMARK A new 14.4km tramway in Odense is being completed and sixteen Stadler “Variotram” LRVs are being tested in Berlin and will be delivered to Odense in early 2020 with public opening in autumn 2021.

AUSTRIA New Bombardier Flexity trams 3227-35 have been cleared for use and driver training started in August. They will be used on routes 2 and 5 when the timetable is reorganised in December 2019.

GERMANY Stadler has been chosen to supply eleven low-floor trams to Augsburg. With the introduction to service of seven new Tramlino in Braunschweig on 15 December 2019, the remaining elderly high-floor trams and trailers will be retired.

FRANCE The first of 255 double-deck emus being built by Alstom with Bombardier for Paris RER lines D and E has been delivered and testing of this train has begun. Line E is being extended to Nanterre (2022) and Mantes-la-Jolie (2024). SNCF has awarded a contract for 28 inter-city trains with an option for 75 more to CAF. They will replace elderly locomotive hauled trains on routes from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand and Limoges /Toulouse.

SPAIN Barcelona’s oldest Metro trains are to be replaced by new trains built by Alstom. In a
Euro 268m deal Alstom will supply forty two 5-car Metropolis sets.

8 October 2019

ESTONIA The four route tramway is at the heart of the development of the capital city Tallinn. All four routes converge at the Hobujaama stop which lies at the heart of the rebuilt commercial centre. Routes 1 and 2 operate together along the longest route from Kopli in the north west suburbs continuing beyond Hobujaama north east to Kadriorg (route 1) for the important tourist attraction – the former royal palace, or east to Suur-Paala (route2). Route 3 links Kadriorg with Kalev in the south while route 4 doubles the service from Kalev and along most of the Suur Paala line before turning south to Lennujaam Airport which was reached as recently as 2017.

POLAND Euro 880m is to be spent on improvements to the infrastructure of two main lines in southern Poland. Freight and passenger services will be speeded up as a result.

DENMARK Queen Margrethe II of Denmark opened the new metro line, Cityringen, on 29 September 2019. Services are operated by Hitachi driverless and fully automatic trains running at up to every 80 seconds at peak times. Services are in fact run 24 hours per day.

MERGER Eurostar and Thalys have merged operations to create an integrated system spanning five nations. Direct services will now be possible from London to Germany and South West France.

NETHERLANDS The Rotterdam Metro commenced public operations to Hoek van Holland on 30 September 2019. The work to transform an old worn-out railway into a modern metro was completed two years behind schedule.

FRANCE Alstom has contracted Knorr-Bremse to supply heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment for 100 Avelia Horizon high-speed trains ordered as part of SNCF’s TGV of the Future programme.

GERMANY The first of fourteen “ForCity” trams built by Skoda entered service in Chemnitz on 25 September 2019.

SWITZERLAND The Jungfraubahn has awarded the contract to supply 3 three-coach train sets to Stadler. They will be used on the Lauterbrunnen – Murren line (4.3km). and will replace four 560 V DC railcars dating from 1966-7. Bern has selected Stadler to supply 50 trams in 2023-2025.

ITALY Rome’s Metro Line C runs in from the suburbs and was being extended under the historic heart of the city including the Colosseum and Forum before running under the Tiber. Costs have spiralled and now the city has run out of money. The two 22ft wide tunnel cutting machines are close to the Forum and there will remain long-term. An interchange with Line B near Colosseum will be completed and the cutting machines will be cemented where they are closing off the two bores and preventing leakage back into the working tunnels.

TURKEY The main line from Istanbul to the Bulgarian border (233 km) is being substantially upgraded and work to re-align parts began on 25 September 2019. Several sections will be double tracked, several bridges will be rebuilt, and ETCS level 1 installed. In Antalya the 12km long light rail line T3 was opened on 11 August 2019 and when a further extension is completed a connection with line T1 will be established. Line T2 is a heritage tramway which is now to be upgraded to modern standards.

IRELAND A lorry struck a rail overbridge near Connolly Station, Dublin, during the afternoon of 6 October 2019 and all services through the station were suspended for several hours.

26 September 2019

INTERNATIONAL Agreement to allow the operation of through passenger trains between the Netherlands and the UK is likely to be signed during October 2019. This is one of a series of arrangements that will become necessary as the UK leaves the European Union. A through container train departed Milan Busto Arsizio/Gallarate terminal on 19 July 2019 bound for Xi’an in China and was expected to take 18 days for the 15,000 km and as traffic builds up the train will run once or twice a month and eventually weekly.

SHORT FLIGHTS REPLACED KLM, Dutch Railways, and Thalys have joined forces tto replace flights between Brussels and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport as from 20 March 2020. KLM insists that short flights should be replaced by rail provided the end to end time is the same and that the reliability of the rail link is excellent.

RUSSIA A new rail link is being built to the Northern terminal of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. A 3km long double track line will branch off the existing railway that serves the Southern terminal and when completed in 2022 a shuttle service will be provided between the two terminals. The Airport is nearly 23km north of Moscow and the rail link will be upgraded to provide 32 trains each way daily to the southern terminal, and 40 to the Northern terminal.

SWEDEN A major fire on 14 August 2019 in a disused warehouse close to the railway south of Hässleholm caused major damage to the railway tracks and signalling cables, and caused many overhead wire supports to collapse together with major damage to the overhead wires themselves. Although some services were able to restart on 16 August, a complete restoration of services was not possible until 24 August 2019.

NORWAY A second bore is being built on the 7.8km tunnel leading into Bergen. This major work is part of a country-wide double tracking project to increase rail capacity. Slab track is being installed along 6.9km of the new bore.

GERMANY Construction work to build two double track tunnels under the town of Rastatt (Baden-Württemberg) will restart during 2020 with completion suggested for 2025, three years behind the original plans. Trains will operate through the tunnels at 250 km/hour. On 12 August 2017 work was stopped when a landslip poured into the newly built tunnel. The ground level original railway had to close since it was threatened with collapse which had affected the new works. It has taken until now to create new plans for a railway capable of moving a remarkable volume of freight. The tunnels are a key part to eventually quadruple the entire Karlsruhe – Basel main line which is used by around 400 trains daily, over half of them freights.

BELGIUM There were celebrations on 01 May 2019 to mark the opening of the first tram route in the country 150 years ago. The first week in May became Belgian Tram week with events in the capital and on the magnificent Coastal Tramway.

ITALY The “Malpensa Express” service between Milan and Malpensa Airport celebrated 20 years of successful operation. Trains run every 15 minutes from the Airport to Cadorna station near the city centre and giving a half hourly service onwards to Centrale or Porta Garibaldi stations.
Alstom delivered the last of 136 4 or 5 car emus for the Campania Regional fleet. The trains have the nickname “Jazz” trains – a name chosen by the public in an internet poll.

SPAIN The Metro in Madrid is celebrating the centenary of its first line but faces financial problems linked to the need to renegotiate the leases on much of its rolling stock.

28 August 2019

INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION RegioJet is to introduce a twice daily through service from Praha to Wien and Budapest commencing June 2020. These trains will be extensions of the existing Praha – Wien service that RegioJet introduced in December 2017.

NETHERLANDS The new timetable that will be introduced from 15 December 2019, will be the first based on the second rather than the minute. This will enable the operator to know more exactly where each train will be and enable higher service frequencies to be introduced. The Utrecht – Ammersfoort route will have six services per hour rather than four, and Haarlem – Zandvoort-am-Zee four services per hour rather than two during the summer peak.

GERMANY  HEIDELBERG A new four track tram facility was to be opened outside the Heidelberg Hbf on 09 September 2019. BONN In Bonn, plans have been announced to operate a ten minute frequency service on route 67 by 2023. Coupled with route 66 there will then be a five minute frequency service between Seiburg and Bonn. LEIPZIG A volunteer group has been formed with a view to restoring the sight-seeing tram (1700+1800+700) to service by carrying out the repairs and upgrades that are necessary to permit recertification.

HUNGARY The 1.7km extension of Budapest tram route 1 to Kelenfold railway station was opened on 09 July 2019. This creates an interchange with the Metro and with tram routes 19 and 49. Tram line 1 is now 18.3km long and carries a spectacular 153,000 passengers each weekday.

5 August 2019

STOCK CHANGES DB is acquiring Austrian Westbahn’s fleet of seventeen Stadler double deck emus which are mostly in four or six car units. They are only 2 – 4 years old and can reach a speed of 200 km/hour. They will be used on a new Dresden – Rostock intercity service running every two hours from a date in spring 2020. Westbahn meanwhile is to obtain fifteen KISS3 double deck emus and will in future concentrate its services on Wien West station and discontinue services at Hbf. In Slovakia Regiojet has obtained ten second hand double deck coaches from DB to enable it to handle steadily rising traffic on routes radiating from Bratislava.

SPAIN A major extension to the standard gauge High-Speed network linking Antequera with Granada (122km) was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sanchez on 25 June 2019.

FRANCE SNCF is ordered a further twelve double deck TGVs on 31 July 2019. They will be used to strengthen services from Paris to Metz, Nancy and Rennes

BELGIUM Pointwork at the north end of Brussels Midi Station has to be replaced and in addition preparatory work is required for the installation of ETCS signalling. Civil engineers plan to tackle the work during the period between mid October and mid November with in addition two weekends in November when there will be a complete blockade to train movements. SNCB says that they have not been given sufficient time to plan how the 68,000 passengers daily can be diverted to other stations since they can find easy re-routings for only 20,000 passengers daily. The problem is becoming a very public squabble between two public bodies.

GERMANY In an alarming incident, a man pushed an 8 year old boy and his mother off the platform into the path of an approaching inter-city express at Frankfurt station. The mother was able to get clear but the boy was hit by the train and killed. A man, who is not related to the victims, was arrested in connection with this incident. In Munich, options have been exercised for the purchase of a further 73 four-section Avenio trams with delivery starting in 2021.

SCHWEBEBAHN REOPENS The 8km long so called “Danglebahn” in Wuppertal opened 120 years ago and follows the River Wupper for much of its length. It was closed in last November after part of the power distribution equipment fell off. With repairs now completed normal services resumed on 1 August 2019. The line carries 85,000 passengers each weekday.

SERBIA In Belgrade a 2.7km tram route that crosses the River Sava using the Ada Bridge was opened on 5 July 2019.

24 July 2019

NEW EMUS Three inter-city emus produced by CRRC will be delivered to the open access operator Leo Express later in 2019. It is proposed to use them on services in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland.

PORTUGAL Prime Minister Costa attended ceremonies on 16 July 2019 to mark the completion of work to electrify the suburban line along the Douro valley north of Porto. Double deck emus can now reach Marco de Canaveses where passengers for Régua and Pocinho must change to a dmu.

SPAIN Passenger traffic continues to rise year by year and 2018 saw a further 5% increase to 657m during the year.

FRANCE The new 16.8 km tramway in Caen is to be inaugurated on 27 July 2019 when there will be free travel for all. The tramway replaces the earlier guided bus system. There are 23 Citadis five-section X05 trams that can carry 210 passengers, 48 of them seated. A second tram line is planned for the city of Brest. The 5.4km line would run from the SNCF station to the Central Regional Hospital.

MILAN – PARIS SERVICE Trenitalia’s Thello subsidiary plans to introduce a twice daily service over the French high-speed network. The trains would take around 7 hours.

BUDAPEST – BEOGRAD SERVICE The line is to be substantially upgraded especially along the section in Hungary. A Chinese consortium will undertake Euro 1.8bn work including double-tracking, installing electrification equipment, and raising the line speed limit from 100 km/hour to 160 km/hour. The work will be financed by a loan provided by the Chinese Exim Bank.

AZERBAIJAN The first section of a suburban line in Baku was opened by President Aliyev on 21 May 2019. A very limited service is operating over the 13.5km route but frequencies will be increased when the next 3km section opens to an intermodal hub at Zabrat. A branch to the Airport may be added later.

POLAND Stadler has been chosen to supply twelve 8-car 160 km/hour Flirt emus. They will join twenty Flirt emus supplied in December 2015 and will be used to improve services in the Lubin, Krakow and Szczecin area. The contract for Hyundai Rotem to supply 213 air-conditioned low-floor trams was signed on 12 June 2019. Nearly half of the trams will be assembled at a new factory within Poland. The trams will be used on the Warsaw system.

FINLAND Construction work on the Jokeri light rail line between Helsinki and Espoo, 25km long. The line will replace the city’s busiest bus route, No 550, which carries 40,000 passengers daily. It is expected that at least 90,000 will be carried daily when the line opens in the early 2020s.

LATVIA The EU Cohesion Fund is to provide Euro 318.5m to fund about three quarters of the cost of electrifying at 25kV 50 Hz the main routes across the country including the east – west main line. At the moment electric power is used for passenger services only with all freight hauled by diesel locomotives. Contracts to rebuild Riga station were awarded on 30 May 2019.

RUSSIA The State Railway has ordered a further 13 Velaro RUS high-speed trains for use on the 650 km long Moscow – St Petersburg route.

7 June 2019

SLOVAKIA The State passenger operator ZSSK has achieved a small operating profit after eight years of significant losses. Traffic carried rose significantly especially on the Bratislava – Košice route (up 12.2%), but the amount of freight carried fell by 3.6%. Almost all the freight handled crosses international borders with coal traffic to the Kosice steelworks up by 8.6%. However the amount of other traffics handled fell significantly with oil and oil products down 14.3%, chemicals by 14.2%, iron ore and other metals down 8.1%.

BULGARIA Siemens is supplying Inspiro trains for use on the new Line 3 of the Sofia Metro. Twenty trains were ordered with an option for ten more – an option that has been taken up. The first part of Line 3 serving the south west suburbs will open in late 2019. An extension to the north east is planned.

GREECE The installation of ticket barriers on the Athens Metro has been completed with the completion of work at Viktoria Station. As an indication of how necessary the use of ticket gates has become an additional 10,000 tickets were validated at Viktoria during the first couple of weeks following their installation.

AUSTRIA Train operator WESTbahn plans to sell to DB seventeen double-deck Stadler KISS emus capable of a speed of 200 km/hour. Meanwhile WESTbahn is planning to obtain from Chinese manufacturer CRRC seventeen replacement emus that would be cheaper to buy but have perhaps not quite the high reliability of the KISS trains.

GERMANY DB, Siemens, and Stadler presented their new Berlin S-Bahn trains to the press on 09 April 2019 at Siemens’ Wildenrath Test Centre. 196 emus are being produced – 85 four car sets, and 21 two car sets. There have been problems with a small number of ICE 4 high-speed emus that are being supplied by Siemens which has subcontracted some of the body construction work to Bombardier at factories in Germany and Poland. This work was not performed as required and deliveries of completed trains has been halted until the correct procedures are put in place. The entire older stock used by Ruhrbahn in Essen and Mulheim is to be retired including the Docklands
Light Railway stock.

BELGIUM SNCB opened its largest repair and maintenance facility on 27 March 2019 at Melle, near Gent. There are two adjacent buildings, one handling work on locomotives and multiple units, and the other freight wagons. Locos and units visit their depot once every ten days and routine work is completed in four hours. The maintenance building is 200m long and contains two tracks making it possible for two entire trains of coaches and class 18 locomotive to be inside the depot at the same time. With a large team of technical staff both entire trains can be given a routine check. Under earlier regimes a monthly visit to one of the old depots took a whole 24 hours – longer if significant work was required – and this regime meant that it was necessary to have “spare” stock to cover a longer absence. SNCB reckons that with the new maintenance regime eight more train sets can be in service each day.

FRANCE The new tramway in Caen, basically a conversion of the earlier rubber tyre system, is to open on 27 July 2019 – a month earlier than planned. 23 Alstom Citadis 305 LRVs will provide the service.

22 May 2019

BELGIUM The European tram driver championships will be held in Brussels on 05 May 2019 to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the Brussels tramways. Drivers from Manchester and Dublin are among the entrants whose skills in driving in difficult conditions, and their knowledge of relevant legislation will be tested fully.

FRANCE Test operations on the new tramway in AVIGNON commenced on 29 April 2019 and services may commence on the 3.2 mile long line in June. A fleet of Alstom Citadis trams will provide the services. In CAEN the new tramway will open sooner than expected from September to 27 July 2019 thanks to good progress with the test operations. Trial operations on the second tram-subway route in NICE commenced on 21 March 2019 with a public service perhaps as soon as 03 June 2019. Alstom Citadis X05 LRVs are used

SWITZERLAND The first of thirty six 4-car emus ordered by RhätischeBahn was unveiled at Stadler’s Altenrhein factory on 15 April 2019. The metre gauge trains can operate at up to 120 km/hour and will be delivered in 2019-22. The trains are branded “Capricorn” units – the Romansch name for the alpine Ibex.

30 April 2019

BELGIUM The street tramway system in Brussels celebrated 150 years of service in celebrations at the end of April 2019. The event attracted huge crowds from around the world with hotel prices rising as much as three-fold.

GERMANY The State of Baden-Württemberg has examined the prospects of returning passenger services to 75 routes which lost their passenger services in the 1950s and 1960s. Following an initial study the prospects for 41 of the routes are to be studied in greater detail to determine if a passenger service could be operated profitably and therefore could qualify for State funds to upgrade the track etc for a restored service.

16 April 2019

CZECH REPUBLIC The State Railway has ordered up to fifty 3-car emus of class 160 from Skoda. They will be able to travel at 160 km/hour and can be coupled to form six or nine car trains. They will operate on routes in the south of the country, some of which are being electrified just now. In addition five double-deck push-pull three-car sets are being ordered for use on lines in the north of the country.

AUSTRIA Eighteen additional Flexity LRVs are to be supplied by Bombardier.

FRANCE Alstom is to supply a further twenty three 3-car trains for use on Grand Paris Express Lines 16 and 17.

31 March 2019

FRANCE Longer distance trains are being rebranded and re-named as part of a major advertising move to attract additional business. Classic TGV services are being renamed “in0ui” and the trains will receive a white and grey livery with red detailing. “Ouigo” trains will offer a slower lower cost service providing a budget service. These trains will have a pink and turquoise livery.

GERMANY The German Ministry of Transport announced on 18 March 2019 plans to develop a 300 km/hour high speed railway between Bielefeld and Hannover that will help cut the Köln – Berlin journey time to under four hours. There are problems over the delivery of sufficient Class 490 trains for the S-Bahn. Sixty of the trains were supposed to have been delivered by December 2018 by Bombardier – fully tested, and in service. Only twenty of the trains were in fact ready for service but Bombardier claims that all sixty trains that are being built will be ready in June 2019.

ITALY Forty of the new Class 494 locomotives are being produced in Bombardier’s Vado Ligure factory to haul freight services, and there is an option for twenty more. The new locos have been undergoing test runs and are expected to enter revenue service during March and April 2019.
Trieste Airport is now served by a simple Halt at which 27 Regional services each way and a single long distance service each way call at the stop. Around 100.000 passengers have used the Halt during its first eight months of operation.

TURKEY The ceremonial opening of the through railway between Europe and Asia in Istanbul – the Marmaray Project – took place on 12 March 2019 with suburban trains operating every 15 minutes. The suburban trains commenced operation of 13 March 2019. The route starts at Halkalı on the European side and runs via a tunnel under the Bosporus into Asia following the coast through Pendik to terminate at Gebze, a distance of 76.6km. The journey takes 105 minutes. The line connects with the Metro and tram systems at several stations.. The traditional Sirkeci terminus is being phased out and main line services now run to/from Halkalı connecting with the Marmaray Line which serves most downtown localities. On the Asian side the old Haydarpaşa terminus is no longer used and will be replaced by a new station at Söğütlüçeşme, still to be completed, 2km to the east. In the meantime main line services to Asian destinations run to and from Pendik connecting there with the new Marmaray line. During the first week of the new service 3.3m passengers were carried compared with a little over 1m who used the former suburban heavy rail services. Two million passengers had switched immediately to the new trains. Hyundai supplied 440 coaches from which 50 sets have been assembled. Already this is inadequate for the traffic that has surged on to the new trains.

IRELAND In Dublin a collision between Tram 3005 and a double deck bus at 0700 on 16 March 2019 resulted in the closure of the Red Line between Heuston and The Point for most of the day. The tram received quite extensive damage and repairs will take a significant amount of time to complete.

14 March 2019

POLAND Warsaw Trams has selected Hyundai Rotem to build 213 low-floor trams with delivery to be completed by October 2022.

ROMANIA A 2.9 km branch is to be built to Bucuresti’s Henri Coanda International Airport with a view to have it operating in time from the UEFA Euro 2020 football competition.

GERMANY DB has selected Talgo to build a new generation of push-pull train sets that will operate long distance intercity and international services. Twenty three sets have been ordered with options for a further seventy seven.

FRANCE Transport fares are being reorganised around the northern city of Lille. The local transport network is being renamed Ilevia. SNCF fares are being integrated with those already used on Metro, bus, and light rail services. Many heavy rail fares will be substantially reduced.

SWITZERLAND A new control and command system has been launched and it is expected that it will generate increased capacity as well as reducing costs. A new agreement will ensure that mail is carried by rail for the next four years.

ITALY Trenitalia has begun testing one of the seventeen AnsaldoBreda V250 trains that it acquired cheaply after their disastrous life on Frya services in Belgium and the Netherlands. The trains, now retitled ETR 700 are to be used on the Adriatic Coast line which can now be used by trains operating at up to 200 km/hour.

IRELAND The National Transport Authority of the Republic of Ireland plans major investment in the suburban railways and light railways around Dublin during 2019-24. The largest project is the 26km long “MetroLink” line between Swords and the city centre via the Airport. Design work is advanced, construction is expected to start in 2021, the cost will be Euro 3bn and the line will open in 2027. The new railway will be partly in tunnel and south of the city centre it will take over the Green Line to Sandyford. There will be more investment in the LUAS light rail network which was extended to Broombridge on 9 December 2017. Seven 54.6m long LRVs were added to the fleet and the existing 40m trams will now be lengthened by adding two segments. Sandyford Depot will be modified to handle the larger number of longer LRVs. Planning will continue for extensions to Finglas, Lucan, Bray, and Poolbeg. The handful of heavy rail routes into Dublin are being developed. Phoenix Park tunnel is used by new commuter trains giving the western suburbs easy access to Connolly and Grand Central Docks stations in the city centre. The life-expired roof at Pearce Station is to be replaced as part of a maintenance catch-up. Electrification of routes north to Drogheda, west to Maynooth and M3 Parkway, and south west to Hazelhatch is being planned. 200 new emu cars will replace the oldest coaches in the fleet and also a further 280 coaches with diesel/battery and electric capability for bi-mode operation prior to electrification. A new National Train Control Centre is planned at Heuston replacing the present facility at Connolly which is at the limit of its capability and is becoming outdated.

3 Mach 2019

SPAIN The surviving railways on Mallorca are now all electrified, the Soller line being the first in 1929. Work on the last part of the heavy rail network, Enllac to Manacor, was completed on 29 January 2019 and through services from Palma were restored from that date. There is now no need to change trains for a diesel train to Manacor so Enllaç station has been closed. Extensions are planned to the Palma Metro. A 2.1km long branch is to be built to serve Hospital Son Espases and a 1.5km extension from the Universitat terminus to Parc Bit will follow. The running time from the city centre Plaça d’Espanya terminus to Parc Bit will be 15 minutes.

FRANCE A wartime bomb was found close to the tracks used by Eurostar and other expresses in the Paris suburbs on 16 February 2019. Five London-bound expresses were cancelled.

LUXEMBOURG From March 2020 all trains operating within the nation will be free to use in standard class carriages by both local residents and foreign visitors. A charge will be made for travel in First Class coaches and cross-border standard class fares will be cut with the section within Luxembourg becoming free.

GERMANY DB Cargo has ordered a further forty class 193 Vectron locomotives from Siemens. Sixty similar locos were supplied earlier and are proving to be useful and reliable on freight services between Rotterdam and Switzerland. The branch to Stuttgart Airport is to be closed for a year while new connections are built to allow additional routes to serve the Airport directly.

SWITZERLAND The locomotive and first coach of a Berlin to Interlaken express came off the track at Basel on 18 February 2019. There were 240 persons on board but there were no injuries. The new double deck Class 502 “Twindexx” emus are proving to be unreliable. Breakdowns have been happening almost every day. The supplier, Bombardier, has put a technician on every unit when it is in use. Many of the trains are operating between Basel and Zurich and it is hoped that eventually these new trains will speed up the service.

AUSTRIA New double deck emus are to replace elderly locomotive hauled double-deck sets in which corrosion is becoming a problem. The new sets will be used initially around Vienna.

GREECE Double tracking of the Athens – Thessalonica main line was completed on 29 January 2019. Work on this project started nearly 30 years ago!

14 February 2019

FRANCE – ITALY The planned start to build a high-speed line between Turin (in Italy) and Lyon (France) is not going ahead because of political opposition in Italy.

POLAND Warsaw Tramways has selected Hyundai Rotem as preferred bidders to supply up to 213 low-floor LRVs. The initial order would be for 85 33m long vehicles and 24 24m long.

BELGIUM Wallonia Transportation Authority signed on 31 January 2019 a design, build, finance, and maintain contract with Tram’Ardent consortium for the first modern light rail line in Liege.

ITALY Stadler has been declared to be the frontrunner for the supply of 80 low-floor LRVs for Milan Transport.

IRELAND The Dublin Luas tramway carried a remarkable 41.7m passengers in 2018 – and increase off 11% on 2017. The opening of the north-south Green Line extension north to Broombridge in December 2017 helped boost the total. Seven new 55m long trams entered service during 2018 and the other 26 Green Line trams are to be lengthened from 43m to 55m by the addition of two sections. A further eight 55m long trams are to be obtained.

1 February 2019

SWEDEN The Roslagsbana, the narrow gauge railway operating into the north east suburbs of Stockholm, has been partly closed for over a year to permit upgrading work. It reopened on 9 December 2018 however while a new bridge is built in Åkersberga there will be a limited service from there to the terminus at Österskär.

DENMARK Keolis has been selected to operate and maintain the new 14.5km long tramway that will operate in Odense from Tarup Center in the north west of the city, to the city centre and on to the IKEA shopping facility, the University and the major city hospital in the south east suburbs, and finally cu to Hjallese Station in the southern suburbs. Sixteen Variobahn low floor trams are on order from Stadler with delivery expected during 2019. Trams will operate every 7 – 8 minutes at busy times and every 15 minutes at quieter times. They are similar to those ordered for the new Aarhus tramway which is also operated by Keolis.

LUXEMBOURG The recently elected coalition Government is aiming to make all public transport free to use as a key measure to reduce severe overcrowding on the roads in the capital. Free travel for all under the of 20 was introduced in the summer of 2018 and fares for older people were reduced to Euro 2 for two hours. Free travel for all will probably be introduced when the tram reaches the Airport. The first 4km phase of the new tramway opened on 10 December 2017 followed by the second 2km phase on 27 July 2018. The next phase will open later this year to give a 16.2km route between the city centre and the Airport. A fleet of seven segment CAF Urbos LRVs operates from an overhead wire in the suburbs and from batteries in the city centre. The tramway will give free travel and it is hoped take a significant number of cars off the roads. Public transport in Luxembourg is heavily subsidised and the creation of free travel for all will eliminate the costs involved in collecting small fares and then handling large numbers of coins.

AUSTRIA Two new tram routes in Vienna, 2 and 5, commenced operation on 25 January 2019. Bombardier is to supply eighteen new LRVs for service on the Vienna – Baden light railway.

GERMANY Bombardier is to supply twenty additional “Flexity” tram-trains for use in Karlsruhe taking the number operating in the city to sixty two. They will be delivered between May 2020 and March 2021.

FRANCE The new tramway in Caen commenced trial operation on 03 December 2018. The new line has not yet been completed but is expected to be finished in March 2019. Public services will begin in the autumn of 2019. Keolis has won the contract to operate transport around Nancy. The rubber-tyred trolleybus network will be replaced by trams in 2023 with buses operating the service between the closure of the trolleybus service and the opening of the new tramway. The tramway in Strasbourg extends across the border into Germany and a 1.2km extension from Kehl Station to Kehl Rathaus was opened on 23 November 2018. On 15 December 2018 Line 1 in Nice was extended 1.7km to the city’s Airport with a stop at both terminals. The first section of Line 2 between Magnan and Cadam (7km) was opened on 30 June 2018. In June 2019 Line 2 will be extended from Cadam to Jean Medecin in the city centre, and then onwards to Port during the autumn of 2019 taking Line 2 to a total length of 11.3km.

ITALY New routes and extensions to existing routes are key features of plans to improve transport around Palermo in Sicily. Existing Line 1 will be extended from Via Balsamo to Viale Croce Rossa
where it will link with a planned new route from Viale Croce Rossa to Mondello (20km). The other new line will link Via Duca della Verdura and Central Station. The construction work will be undertaken by Amat, a company owned by the Municipality.

12 January 2019

FEHMARN TUNNEL Construction of this 12 mile long tunnel under the Baltic Sea has been given approval by the Danish and German Governments. The completed route will cut the Copenhagen – Hamburg journey time by half.

LUXEMBOURG The light rail route that traverses the very heart of the city is “catenary-free” as it runs past attractive city centre buildings.

HEAVY SNOW Very heavy snowfalls accompanied by strong winds have halted rail traffic is several locations on 7-8 January 2019. Lines blocked by deep snow include Saalfelden – Hochfilzen and Scharnitz – Mittenwald in Austria. Services around Stainach, also in Austria, were suspended because there was a major risk of an avalanche. Further heavy snow fell on 11 January 2019 over a wider area encompassing Sweden, Germany, Austria, and parts of Switzerland.

7 January 2019

DENMARK On 2 January a commuter train from Odense to Copenhagen crossing the Great Belt Bridge between the islands of Zealand and Funen was struck by part of the load on a freight train moving in the opposite direction. Eight passengers were killed and sixteen significantly injured.

26 December 2018

DENMARK Keolis has won the contract to operate the new 14.5km long light rail network in Odense, the nation’s third largest city. Sixteen Stadler LRVs are being obtained, and these are similar to the new trams ordered for Hamburg.

FRANCE The new tramway in Caen is almost ready to go. Trial operations started on 3 December 2018 and the little bits of construction that remain will be completed by March 2019.

SWITZERLAND Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is introducing the new Bombardier Twindexx emu train which is designed for medium and long distance routes. A full-length train will have seats for 1300 passengers with plenty of space for baggage etc.

12 December 2018

FRANCE In Paris tram route T3b has been extended from Porte de la Chapelle to Porte d’Asnières mostly operating along the median strip of a dual carriageway. The 4.3km long extension opened on 24 November 2018.

LUXEMBOURG In a major move to encourage motorists to use public transport instead of their cars, all fares are to be abolished on all forms of public transport within the nation from the summer of 2019.

SPAIN The 100 series high-speed trains which entered traffic in 1992 are to receive an upgrade to their operating equipment. In the meantime their maximum operating speed has been reduced from 300 to 270 km/hour and the running time from Madrid to Alicante has been lengthened by six minutes.

SWITZERLAND A ride on the Glacier Express between St Moritz and Zermatt is the high-point of many tourists in this beautiful nation. If money is no object the best experience can be had in Excellence Class. For this the traveller must have a first class ticket (£207 approx) plus a compulsory seat reservation costing a whopping £323 – a grand total of £530. For this the traveller has a guaranteed window seat, free use of the Glacier Bar car, the services of a concierge throughout the journey, and snacks throughout the day. The experience starts with coffee, fruit juice, champagne, and a brioche. Later there is a superb five-course meal, and near the end of the trip afternoon tea with “goodies”. Train times are St Moritz dep 0915, Zermatt arr 1714. or Zermatt dep 0852, St Moritz arr 1638.

29 November 2018

EAST EUROPEAN CORRIDOR The Transport Ministers of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary have agreed that a high-speed line should be built along the corridor between Warszawa, Brno, Bratislava, and Budapest.

FRANCE Five new high-speed lines have been approved by the French Government in a major spending increase to improve the transport infrastructure. The Paris – Bordeaux high-speed line will be extended to Toulouse slashing the Paris – Toulouse jhourney time by 65 minutes to 3 hours 10 minutes. A new line between Montpellier and Perpignan will close a gap between the Paris – Montpellier and Perpignan – Barcelona high-speed routes. In the south of France the high-speed line from Paris to Marseille will be extended to Nice. In the north a new line will by-pass Paris to give a direct high-speed service from Amiens to Creil and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport station. A 713 km long conventional railway will be upgraded to high-speed capability to give a Paris – Toulouse via Limoges. Euros 2.6bn will be spent on 100 next-generation TGVs to be built by Alstom and delivered in 2023. The Ouigo TGV service providing lower cost services for the mass-market has been a major success and is being expanded. Overnight services have been in serious decline and only two remain – Paris to Briançon and La Tour de Carol. They are to be upgraded and modernised at a cost of Euro 30m. A Perpignan section may be added to the La Tour de Carol train. Work has begun on T13, the Paris tram:train line linking St Germain-en-Lay with St Cyr in the south mostly using the Grande Ceinture Ouest freight line.

ITALY A high-speed freight service has commenced operation between Marcianise (near Napoli) and Bologna (550 km) taking 3 hours 30 minutes compared with at least 6 hours by road. At least 9000 road journeys will be saved each year – and more as the rail traffic grows. The trains are specially equipped to handle containers similar to those carried by the rival lorries.

SPAIN Following several days of extremely heavy rain, a cutting close to Vacarisses became unstable and on 20 November 2018 earth and rocks spread across the tracks. An early morning 6-car service from Manresa to Barcelona was derailed by the landslide at 0726 killing one passenger with 49 injured and requiring hospital treatment.

14 November 2018

FINLAND Kone is supplying escalators and lifts for the five stations along the second phase of the Länsimetro project which will open in 2023. Länsimetro is an extension of the metro system in Helsinki.

RUSSIA Transmashholding’s Tver factory is to build fifteen 7-car emus for the initial section of the Moscow Central Diameter network. They will be ready by the end of 2019.

BELGIUM The Kusttram, the famous metre gauge Coastal Tramway, runs for 42 miles between Knokke and De Panne via Oostende and Blankenberge and is thought to be the world’s longest tram route. It connects with the State Railway (SNCB) and the above four points providing excellent connections from Brussels and other inland cities. The tramway operates on its own right of way between towns but runs through each community as a street tramway. Services operate every 15 minutes and an end-to-end trip takes 2½ hours. An unlimited Day Pass costs 4 Euros. Most services are worked by articulated LRVs from the 1980s and there are request stops every 1 – 2 kms. In July 2016 the Kusttram carried 2.02m passengers.

SWITZERLAND The metre gauge light rail network around St Gallen and Appenzell has been transformed by the opening of the Ruckhalde Tunnel providing a new direct route between the two towns using a new fleet of LRVs (Tango LRVs). The 725m long tunnel replaces a 940m long rack section.

ITALY Traffic around Genoa remains disrupted following the collapse of a Motorway bridge across multiple tracks on 14 August 2018. The heavily used freight route to the busy docks remains closed. The lines closed by the bridge fall include those to Ovada, Milan, and Turin but there are alternative tracks using the Granarolo Tunnel and the only passenger line badly affected is that to Ovada and trains from there have to turn at a station 29km away and passengers can catch replacement buses there.

SPAIN Improved transport arrangements are being put in place by Barcelona City Council and the Sagrada Familia Church which attracts 4.4m visitors each year. The church will provide Euro 2.2m each year for ten years to improve transport links, also Euro 7m to improve access to neighbouring Metro stations, and further funds to help pay for street cleaning etc.

31 October 2018

EUROSTAR The introduction of two services daily between London and Amsterdam from 4 April 2018 has proved to be an immediate success and a third service is to be added in the near future. Longer-term plans are for five trains each way daily.

NORWAY Traffic on the Gråkallbane light railway in Trondheim fluctuates with the number of cruise boats visiting the harbour. Many cruise passengers like to take a trip on the tramway so trailer 55 has been restored to passenger carrying condition to work with motor car 7 in order to create additional capacity on the route.

BULGARIA The new Sofia Metro Line 3 is being re-equipped with twenty Siemens “Inspiro” Metro trains. The bodies are manufactured in Siemens plant in Vienna and the bogies in the company’s plant in Graz. These are then assembled into complete trains at a factory in Nowy Sacz in Poland. Siemens is supplying the signalling and automatic train control system although there are driving cabs should the automatic system be shut down. The first phase of Line 3 will be 18km long and will run east – west across the city centre.

ROMANIA The future Bucharest Metro Line 6 will connect with existing Line 4 and will run to the city’s two airports – Baneasa, and Henri Coanda International. The line will be 14 km long and the construction costs of Euro 1.39bn will be paid for by funds from the EU, the Romanian State, and by the Japan International Co-operation Agency.

GERMANY Train services through Köln Hbf were halted on 15 October 2018 for over an hour while police tackled a gunman who was holding a hostage.

BELGIUM Following the ending of special measures that cut the amont of cable theft on the railways, there has been a major increase in cable theft. There were 104 theft incidents in the whole of 2017 but in the first eight months of 2018 there had been 110 incidents.

NETHERLANDS When the north-south metro was opened recently in Amsterdam it was expected that traffic on adjacent tram routes would fall significantly and service frequencies were accordingly reduced. Although the metro is carrying substantial loads, the fall in tramway traffic did not happen and the reduced tram services have become seriously overcrowded. It is expected that the tram services will soon be restored to their former levels but extra staff need to be employed since some tramway personnel switched to the work the new metro trains.

FRANCE Alstom is to supply 11 seven-section 43m long low floor Citadis trams to the City of Lyon to operate route T4 from late 2019. The contract includes options for additional trams. There are 92 similar trams already in service in the city.

ITALY On 23 October 2018 an escalator at the Rome city centre Rebubblica metro station went out of control when it was carrying large numbers of Russian football fans of the club CSKA Moscow en route to the Champions League match against Roma. Up to 50 were injured and to make matters worse for the fans CSKA were trounced 0 – 3 by Roma.

10 October 2018

VELARO NOVA TRAINS Siemens has introduced the first coach of its latest version of the Velaro train forming part of German Railways (DB) new Measurement Train. This train travels over each section of the high-speed network at least twice a year to check that the infrastructure is stable. The train normally consists of a Velaro power driving car at one end and a driving trailer at the other end. Between them are two Velaro coaches carrying many pieces of equipment. The number can be different at times. The first Velaro Nova coach is now part of the train and differs in various respects from earlier Velaro coaches. The new coach is longer (28.75m compared with 26.4m in earlier Velaro trains), and is slightly slimmer than the earlier vehicles. Despite this the interior is slightly roomier allowing the gangway down the middle of the coach to be a little wider. Siemens hopes that this new version of the Velaro train will prove to be as popular as the earlier versions of the train.

27 August 2018

GERMANY The introduction of the new trains to the Schwebebahn line is proving to be difficult and time consuming. Eleven of the cars are in normal service, a further two are in the workshops receiving modifications, but eighteen of the cars remain in the factory in Valencia where they were built. Sixteen of the old cars remain in daily service. Hermannstrasse Underground station in Berlin became a centre for drug dealers during the past couple of years and it was decided to play classical music over the loudspeakers to discourage the dealers. After being successful initially, the dealers began to enjoy the classical melodies etc and began to regather at the station. Now atonal music is being played – expect complaints from regular passengers!

ITALY Line 1 of the Florence Metro was extended by 2.5 miles on 16 July 2018 to Careggi University Hospital. The opening of Line 2 to the Airport should have opened during September 2018 using 22 LRVs but completion of the route has been delayed because of a dispute between different contractors. In Milan a further twelve 6-car Metro trains have been ordered from Hitachi and will be delivered during the second half of 2019. Each will have capacity for 1232 passengers of whom only 204 will have a seat.

25 July 2018

ALPINE TUNNELS OVERVIEW Vast volumes of freight are taken by rail from northern Europe to the south, a task made much more difficult by the Alpine mountain ranges filling Switzerland although the difficulties have long been partly overcome by stiff gradients leading to major tunnels passing quite high up through the mountains.. Today, travel times are being slashed by the construction of a series of “Base Tunnels” passing through the mountains near their base and avoiding the steep gradients on either side. There are five major routes involved.
First, to the west, is the Lyon – Turin Railway with a Base Tunnel 22.1km long that will enable both passenger and freight traffic travel times to be more than halved. 4.5m passengers are expected to use the route each year once it is completed in around 2030. Between Basel and Genoa there are two roughly parallel routes – the Lötschberg line and the Gotthard route. On the Lötschberg line the Lötschberg Base Tunnel is 34.57 km long and extends between Frutigen and Brig. Opened on 14 June 2007, it leads almost immediately into the twin bores of the Simplon Tunnel (19.8km long). A major traffic is the carriage of lorries on trains reaching up to 160 km/hour. Passenger services go at 200km/hour – or 250 km/hour if they have a tilt capability.
The Gotthard Railway runs a little to the east of the Lötschberg line and included the early tunnel between Göschenen and Airolo. The Base Tunnel, on a new alignment slightly to the east, is a staggering 57 km long and the route will include a further tunnel the Ceneri Base Tunnel that will be 15.4km long, when completed. Both the Lötschberg and Gotthard lines will speed the vast freight traffic between Rotterdam and Genoa together with large parts of Central Europe.
Further east is the Brenner Pass route linking Austria with the new Brenner Base Tunnel 50km long. This is on the route between Munich and Bologna. The furthest east line traverses the Semmering Tunnel (27.3km) and then a completely new more level railway 130 km long between Graz and Villach passing through the new Semmering Base Tunnel 32.8km long. This all forms part of the Danzig – Warsaw – Trieste and Bologna TEN Route (Trans Europe Network).

VELARO NOVA Siemens is developing a new improved version of its Velaro high-speed train – the Velaro Nova. Improved streamlining, careful modifications to the design producing useful weight reduction, and the use of slightly longer coaches (28.75m compared with 24.175m) means that 7 or 14 car trains will provide 10% more space within the trains compared with 8 or 16 cars of the older design. Skirts covering the bogies will reduce air resistance. The Velaro Nova trains will be 20% cheaper to buy and require 30% less energy in use.

SWEDEN The small city of Lund has ordered from CAF seven 32m long Urbos 100 low-floor LRVs for the new 5.5km long line linking the station with the science village and hospital. The 891mm gauge Roslagsbana is to be extended from its present terminus, Östra, on the edge of Stockholm city centre into the heart of the city centre connecting with the Green Line Tunnelbana at Odenplan. Until 1960 the line continued from Östra station to Engelbrektsplan with street running.

NORWAY CAF has won the major order for 87 new trams that will replace the present fleet in Oslo. The trams will be of the Urbos 100 design and there is an option for a further 60 trams if traffic on the system rises significantly.

POLAND In Warsaw Skoda is the preferred bidder to supply thirty seven 7-car Metro trains for the Metro. These will be three-car units totalling 74 driving cars and 148 intermediate coaches. In Gdansk, the interurban line to the beach is to be renovated. Over half of the track on the 7.8km line will be rebuilt and the cars will be freshened up with new seats and information systems.

GERMANY The Berlin – Munich high-speed railway carried 2 million passengers since it opened in December 2017. The faster ICE Sprinter services are to be increased from three to five each way daily.

FRANCE The first of the new Bombardier Regio 2N double deck emus has entered service on the Nantes – Orleans route. A special traffic on lines around Nantes is the conveyance of large numbers of bikes and each of the new trains will accommodate 11 bikes around each entrance with 17 in the lower deck of one coach. Up to 50 bikes will be able to be carried in each train.

ITALY The Ministry of Transport has dropped plans for a high-speed line between Rome and Milan. The two cities are linked in 2 hours 39 minutes via the present railway. A very costly high-speed route would result in a time saving of just ten minutes and this is simply not worth the expenditure involved.

IRELAND Dublin Metrolink carried a record number of passengers during 2017 – 37.65m, up 3m on the previous year. The northern extension to Broombridge opened in late 2017 so the figure for 2018 is likely to be another record.

29 June 2018

DENMARK / GERMANY Building the 18km long Fehmarnbelt Tunnel between Rødbyhavn in Denmark and Puttgarden in Germany will be the largest infrastructure project in Northern Europe when work starts in 2020. It is a key part of a new direct Copenhagen -Hamburg route bypassing the present line across Denmark via Odense and Flensburg. The original route forms two sides of a triangle while the new line is the hypotenuse. The tunnel will contain a road dual carriageway with a double track railway between the carriageways. The tunnel will comprise 89 segments each lowered into a trench cut in the sea bed. By means of the recently completed link between Copenhagen and Malmö the new Fehmarnbelt link will complete the Scandinavia – Mediterranean Corridor bringing together nations right across Western and Central Europe.

RUSSIA During the Football World Cup competition in June 2018, fans attending matches played in Yekaterinburg will be taken to/from the city centre stadium on tram routes 2 and 8 using newly laid track to ensure a smooth ride.

HUNGARY There are plans to integrate the metro lines and main line local services around the capital Budapest. Buda is on the west bank of the Danube with the larger Pest on the east bank. The only heavy rail link across the Danube linking the two parts of the city has just two tracks and is a serious pinch point. A heavy rail branch into the Airport is proposed and is likely to proceed within the next couple of years. Plans include fitting a third track on to the river bridge.

GERMANY Public transport facilities in Wuppertal, including the Schwebahn, were halted on 29 May 2018 because of damage by extremely high winds that struck the area that afternoon. DB has lost the contract to operate the ten route Hannover S-Bahn which has been won by the NordWestBahn. The new operator will operate the services from December 2021 until June 2034.

NETHERLANDS Dutch Railways (NS) are proposing to introduce faster services between Berlin and Amsterdam. The first train pair will start operation I December 2019 and eventually trains will run bi-hourly.

SPAIN The extension of the main line electrification on Mallorca beyond Enllaç to both Sa Pobla, and Manacor will be completed during autumn 2018 completing the project to upgrade the railway from Palma.

10 June 2018

SWEDEN The important railway running for 2 km south from Stockholm Central station to Södra (South) Station is to be upgraded to handle steadily increasing traffic. Seven CAF Urbos trams have been ordered to operate on the 5.5km long tramway in the city of Lund that is at present being built.

FRANCE (MAIN LINE) SNCF has been disrupted by strikes that are damaging to the company’s revenues. The Government has decided that the railways must be reorganised and the necessary legislation has been passed by Parliament. All services will be opened up to competition between private companies but the Unions will have none of it. Staff strike for two days then work the next three. The European Union has insisted that the French Government’s massive subsidies for rail operations are not permissible and must stop. Opening up operations to private companies must proceed and will start with TGV services from 2020. Next will be the TER Regional services, and last from 2023 the network of suburban services around Paris. Passenger traffic has suffered to a modest extent since travellers know in advance when staff will strike. For freight traffic the strikes spell disaster. Most freight services run at night and the “two days off – three days on” pattern hits freight traffic badly since these trains are cancelled if they might impinge of a strike day. The Government is anxious to see freight services taken over entirely by private operators. Lines of marginal value could be closed since traffic is being lost and operating losses will rise.
(NEW DEVELOPMENTS) The Economy Minister has announced that 100 double-deck TGVs are to be ordered this year. They would be of a new design that is more reliable that existing Duplex trains. A third Metro line is to be built in Toulouse linking Colomiers and Labege ( 27km) and connecting with the other two Metro lines, the main station, and the Airport. Alstom is to build thirty two further Citadis Dualis tram-trains for the Paris area. Twenty two will operate on the T12 Express Line, and the remainder on the T13 Express Line. In Nice light rail Line 1 uses conventional overhead wires along its route in the eastern suburbs. Major work is under way on building light rail line 2 and a short section in tunnel at the eastern end of the line will use an overhead power supply. However the greater part of the route will run in the open close to the Mediterranean through areas that the city wish to keep attractive. There will be no masts or overhead wires and power will be taken into batteries at each stop on the way to the Airport or inland to the branch to “CADAM” (Centre Administratif Départemental des Alpes-Maritimes). Later a further extension will run inland to Saint-Isidore. The first section to open will extend from Magnan to CADAM during this summer with the route east to Port Lympia will be in service by September 2019. The services will be provided by a fleet of 25 Citadis 405 LRVs to which a further twelve may be added as traffic grows.

NETHERLANDS CAF has been selected to build up to 60 Metro train sets for Amsterdam. This will allow time expired older train sets to be retired. The 11km long north – south Metro in Amsterdam is to open fully on 22 July 2018. During April and May some services have run free of charge to test the equipment fully.

LUXEMBOURG CAF has ordered twelve further CAF Urbos 3 trams for the second phase of the City Line which will operate through an architecturally attractive area and will employ catenary-free technology eliminating the need for poles and overhead wires. Trams will take power at stops using a new ground-level charging system.

GERMANY Regional rail services carried an impressive 2.692bn passengers during 2017 – up 2.4% on the previous year. In Freiburg five additional CAF Urbos trams have been ordered to expand the existing fleet of twelve trams.

HUNGARY Regular electric services started operation during April 2018 between Budapest Nyugati and Esztergom (53km). A single service over part of the route had started trial operation I December 2017 and a few trains remain diesel powered. These will switch to electric power in December 2018.

ITALY Construction of a high-speed railway between Milan and Venice has taken a major step forward with approval being given for the 44.3 km Verona – Padova section. This will be built quite close to the existing railway.

SPAIN The Basque operator Euskotren plans to introduce high-speed services on the routes linking San Sebastian, Gasteiz-Vitoria, and Bilbao, and will connect with the existing high-=speed line to Madrid.

PORTUGAL Planning is under way to build heavy rail links to the three International Airports – at Faro, Porto, and Lisbon. The line through the Algarve resorts is to be electrified at 25kV 50 Hz, the signalling will be renewed and the stations refurbished. Tenders are being sought for the supply of 14 3-car sets to make possible an increase in service frequencies. Modernisation of the signalling is also planned. Lisbon tram route 24, withdrawn 23 years ago, was reopened on 24 April 2018.

7 May 2018

RAIL BALTICA Plans to build a standard gauge main line north from Kaunas through Lithuania, Riga (Airport and city centre stations) in Latvia, and ending at Tallinn in Estonia are proceeding with land purchase under way and design work advanced. The three nations will then be linked to the standard gauge network across most of Europe. The existing railways in the three Baltic States are of the Russian 1520mm gauge.

THALYS Traffic on the international routes linking Paris, Brussels, Köln and Amsterdam rose by 7% during 2017 to reach a total of 7.2m.

DENMARK In Copenhagen eight additional trains are to be obtained to operate strengthened service on cross-city Metro routes M1 and M2. These will be supplied by Hitachi which purchased the builder of the older trains on these routes – AnsaldoBreda. A 15.5km long metro line known as “Cityringen” will open in July 2019 linking the city’s downtown areas with Frederiksberg

GERMANY Würzburg City Council is replacing its entire fleet of 41 trams with new low-floor vehicles. Its GT-D trams built in 1967-75 must be withdrawn by late 2021 and spares for its GT-E trams built 1989 cannot be guaranteed beyond 2019. Bremen Tramways is exercising an option for 10 additional Siemens Avenio trams bringing the number in its fleet to 77.

SWITZERLAND Testing of SBB’s new class 501 Giruno high-speed emus including the operation of the trains through the Gotthard Base Tunnel at 275 km/hour. In normal use the trains will have a top speed of 250km/hour. SBB’s complete monopoly on long distance services within the nation is ending. BLS has won the right to operate two routes out of Bern with SBB receiving a ten year concession for the rest of the system. Meanwhile there has been a serious drop in domestic freight traffic.

SLOVENIA Twenty six trains have been ordered from Stadler for a wide range of services. Eleven single deck four-car Flirt emus, five three-car Flirt dmus, and ten three-car double deck Kiss emus. The Flirt trains will be used on cross-border services to Austria and Croatia. The Kiss trains will operate on domestic regional services.

ITALY A new halt on the Trieste – Venice line called Trieste Airport was opened in late 2017. A moving pavement connection 425m long operates from the halt to the airport terminals. Thirty one services call each way, most of them regional local trains but there are two services to Milan and one through to Rome daily.

SPAIN New trains are to be obtained to work on Barcelona Metro lines 1, 3, 4 and 5 in order to boost capacity to meet the needs of rising traffic. For Line 1 four class 6000 trains; Line 3 needs two class 5000s while Line 5 requires four class 5000s. Finally on Line 4 two Class 9000 trains are to be obtained. All of the trains will have 5 cars and CAF will build the trains for Lines 1, 3 and 5 with the trains on Line coming from Alstom. At the moment normal services require virtually the entire fleet to be in service simultaneously but the new additions will give the operator some flexibility and will enable a few trains to be out of service for repairs etc.

20 April 2018

MERGER On 24 March 2018 Alstom and Siemens signed agreements to merge their railway businesses in order to compete with China. The new company’s HQ will be in France.

SWEDEN Bombardier is to supply forty high-speed emus with an option for sixty more to provide additional accommodation on ever-busier routes in the south of the nation.

FRANCE SNCF services are subject to cancellation/alteration during the three months April – June 2018 when the unions are taking strike action against Government plans to scrap the existing employment and retirement rules. Railway staff can retire at 60 (earlier for some staff) on a substantial pension which the Government says it can no longer afford. Some see the period of industrial action as being a battle between the Unions and the Government in which the ability of the Unions to resist Government edicts, and the Government’s ability to crush the Unions will be tested.

NETHERLANDS The first passenger train ran to the new station at Eemshaven on 28 March 2018. What is now the most northern station in Netherlands will have five return trips daily in the high season and three per day during the low season. They are provided by an extension of Arriva’s half-hourly Groningen – Roodeschool service.

News Report of the first train arrival at Eemshaven

AUSTRIA An incident at 0600 on 20 April 2018 in Salzburg Station resulted in 54 passengers receiving injuries. Nightjet 457 comprising four coaches was completely full so additional coaches were being added to the train but this action resulted in the already full coaches being jolted violently.

ITALY Major improvements are being made to suburban routes around Rome. Signalling is being upgraded along routes 1, 3, 4, and 6 while the important Ciampino Station is to be remodelled to increase its capacity significantly. Several sections are to be double tracked and this will enable a ten minute frequency service to be introduced on routes 7 and 8. Longer term plans include building a missing section of the Ring Line and the building of a second line to Fiumicino Airport.

21 March 2018

RUSSIA Test operation of a new “fast tram” route in St Petersburg commenced on 31 January 2018. Stadler Minsk has supplied 23 LRVs for the new operation. Services to Krasnogvardeisky are expected to start by the end of March 2018.

NORWAY CAF is building a new fleet of eight four-car “Oaris” trains to operate between Oslo and Gardermoen Airport. They will be capable of a top speed of 245 km/hour and will be specially designed to withstand the bitterly cold winter weather in Norway. Two trains will be able to be coupled together to handle heavy traffic. The existing fleet of 16 trains have a top speed of 210 km/hr . The service provided is a non-stop Airport – Oslo Sentral every 15 minutes km/hour plus services that continue beyond the city centre to Stabekk (twice hourly) or Drammen (hourly). An hourly service from Skoyen is to be added soon.

NETHERLANDS Rotterdam Centraal Station is being adapted by a consortium including Volker Rail and Arcadis to provide a secure area for passengers who have already gone through Customs and Immigration checks.

FRANCE The French firm Saft, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of batteries, has won its largest ever order to supply batteries for 1600 electric freight locomotives on the Indian Railway system. Alstom is acting as intermediary in installing the batteries when received. Saft designs, manufactures, and provides support during their use . Earlier large orders have gone to the Metros in Chennai and Lucknow. Saft is to construct a factory in Bangalore to handle this major contract.

2 March 2018

IRELAND Seven 55m long trams have been added to the Dublin fleet in order to increase capacity. The recent extension into the north western suburbs serves colleges and several employment centres. However the trams are so long that when they call at some stops the tram extends back across side streets causing short but annoying delays to other traffic.

FRANCE Isle de France Mobilités is making substantial investments into its suburban heavy rail and the Paris Metro services. Bombardier Transportation has been asked to supply nine additional Regio 2N train sets to be operated by SNCF on outer suburban routes R, N, or D. They will cost Euro 97m and form part of a contract to made in 2010 supply up to 860 train sets. The Regio 2N train is a spacious double deck train with an uncluttered access. So far 134 train sets have been ordered and the first trains to be delivered entered service on Line R in December 2017. For use on inner suburban lines Isle de France Mobilités has concentrated on Bombardier class Z 50,000 “Francilien” trains of which 277 train sets have been obtained for use on Lines H, J, K, L and P. They comprise 7 or 8 single deck relatively wide-bodied articulated cars seating over 400 (7 cars) or 500 (8 car units) with seats in a 3 + 2 arrangement. They can carry close on double these numbers when packed with standees. They take power at 1.5 kV DC or 25 kV AC. Alternatively they are referred to as Nouvelle Automotrice Transilien – or NAT units. The term “Francilien” has however stuck with these popular trains. For the Paris Metro Alstom is to supply twenty MP 14 five car trains to replace a similar number of elderly cars on Metro Line 11. These will cost Euro 157m.

SPAIN New Stadler built trains have been ordered for the standard gauge outer suburban lines from Barcelona to Tarrassa and Sabadell. Fifteen 4-car emus will be delivered during 2019. Because of rapidly rising traffic the lines are to be resignalled to shorten block sections and allow peak service frequency trains to run every five minutes rather than the present ten minutes.

SWITZERLAND A very unusual accident occurred on 04 January 2018 near Lenk on the metre gauge Montreux Oberland Bernois line. Very strong gusts of wind blew one end of a three-car multiple unit off the track. Eight passengers were injured.

13 February 2018

GEORGIA In the capital Tbilisi two modernised four-car trainsets entered service on Metro Line 1 on 23 October 2017. Built by Metrowagonmash the cars were modernised by a joint team of Polish and Russian engineers. They have new control systems, microprocessors, LED lighting, external and internal CCTV cameras, as well as redesigned exterior and interior fittings. Three additional trains are to receive similar work before the end of 2018. A mile long extension of Metro Line 2 to the University opened finally on 16 October 2017, Work began in 1985 but funds ran out in 1993 and could not restart until 2015.

POLAND Pesa is the low bidder to supply eight 5-car and five 4-car emus for use on local lines around Warsaw. Pesa will maintain the trains for 15 years and there is an option for a further eight 5-car and one 4-car emus. Meanwhile Stadler has signed agreements to supply sixty one 5-car and ten 2-car Flirt emus providing funds can be supplied by the EU. Longer distance services will benefit by the decision to obtain twenty 160km/hour locomotives from Newag. A major infrastructure upgrade will see the rebuilding of the single track electrified branch from Białystok to Ełk and onwards to the Lithuanian border as a double track route suitable for speeds of 160 km/hour. The Szczecin Tramways have selected Modertrans to supply two Moderus Beta tram kits that will be assembled in the company’s own workshops. They assembled two similar trams in 2014 under a similar arrangement.

EUROSTAR TO AMSTERDAM Two services daily are to commence operation on 04 April 2018 departing St Pancras International at 0831 and 1731 and taking 3 hours 41 minutes. The return services will involve a change of train at Brussels at least until new arrangements are made for passport checks. The initial demand for the service may be low since there are 70 flights daily between London and Amsterdam.

GERMANY Bremen Tramways have increased their order for Siemens Avenio trams from 67 to 77. A further 80 Metrocars are to be obtained from Stadler Pankow with delivery commencing during the latter part of 2019.

SWITZERLAND The Stoosbahn, the steepest funicular in the world, was opened on 17 December 2017. It operates from the valley floor to the ski resort town of Stoos to which there is no road access. Most of the 1740m long line has a gradient of 110%, with three tunnels that total 580m in length and two bridges. The passenger car cabins are suspended so that the floor is always level. Staff working in the hotels, shops, and restaurants reach Stoos daily using the new route. All the food and materials required in the resort have to be taken there in special vehicles. Click on the link below to watch a video of the line.

FRANCE Heavy snow affected travel across much of the nation during early February 2018. The capital, Paris, was especially badly affected with seven inches of snow on the roads bringing traffic throughout the city to a standstill on 7 and 8 February. Suburban rail services were badly affected although some services were able to operate though well behind time. Only the Metro which is substantially under ground was able to run on time.

SPAIN RENFE is to convert thirteen Series 7 Overnight trains into 330 km/hour day trains as passengers continue to switch to very fast daytime services rather than use slower overnight services.

13 January 2013

DENMARK  Tenders to construct the 28km long Greater Copenhagen Light Rail Project (Hovedstadens Letbane) have been for an acceptable sum and construction work is to begin during this year with services starting in 2023. The line will run from Lundtofte in the north to Ishøj in the south and will connect with most of the S train services running from the capital. Trams running every five minutes (ten minutes in late evenings and during weekends) will serve several hospitals, shopping and office areas, and the Technical University. It is expected to carry 13 – 14m passengers each year.

28 December 2017

CHANNEL TUNNEL There were delays of up to six hours on 11 and 12 December 2017 for Eurotunnel users because of emergency maintenance work.

DENMARK Parliament has decided that the Copenhagen S-train services should go out to tender as a public-private partnership similar to that existing on the Metro. The Alstom S train fleet dating from 1996 will be considered for replacement from 2024 onwards and a new signalling system is to be introduced from around 2022. The opportunity exists to operate an automatic driverless system starting on the Ring Line (Line F) from the mid 2020s. Services would be at least doubled in frequency and would operate 24 hours per day. Once it was confirmed that the automatic service was completely reliable it would be introduced on the other lines with the entire network converted by 2036. Passenger numbers are expected to rise sharply by 12-13m per year and the increased fare income would finance the changes.

LUXEMBOURG Public transport to the Kirchberg Plateau locality was reorganised on 10 December 2017 with the opening of a new railway station, a high-capacity funicular up to the Plateau, and a new “Luxtram” route serving the Plateau area. The station, Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg, is served by a six times per hour shuttle from Central Station and also by trains operating through to the northern suburbs. The funicular is in effect two parallel funiculars side by side both with a passing point midway. The funiculars have high capacity cabins that can each hold 168 passengers, providing a capacity of 7200 passengers per hour. The trams operate every few minutes.

GERMANY Bombardier is to supply 47 trams for the lines in Duisburg.

FRANCE Alstom is to supply a further six Citadis battery powered trams for the use in Nice. Nineteen trams were ordered for use from the summer of 2018 and construction of the further six will commence after the initial order has been fulfilled. The trams use the SRS charging system which allows trams to top up their batteries in 20 seconds while a tram handles traffic at a stop. Bombardier is to supply thirty two train sets of OMNCO double deck stock for intercity routes in the Region Centre – Val de Loire.

SWITZERLAND The Basel tramway network operates mostly within Switzerland but two sections take it into Germany and France. Line 10 has served a single stop at Leyman in France before re-entering Switzerland to reach its terminus. Line 8 was extended on 14 December 2014 to Weil am Rhein in Germany and recently a further extension took the tramway to St Louis in France. A tramway serving three nations is unusual.

ITALY CAF is to supply ten six-car trains for the Metro which is being extended to Naples International Airport at Capodichino. These trains will be delivered in 2019 and there is an option for a further ten trains.

13 December 2017

AUSTRIA & CZECH REPUBLIC   The Prague – Vienna service will be boosted from 10 December 2017 to four fast services each way daily with standard class tickets costing just Euro 15 each way.

DUBLIN Seven 55m long Citadis trams have been delivered from the factory at La Rochelle, France, for service on the LUAS system. These are the longest Citadis trams ever produced. The 5.6km long Broombridge extension of the LUAS tram network was opened formally on 09 December 2017 with public services commencing on 10 December 2017..

GERMANY In order to combat increasing overcrowding on the trains, a further 80 Metro cars are to be ordered from Stadler Pankow for service on the small profile tunnel lines of the Berlin U-Bahn.

24 November 2017

ITALY   Alstom is to supply an additional 27 Coradia Meridian “Jazz Trains” to Trenitalia for use on medium distance semi-fast services. The trains are five-car emus and the new deliveries will bring the total owned by Trenitalia to 118 units.

8 November 2017

FINLAND A collision at a level crossing with no gates at Raasepori, 53 miles west of Helsinki between a commuter train and an army vehicle early on 26 October 2017 killed three soldiers in the truck and one passenger in the train. Eleven others were injured.

SWEDEN SJ is seeking tenders for the supply of thirty high-speed trains capable of a speed of 250 km/hour and a capacity of at least 350 passengers. The trains are required because demand is rising on routes served by the existing X2000 trains (at present being refurbished) and the newer SJ3000 emus. The important Stockholm – Malmö line is likely to be the first line to receive the new trains.

GERMANY The main line through Rastatt reopened on 02 October 2017 and the flow of vital freight traffic (up to 180 trains every day) was able to resume its normal route.

SPAIN Large numbers of protesters taking part in a General Strike have swarmed over the tracks of main and suburban lines around Barcelona protesting against the Central Government’s actions against those wanting to create a new nation – Catalonia in north east Spain. Long distance and suburban rail services have been totally disrupted.

26 October 2017

ALSTOM The train builder has unveiled its new “Coradia Stream” emu which has been designed specifically for the European Market. It will operate on cross-country semi-fast services. Seventy nine of the units have been ordered by Netherlands Railways (NS) and Italian Railways is reported to be looking at options for similar trains.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND Hurricane Ophelia disrupted communications across the nation on 16 October 2017 with DART electric services and Maynooth line services cancelled for most of that day. Services resumed on 17th October 2017 with significant delays which continued through 18th October 2017.

ESTONIA Revenue services commenced on 01 September 2017 on the 1067mm gauge tramway extension to the capital Tallinn’s Lennujam Airport.

FINLAND Nineteen three-car LRVs have been ordered from Transtech Oy (part of the Skoda Transportation) for service in Tampere on the new expanding tramway network. The LRVs are Skoda’s “For City Smart Artic Tram” models. They are low floor throughout and open internally end-to-end.

FRANCE The first Regio 2N double-deck train for use on the Paris suburban network was unveiled on 19 October 2017 at SNCF’s Villeneuve Technicentre.

NETHERLANDS The first 4-car CAF Sprinter emu for NS was unveiled at Amsterdam on 19 October 2017. Sixty eight 3-car and fifty 4-car emus are on order.

GERMANY   The collapse of the eastern bore of a 4.27 km tunnel for a new high-speed railway at the point where it passed below the busy Karlsruhe – Basel conventional main line near Rastatt on on 12 August 2017 caused distortion of the DB line which was promptly closed. There was no easy alternative route for the very heavy freight traffic carried but somehow the traffic got through though causing serious congestion and inconvenience on other railways in the area. Construction of the tunnels stopped immediately but restarted on the western bore early in September 2017 and will restart soon on the eastern bore. The Karlsruhe – Basel tracks are now carried above the new tunnels on a massive concrete deck so construction of the tunnels will no longer undermine the conventional railway. The work to build the deck took less time than expected and the Karlsruhe – Basel line reopened on 02 October 2017.

ITALY Bombardier has opened a state-of-the-art maintenance depot at Melza which is in the Milan conurbation.

26 September 2017

MERGER The German industrial group Siemens is to merge its rail business with the French firm Alstom in order to counter China’s CRRC.

FRANCE Paris Metro Line 4 is to be converted to fully automatic operation. The rubber tyred north – south route, 12.1 km long, is the only line to connect with every other Metro line and RER route. It is used by 740,000 passengers each day and is the second busiest route in the system. The east – west Route 1 was converted to automatic operation in 2012 and is the system’s busiest.

GERMANY The Kehl – Karlsruhe main line, closed by damage to a tunnel beside the new freight by-pass line, may reopen on 07 October 2017.

AUSTRIA Siemens has won the contract to build 34 driverless Metro trains for the Vienna U-Bahn. They will be assembled at the Siemens plant in Simmering with the first train to be delivered in 2020.

5 September 2017

NEW RAILWAY PLANNED   A 250 mile long broad gauge (1520mm) is planned to run from Kosice in Slovakia to Bratislava and Vienna to create a western extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway and make possible a through line from Vienna to Beijing with no change of gauge. Construction could start as soon as 2023. The cost is estimated at Euro 8.5bn.

FAREWELL TGV  Everyone knows what a TGV service is – it is literally a “train à grande vitesse” – a high speed train. SNCF has decided that the term is so well known that nobody now pauses to consider what it might mean and so with immediate effect these trains – the cream of the French passenger network – will be known as “inOui” – a term that means amazing or extraordinary. Services labelled “inOui” are to be marketed as an upscale premium service. The new brand is being introduced gradually over the TGV network starting with the new Bordeaux line, then Paris – Strasbourg, and next Paris – Lyon (the earliest TGV route).The full high-speed system will be rebranded by 2019 and the trains will have a new external livery, new seats, and an improved on-board menu. At present the TGV services carry 105m passengers per year and it is hoped to increase this to 120m by 2020.

FRANCE Dozens of passengers were injured, some very seriously, when on 17 August 2017 a double decker stopping emu operating at 140 km/hour ran into a tree that had just been uprooted during a violent hail storm near Saint-Aunes, Hérault. The Montpelier – Nîmes line was blocked for several hours.

SPAIN Stadler is to supply six Citylink bi-modal tram:trains to FGV (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana). They will operate services linking resort cities along the Costa Blanca.

22 August 2017

SWEDEN   A further eight CAF double-ended Urbos trams are to be obtained by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik bringing the fleet up to 30. Commuter trains started to use the new underground route under the centre of Stockholm on 10 July 2017. There are two stations on the link at Stockholm City, connecting with Central main line station and all lines of the Tunnelbana at T-Centralen, and Odenplan, which serves the green line of the Tunnelbana.

NETHERLANDS The world’s largest below ground bicycle park will have been created at Utrecht railway station when building work on an extension has been completed. It will mean that spaces will have been created for 12,500 bikes. The previous largest bike park is the facility below Kasai Metro Station in Tokyo, Japan, which can accommodate 9,400 bikes. The North-South Line of the Metro in Amsterdam is to open on 22 July 2018 and the tramway network will be reorganised to feed into Metro stations.

GERMANY   The Basel – Karlsruhe main line, a key link in the heavy freight route from Italy via Switzerland to ports for shipping across the Atlantic, was blocked on 12 August 2017 when a tunnel at Rastatt near Baden Baden became unstable. A new tunnel for a future high speed line was being dug below the existing tunnel and instability in the earth caused the floor of the new tunnel to fall by around two feet. The existing main line was closed for safety reasons and the new bore was filled with concrete to stabilise the structure. A completely new bore may have to be dug in which case the tunnel machine in the new tunnel will be abandoned there. The freight traffic has been disrupted but is now being diverted through France via Strasbourg.

SWITZERLAND  Traffic on the Lausanne – Bercher line has soared by 142% over the past 15 years and a bottleneck on the route – a roadside single track section – is to be eliminated by extending the city centre subway by 1.7km. Three further Stadler Flirt LRVs have been ordered. In Zurich, the Uetliberg tramway will be closed for twenty days during the summer of 2022 so that the 1200V dc electrical system can be converted to the more usual 15kV ac.

5 August 2017

DENMARK   Electric services to Esbjerg are due to commence on 7 August 2017 later than the promised December 2016 date. The only electric service initially were two return trips worked by IR4 emus to Copenhagen. From 4 September 2017 all Copenhagen trips will be worked by IR4 emus.

GERMANY In Munich construction of the second S-Bahn tunnel under the city centre commenced on 15 April 2017. Twin tunnels 7 km long will run between Hbf and Ost stations with a single intermediate stop at Marienhof. The new route will be parallel and a little north of the first cross-city S-Bahn line and the new line is expected to open in 2026.

SWITZERLAND  ZURICH: The metre gauge Uetliberg suburban line is replacing its 1200V DC electrification by a 15kV AC system which is the Swiss standard and is used by the linked Sihltalbahn line. Most of the masts and all of the overhead wires will be replaced and the emus dating from 1992 will be converted to the new system. GRIMSELBAHN: A plan to build a 22km long tunnel between Oberwald and Meiringen has been delayed by several years. Part of the plan was for the tunnel to accommodate also a 380kW high voltage cable but the power company has indicated that this cable is no longer an urgent matter. However the tunnel will eventually be built since the alternative – taking the cable suspended from towers over the scenic Grimsel Pass – is not acceptable to the authorities.

SPAIN  In Barcelona a morning rush hour train on 28 July 2017 from Sant Vicende Calders crashed into the buffers at Estació de França near the harbour. The accident happened at 0715 and 54 passengers were injured though only one was seriously hurt.

10 July 2017

FRANCE   Two long sections of High-Speed railway were opened on 01 July 2017 totalling 302.5 route miles. The two new sections are both extensions from the Paris – Tours/Le Mans route which was opened in 1990. The new lines run south west to Bordeaux and north west to Rennes. On 1st July a special train carrying invited guests ran from Paris to Bordeaux taking 2 hours 1 minute. Regular services commenced on 02 July 2017 with 27 train pairs daily on the Bordeaux line and 20 train pairs to/from Rennes. The Paris – Bordeaux trains take 2 hours 4 minutes, down from 3 hours 15 minutes, or from 4 hours 05 minutes before 1990. The Paris – Rennes trip time is now 95 minutes, a speed-up of 39 minutes.

28 June 2017

NORWAY   Bergen Bybanen light rail line has been extended from Birkelandsskiftet to Kokstadflaten and the Flesland Airport with a ceremonial opening on 21 April 2017. The trip from the Airport to the city centre takes 45 minutes. The trams run to the new Airport Terminal which will itself be opened on 17 August 2017. Plans to double-track the Kiruna – Narvik Ofotbane international line have stalled because the Norwegian Government has not included funds for the work in its 2018-2023 budget. The main traffic is iron ore from Sweden into Norway and there is sufficient potential traffic to increase the service from ten to seventeen freight services daily. For this to be possible the infrastructure needs to be upgraded. In addition The Finnish Government is interested in routing freight traffic over the line to Narvik – an Atlantic port that is ice-free during the winter months. Swedish industries in northern Sweden are proposing to part-fund the double tracking.

BELGIUM VICINAL  There used to be a comprehensive network of light railways across the nation, often following roadside locations. Many lines were closed, some due to war damage, and some due to being replaced by more modern lines. The very last section of traditional Vicinal in Anderlues near Charlroi, was closed on 14 May 2017, to allow reconstruction of the road and elimination of a single track tramway that operated against the flow of the road traffic.

BELGIUM & NETHERLANDS  A revised Brussels (Midi) – Amsterdam (Centraal) high-speed service involving a call at Breda where the trains will reverse direction is to be introduced from the timetable change date of 10 December 2017. The service will be provided by sets of Netherlands Railways intercity stock with a Class 186 Traxx locomotive at each end. By having a loco at both ends the reversal at Breda and also at each end of the journey will be achieved much more quickly than would be possible if the loco had to run round the train..

FRANCE  The Hauts-de-France Region has approved the purchase of 16 (perhaps 20) Omnea Premium double deck emus to be built by Bombardier. The initial units will be used on the Paris Nord – Amiens service with later units taking over the Paris Nord – Cambrai/Maubeuge route.

ITALY  Household waste from Roma is being taken 1300 km on a weekly train to Moosbierbaum near Wien where the waste is incinerated. Each train can take 750 tonnes of waste.

SPAIN  To celebrate the 25th anniversary of high-speed services between Madrid and Sevilla. On 04 April 2017 RENFE mounted a cut price sale of tickets for the route – 25,000 tickets at just Euro 25 each. Use of RENFE’s website rose sharply by 927% (4.9 million visits within twelve hours) with all the bargain tickets being sold during that time. At midnight on 25 May 2017 a further 7000 bargain tickets were put on sale and all were gone by 0135. There were 206,000 visits to the site during 95 minutes in the middle of the night. It is remarkable that when a real bargain is made available vast numbers of people emerge regardless of the hour.

15 June 2017

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

17 May 2017

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

22 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

8 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Catania Metro

23 February 2017

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

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

10 February 2017

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

28 January 2017

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

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

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

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

17 January 2017

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

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

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

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

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

23 December 2016

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

12 December 2016

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

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

29 November 2016

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

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

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

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

12 November 2016

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

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

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

12 October 2016

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

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

22 September 2016

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

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

6 September 2016

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

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

24 August 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 August 2016

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

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

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

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

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

29 July 2016

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

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

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

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

12 July 2016

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

26 June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

10 June 2016

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

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

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

23 May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 April 2016

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

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

25 March 2016

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

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

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

12 March 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

19 January 2016

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

9 January 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 December 2015

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

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

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

5 December 2015

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

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

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

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

2 November 2015

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

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

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

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

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

1 October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 September 2015

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

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

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

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

3 August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

17 July 2015

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

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

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

1 July 2015

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

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

22 June 2015

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

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

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

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

4 June 2015

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

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

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

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

22 May 2015

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

Follow the link below for more information.

Istanbul Metro line 6

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

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

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

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

8 May 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 April 2015

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

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

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

Sofia Metro

10 April 2015

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

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

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

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

25 March 2015

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

Lyon to Turin high speed railway

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

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

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

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

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

9 March 2015

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

28 February 2015

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

14 February 2015

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

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

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

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

16 January 2015

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

23 December 2014

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

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

13 December 2014

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

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

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

20 November 2014

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

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

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

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

7 November 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 October 2014

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

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

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

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

28 August 2014

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

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

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

Besançon Tramway

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

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

5 August 2014

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

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

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

Malaga Metro signalling system

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

16 July 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 July 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 June 2014

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

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

3 June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

28 April 2014

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

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

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

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

8 April 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28 March 2014

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

24 March 2014

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

5 March 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 January 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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