Aurizon double-stacked intermodal train. Photo: Aurizon

New wagons to help Aurizon’s transcontinental service

Aurizon is set to add new wagons to its national intermodal business, in a multi-million dollar investment it says will boost its transcontinental capabilities.

The Queensland-based operator will add 175 new wagons, valued at roughly $37 million, over the next two months, as part of its ongoing ‘transformational capital’ program.

The new wagons are standard gauge, but have the ability to convert to narrow gauge if required. The flat-top wagons are a mix of 5 pack articulated, triple-slot, well wagons allowing double stacking and more efficient twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) utilisation per service, Aurizon explained.

Aurizon says the new flatbed wagons allow greater operational flexibility to load a range of container sizes and additional capacity for 48 foot containers, “to meet the forecast market move by customers to these types of containers”.

Mauro Neves, Aurizon’s executive vice president for commercial and marketing, said enhancing the intermodal fleet with new wagons was a signal of the company’s intent to build its long-term presence in one of Australia’s most important rail transport corridors.

“This investment delivers on multiple levels – customer service, growth and productivity,” Neves said.

“Aurizon is meeting the growing demand for our freight services while also lifting the efficiency and productivity of our service offering to customers on the east-west corridor.

“These new wagons allow us to use our existing assets more productively, which is fundamental to the broader transformation program underway across Aurizon’s operations.”

Neves said Aurizon held ambitions to incrementally expand its intermodal business over time by increasing market share and leveraging strategic growth opportunities.

“We have established a strong national footprint over the past decade and are continually improving our customer service offering in the north-south (Melbourne to Brisbane) and east-west corridors (Sydney and Melbourne to Perth). We are now poised for the next phase of growth.”

Aurizon said it recognised a “concerted industry push” to increase rail’s share of the growing freight transport task through productivity and customer-focused initiatives, and Neves said rail would have to play a larger role if Australia was to meet the predicted increase in the land-based freight task.

“Aurizon aims to capture a slice of this growth by delivering exceptional customer service and continually improving our operational productivity, innovation, flexibility, efficiency and responsiveness,” Neves said.

“We know that rail has the ability to genuinely do the heavy-lifting when it comes to moving large volumes of freight safely and efficiently.

“An average freight train for example can take 110 trucks off the road. Rail is more fuel efficient and has a far smaller carbon footprint than road transport.”

Aurizon moves around 700,000 tonnes of freight across Australia each day across its product lines, including resources, bulk freight and agricultural produce.

The ‘east-west’ services are part of Aurizon’s national general freight network which provides 25 return weekly customer containerised services on the eastern seaboard between Cairns and Brisbane, daily services (6 days per week) from Melbourne to Brisbane and 4 services per week from Melbourne to Adelaide / Perth.

Skitube. Photo: Creative Commons / EurovisionNim

Stadler to upgrade Perisher railway

Swiss rail manufacturer Stadler will upgrade the Skitube Alpine Railway in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, under a new contract from Perisher Ski Resort.

The Skitube provides access to snowfields at Blue Cow Mountain and the Perisher Valley, giving passengers access between three stations – Bullocks Flat, Blue Cow and Perisher Valley.

It is served by 11 Comeng carriages, including four driving carriages, four motor cars and three non-driving carriages.

Skitube employs a Swiss-designed rack and rail system which uses a toothed cog pinion wheel engaging with a centrally located ‘third rail’ style rack to drive and brake the trains safely up and down the steep mountain inclines.

Perisher chief executive Peter Brulisauer says after nearly 30 years of operation, replacement parts are becoming increasingly hard to find, so the decision has been made to upgrade and modernise Skitube.

“Skitube has safely carried over four million passengers up to Perisher Valley and Blue Cow and remains the most efficient and practical way to allow people to experience the very best of Perisher,” Brulisauer said.

The modernisation program is scheduled to be carried out during the off-season between October 2016 and April 2017.

The new train control system to be installed by Stadler includes upgraded braking, electronic control equipment and driver displays for controlling and monitoring train functions, the Swiss company said.

“Stadler will also carry out commissioning, safety and functionality tests together with Perisher’s rail specialists,” the manufacturer outlined.

Skitube was built in October 1984, by a consortium of Australian and Swiss companies. It involved the boring and drill-and-blasting of two tunnels, 3.3 and 2.6 kilometres in length.

“In 1998 Stadler took over the original equipment manufacturer, the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works firm, which was responsible for designing and manufacturing the Skitube rack railway system.

“The rack railway system allows trains to climb much steeper grades than would otherwise be possible – up to 25 degrees, depending upon the type of rack system employed, compared to four to six degrees for standard trains.”

Other Stadler rack railway trains include the train up to the Monserrat Monastery near Barcelona in Spain, and the Swiss Jungfrau train, which carries passengers to Europe’s highest station to view the Matterhorn.

First pre-series Class 800 Hitachi InterCity Express Programme train undergoes dynamic testing. Photo: Creative Commons / Paul Bigland

Hitachi ‘brings rail manufacturing back’ to England’s north east

British prime minister David Cameron was on hand last week for the opening of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi’s new £82 million (A$180 million) train manufacturing facility in the north of England.

Hitachi was awarded the £4.5 billion Intercity Express contract from the Department for Transport in 2012, and a £1.2 billion option was added onto that contract in 2014.

A Public Private Partnership, the Intercity Express programme will deliver trains for use on the East Coast network of England and Scotland, and the Great Western network of England and Wales.

The new facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham will take pre-produced parts from Hitachi’s Japanese site and manufacture British Rail Class 800 and 801 trains, specially-designed by Hitachi for the Intercity programme.

Hitachi’s first factory in Europe, the Newton Aycliffe site will also produce Scottish commuter trains.

“This massive investment from Hitachi shows confidence in the strength of Britain’s growing economy,” Cameron said on September 3.

“This new train factory will not only provide good jobs for working people but will build the next generation of intercity trains, improving travel for commuters and families, as well as strengthening the infrastructure we need to help the UK grow.”

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (financial minister) George Osborne said the factory represented a major boost to manufacturing in England’s north east.

“This state of the art facility will grow and secure jobs for decades to come and will help us to build the northern powerhouse while at the same time revitalising some of our oldest industries in the region within which this tradition is synonymous,” Osborne said.

Hitachi chairman and chief executive Hiroaki Nakanishi said the Intercity programme combined “the best of Japanese technology with the best of British manufacturing,” to create the world’s best trains.

“It is our culture as a business to take a long-term view in everything we do,” Nakanishi said. “From our investment here in Newton Aycliffe, to our network of new train maintenance centres across the UK, to our ongoing work in building a strong regional supply chain – Hitachi is here to stay.”

The British Rail Class 800 and 801s will be made up of five or nine 26 metre cars. They will be 2.7 metres wide and will have a maximum speed of 201km/h. The first trains were manufactured wholly in Japan and are being tested in the UK now.

The first of the trains are scheduled to be released for passenger service by December 2017.

UK transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the trains were crucial for the future success of several of Britain’s busiest rail routes.

“The state-of-the-art Intercity Express Programme trains that will be manufactured here will transform rail travel for countless passengers in the north east and south west,” he said.

“Not only will these trains allow us to operate more services, with more seats, and faster journeys, the improvements will also bring great opportunities for growth, generating hundreds of jobs in the local area and thousands across the country within the supply chain.”

V-set train at Central station. Photo: Creative Commons / Alexanderino

Shortlisted intercity players given formal RfT

Transport for NSW has formally invited the four shortlisted consortia for the NSW intercity train fleet project to tender for the new fleet’s delivery and maintenance.

Four consortia were announced on the shortlist for the intercity contract in July:

  • Alstom Transport Australia
  • Downer-CNRCRC Consortium, comprising Downer EDI Rail and CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles
  • Stadler Bussnang
  • UGL/MEA/CSR Consortium, comprising UGL Rail Services, Mitsubishi Electric Australia and CSR Corporation

Transport for NSW formally released a Request for Tender for design, manufacture, testing, commissioning, supply, delivery and maintenance to the shortlisted consortia on September 4.

“The four consortia will be asked to consider different options for seating configuration, bike storage, luggage racks and the possibility of Wi-Fi and a premium carriage,” Transport said.

“The consortia will also be asked to design a longer train and a shorter train configuration to support travel on different lines along the network.”

Shortly after the shortlist announcement in July a Transport spokesperson confirmed the new intercity fleet will replace the “aging” V-set trains.

NSW TrainLink has roughly 196 V-set cars left in its fleet. The V-sets, typically arranged in 4-car sets, were built between 1970 and 1989 by Commonwealth Engineering (a.k.a. Comeng), at its now-demolished Granville factory.

The spokesperson explained the new fleet will also allow H-set ‘Oscars’ to replace S-set trains on the Sydney Trains network.

Built by UGL Rail at its Broadmeadow factory between 2006 and 2012, 55 four-carriage Oscar sets are shared between Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink.

S-set trains, once prevalent on the Sydney Trains network, have been being phased out rapidly over the last decade.

“Transport for NSW is looking to procure a standard product that can be configured specifically for NSW’s rail network,” the spokesperson told Rail Express.

“It is up to each tenderer to propose how to configure the carriages, as long as their responses meet the needs and requirements set out by Transport for NSW in the tender documents.”

The tender calls for 520 cars, or equivalent, to be delivered under the contract.

“Transport for NSW is continuing to engage with industry on the Intercity Fleet tender to ensure we have the right solution for our customers,” the spokesperson continued.

“Procurement for the new fleet is being undertaken via an open tender process to maximise competition and ensure that NSW taxpayers receive value for money.

“The New Intercity Fleet will be Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) and the first train is expected to be in service by 2019 with the delivery of the fleet complete by 2024.”

Chinese high speed train. Photo: Bombardier

China orders 15 more high speed trains

China Railway Corp has ordered 15 high speed trains from a joint venture between Canadian manufacturer Bombardier and Chinese giant CSR.

The contract for 15 eight-car trainsets to service China’s rapidly growing high speed network is valued at approximately 2.4 billion Chinese yuan – roughly A$538 million – and was awarded to the Bombardier Sifang Transportation (BST) joint venture.

BST is a 50/50 venture between Bombardier Transportation and CSR Sifang Rolling Stock Co., a subsidiary of the CSR Corporation.

To date, BST has delivered over 3000 rail passenger cars to China, two thirds of which have been for high speed trains.

Bombardier China president Jianwei Zhang said China now has the world’s longest operational track mileage and largest number of high speed trains.

“This market represents a tremendous opportunity where we have been successful by offering innovative and highly reliable products,” he said. “Bombardier is very proud to be involved in China’s new high speed railway age by delivering leading edge, very high speed rail equipment through Chinese joint venture expertise and resources.”

The train being delivered by BST is a CRH380D.

The CRH380D electric multiple unit consists of eight aluminium carbody cars and is equipped with VIP seats, first class seats, second class seats and a dining car.

The trainsets will be manufactured at BST’s production facilities in Qingdao, China. Engineering will take place in Qingdao and at Bombardier offices in Europe, the Canadian company said.

The CRH380D has a maximum operating speed of 380km/h. It is powered by technology supplied by a separate Bombardier joint venture, Bombardier CPC Propulsion System Co., Ltd.

V-set train at Central station. Photo: Creative Commons / Alexanderino

NSW to pay $1.5m to 8-year-old train fall victim

The State of NSW has been ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in damages to a man who fell from a moving train when he was eight years old.

Corey Fuller-Lyons, now 23, sustained severe injuries when he fell from an intercity train as it rounded a bend between Morisset and Dora Creek railway stations on the Main North Line near Lake Macquarie on January 29, 2001.

The train was travelling at around 100km/h when Corey fell through the front left door of the front carriage at around 12.09pm.

According to police, the boy missed a power line, before sliding roughly 20 metres down a 3 metre embankment, sustaining severe injuries.

Despite this, Corey – described as average sized for an eight-year-old – was able to climb the embankment, walk across both tracks and climb a safety fence before being noticed by passing motorists, who alerted police and ambulance officers.

He was airlifted to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital where he stayed for four days.

Corey was diagnosed with a compound frontal skull fracture with missing bone and exposed dura – the membrane surrounding the brain – as well as a fractured bone in his right arm, splintered teeth, swelling around his face and multiple abrasions and lacerations over the rest of his body.

Twelve years later, in 2013, Corey sued the State of New South Wales for negligence.

It was submitted to the Supreme Court of NSW that he must have become wedged in the door of the train prior to its departure from Morisset, and that station or train staff should have discovered this before the train departed.

It was also submitted the State was negligent in failing to commission a traction interlock, which was fitted on the train but not in operation. Corey’s representatives contended the system would have prevented the train from departing Morisset while its doors were impeded from closing.

The State denied negligence.

The State contended Corey had deliberately interfered with the doors with the assistance of his brothers: he was travelling that day with Dominic, 11, and Nathan, 15.

Corey’s mother Nita Lyons said the boys, who had travelled to Central station from Sydenham, were supposed to be meeting friends at St Peters, four stations south of Central on the Bankstown line. Instead they had boarded a train from Central to Newcastle – a fact not explained in any of the court cases.

Corey’s brothers told the court they had been seated in the main saloon of the carriage while Corey “got up to wander around”. Both brothers denied being in the vestibule – the carriage’s entry way, where the doors are – when Corey fell.

The seating area in the carriage, a DJM V-set model, is separated from the vestibule by an internal door.

Supreme Court Justice Robert Beech-Jones found in Corey’s favour in the 2013 case, saying the State owed a duty to “exercise due care for the safety of passengers from dangers likely to arise out of the ordinary use of the [train and] which might reasonably be expected.”

Justice Beech-Jones considered the most likely explanation for the accident that Corey became caught between the doors as they closed at Morisset station, leaving part of his torso and at least one of his arms and legs outside the train – enough for him to be thrown from the train as it rounded the bend.

Morisset is a curved station, making it hard for the train guard, in the back carriage, to see the front of the train, which in this case was four carriages – or roughly 100 metres – long.

A customer service attendant was often stationed on the platform to assist the guard. While the train guard could not recall whether an attendant was on the platform at that day, records show there was one rostered on. He was identified in the 2013 trial, but it was found he had passed away in 2008.

In summary, Justice Beech-Jones held the state vicariously liable for the negligent failure of a railway employee to keep a proper lookout before signalling for the train to depart.

This initial judgement resulted in Corey being awarded $1,536,954.55 in damages; an amount made up of general damages, past and future economic loss, cost of past and future care, and medical expenses.

The State successfully appealed that decision in December 2014.

The State initially challenged the finding that Nathan and Dominic had not been involved in interfering with the doors, but this challenge was rejected.

However, the Court of Appeal accepted an alternate hypothesis posited by the State: that Corey wedged the door open with his shoulder, arm or leg at Morisset, but not with enough of his body to attract the staff’s attention.

Then, once the train was moving, Corey could have wedged more of his body between the doors, until he was thrown from the train, according to the hypothesis.

Satisfied that this alternative explanation was just as likely as Justice Beech-Jones’ initial explanation, the Court of Appeal overturned the ruling.

On Wednesday, September 2, the Court of Appeal’s ruling was itself overturned, this time by the High Court of Australia.

“The Court of Appeal erred in overturning the primary judge’s ultimate factual finding,” the High Court said in a statement on Wednesday.

“[Justice Beech Jones’ finding] was a correct finding notwithstanding that other possible explanations could not be excluded … it was an error to reject the primary judge’s finding on the basis that [Corey’s representatives] had failed to exclude one alternative hypothesis that had not been explored in evidence.”

The High Court returned the full $1.54 million damages order to Corey and his representatives.

Nathan Fuller-Lyons, the eldest of the three brothers on the train in 2001, is now a train driver for Transport for NSW.

100th Flexity for Berlin. Photo: Bombardier Transport

Berlin gets its 100th Flexity tram

Canadian manufacturer Bombardier has delivered the hundredth Flexity tram to Berlin’s light rail network, as part of a 142 tram deal signed in 2006.

Berlin Transport Authority (BVG) chairman and senior executive of operations Dr Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta said light rail is proving to be key to surging development in the German capital.

“The tram – along with underground trams and modern buses – is the guarantor for a contemporary, environmentally friendly mobility in the growing metropolis of Berlin,” Nikutta said last week.

“This applies today, but will especially apply in the future. With the Flexity Berlin, we have a vehicle that simply suits Berlin and the BVG. State-of-the-art technology, ecological, fast, comfortable, barrier-free and with a highly-acclaimed design.”

Bombardier’s Flexity family of trams was developed from the Incentro line developed by the company ADtrans, which was acquired by Bombardier in 2001.

Berlin’s Flexity rolling stock is a selection of unidirectional and bidirectional trams, some five and others seven sections long, totalling 30.8m and 40.0m respectively. The low-floor trams are 2.4m wide and have a maximum speed of 70km/h.

Bombardier expects to deliver the last of the 142 Flexity Berlins by 2017.

“With the largest tram network in Germany, Berlin is a city with a rich tram tradition,” Bombardier Transportation chief operating officer Dr Lutz Bertling said. “Bombardier is proud to be a part of this tradition, since all BVG trams for the past 20 years have come from our factory.

“We would like to express our thanks for the long-standing, good partnership and proven trust.”

Melbourne’s E-class trams, being rolled out at the moment, are manufactured by Bombardier and are based on the Flexity model.

NET stage two opening. Photo: NET

Better late than never: Nottingham gets its light rail extension

A 17.5km extension to the light rail network in the central-English city of Nottingham has opened, with new rolling stock and 100 new driver jobs now online.

Stage one of Nottingham Express Transit (NET) was opened in March 2004. Built by construction firm Carillion, the 14km system was initially supplied with 15 Bombardier Incentro trams.

Stage two was due to open in December 2014, but was delayed by utilities works issues.

The addition of the new section, which more than doubles the length of the full NET system, has been supported with the addition of 22 new Alstom Citadis trams.

The first trip was taken on the new section at 6.02am on August 25, local time – just after 3pm, August 25 AEST.

“This is a really great day for Nottingham,” Nottingham City Councillor Jane Urquhart said.

“It marks the dawn of a new era when NET becomes a true network and, with trams running from every seven minutes, it is all set to provide easier access to key locations right across the city.”

The metropolitan Nottingham area has a population of roughly 1.5 million people.

“The tram provides the backbone to the city’s integrated transport network, underpinning all the efforts to reduce congestion, improve the environment and make Nottingham an even better place to live, work or visit,” Urquhart said.

Alongside the construction of 17.5km of new lines, the project has also seen the creation of more than 2000 free spaces at new park and ride sites, a new tram and bus interchange and a stop at the redeveloped Nottingham Station.

NET general manager Paul Robinson said ahead of the opening: “We’re champing at the bit to get the new services under way. We’ve created over 100 new jobs, trained new drivers and expanded our Depot ready for start of passenger services and our team is raring to go.”

NET marketing manager Jamie Swift apologised for disruptions during construction.

“We know the construction process has caused inconvenience and disruption for some communities but we hope they will soon start to see that it has been worthwhile,” Swift said.

“As work has progressed on the new lines, the tram fleet has been boosted by the arrival of the new Citadis trams, enabling NET to increase service frequencies.

“We carried over eight million passengers last year and we expect this to more than double with the opening of the new lines that will serve key locations such as the Queen’s Medical Centre and ng2 Business Park.”

NET has offered customers a special discounted ticket to celebrate the launch of the expanded network.

Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch

Is this Australia’s weirdest railroad crossing?

PHOTOS/VIDEO: This drawbridge style cane train crossing over the QR main line near Bundaberg is a site to behold.

“The cape gauge main line is used at speeds of up to 160km/h,” photographer David Gubler said on the popular online forum Reddit, “hence they replaced the diamonds by this strange solution.”

The sugar cane railway crosses the mainline thanks to an interesting drawbridge mechanism.

Click photos to enlarge.

Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch
Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch
Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch
Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch
Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch
Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch
Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch
Photo: David Gubler / bahnbilder.ch

 

Take a look at the crossing in action in the video below.

Pictures/Video courtesy of David Gubler, bahnbilder.ch

Alstom Coradia Polyvalent for Algeria's SNTF. Graphic: Alstom

Alstom to deliver 17 intercity trains to Algeria

Alstom, one of the four organisations shortlisted to deliver NSW’s next intercity fleet, has won a contract to deliver 17 of its Coradia Polyvalent intercity trains to Algeria’s Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires (SNTF).

The contract, worth around 200 million euros (A$302 million), will have the first train delivered in January 2018, according to the French-headquartered Alstom.

The investment is part of SNTF’s programme to modernise and extend its network.

The trains will link capital Algiers to other cities within Algeria, including Oran (350km away), Annaba (420km), Constantine (320km) and Béchar (750km).

“We are delighted that SNTF has placed its confidence in Alstom,” the transport company’s senior vice president in the Middle East, Gian-Luca Erbacci said.

“Already adopted by SNCF and the French regions since 2009, Coradia Polyvalent is the ideal choice to meet Algeria’s transport needs.

“Algerian passengers can be sure that they are travelling on trains with the latest technical innovations, combining comfort, performance and protection of the environment.”

The Coradia Polyvalent for Algeria is a dual-mode train (diesel and electric, 25 kV) able to travel at 160km/h. With a total length of 110 metres, the train has six carriages and provides capacity for 265 passengers.

In its intercity tender, Transport for NSW is asking for trains to run on the electrified NSW TrainLink network. It’s also reportedly after double-decker trains – a key difference between TfNSW’s needs, and the trains being delivered to Algeria.

But there are also a lot of similarities between the Alstom trains for Algeria, and the ones it might offer to TfNSW in the next stage of the tender process.

Alstom says its Coradia Polyvalent fleet is adapted to hot conditions, with a highly efficient air conditioning system. The trains have low-floor entry ways, allowing for easy access.

“Accessible to everyone, particularly passengers with reduced mobility, [the train design] respects the latest [European mobility] standards,” the company said. “Finally, the train’s design and highly efficient motors eliminate noise and vibration for unparalleled comfort.”

Alstom’s site in Reichshoffen, France will design, produce and test the 17 trains. Five other French sites will contribute to the project: Saint-Ouen for the design, Le Creusot for the bogies, Ornans for the motors and alternators, Tarbes for the traction chains and Villeurbanne for the on-board electronics and passenger information system.

Alstom is competing for the NSW intercity tender with three other organisations: a consortium of Downer EDI Rail and CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles; a consortium of UGL Rail Services, Mitsubishi Electric Australia and CSR Corporation; and Swiss group Stadler Bussnang.