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Rail News Blogging #2

by DoDo Sun Oct 30th, 2011 at 04:47:52 PM EST

Due to a conference, a short holiday, a busy week and writing a long diary, the second instalment comes after more than two weeks with a larger number of news. Covered: new tunnels on the Belgian-German border, and into Kashmir, the undead idea of PPP, Spanish success in Saudi Arabia, numbers game over Stuttgart 21, a German train in France, freight tram in Paris, trams in Basle, and a hybrid power plant.

Alter Buschtunnel bei Aachen wieder in Betrieb- Nachrichten bei EurailpressOld Buschtunnel in Aachen back in service - News at Eurailpress
Seit dem 23.10.2011 ist der Alte Buschtunnel zwischen Aachen und der belgischen Grenze nach den umfangreichen Sanierungsarbeiten in Betrieb genommen worden.Since[sic!] 23/10/2011, the old Buschtunnel between Aachen and the Belgian border has been put into operation after extensive renovation work.
Damit ist die Strecke zwischen Aachen und Liege wieder komplett zweigleisig...

With that, the line between Liege and Aachen is again completely double-tracked...

This tunnel was a bottleneck on the Cologne–Brussels line. It first got a new, second, single-track tube, then all the traffic was re-routed there while the old two-track tunnel was rebuilt with a single, lowered track (the above Wikimedia photo was made then).

Railway Gazette: Kashmir tunnel breakthrough

INDIA: The 10·96 km Pir Panjal tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir state was holed through on October 14.

On completion it will be the longest railway tunnel in India, connecting the isolated Kashmir Valley line which opened in 2008-09 with the national network at Udhampur.

This tunnel is only the center-piece of a spectacular and expensive climb across a series of tunnels and bridges. Due to the contested status of Kashmir, the rail line is also politically controversial, representing a stronger tie to (the rest of) India.

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I railed against public–private partnerships (PPP) and in particular build-operate-transfer projects (BOTs) in the rail sector several times on ET. You decide whether this pair of news is confirmation bias:

Railway Gazette: Borders bidder drops out

UK: Transport Scotland was forced to abandon plans to award a 30-year concession to design, build, finance and maintain a reinstated 56 km line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, after the second of three prequalified bidders dropped out in the face of uncertain construction risks. This meant the hoped-for element of market testing had been lost.

The project will now be managed directly by Transport Scotland, working with Network Rail which is able to call upon its established contractors. The project is estimated to cost up to £295m, and as the successful bidder was not due to be announced until next year, opening is still planned for December 2014, according to Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown.

Railway Gazette: No bids for Brazilian high speed line

BRAZIL: Federal surface transport agency ANTT announced on October 8 that tendering for a concession to build, operate and maintain a 510 km high-speed line between Rio de Janeiro and Campinas had been cancelled as no bids had been received.

The ANTT board has decided that work on the project should continue, however, with a view to calling tenders in mid-2012.

A federal court had ruled in September that tendering for the R$33·1bn project should be suspended until ANTT had published tenders for concessions to operate all interstate and international passenger road transport services over 75 km length. This programme was expected to be completed in September 2012.

ANTT said that it would comply with the ruling pending an appeal.

Private capital just doesn't want to take large risks for long-term investment, apparently not even for £295m. At R$33.1 billion (c. US$19.5 billion or 13.8 billion), the Brazilian project would have been the largest such project by far. However, even the foreign-market-eyeing Chinese companies said no thanks in the previous rounds already (especially after seeing project uncertainties and passenger numbers called into question), when a South Korean consortium around Hyundai Rotem remained sole bidder.

However, our leaders don't learn – as evidenced by the news from Russia:

Railway Gazette: PPP model to fund Moscow - St Petersburg high speed line

RUSSIA: The Russian government has confirmed its support for a public-private partnership backed by Russian Railways to construct a 658 km high speed line between Moscow and St Petersburg.

Speaking in London on October 20, Denis Muratov, Chief Executive of RZD's high speed rail agency Skorostnye Magistrali, insisted that `the time to build the line has arrived'. He stressed that the concessionaire would be expected to deliver the line for use by the end of 2017, to enable public services to begin well before the FIFA World Cup football tournament commences the following summer.

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Railway Gazette: Spanish consortium wins Haramain High Speed Rail contract

SAUDI ARABIA: The AlShoula Consortium of two Saudi and 12 Spanish companies was declared the winner of a €6·74bn contract to supply railway systems and rolling stock for the Haramain High Speed Rail project on October 26.

The contract covers track, 25 kV 50 Hz electrification, signalling and telecoms for the 444 km double-track line, along with 35 Talgo 350 trainsets suitable for 320 km/h operation based on RENFE's Talgo/Bombardier Class 102 and 112.

The three-year construction period will be followed by operation and maintenance for 12 years. There is an option for a further 23 trainsets.

Connecting to the above PPP theme, I note that this contract is only for track and operation, while civil works have been contracted by the Saudi state – given lack of experience, contracting out the high-tech parts makes some sense. Connecting to my 310 km/h with ETCS diary, I note ETCS L2 will be installed. The competitor to the winning consortium was another consortium led by France-based rail giant Alstom (maker of TGVs and AGVs), which, in line with the industry's (and Alstom's) new-found tradition of cut-throat competition, tried to block the awarding with legal and lobbying measures after AlShoula was declared preferred bidder in the summer.

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A pair of news about Stuttgart 21, the controversial project to replace Stuttgart's surface terminus with an underground through station:

Ingenieure 22: Stuttgart-21-Ausstieg kostet 300 Mio. EUR- Nachrichten bei EurailpressEngineers 22: Stuttgart 21 exit costs €300 million- News at Eurailpress
Die Gegner des Tiefbahnhofs Stuttgart 21 veranschlagen die möglichen Kosten für einen Ausstieg auf einen Bruchteil der von der Deutschen Bahn aufgeführten Summe.Opponents of the underground station Stuttgart 21 estimate the potential cost of an exit at a fraction of the total listed by German Railways.
Die Ausstiegskosten betrügen knapp 300 Mio. EUR, teilte die Gruppe ,,Ingenieure 22" am 21.10.2011 in Stuttgart mit. Das Geld falle an für Planungskosten, Kosten für bereits ausgeführte Arbeiten sowie Kosten, die aus den vergebenen Aufträgen entstehen.The exit costs would be just short of €300 million, the group "Engineers 22" told on 21/10/2011 in Stuttgart. The money is for planning costs, costs for work already performed, and costs arising from the contracts awarded.
Stuttgart 21: Ausstieg würde 1,5 Mrd. EUR kosten- Nachrichten bei Eurailpress Stuttgart 21: exit would cost €1.5 billion- News at Eurailpress
Dies stellten sowohl die Märkische Revision GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft wie auch die PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in ihrer Expertise einstimmig fest. Den Auftrag dazu hat der Verein ProStuttgart21 e.V. erteilt. Laut Prof. Stefan Faiß vom Verein, der für Stuttgart 21 eintritt, seien damit die Zahlen der Projektgegner, die rund 300 Mio. EUR Ausstiegskosten nennen, obsolet. Angeblich würden die Gegner nur drei der zwölf Kostenpositionen, für die der Deutschen Bahn vom Land Schadenersatz zustehe, in ihre Kalkulation einfließen lassen. Zudem würden diese Kosten ,,deutlich" unter den tatsächlich angefallenen Beträgen geschätzt, so Faiß, ohne dabei konkreter zu werden.This was determined unanimously by both the economic audit firm Märkische Revision GmbH as well as PricewaterhouseCoopers in their expertise. The order for that was issued by the association ProStuttgart21 eV. According to Prof. Stefan Faiß, member of the association which advocates Stuttgart 21, this makes the numbers of project opponents, who name a sum of €300 million as exit cost, obsolete. Allegedly, the opponents incorporated in their calculation only three of the twelve cost positions for which Deutsche Bahn is entitled to damages from the state [of Baden-Württenberg]. Moreover, these costs would be "significantly" below the actually incurred amounts, Faiß told, without being more specific.

I wonder if any party properly calculated the costs of the compromise proposal (a scaled-down through station for most of the long-distance traffic and a retained surface station for local traffic) before turning it down.

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Velaro D in Frankreich- Nachrichten bei Eurailpress Velaro D in France- News at Eurailpress
Am 19.10.2011 wurde der erste Velaro D (Einheit 6) nach Frankreich überführt.On 19/10/2011, the first Velaro D (unit 6) was transferred to France.
Damit hat nun der Zulassungsprozess im Nachbarland begonnen. Die Fahrten erfolgen in Zusammenarbeit mit der DB Systemtechnik. Siemens rechnet mit der Frankreich-Zulassung im August, so der Hersteller zu Rail Business.With that, commissioning has begun in the neighbouring country. The trips take place in collaboration with [German Railways testing subsidiary] DB Systemtechnik. Siemens expects approval for France in August, the manufacturer told Rail Business.

These are the trains that will run from Frankfurt to Marseille (see last week's news) and to London.

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Paris: Güterstraßenbahn im Test- Nachrichten bei Eurailpress Paris: cargo tram in the test - News at Eurailpress
Zwischen dem 14.11.2011 und dem 10.12.2011 soll auf der Linie T 3 zwischen Pont du Garigliano und Porte d'Ivry im Süden der Stadt zweimal täglich von Montag bis Freitag eine solche Bahn verkehren. Die Stadtverwaltung hat für das Experiment 20.000 EUR bereitgestellt.Such a service is to run twice a day from Monday to Friday between 14/11/2011 and 10/12/2011, on the T3 line between Pont du Garigliano and Porte d'Ivry in the south of the city. The city administration has allocated €20,000 for the experiment.

This is a nice idea but difficult to implement in a cost-effective way. The most well-known modern example that's still going is the CarGoTram in Dresden. The latter is not the much-dreamt-about replacement for delivery trucks, however: it transports parts to a car factory.

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Railway Gazette: Basel chooses Bombardier to supply 60 trams

SWITZERLAND: Basel transport operator BVB named Bombardier Transportation as preferred bidder to supply 60 trams on October 25.

...Stadler said it was disappointed to have missed out on such a major contract on cost grounds, and sees this as a sign that the high value of the franc is hitting Swiss manufacturers in the domestic as well as the export market.

I attended two presentations by a Stadler representative in recent times, and both times the presenter put strong emphasis on their exchange rate problems.

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Wasserstoff-Hybridkraftwerk in Betrieb genommen- Nachrichten bei EurailpressHydrogen hybrid power plant put into operation - News at Eurailpress
Am 25.10.2011 wurde in Prenzlau in der Uckermark von den Unternehmen Enertrag AG, Total Deutschland GmbH, Vattenfall und Deutsche Bahn das weltweit erste Wasserstoff-Hybridkraftwerk in Betrieb genommen.On 25/10/2011 in Prenzlau in the Uckermark, the companies Enertag AG, Total Germany GmbH, Vattenfall and German Railways put the world's first hydrogen hybrid power plant into operation.

According to the accompanying diagram, it is a meta-hybrid: three wind turbines either feed into the grid or generate hydrogen, the hydrogen can be used as vehicle fuel or be burnt with biogas in a power plant that provides both electricity and distance heating.

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Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

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*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Oct 30th, 2011 at 04:49:42 PM EST
Is that a gauntlet track in the aachen tunnel?  Why did they do that instead of a more typical join?
by njh on Sun Oct 30th, 2011 at 05:59:14 PM EST
No, it's a normal join, what seems like four rails is the start of the slab track section in the tunnel. (Check the full-size photo.)

However, there is a gauntlet track inside the nearby Gemmenicher Tunnel, on the Montzen line to Antwerp port, for the benefit of transports exceeding the standard loading-gauge. The two photos on Wikipedia show the gauntlet switch at the portal and the six rails inside the tunnel:

On the second photo, you see another special measure applied in old narrow tunnels: there is no proper catenary but an upper rail.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 30th, 2011 at 06:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"upper rail"


by njh on Mon Oct 31st, 2011 at 05:21:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To save vertical space. Normal overhead lines consist of two longitudinal cables, one fixed to the supports or crosswires and hanging between them (in confusing English terminology, messenger wire or catenary), and the second hanging from it on short drop wires which is touched by the pantograph and is kept relatively straight (the contact wire). On AC-electrified mainline railways in Europe, the typical standard for vertical distance of messenger wire fixing points and the contact wire is 1,800 mm, so, by replacing that with a rail a few centimetres high, you can save up to 1.75 metres (less though if you take tunnel roof curvature into account).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 31st, 2011 at 06:18:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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