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Rail News Blogging #5

by DoDo Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 10:30:23 AM EST

Some European high-speed rail news this time.

Railway Gazette: CAF tests prototype Oaris high speed train

SPAIN: A four-car prototype of CAF's Oaris high speed train is undergoing trials on the Madrid - Sevilla route, where testing will include operation at up to 352 km/h. Numbered No 105 001 by RENFE, at the manufacturer's suggestion the prototype was delivered in place of the last of an order for Class 120 trainsets.

It's not just Chinese and Korean manufacturers that try to compete with traditional rail technology majors. CAF, a company based in Beasain, Basque Country, is one of Spain's two passenger rail vehicle manufacturers (the other being Talgo). Just recently, it entered the German market as DB chose it alongside Alstom and Stadler (another up-and-comer from Switzerland) for a framework agreement about 400 new regional electric multiple units.

CAF's Oaris (which I mentioned here) is another part of this effort. CAF entered the high-speed market as local partner for Alstom to make 250 km/h trains (the Class 120), then owned the technology, then evolved the design into this 320 km/h train. In another similarity with China, the effort was helped by a government-funded research project.

It is also noteworthy that this is a "nothing fancy" design: no low floors, no articulation, no special nose shape, just the essentials.

Railway Gazette: LGV Rhin-Rhône opens

FRANCE: The first section of LGV Rhin-Rhône entered service with the timetable change on December 11...

...Funding agreements are now expected to be signed next year for the €1bn required to build the extensions from Villiers-les-Pots to Genlis (15 km) and from Petit-Croix to Lutterbach (35 km), completing the 190 km eastern branch of LGV Rhin-Rhône between Dijon and Mulhouse. This would allow tendering to get underway in 2013 for work to start in 2014.

The launch of TGV Rhin-Rhône, the move to regular-interval services (RG 4.11 p52) and the need to accommodate RFF's major track renewals programme saw 85% of SNCF train timings modified with the December 11 timetable change...

The LGV Rhin–Rhône was covered in The EU's emerging high-speed networkS. The line will also carry direct Frankfurt–Marseille trains from next year (see here). As for regular-interval services: this is a sea change in France (where I suffered from irregular interval timetables myself); but it is still not for all of France, and SNCF habitually coupled it with a further thinning out of rural stops.

:: :: :: :: ::

NBS Erfurt - Ebensfeld: Tunneldurchschlag am Silberberg- Nachrichten bei Eurailpress Erfurt - Ebensfeld HSR: Silberberg tunnel breakthrough - News at Eurailpress
Am 29.11.2011 wurde nach zweijähriger Bauzeit der Durchschlag des Tunnels Silberberg im Thüringer Wald gefeiert.On 29/11/2011, of the breakthrough of the tunnel Silberberg in the Thuringian Forest was celebrated after two years of construction.
Der 7391 m lange Tunnel ist nach dem bereits durchschlagenen Tunnel Bleßberg mit 8314 m das zweitlängste Tunnelbauwerk im Projekt VDE8 Nürnberg - Berlin.The 7391 m long tunnel is the second longest after the already holed-through Bleßberg tunnel (8314 m) along the VDE8 [8th Reunification Traffic Project] between Nuremberg and Berlin.

Due to low grades necessitated by Germany's original and misguided concept of running freight trains on high-speed lines, most of this line is a chain of tunnels and viaducts. The result is high costs, thus it is no wonder it began construction in the nineties but was aborted mid-way and re-started more recently (for more see The EU's emerging high-speed networkS again). There were local conflicts, too: the construction this tunnel in particular, which was dug with the drill-and-blast method, disturbed inhabitants of a village above. Now the project is closer to completion: a week after the Silberberg tunnel, two more tunnels were holed through, leaving four of the 25 on the line still to be finished; and the tender for the slab track was announced.

:: :: :: :: ::

Railway Gazette: Polish high speed rail project cancelled

The EU is Poland's main source of funding for rail projects, but the country had been told it could only count on support of around 30bn zloty in 2014-20. This left the ministry with a choice between one megaproject or upgrading existing lines, which are a deteriorated state and lag behind western European standards. As a result, Nowak decided to freeze all work on the high speed project until 2030.

...Despite cancellation of the dedicated high speed line, Poland may start regular 200 km/h passenger operation on the Central Trunk Line between Warszawa and Katowice in 2013, with speeds increasing to 220 km/h when the first Alstom Pendolinos are delivered in 2014. In the longer term conversion of the 3 kV DC electrification to 25 kV 50 Hz AC is planned, allowing Pendolinos to reach 250 km/h.

Even this much is noteworthy from a neoliberal government. But I note much more money is poured into highway projects.

:: :: :: :: ::

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

Herre is something completely different I saw the other day: a nostalgic train in Budapest's West Terminus Station, headed by a restored electric locomotive from the fifties.

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

by DoDo on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 10:32:05 AM EST
What a beauty!
by sgr2 on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 02:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NTV has started advertising their new train, called ".Italo". They had stands at Rome and Naples train stations this weekend.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 04:41:42 PM EST
Does anyone know what's happened to the Milan-Vienna night train? It's disappeared from the OeBB website. Trenitalia still has it (9753  FRECCIABIANCA) but it doesn't seem to be bookable (which makes sense if it doesn't exist....). On the other hand, there is a second Venice-Vienna train arriving a few minutes before the other one, which doesn't seem to make much sense (is there really much demand for Venice-Salzburg arriving at 4am or for Venice-Linz?)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 20th, 2011 at 03:41:54 AM EST
what's happened to the Milan-Vienna night train?

Funny, ÖBB still has a page on the train, without any notice on the suspension. Raildude thinks the trains run, too (I note the site correctly notes that Venice-Budapest is suspended; this suspension was decided one week before timetable cange, which was too late for MÁV's printed timetable). Following ÖBB's ticket booking page, however, I found this warning:


Online-Tickets für den Trenitalia-Nachtzug
  • ES 9753 21:05 Uhr Milano C. - Verona PN - Wien Meidling

    werden in Italien nur anerkannt:

    • wenn diese bereits bei der Fahrt von Österreich nach Italien vom ÖBB Zugbegleiter durch eine Kontrollprägung bestätigt wurden

    second Venice-Vienna train

    That one (EN 1034) starts in Rome and stops in Venice at 1 am, so there is only a short shared section and presumably most people on that train board before Venice. The 4 am Salzburg stop is les bad considering that the train rests in the station for one hour.

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

    by DoDo on Tue Dec 20th, 2011 at 03:58:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It finallu showed up in the timetable (it wasn't there 2 days ago), but OeBB says that it can't be booked online (I'll do it in Innsbruck tomorrow)

    The train that was puzzling me was EN 1036 (EN 1034 goes via Klagenfurt, not Salzburg). I'm sure it's convenient for a few people to have a direct Venice-Salzburg connection, but it's surely a rather small market. (As for it resting in the station for an hour, I've a feeling the conductor wakes you up on arrival....)

    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 21st, 2011 at 03:01:35 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The train that was puzzling me was EN 1036 (EN 1034 goes via Klagenfurt, not Salzburg).

    The point is that due to the late arrival of EN 1034 in Venice and it being full of passengers from Rome, I think EN 1036 is more convenient for Venice-Vienna passengers, whatever the route. As for Salzburg, beyond direct travels, I take it can count as gateway for Germany for passengers willing to change trains.

    I've a feeling the conductor wakes you up on arrival

    Can't that be arranged? Once I asked a conductor to wake me up at another time than normal (though then half an hour earlier).

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

    by DoDo on Wed Dec 21st, 2011 at 12:04:48 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I agree with you that the train has some use; it's just that with the recent trend to cut really useful trains (Rome-Paris, Amsterdam-Milan for example) it seems strange that they are keeping this rather marginal one. The Venice-Munich night train serves as a gateway to Germany anyway.

    I just noticed that the OeBB lists "Schlafwagen" but not "Liegewagen". I'll find out tomorrow if that's a mistake. If there's nothing available at a reasonable price, I'll book the night train from Innsbruck instead.

    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 21st, 2011 at 04:40:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    It finallu showed up in the timetable (it wasn't there 2 days ago)

    If it wasn't clear, I didn't find it in the ÖBB timetable either, only on the linked special page, and I concluded that this may have had to do with their difficulties to include a train in their program which they don't want to allow on-line booking for.

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

    by DoDo on Wed Dec 21st, 2011 at 12:06:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Maybe they just don't want you to book, so that they have an excuse to cancel it next year for lack of demand. Turns out that they have eliminated the Liegewagen, and now only have sleeping cars. So I booked from Innsbruck instead (which has now become 1:40 instead of 0:40....). Maybe I'll consider the slow one from Venice next time, if the connections to Venice are reasonable.
    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Dec 22nd, 2011 at 08:49:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]

    By the way, a little fun fact about that Umlaut: although ÖBB (for the uninitiated: acronym for Österreichische Bundesbahnen = Austrian Federal Railways) uses this ASCII-ised version of its name itself in its web page name (www.oebb.at), the modified acronym is actually the official acronym of another company: the Oensingen-Balsthal-Bahn, a regional railway in northwest Switzerland.

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

    by DoDo on Thu Dec 22nd, 2011 at 05:42:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]

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