Sat Dec 3rd, 2011 at 02:22:02 PM EST
This week, I comment news on bottlenecks for freight in Europe and the USA, privatisation in Russia, and the final section in the reconstruction of the Istanbul–Ankara line in Turkey.
Railway Gazette: HS1 open to Eurotunnel
UK: Eurotunnel announced on December 1 that its Europorte Channel subsidiary had been granted approval to operate its fleet of Class 92 locomotives on High Speed 1. Driver training is now in progress with the expectation that commercial freight services will be launched early in 2012.
...Clearance for use on HS1, able to accommodate standard European wagons and swap bodies, opens the prospect of only one locomotive change on international services between Britain and Europe, given that the Class 92 is already approved for operation on Network Rail, but not on the RFF network in France.
And the Class 92 is the only loco approved for the Chunnel. Now the key obstacle for more efficient Britain–rest-of-Europe freight transport by rail will be the French infrastructure manager.
Railway Gazette: Colton Crossing grade separation gets underway
USA: The Colton Crossing grade separation project to build a fly-over to eliminate a flat crossing between east-west Union Pacific and north-south BNSF lines in the city of Colton, California, was officially launched with a ceremony on November 8.
...Skanska will build a flyover to raise the UP tracks by more than 9 m. The $202m cost is being met by a combination of UP, BNSF, state and federal funding sources, with completion scheduled for early 2014.
$212 million for a single flyover, that's... a lot. But, it may be justified, given that this flyover is not like one in Europe for suburban electric multiple units, but one that should have a low grade so that heavy freight trains don't have difficulties climbing it.
Railway Gazette: Commuter privatisation
RUSSIA: The government has decided to auction a 25% minus three shares stake in Moscow commuter operator Central Suburban Passenger Co, Russian Railways announced on November 15. The minimum sale price will be set by an independent review.
Russian Railways, which is performing well lately, is currently in the initial stages of a massive marketista reform: having been chopped up into dozens of semi-independent subsidiaries, 25% to 75% stakes in each of the subsidiaries are sold to private investors. Just five weeks ago, a 75% stake in one of the biggest subsidiaries, Freight One, was sold to the richest oligarch for c. 3 billion.
Railway Gazette: Istanbul line upgrading contract
TURKEY: Italian firm Salini Costruttori has won a 146·8m contract to modernise one of the busiest sections of the Ankara - Istanbul route.
The contract awarded by the government's Central Finance & Contracts Unit on October 14 covers renewal of the 56 km Köseköy - Gebze section of line on the eastern approach to Istanbul...
This 160 km/h upgrade connects the end of the new 250 km/h alignment and another upgraded section which is part of the Marmaray project, which is more aimed at Istambul commuters (the centerpiece is a rail tunnel under the Bosphorus).
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