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Rail News Blogging #7

by DoDo Sun Jan 29th, 2012 at 10:44:19 AM EST

Themes this time: China after the Wenzhou crash, new and upgraded lines, tilting trains, and Moscow urban transport.

Railway Gazette: Design flaws and poor management caused Wenzhou collision, report confirms

CHINA: Investigators have confirmed that 'serious design flaws' in the signalling and train control equipment, along with 'sloppy management and the mishandling of a lightning strike' were among the reasons for the collision between two high speed trains near Wenzhou on July 23 2011 in which 40 people died.

An attempt to condense the failures and non-fail-safe features mentioned or implied by the article:

  • Lightning strikes offed a lot of signalling and train control equipment along the track.
  • The identification of signal malfunctions for the control centre was up to a human, and he missed one out of four.
  • The key failure was that of a so-called track circuit (which detects a train's presence ahead of a signal), something the train control centre software was not prepared to notice and warn about, thus the train that was hit could 'disappear'.
  • The train that was hit had progressed past the malfunctioning signals at speeds below 20 km/h (practically at sight) as intended, yet it was braked automatically (just in the section of the undetected malfunctioning track circuit).
  • With signalling failing, the trains were dispatched by radio, a normal fallback level, but the train dispatcher responsible had to control ten trains all at the same time.
  • The stopped train could not reach the dispatcher by radio.
  • The stopped train did manage to move again, and thus it did re-appear on the screens of the dispatchers, who did attempt to contact the approaching second train, but failed.

Railway Gazette: Work to begin on Chad rail network

CHAD: Construction of what may be the country's first railway is set to begin in February, following the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Transport & Civil Aviation and China Civil Engineering Construction Corp on December 24.

The US$5·6bn four-year plan covers a 1 364 km standard gauge network, to be built to Chinese standards and suitable for 120 km/h diesel operation using rolling stock to be supplied from China. Work is expected to take four years.

China is hard at work trying to maintain its massive rail construction industry even after the domestic gold rush, by funding projects in the developing world, especially in Africa. However, it's a risky business: they already lost a number of projects, both for political and economic reasons.

:: :: NEW & UPGRADED LINES :: ::

Railway Gazette: Bouygues selected to build Nîmes - Montpellier line

FRANCE: Réseau Ferré de France announced on January 12 that it has selected a Bouygues-led consortium as preferred bidder for the 25-year PPP concession to design, build, maintain and finance the 60 km mixed-traffic high speed line bypassing Nîmes and Montpellier.

...Total cost of the project is put at €2·06bn, of which €1·83bn will be provided through the PPP contract. RFF expects to sign the public funding agreement with the French government, the regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Gard and the municipalities of Montpellier and Nîmes in the first quarter of 2012. Construction is expected to get underway by the end of this year and take four years, generating around 6 000 direct and indirect jobs.

As heralded in The EU's emerging high-speed networkS, France switched to a PPP model for its next few high-speed lines, this is the third to be awarded. It is also the smallest and oldest project, which should have been begun a decade ago...

Railway Gazette: RFF to upgrade Blanc-Argent metre gauge line

...The December 2 upgrading agreement will see the Centre region provide €8·85m towards the €13·6m modernisation, with RFF allocating €4·5m alongside a local contribution of €0·25m. 

The work is scheduled for completion by September, and includes subgrade and structure rehabilitation and track relaying to increase line speeds to 70 km/h. This will use 38 km of second-hand rail from LGV Atlantique.

The re-use of mainline rail for secondary line renewal is a sensible cost-saving practice. It works because the secondary line has lower axle-loads and thus rails face lower stresses, and the continuous strengthening of rail standards over decades means that even the used mainline rail will be stronger than the decades-old rail it replaces when it was new. This re-use method has a long history; however, in recent times, some geniuses in management thought not renewing branchlines at all (and selling used mainline rail to scrap metal dealers) is even cheaper.

Railway Gazette: Seinäjoki to Vaasa electrification completed

FINLAND: National railway VR launched electric services on the 75 km line between Seinäjoki and Vaasa on December 12. Electrification at 25 kV 50 Hz has permitted the introduction of direct express services from Helsinki, with a daily return Pendolino as well as inter-city trains.

Vaasa is the port for the shortest ferry crossing to Sweden. However, its operator went broke recently.

:: :: TILTING TRAINS :: ::

SBB will künftig keine Neigezüge beschaffen - Nachrichten bei Eurailpress SBB will not order tilting trains in the future - News at Eurailpress
Der SBB-Verwaltungsrat hat entschieden, die nächsten Züge für den Fernverkehr ohne Neigetechnik zu ordern.The board of directors of [Swiss Federal Railways] SBB has decided to order the next trains for long distance service without tilting technology.
Die SBB bestätigte entsprechende Presseberichte. Danach sollen die 29 Züge, deren Ausschreibung im Frühjahr 2012 veröffentlicht werden soll, von konventioneller Bauart sein. Diese Züge sind für den Verkehr durch den neuen Gotthard-Basistunnel ab Ende 2016 vorgesehen und sollen zwischen 2016 und 2019 ausgeliefert werden.SBB confirmed corresponding press reports. According to those, the 29 trains for which tender documents shall be published in spring 2012 will be of conventional design. These trains are intended for traffic via the new Gotthard Base Tunnel from the end of 2016 and are to be delivered between 2016 and 2019.

SBB had troubles with both second- and third-generation Pendolino trains, and a third active-tilting train type for domestic service gets criticism for being cramped and having a lower ride comfort. Active-tilting technology is not the panacea it was advertised as, indeed.

Railway Gazette: Moscow - Berlin Talgo agreement

RUSSIA: RZD President Vladimir Yakunin and Patentes Talgo President Carlos Palacio Oriol signed an agreement on January 25 that will see the Spanish manufacturer work with the Russian Railway Research Institute to develop rolling stock for RZD network. 

This covers the design, assembly and testing of three gauge-changing trainsets for the Moscow - Berlin route, as well as four 200 km/h trainsets to operate between Moscow and Kyiv. 

The Talgo trains are passive-tilting trainsets (carbodies swing due to centrifugal forces like a pendulum). This is not Talgo's first CIS export success on the sleeper train market.

:: :: MOSCOW :: ::

Railway Gazette: Moscow metro expansion plans announced

RUSSIA: The Moscow city government has announced plans to build a further 98 km of metro over the next nine years, taking the total network to 400 km and adding 44 stations at an estimated cost of 344bn roubles. Of this, 75 km and 36 stations would be completed by 2015, according to the head of the city's construction department Andrei Bochkaryov.

This is in addition to a new orbital light rail network, announced a month earlier. Good news, though I wonder if this is part of an election campaign.

:: :: :: :: ::

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

And again something completely different: a passenger train of Austro-Hungarian private railway GySEV/ROeEE near Enese in Western Hungary on a cloudy November day. GySEV is a true oddity: a private railway owning its own track that survived 19th century rail nationalisation, the border changes after WWI, the Iron Curtain and 'communist' nationalisations; shareholders are the two states; it profited from cross-border container traffic after 1989; it is using its good capitalisation to gain control of ever more lines in Western Hungary. For some reason the train was 'sandwiched' by a Taurus loco borrowed from Austrian Federal Railways (Siemens ES64U2, ÖBB class 1116) and one of GySEV's old V43 locos.

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

by DoDo on Sun Jan 29th, 2012 at 10:54:32 AM EST
very interesting about China's export of rail construction. Liberal funding has helped their telecom equipment companies become global forces.
by rootless2 on Sun Jan 29th, 2012 at 11:49:18 AM EST
This practice has another significance: this is China's version of development aid. On one hand, this aid is granted without democracy coming up even as rhetoric, though that can result in blowbacks like in Libya. On the other hand, this is multi-billion-dollar development aid with narrower political and economic strings attached (support China in the UN sure, support Chinese companies in procurements sure, but no 'reforms' or war on terra or troop deployment). As for whether it cements post-colonial exploitation, well, probably: most of these African projects are primarily meant to serve mines, and thus an economy based even more on resource exploitation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 03:54:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by rootless2 on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 07:55:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just as with Western "Development" "aid", it is aid aimed to develop China's prospects. So just as with Western "Development" "aid", it is essential that the recipient has a domestically based development program that can operate sufficiently below the radar to escape destruction at the hands of the major multinational institutions.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 11:08:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Rail News Blogging #7
Vaasa is the port for the shortest ferry crossing to Sweden. However, its operator went broke recently.

It could be noted that ferrys that do not pass Åland operates under common EU rules that does not allow tax-free booze sold, while ferrys that do pass Åland (Turku-Stockholm, Helsinki-Stockholm) gets to sell tax-free booze thanks to Ålands special status within Finland and the EU.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 10:44:48 AM EST
Oh well you learn something every day... voilà, a semi-independent region within the EU that I don't remember having heard of before. I must order some stamps.

Specialty : not a tax haven, as in Liechtenstein or Jersey, but a booze haven. Paradis alcoolière in French, I suppose.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:53:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You obviously don't read the right websites.

During the Finnish war Russia chased the Swedish soldiers off of Åland. Then they went home, but left about 450 well trained soldiers behind in case the Swedes would come back. The soldiers started getting bossy and tried commanding the Ålanders around and make them harvest their grain for them. The Ålanders were not happy about that at all, so a few sneaked back to Sweden and said, "They want us to work for them, but we will stay faithful to the Swedish king. We are ready to do anything, but we need help!"

The Swedes wanted to help, but could only effort to send a few soldiers and guns for the farmers. With their new weapons the Ålanders, all farmers who had no military training whatsoever, sneaked up on the Russian soldiers and surprised them. In fact the Ålanders were so vicious and good that the Russians thought they were up against an army of Swedish soldiers and decided to surrender.

Across from the battlefield the Ålanders looked confused on as Russians started waving white flags. Because they had no military training they didn't understand the signal, and just kept shooting! The Russiand must have thought they were crazy.

It didn't stop before some Swedish soldiers saw what was going on and told them to stop. Great was the Russians' humiliation when they realised they had surrenders to farmers!

Only three people dired during the battle.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 10:07:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For stamps: Web shop - Posten Åland

Actually, they are not a booze paradise as such - I think their booze is as heavily taxed as in Sweden or Finland - but they count as third country in relation to EU customs rules which means you can sell duty-free on the way to and from Åland. So they have excellent communications as long as you don't mind travelling with drunk people.

As for specialities they are a de-militarised zone since the Crimean war and the inhabitants are excempt from military duty. They have cultural self-government including language, which means that they are not dual-language, they are Swedish-only.

Also they have rules on real estate ownership that would violate EU rules if they did not have an exception. I believe you first have to become naturalised Ålänning before you can buy real estate, thus avoiding the islands becoming a collection of holiday homes.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 10:22:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 10:50:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, can you find ridership figures for the various Finland-Sweden ferries? I failed to.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Failing as well if you want each lines numbers, however I did find statistics on a national level.

Stockholm is the largest port for passengers in Sweden (p.12). Umeå-Vasa had in 2007 70 500 trips out of the about 9.5 million passengers a year between Sweden and Finland (p.11). In Stockholm is probably included Kapellskär-Nådendal, that does not pass Åland and is probably on the same scale as Umeå-Vasa.

Stockholm to or by way of Mariehamn (Åland), in effect the party boats, dwarfs everything.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:27:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After being relegated indefinitely (probably to after 2025) the new Frankfurt-Mannheim line is now being fundamentally questioned.
ICE between Frankfurt and Mannheim: 19 years of failed planning? | Echo Online - News from South Hesse

Ministry: Line Frankfurt-Mannheim doesn't solve problems

19 years after the start of planning for the ICE between Frankfurt and Mannheim, the Federal Ministry of Transport, puts the entire project in its fundamentals into question. The route was "unfit to absorb the traffic," it says in the announcement of a new rail concept tender. The tender in the official Journal of the European Union -dated to 1 February - is about "developing a traffic-related design for the rail corridor axis Middle Rhine - Rhine / Main - Rhein / Neckar - Karlsruhe". The tender includes reviews of the existing rail concepts of railways and government that make a change in the plan seem inevitable.

As it says in the introduction, a "requirements plan check for rail" had shown that the "now existing bottlenecks in the relation Rhine / Ruhr - Rhein / Main - Rhein / Neckar can not be resolved with the previously proposed plans." The verdict on the new ICE line is even clearer: "In the corridor Frankfurt-Mannheim it has been shown that the new ICE line is not capable of absorbing traffic and route it to southern Germany without restrictions."

Consequently, the Ministry sought new concepts for major rail corridors. Existing projects - including the line from Frankfurt to Mannheim - were to be checked "and optimized depending on the results achieved, where appropriate, or replaced with more appropriate measures."... The line was repeatedly declared an essential gap to be closed in the European rail network... Surprisingly, transportation minister Peter Ramsauer announced at the end of 2011 the downgrading of the line to the "minor projects" and start of construction before 2015 was unlikely. A spokesman for the railway said Thursday, measures within a "growth program" to increase rail network capacity by 2019 are being examined. The total volume is estimated at 2.2 billion euros. The program consists mainly of specific improvements in the existing rail network. The new route from Frankfurt to Mannheim is not included. It is found as a perspective goal to be realized after 2019.

The railway continues to maintain that to solve the bottlenecks in the region a new line was needed, said the railway spokesman. ...

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:29:20 AM EST
The tender document in question is here (in German). The review showing an overload of the planned Frankfurt-Mannheim line in the Darmstadt-Weinheim section by 2025 is not new, it is back from 2010, and can be read here (the relevant part is on pages 36-37). Of course, delaying a capacity enhancement until ways are found for needed further capacity enhancements is not the most rational thing to do...

Rhein-Neckar-Ticker - Nachrichten aus der Rhein-Neckar-Region Rhein-Neckar-Ticker - News from the Rhine-Neckar region
Mannheim. Verzögerungen bei der zweiten Stufe der S-Bahn Rhein-Neckar sowie beim Ausbau des Mannheimer Hauptbahnhofs will Baden-Württembergs Verkehrsminister Winfried Hermann (Grüne) nicht akzeptieren. Das sagte er bei einer Klausurtagung des Arbeitskreises ,,Verkehr" der grünen Landtagsfraktion in Mannheim. Auch bei der geplanten Schnellbahntrasse Frankfurt-Mannheim durch das südhessische Ried drängte Hermann Bund und Bahn, das Projekt jetzt zügig voranzutreiben, ,,auch wenn der Bau der Trasse sicher noch ein Jahrzehnt dauert".Mannheim. Baden-Württemberg Minister of Transport, Winfried Hermann (Greens) does not want to accept delays in the second stage of the S-Bahn Rhein-Neckar and the expansion of Mannheim main station. That's what he told at a closed meeting of the Greens' regional parliament faction's working group "Traffic" in Mannheim. In the case of the planned Frankfurt-Mannheim high-speed line across the Ried region in South Hessen, Hermann called on the federal government and German Railways to push the project forward quickly, too, "even if the construction of the line will surely take a decade".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:16:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, there is potentially positive news about the Hannover-Hamburg/-Bremen "Y Line" – DB was forced to look for a new route:

Y-Trasse: Deutsche Bahn sucht nach Alternativen- Nachrichten bei EurailpressY Line: German Railways is looking for alternatives - News at Eurailpress
Bis Ende dieses Jahres wird die Deutsche Bahn nach Alternativen für die Y-Trasse suchen.Until the end of this year, German Railways (DB) will be looking for alternatives for the Y Line.
Dies sagte DB-Chef Rüdiger Grube am 30.01.2012 beim Neujahrsempfang der Stadt Walsrode. Er sagte, die bislang geplante Trasse sei ,,zunächst einmal auf Eis gelegt". Der Bund habe die Deutsche Bahn aufgefordert, Alternativen zu untersuchen, so Grube.That's what DB CEO Rüdiger Grube told on 30 January 2012 at the New Year's reception of the town of Walsrode. He said that the route planned until now "was put on hold for the time being". The federal government called on German Railways to investigate alternatives, Grube said.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:23:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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