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.