Sat Mar 10th, 2012 at 07:17:18 AM EST
I'll start with an update on one of the most significant new competitors in long-distance passenger rail transport which I wrote about in The Dawn Of Open Access (2/2): Austria's WESTbahn, which is engaged in a cut-throat competition with the incumbent ÖBB. I will also write about further ETCS progress in Belgium, progress with new lines in Germany and Denmark, and cooling the London Underground.
|Westbahn und ÖBB streiten weiter - Bahn - derStandard.at > Wirtschaft|| Westbahn and ÖBB continue quarreling - Rail - derStandard.at > Economy|
|Wien - Die ÖBB und die seit Dezember 2011 zwischen Wien und Salzburg fahrende mehrheitlich private Westbahn sind weiterhin in Rechtsstreitigkeiten verwickelt. Vor dem Europäischen Gerichtshof (EuGH) wird am 21. März in einer mündlichen Verhandlung über die Forderung der Westbahn Management GmbH beraten, dass die ÖBB Infrastruktur der Westbahn sämtliche Informationen über Zugbewegungen und insbesondere eventuelle Verspätungen von Anschlusszügen in Echtzeit zur Verfügung stellen solle, berichtet die "Wiener Zeitung".||Vienna - ÖBB and the majority privately-owned Westbahn which runs between Vienna and Salzburg since December 2011, are further embroiled in legal disputes. On 21 March, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will hold a hearing on a demand of Westbahn Management GmbH on ÖBB Infrastructure to provide in real time all information on train movements and in particular on any delays of connecting trains, Wiener Zeitung reports.|
|...Die ÖBB-Personenverkehr AG hat ihrerseits die Westbahn wegen unlauterem Abwerben von Kunden, unlauteren Werbemaßnahmen in ÖBB-Zügen, dem "irreführenden Tarifmodell" und der behaupteten Kommunikation von falschen Verbindungszahlen geklagt. ...Trotz der Rechtsstreitigkeiten gibt man sich bei den ÖBB gelassen. Die Fahrgastzahlen seien trotz des neuen Mitbewerbers konstant geblieben, Bahnfahren werde immer beliebter, heißt es von seiten der ÖBB.||...ÖBB Passenger Transport Co. in turn sued Westbahn for unfair poaching of customers, unfair advertising measures in ÖBB trains, the "misleading fare model" and the alleged communication of false connection numbers. ...In spite of the disputes, ÖBB representatives are relaxed. Passenger numbers have remained constant in spite of the new competitor, rail travel is becoming ever more popular, they say at the ÖBB.|
There is a price war, too: WESTbahn is also suing against ÖBB's reduced fares aimed at off-peak periods. (Now wasn't reduced fares one of the promised benefits of open access?...) Different WESTbahn bosses contradict each other on how ÖBB's fare reductions affect WESTbahn: one calls the enterprise a "disaster", the other claims ridership is above plans but income lags due to their own fare reductions.
There is another WESTbahn controversy among those I mentioned in the open access diary which continues in the courtrooms:
| Auch zum Thema "Rauchen im Zug" ist ein Rechtsstreit anhängig - allerdings diesmal nicht mit den ÖBB. Nach einer Anzeige gegen die Westbahn wegen Verletzung des Tabakgesetzes ("Nichtraucherschutz in Räumen öffentlicher Orte") werde der Fall nun ausjudiziert, so der Westbahn-Sprecher. ...Die Westbahn habe mittlerweile ihre Raucherabteile geschlossen, weil "Rauchersheriffs" Sammelklagen angekündigt hätten.||A legal battle is pending over the topic "smoking on the train", too - but this time not with ÖBB. Following a complaint against Westbahn for a breach of Austria's Tobacco Act ("Protection of non-smokers in rooms of public places"), the case is now being brought to court, says the Westbahn spokesperson. ...Westbahn has now closed its smoking compartments, because "smoking sheriffs" have announced a class action.|
On one hand, apart from breaking the law, WESTbahn's smoker compartments had the extra nuisance that the extra investment wasn't reflected in a surcharge in smokers' ticket prices, thus non-smokers had to pay for the impassable compartment next door. On the other hand, ÖBB would deserve scrutiny, too: ÖBB stations make a mockery of anti-smoking regulations with designated spots for smokers in the middle of island platforms, so if there are trains on both sides the smoke expands along the entire platform and is sucked up by the air conditioners of the trains...
:: :: ETCS IN BELGIUM :: ::
Railway Gazette: Infrabel commissions Belgium's first ETCS Level 1 installation
BELGIUM: Trains began running under Belgium's first installation of ETCS Level 1 on March 6...
While ETCS is in service on the high speed lines from Liège to the German border and from Antwerpen to the Dutch border, the 25·5 km four-track route between Schaerbeek and Leuven is the first implementation on a conventional line in Belgium.
...An Infrabel/SNCB masterplan envisages that the entire network would be equipped with ETCS Level 1 by the end of 2022, with the long-term aspiration of moving towards Level 2 and eliminating lineside signals. From 2025 all trains on the Belgian network would be required to be equipped with ETCS.
Yet another recent story of progress for the European Train Control System, which is supposed to improve interoperability in Europe by replacing all the various older national systems, but had difficulties and only got rolling recently (as detailed in 310 km/h with ETCS).
The special relevance in Belgium is the Buizingen train crash two years ago (also discussed on ET), in which a newer train collided with an older one that only had an older train control system. Would Infrabel keep to its ETCS plan of full lineside deployment by 2022 and full on-board deployment by 2025, that would make it the third country to replace older systems completely, after Switzerland and Denmark. Unlike those two, though, no single big contracts have been granted for ETCS deployment, so the programme is vulnerable to budget cuts.
:: :: PROGRESS FOR NEW LINES :: ::
|NBS Erfurt - Nürnberg: Letzter Tunneldurchschlag in Thüringen- Nachrichten bei Eurailpress||Erfurt - Nuremberg high-speed line: Last tunnel breakthrough in Thuringia - News at Eurailpress|
|Mit dem Durchschlag des letzten Thüringer ICE-Tunnels am Fleckberg am 06.03.2012 sind nun alle 14 Tunnel im Thüringer Wald rohbaufertig hergestellt.||With the breakthrough of the last Thuringian ICE tunnel at Fleckenberg on 3/6/2012, now all 14 tunnels in the Thuringian Forest are structurally complete.|
This line (which featured in The EU's emerging high-speed networkS, this discussion and Rail News Blogging #5) will bypass the currently slowest section on the Berlin–Munich route. It is built as an expensive chain of tunnels and bridges due to ill-considered plans from the nineties to also run freight trains on the line (and because it is not on the shortest route for political reasons, so that Thuringia state's capital is not bypassed). The costs made it a victim of budget cuts that delayed completion by a decade and a half (while a parallel highway was completed in 2006). Now that most of the difficult parts are structurally complete (only some of the Bavarian tunnels remain to be finished), track construction is unlikely to be delayed.
Railway Gazette: Bidding begins on København - Ringsted new line
DENMARK: Infrastructure manager Banedanmark has shortlisted six companies for the first civil works on the 56 km København - Ringsted line to the west of the capital. The design and build contract for five bridges is due to be awarded by mid-year, with all of the main contracts to be underway by the end of 2013.
Designed for operation at up to 250 km/h, the electrified double-track route will relieve the current main line through Roskilde, where east-west flows between København and Jylland combine with the north-south corridor linking Sweden and Germany via the Øresund fixed link and the future Fehmarn Belt tunnel.
...Tenders for the railway systems will follow in 2013-14, with tracklaying expected to get underway in 2015. The 25 kV 50 Hz electrification and ETCS Level 2 would follow, allowing commissioning to start at the end of 2017 and test running by mid-2018. Total cost of the project, including the government's 20% contingency reserve, is put at DKr10·4bn.
The Ringsted line is a long overdue capacity enhancement in Denmark, which was in preparation but sabotaged by the conservative government a decade ago, and was re-launched recently with the growth of Scandinavia–Germany freight traffic (also see this earlier comment). Hopefully work will start in this election period...
:: :: COOLING THE LONDON UNDERGROUND :: ::
Railway Gazette: Using ground water to cool the tube
UK: London Underground has awarded Morgan Sindall a £9m contract to install a cooling system which will use ground water to lower air temperatures on the platforms at the deep-level Green Park station.
...While air-conditioning is fitted to the new Bombardier trains being delivered for London Underground's large-profile lines, the smaller profile deep-level tube lines have little space for on-train air-conditioning, and temperatures on trains and at stations can get uncomfortably high in summer.
Victoria station is already cooled using a portion of the 47 million litres of water that are pumped out of the LU network every day.
The endemic problem of heat on the Tube was the subject of an exchange two years ago; in which ThatBritGuy mentioned the plan for the cooling system.
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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.