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Rail News Blogging #24

by DoDo Sun May 12th, 2013 at 06:27:34 AM EST

This time, I'll bring a string of rapid transit news, another bunch of short updates on open access and rail privatisation, and a third string of news on line construction.

It is a frequently seen (and frequently lampooned) sign of neo-liberalism when public services get private sponsorship. Now here is a blatant example from the Madrid Metro, which is under an austerity regime:

MADRID Metro announced on April 23 it will rename one of its lines Line 2 Vodafone and the city's most central station Vodafone-Sol after reaching a three-year €3m agreement with the mobile telephone company.

For a company the size of the Madrid Metro, €1 million a year is not even a lot. (The article says this boosts advertisement income by 10%.)

Singapore to offer free metro travel to reduce overcrowding - Railway Gazette

SINGAPORE: Passengers exiting 16 central metro stations before 07.45 will get the rail section of their journey free of charge under a one-year trial which Land Transport Authority is to launch on June 24.

...The government-funded trial aims to encourage commuters to travel before the busiest times, helping to reduce overcrowding. It is a widening of an existing SMRT Early Travel Discount scheme which offers discounts for travel to 14 stations before 07.45...

All railways would prefer if passengers would please travel in the same numbers in each hour of the day, so that no trains will waste away parked on a siding half a day or run empty. But those damn passengers prefer to crowd our trains in short periods of time and be at work or enjoy themselves over the same lengthy periods of the day. What to do? Convince businesses to spread working hours? Nah; let's corral the sheeple by giving incentives to the passengers themselves! Well I submit it's not as stupid an idea as I made it so far: if you can just fill off-peak trains better with passengers who would not ride trains at normal prices it can pay off. Still, flexible pricing can actually run counter to flexible travel: you can't just decide to depart two hours later with a rush-hour ticket or a reservation. Specifically on rapid transit, what about the majority of passengers who travel with cards?

The Gulf states with their cheap domestic petrol and luxury-obsessed population seem like the least promising market for rapid transit, yet, in the last few years, there is a real boom in the region. The first system to open was Dubai Metro in September 2009. At the two-year anniversary, I noted that in spite of the popping of the real estate bubble, the system was successful in attracting ridership fit for a metro. Growth continued in 2012: last year the first line carried an average of 196,486 passengers a day (+19.5% vs. 2011), the second 102,667, for a total of just under 300,000. For December, average daily ridership was already 364,000. Still, there is a lot of room for further growth: the last number is just a bit above 30% of system capacity (1.2 million a day), and even in rush hour, only 40% of capacity is reached. But even this success was enough for the emirate to endorse adding four further lines.

Electric traction is made more energy-efficient by regenerative braking: the traction motors of a rail vehicle are used as generators, and the electricity is fed back into the railway grid while the vehicle slows down. An added benefit is less heat around the train: non-regenerative braking always turns kinetic energy into heat radiating from some train component, which is especially a problem in metro tunnels in summer.

However, to fully utilise regenerative braking, you need the capacity to always send that power somewhere. This can be implemented with relative ease on systems connected to the public or a railway-only AC grid. However, the DC systems used on most rapid transit networks weren't built for that.

Now different manufacturers are experimenting with energy recovery installations that can be used to retrofit rapid rail DC systems. Alstom developed the HESOP system, which is already installed on a Paris tram line, and now gets to install one on the Victoria Line in London. Meanwhile, rival ABB developed its own system, the Enviline ERS, and installed the first on the tram network of Łódź, Poland, which is to enter service this week.

Open access and privatisation

Line construction

  • In the midst of the state railway crisis, Bulgaria opened a rebuilt mainline section at the Turkish border. This is part of a long-running upgrade programme from Sofia to the Turkish border, one closing a gap in electrification on the transit route between Turkey and Central Europe.

  • In Scotland, after a decade of disputes and delays, construction started on the Borders Railway, the reinstatement of 48 km of a line south from Edinburgh which was disused in 1969 and will now serve commuters from 2015.

  • A connection between Germany and the Czech Republic is to be rebuilt after an even longer hiatus: the mere 1 km between Sebnitz and Dolní Poustevna was capped in 1945 and no post-1990 local initiative found financing until now. The new connection, along with a connected line in Germany, will be integrated into a Czech regional service network from 2014.

  • Meanwhile, German Railways DB is showing more post-Stuttgart-21 flexibility and brought forward alternatives to the so-called Y line, which was to connect Hamburg, Bremen and Hanover. The Y was meant for both high-speed and freight traffic, but its alignment was ideal for neither and cut across natural reserves (see Corridors for freight). The new alternatives seem tailored for freight traffic. And DB still can't get its communication right: the alternatives were first leaked to and published by a CDU member of parliament, angering Lower Saxony's new SPD-Greens government.

  • The main fact about rail construction in Germany is severe under-investment in international comparison. Now another northern EU champion of austerity is following suit: the Netherlands is cutting infrastructure investment for 2014–2028 by €6.4 billion, including €2.03 billion taken from railway infrastructure manager ProRail. One of the victims is a plan to increase permissible axle loads for freight trains.

:: :: :: :: ::

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

Here are two random train photos I made recently. First the solar-powered railcar of the Kismaros–Királyrét narrow-gauge line on a test run (it entered regular service a week after I shot the photo):

The second is a normal push-pull train on the mainline along the Danube in Nagymaros station. This was on May Day,  but temperatures reached 30°C that day.

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

by DoDo on Sat May 11th, 2013 at 02:34:53 PM EST
The fun doesn't stop.

Romania rejects all three pre-qualifying offers in privatization of CFR Marfa | Romania-Insider.com

"If CFR Marfa will not be privatized because of faults within the Ministry, I will leave the next day. I am doing my job, respecting deadlines and procedures. [...] Each of the bidders was missing something. We will make all needed diligence for the new procedure. My wish is to stay within the final deadline (June 20 )," said the Transport Minister Relu Fenechiu.

...Transport Minister Relu Fenechiu previously said that even after selling 51 percent in CFR Marfa, the country would still be able to prevent the sale of the company's assets as scrap metal, and the restrictions in the task book will prevent intermediaries from signing up in the privatization race. The procedure will have three stages, pre-qualification, negotiation based on preliminary offers and the bid with closed offers.

A winner was to be announced mid-June, and this privatization is among the pledges Romania has made to its main financier the IMF.

They still think this doesn't have to be a fire-sale.

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

by DoDo on Tue May 21st, 2013 at 09:25:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interestingly google maps shows the connection between Sebnitz and Dolní Poustevna already exists, while the satellite photo reveals the reality.

But it does seem amazing that it's taken 23 years for someone to come up with the money to make what seems to be such an obvious link

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 05:39:25 AM EST
Which is correct?

...which is especially a problem in subways in summer


...which is a problem especially in subways in summer

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 05:59:04 AM EST
Say it. The first flows off the tongue, for the second you have to breath before especially.

There is a pedantic objection to the word subway, which in American means an underground railway but in English invariably means an underground pedestrian way. that said, we might refer to foreign systems as subways to distinguish them from The (London) Underground.

However, the glaring fault is that it's a "problem on subways"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 06:55:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about "in metro tunnels"?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 07:38:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 08:16:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be pedanticker, when you're in the train, you're "on the subway/Tube/metro", but when you're in the halls, corridors, tunnels, you're "in the subway/Tube/metro" (considered as a system). So it depends which DoDo means.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 08:15:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The latter (the braking heat accumulates in the tunnels, including the stations), though of course it affects the inside of the trains, too (through ventilation).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 08:21:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"An added benefit is less heat around the train: non-regenerative braking always turns kinetic energy into heat radiating from some train component, which is especially a problem in metro tunnels in summer."

"Especially" doesn't fit in there very well. You would normally use it as a straightforward adverb, like "especially nice" or "especially difficult." You could put something like "...from some train components, which is a problem, especially in metro tunnels in summer." However, that still sounds awkward to me, so I would probably break up the sentence differently. That would also allow avoiding the use of the colon, which is also awkward in routine usage.

"An added benefit is a reduction in heat around the train. Non-regenerative braking always turns kinetic energy into heat radiating from some train component, which adds to temperature management difficulties in metro tunnels in summer."

by asdf on Mon May 13th, 2013 at 05:54:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One in the eye for Telefonica?

(Their Madrid station is only called "Ronda de la Comunicación.")

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun May 12th, 2013 at 10:17:01 AM EST

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