High Speed Rail News
The German and Danish ministers of transport have made a common declaration in favour of building a tunnel or a suspension bridge across the Fehmarn strait between Denmark and Germany by 2015. The link is to have a four-lane highway and a double-track railway, and will be financed by tolls and loans guaranteed by the government. It would be 18 km long and cost €9bn. The link, together with improvements in track, would give a trip time of two and a half hours between København and Hamburg, compared to four and a half hours now.
See also press releases from the Danish ministry of transport 1
, the ministry's Femern page
, report in English on the link's dynamic and strategic effects
, German press release
, and DN stories from last year 1
Three daily trains per direction are being cut on the Köln-Frankfurt high-speed line. Currently there are 49 trains per day in each direction. The line was opened in August 2002.
High Speed in Holland
Twelve AnsaldoBreda Trains for Amsterdam-Brussels
The Dutch and Belgian railways have ordered twelve 250 km/h trains from Italian AnsaldoBreda. The eight-car trains will begin operation southward from Amsterdam in 2007. In the Netherlands, the trains will be operated by HSA, an alliance between train operator NS and the KLM airline. HSA has the concession for passenger transport on the southern high-speed line, HSL Zuid. Traveling time Amsterdam - Brussels will be reduced to 90 minutes, and Amsterdam - Rotterdam to 30 minutes. The trains to Paris will continue to be operated by Thalys, which is partly owned by HSA.
See also network map
, HSA press release in PDF in English
, NS press release in Dutch
, and www.hslzuid.nl about the high-speed railway.
(May 26th 2004, thanks Lucas Rijnders)
The Dutch government is calling for tenders for a 180km high-speed line northward from Amsterdam - the Zuiderzeelijn - linking Schipol Airport/Amsterdam and Groningen/Leeuwarden. Transrapid is bidding to have it use their maglev technology. The government believes a maglev would reduce journey times by at least 15 minutes more than a new high-speed rail line, 60 compared to 75 minutes. Another future maglev project, a 37 km München airport link, is in trouble because of likely government cutbacks. The federal government had pledged to pay €550m of the €1,6bn cost.
See also www.magneetzweefbaan.nl
and the Dutch department of transportation's zuiderzeelijn website
; and stories at Aachener Zeitung
, Eurail Press
, and Tagesspiegel about the München line
; Tagesspiegel 2
, and München Transrapid info
. (May 18th, thanks David Peilow)
The Paris-Frankfurt high-speed railway will have two sections equipped with the new ERTMS/ETCS pan-European blockless signalling system, one in France, and the other in Germany. This will form a pilot project for deploying the new system across the French and German high-speed networks. The railway, called LGV Est, will run east from Paris on 300 km of new high-speed track to Lorraine. From there, upgraded lines will branch off northeastward to Saarbrücken, Mannheim and Frankfurt, and southeastward to Strasbourg. The new track will allow 350 km/h operation, but trains will initially reach 320 km/h. The project will be complete in 2007.
See also DB's press release
, official site
and DB's page on the German part
(May 18th 2004)
Eurostar has racked up record passenger numbers for the first three months of 2004, increasing 19% over the same period last year. Travel time was reduced last fall when the phase one of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was opened.
In the latest sign that airlines are feeling the pinch, Belgian carrier VLM has cut its services between London and Brussels. Ryanair recently announced its intention to scrap flights between Stansted and Charleroi airport, near Brussels.
British Airways has made similar changes, axing its Gatwick to Brussels service and its flights between London City airport and Paris. See also Guardian story
(April 7th 2004)
ICE Trains in Near Miss
A German high-speed train narrowly avoided derailment on Saturday the 4th after metal slabs were discovered bolted to the tracks. Nobody was injured. Police have no clues, but speculation hints at a possible terror campaign on Europe's railways.
A German ICE3 train crashed into a tractor and derailed at 80 km/h on April 1st. Nobody was hurt but a train passing in the other direction very nearly hit the derailed train. See also second story
and photo gallery
(April 3rd 2004)
Bomb Found in Spain
Police found a bomb on the Madrid-Seville high-speed railway on Friday the 2nd. The bomb failed to explode because it had no trigger. That suggested those responsible may have been scared off by security guards as they were planting the bomb. The line re-opened after a few hours' search of the tracks. Spain plans to protect its rail network against terrorism with armoured vehicles and helicopters manned by police, soldiers and civil guards.
See also newer BBC story
and Aftenposten story with map
The US federal government is encouraging transit authorities to conduct random passenger inspections and security sweeps of stations and to increase public announcements encouraging people to report unattended baggage or suspicious behavior. And the Association of American Railroads has created an information sharing and analysis center to collect, analyze and distribute security information to protect physical assets and IT systems.
See also more on the AAR's anti-terrorism plan
(April 3rd 2004)
Korea's first high-speed line opened to the public today as planned. The 300 km/h KTX trains, based on the French TGV, complete the Seoul-Busan journey in 2:40 compared to 4:10 by conventional train. 292 km of the track is new and allows high speed, the rest ordinary. Timings will be reduced further in 2008, when a further 120 km is completed (total 412 km). The project was developed over 12 years and cost $15,3bn.
There are 46 trains, 12 made in France by Alstom, and the rest in Korea by Rotem. They are 388m long with 18 coaches, seat 935 passengers, and weigh 771 tonnes. The catenary and TVM 430
signalling are similar to that of LGV Nord (Paris-London).
See also – all in English
– official page
, Xinhuanet story
, BBC story
, Donga story on economic and societal impact
, photo gallery
, and in French: SNCF press release
and an excellent map
(April 1st 2004, thanks Yasunori Hayashi)
26 New 250 km/h Pendolinos
Italian national operator Trenitalia has ordered 12 tilting 250 km/h Pendolino trains from Alstom for €240m. The trains are like those ordered by Cisalpino March 1st. (March 30th 2004)
Cisalpino, a joint venture between the Italian and Swiss railways, has ordered 14 tilting 250 km/h Pendolino trains from Alstom for €300m. The seven-car trains will seat 430 passengers and weigh 387 metric tonnes. Delivery will begin in May 2007 and be complete in January 2008. They will join the existing Pendolino fleet, which has been in service between Switzerland, Italy and Germany since 1996. The new NEAT Lötschberg tunnel will open in December 2007, and this will help reduce travel times between Switzerland and Italy by 50 minutes. See also SBB press release
, Cisalpino's foto gallery
with photos of existing Cisalpino Pendolinos, network map
, and Alstom's page on existing Cisalpino Pendolinos
. (March 2nd)
Ryanair will stop flying the London-Brussels route on April 29th, it announced on February 26th. The pullout comes after an EU ruling on illegal subsidies payed to Ryanair by the Brussels Charleroi airport, and after phase 1 of the London-Chunnel high speed line opened, saving up to 25 minutes. Eurostar now takes 2:20 to go from London to Brussels. (March 24th 2004)
China Builds & Reforms
China plans to build 28 000 km of new railway by the year 2020, bringing the network to 100 000 km, half of which will be double-track, and 12 000 km of which will be dedicated for passenger trains, presumably running at high speed. (February 24th 2004)
The Chinese goverment wishes to attract foreign investment to finance new construction. Railways Minister Liu Zhijun says attracting foreign capital is also part of a drive to reform the railways to make them more efficient. This probably means market reforms. Last year the railway made a profit of about 500m yuan, $60m. See also Xinhuanet story
and Eurail Press bulletin
. (February 24th)
The first four cars of the 700T shinkansen trains destined for Taiwan have been unveiled. They will be formed as 12-car sets and have a maximum operating speed of 300 km/h. Services on the Taiwan High Speed Line are scheduled to start in 2005. (February 11th 2004)
East Japan Railway will build two prototype bullet trains capable of a top speed of 400 km/h and test them from 2005 to 2008 in northeastern Japan. It aims to launch the trains by 2013 and run them at a maximum speed of 360 km/h, which it says would be the fastest in the world for commercial [conventional] trains. (February 11th 2004, reported by David Peilow)
A network of 320 km/h railways north of London is needed to relieve congestion on the current network, says top government adviser Professor David Begg, chairman of the Commission for Integrated Transport. A high-speed line, possibly with trains using the wider European loading gauge, could add three times as much capacity compared to upgrading the West Coast Main Line. Planning must start now since the current network will be saturated in 10 years, CfIT says. Ministerial anxiety over public spending has so far pushed this plan off the agenda, but CfIT says the alternative is higher fares which would be both unfair and drive passengers back on to an already crowded roads network. See also CfIT press release
and stories at Railnews UK
and the Guardian
. (February 9th 2004, thanks Jakob Christoffersen)
In the three years since Florida voters approved a high-speed railway, an authority has been formed; the first route, between Tampa and Orlando, has been chosen and studied; and a builder/operator has been hired. But opponents including Governor Jeb Bush continue to manoeuver against it, cutting funds. (February 7th 2004, thanks Jakob Christoffersen)
New Tracks Keep Airlines at Bay
Thalys reports that it's market share has recovered to 77% in October after slumping to 66% in February after cheap airlines started competing. 2003 saw revenue and passenger volume drop 2%, but traffic to Germany increased 9% after a 62km new railway opened in Belgium in December 2002 between Brussels and Köln. December traffic was up 1,7% over December 2002. Thalys operates trains between Paris and Brussels, with branches from Brussels to Amsterdam and Köln. See also details on Leuven-Ans HSR
, Aftenposten story
and SNCB press release
. (January 18th, thanks Jakob Christoffersen)
The completion of the first half of the London-Chunnel channel tunnel rail link in September, which saves up to 20 minutes, has helped Eurostar win 15% more passengers in the last three months of 2003, compared to the same period a year earlier. Revenue increased 11%. But the gains come after two years of declining patronage. Eurostar is also refurbishing its trains and lounges. See also Eurostar's Fastrack site
, stories at the Independent
. (January 18th 2004)
The California High Speed Rail Authority has issued a report which says a high-speed rail network in the southern half of the state would cost $37bn. Expanding the highway network and airport runways to accomodate as many passengers as the HSR would carry, would cost more than twice as much, $82bn. The trains would reach 360 km/h. But both rail supporters and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger want to delay a public ballot on the project due to California's poor finances. See also earlier story
, Mercury News story
, and official site
. (January 29th 2004, thanks David Pielow and Jakob Christoffersen)
Korea's first high-speed railway will open April 1st. French TGV trains reaching 300 km/h will cover the 409 km between Seoul and Pusan in just 2 hours 40 minutes, against 4 hours 10 minutes with current trains and track. When the second phase, Taegu - Pusan, is complete in 2008, trip time will be 2hrs10min. Fares set by the construction and transportation ministry have been set at 124-148 % of the existing high-speed train service, and 63-72 % of airline tickets. Korea will start running domestically designed and built 300 km/h trains, known as G7, in 2007. See also reprinted article at UTU
another at Chosunilbo
, Railway Technology page
, more photos
, and official site
with nothing in English. (January 22nd 2004, thanks Jakob Christoffersen)
The 1250km Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway will be built using conventional rail technology and not maglev. At a January 7 regular meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, attendees opted for conventional rail at 300 km/h. The new line will integrate with 20 other main lines, something which can't be done with maglev. Conventional rail also facilitates changing trains at the same platform, and is half as expensive as maglev. Alstom, Siemens and a Japanese consortium are expected to bid for this huge project in China. See also story in German at Der Spiegel
. (January 16th 2004, thanks Jakob Christoffersen)
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