Network Rail manages more stations

Newcastle and York are to become Network Rail-managed stations from the start of the new East Coast franchise in 2015.

The main line stations will join Reading and Bristol Temple Meads, which Network Rail took over on April 1, under a new management model designed to improve long-term planning for the UK’s railway stations.

Network Rail will assume control of asset management and commercial activities for both stations from the start of the new franchise, leaving the new operator to focus on passenger-facing services.

The idea is that the ‘managed station – lite’ model, as it has been dubbed, will make it easier to develop long-term strategies. Network Rail will be solely in charge of maintenance and renewal works around the stations.

Like Reading and Bristol, Newcastle has received substantial investment for modernisation works and York presents further opportunities for commercial development.

‘Where we’re in the lead role, we can do more in terms of customer enhancements,’ says Jason Manley, stations specialist for Network Rail’s Network Operations. ‘Bristol Temple Meads has got a big master plan for it, so we can look long term, and we can take a better strategic view.

‘A lot of train operators are frustrated because they can’t make some long-term decisions, and they can’t always build up the business case to always do things within the term of the franchise.’

DB International to advise Kochi Metro

DB International has been handed the role of quality and safety consultant for the Kochi Metro project.

Work began on the 26-kilometre elevated metro railway in February and the authority leading the project’s delivery has now appointed the Deutsche Bahn (DB) subsidiary to lend its expertise.

DB International is to open a new office in Bangalore to support the main team from.

Niko Warbanoff, chairman of board, said: “Given the ongoing globalisation and the growing importance of the Indian market, this initiative is strategically important.

“DB International has the necessary expertise and global reputation in project work in order to offer high-quality services can also here. We are confident that we can assist India with our know-how in all areas of rail transport.”

Australian government approves Aquila takeover

Chinese iron and steel company Baosteel has been cleared to pursue a $1.1 billion take over of Aquila after getting the go ahead from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

The FIRB wrote to Baosteel and its bidding partner Aurizon confirming that there were no objections to the acquisition.

Aquila holds a 50 per cent stake in the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project (WPIOP), a major mine, port and rail development in Western Australia.

Baosteel Resources International chairman Zhihao Dai said: “We are extremely pleased that the FIRB conditions for this transaction have been fulfilled, which further reduces the already limited conditionality associated with the offer.
“Our compelling offer provides Aquila shareholders with an opportunity to realise certain value for their Aquila shares at a significant premium to the Aquila share price prior to the announcement of the offer. At the same time, Baosteel believes the transaction, if successful, provides a genuine opportunity for the development of greenfield resources for the benefit of both Australia and China.”

Aurizon Holdings Limited managing director and chief executive, Lance Hockridge said: “Aurizon welcomes FIRB’s decision. The offer is the first step in a potential pathway to co-investment in resources and greenfield infrastructure, representing a great opportunity to co-develop world-class rail and port infrastructure in Australia, and in the process generate new jobs, boost national exports and deliver to government significant royalty revenue.”

Guinea proceeding with $20bn mine and rail project

Rio Tinto and Chinalco are searching for investors to back a $20 billion mine and rail project in Guinea after signing an agreement with the country’s government.

Described by Rio Tinto as being similar in scale to its operation in the Pilbara, Australia, which currently extracts 220 million tonnes of iron ore from the ground each year, the Simandou project includes plans for a 650-kilometre railway from the mine to the Guinean coast.

The agreement, which was signed between the Government of Guinea, Rio Tinto, Chinalco and the IFC in Conakry earlier this week, provides the legal and commercial foundation for the project.

Simandou will be the largest combined iron ore and infrastructure project ever developed in Africa, doubling the country’s current GDP

A decision will now be taken by the Guinean National Assembly as to whether to ratify the agreement or not.

President of the Republic of Guinea Alpha Condé said: “With massive infrastructure investment, this Project is of critical importance for the people of Guinea. It’s a nationwide priority that goes beyond the mines and far beyond our generations.

“With transparent and fair deals, our mining sector has the potential to be a game changer for Guinea. This Project also represents a symbol of our continent’s tremendous efforts to meet its infrastructure challenges and build inclusive growth.”

Alan Davies, chief executive of diamonds  and minerals at Rio Tinto, said: “The signing of the IF is testimony to the commitment of all the partners to progress the Project and is the culmination of years of collaborative and tremendous work.

“We will now concentrate on progressing the plans for the development of the mine and pulling together the consortium of investors who will finance and develop the infrastructure.”

Essex Thameside franchise decision delayed

Following hard on the award of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway last week, the Department for Transport has announced a short delay on the next one.

The Essex Thameside franchise, which is basically the old London, Tilbury and Southend route from Fenchurch Street, was expected to have been awarded in May. That decision has now gone back two months to July, with a corresponding delay in the commencement of operations from September to November 2014.

As a result, the existing franchise with C2C has been extended by two months.

The extra time is to further examine the bids from four separate potential operators – Abellio, First, MTR and National Express. A spokesman said that the delay was particular to this franchise agreement and would not impact on any other route currently being evaluated.

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin stated that the Essex Thameside franchise was an important part of the Government’s economic plan.

“I am determined that the next phase of this franchise will build on that success. By extending this contract, we are making sure that the best decision is made so that we can secure the best possible service for passengers in the future,” he added.

Report by Nigel Wordsworth

Wuhan’s Hankou North metro extension opens

Wuhan Metro’s Hankou North extension has opened to passengers.

The 5.7-kilometre line extends Metro Line 1 from its current terminus at Dijao to Hankou North.

Two additional stations have been built at Teng Kong and Shekou Town.

Line 1 was opened in two phases between 2004 and 2010. When phase 1 opened, Wuhan became the first Chinese metro to use CBTC technology.

Network Rail names winner of first traffic management contract

Network Rail has awarded a landmark contract for the installation of traffic management technology at two of the UK’s new Regional Operating Centres (ROCs) to Thales.

The £28.8 million contract covers the provision of Thales’ ARAMIS Traffic Management System at sites in Romford and Cardiff as part of Network Rail’s long-term strategy to replace more than 800 signal boxes around the country with 12 regional control centres.

The ARAMIS system was trialled extensively by Network Rail prior to today’s (May 29) announcement alongside technology developed by the two other framework holders Hitachi and Signalling Solutions.

Network Rail has said contracts for the national rollout of traffic management will be subject to future competitions and will involve all traffic management framework holders.

Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s managing director of network operations, said: “As the number of people and businesses relying on rail continues to grow, it is vital we have the technology to make the best use of Britain’s rail infrastructure.

“The traffic management which will be deployed on the network uses tried and tested technology used on railways around the world to help deliver a leaner, more efficient and reliable network.”

Thales’ solution is already is already in use in 11 other countries, including Germany, Austria and Portugal.

Victor Chavez, chief executive of Thales UK, said: “We share Network Rail’s vision of a world-class railway for the UK; one that is the envy of train operators across the globe.

“Our selection for this first phase of the TMS programme is a huge step in our relationship with Network Rail, and we are hugely excited to bring our global TMS expertise to the UK.”

Miami station designs revealed

All Aboard Florida, the organisation looking to build a new 235-mile railway connecting south and central Florida, has unveiled designs for its new station in Miami.

Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), the Miami station site will cover almost three million square feet, creating a new retail and leisure hub beneath the line, which will be elevated to integrate with the existing public transport network.

As well as Miami, the new route will include stations in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

All Aboard Florida first presented its plans in March 2012 when it set out its target to deliver a railway which could transport passengers between Miami and Orlando in just under three hours.

Michael Reininger, president and chief development officer of All Aboard Florida, said: “Millions of commuters and local residents will benefit from the Miami station.

“All Aboard Florida provides a fast and convenient transit alternative while integrating transportation infrastructure with mixed use development to serve as a catalyst for economic vitality in a city that is quickly becoming a model for urban living.”

Designs for the remaining stations and rolling stock are still being developed.

Singapore awards Thomson Line train contract

Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Qingdao Sifang have won a S$749 million contract from Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) to supply 91 new trains to the Thomson and Eastern Region Lines.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries is responsible for the overall train design and CSR Qingdao Sifang is responsible for producing the train body shell and the final assembly.

The new automated four-car trains will operate on a 750V dc third rail power supply system.

The Thompson Line, which is set to open in 2019, will be entirely underground, running north to south beneath the city. Once complete it and Eastern Region Lines will run as one line.

Kawasaki and CSR are currently delivering 13 trains this year and a further 28 from 2016 for the North South East West Line (NSEWL).

SOM tasked with transforming Philadelphia railway station

A design consortium has been appointed to come up with a development master plan for Philadelphia’s 30th Street station.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), in association with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors, has been chosen to develop a station master plan as part of wider scheme which is aiming to turn the USA’s ‘tired’ railway stations into ‘the centrepieces of thriving urban neighbourhoods’.

The master plan will consider options for the area surrounding the station, including the 75 acres of rail yards beside the terminal.

SOM has already contributed to the Denver Union Station Redevelopment, which is close to completion, and last year, the design house published a series of striking concept images for Penn Station in New York.

Bob LaCroix, Amtrak chief of corridor development, said: “Along with our great partners, we look forward to developing a bold vision for the precinct that accommodates growing demand for passenger rail service and outlines a framework for development that can reshape the Philadelphia skyline for generations to come.”

Roger Duffy, SOM design partner, described the project as “a singular opportunity to re-imagine one of the most significant and dramatic urban areas in America”.

Further station master plans are being drawn up in Washington, DC, Baltimore and Chicago.

The design phase is expected to last two years.