November's top stories: Swiss FOT approves Bombardier Traxx trains for Gotthard Base, UK’s NPIF to fund digital signalling technology

The Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT) has approved the use of Bombardier Traxx locomotives in the Gotthard Base rail traffic tunnel, and UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) will allocate an extra £450m to trial digital signalling technology on railways. Railway-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from November.


Swiss FOT approves Bombardier Traxx trains for Gotthard Base rail tunnel

The Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT) approved the use of Bombardier Traxx locomotives in the Gotthard Base rail traffic tunnel following the installation of a European Train Control System (ETCS) software update.

Bombardier Traxx locomotives are upgraded with the new automatic train protection software, and the authorisation milestone was achieved in cooperation between the FOT, SBB Infra, BLS Cargo and Bombardier.

Designed to increase traffic capacity and safety on mainline operations, the EBI Cab 2000 onboard train protection software allows higher speeds and shorter headways.

UK’s NPIF to fund digital signalling technology from 2018-19 to 2020-21

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond that the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) will allocate an extra £450m to trial digital signalling technology on railways.

Announced in his latest Autumn Statement, the new technology is aimed at expanding capacity and improving reliability .

From 2018-2019 to 2020-2021, the fund will allocate around £80m to accelerate the rollout of smart ticketing, including season tickets for commuters in the UK’s major cities.

Renfe awards €787m contract to Talgo for 15 Avril trains

Spanish rail operator Renfe awarded a €787m contract to Talgo for the supply of 15 high-speed Avril trains and fleet maintenance for a 30 year period.

The contract includes an option to buy a second set of 15 additional units and to extend the maintenance for a further ten years. Talgo plans to deliver the first batch in 36 months.

Each of Talgo’s Avril trains will have a maximum commercial speed of 330km/h and a total passenger capacity of 521 seats.

Alstom wins €70m STIF LRV contract

Alstom secured a €70m contract to supply 22 Citadis trams to the Syndicat des Transports d’Ile de France (STIF) for line T9 in Ile-de-France.

The delivery is a part of a larger framework contract that includes potential supply of 68 additional trams for lines T9 and T10.

Trams are scheduled to be delivered from mid-2019 onwards with expected entry to commercial service by October 2020. 

Network Rail predicts 25% rise in drunken incidents on train lines in December

UK’s Network Rail is predicting a 25% increase in alcohol-related incidents across the network in December compared with the beginning of the year.

Data has been collected over the last ten years and highlights more incidents involving intoxication in December than in any other month due to Christmas, New Year and work parties.

Network Rail, British Transport Police and RSSB are requesting party goers to be careful when travelling on or around the railway.

Bay Area voters pass $3.5bn measure to improve BART rail system

Three Californian counties in the US have voted to pass a $3.5bn infrastructure bond called Measure RR, which is intended to help improve Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) rail system.

The measure was passed by voters in San Francisco with 81.1%, while Alameda County voters passed it with 70.8%.

However, a reduced number of Contra Costa County voters gave their approval at 59.5%.

Skanska and partners win £453m contract for Waterloo and South West Upgrade

Sweden-based Skanska and partners secured a £453m contract from UK-based Network Rail to design and construct the Waterloo and South West Upgrade on the South West Trains network in southern England.

The company received the contract in alliance with Aecom, Colas Rail and Mott MacDonald.

Skanska’s part of the contract is worth £165m.

UK Government announces new West Coast Partnership rail franchise

The UK Government announced a new rail franchise called the West Coast Partnership, which will combine the existing InterCity West Coast operations with development and introduction of High-Speed 2 (HS2) services.

The partnership will be responsible for services on the West Coast Main Line from 2019, as well as designing and running the initial high-speed services beginning 2026.

Set to run for the initial three to five years of operation of the UK’s new HS2 railway, the franchise is the first step in attracting a bidding group to develop the service for West Coast passengers.

Arriva takes control of London Overground rail network

Arriva assumed full control of operating the London Overground suburban rail network, where more than 180 million journeys are taken every year.

This number is expected to increase further as the network integrates lines north of London.

Following a competitive bidding process, Arriva secured the contract in March to operate the London Overground network, which has operated in a joint venture over the past nine years.

Hyperloop One collaborates with Dubai RTA for Hyperloop One system

Hyperloop One and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) agreed to jointly evaluate a Hyperloop One system in greater Dubai and the UAE.

Hyperloop One will work with McKinsey & Co and the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) on a detailed feasibility study, which will be sponsored by the RTA.

With this agreement, the company moves into its next stage of progress in Dubai after a successful engagement in the Dubai Future Accelerators, which culminated in a presentation of Hyperloop One's value proposition to UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.