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March 2, 2014

February’s top stories: Bombardier’s $1bn contract, FCC rail franchise

Bombardier won a £1bn deal to supply trains for Crossrail project, FirstGroup received an extension for FCC rail franchise and Siemens introduced a new series of ICE 3 train, while CTA is set to begin Blue Line upgrade work. Railway-technology.com wraps up key headlines from February 2014.

Bomb

Bombardier wins £1bn deal to supply trains for Crossrail

Transport for London (TfL) and The Department for Transport (DfT) selected Bombardier Transportation to deliver new rolling stock and a new depot for the Crossrail project.

The £1bn deal, which is yet to be awarded to Bombardier, will include supply of 65 new Aventra trains, deliver maintenance services and construction of a depot at Old Oak Common.

Bombardier Transportation UK managing director Dr Francis Paonessa said: "This is a resounding endorsement of our proposed Bombardier Aventra train for Crossrail, which has proudly been designed and developed in the UK as an iconic and world-technology leading train for London."

FirstGroup received extension for FCC rail franchise

British transport operator FirstGroup reached an agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT) to operate the First Capital Connect (FCC) rail franchise for a further six months.

The existing FCC rail franchise is scheduled to end on 31 March.

The new contract will cover services between London, Bedford, Brighton and Kings Lynn and will bridge the gap between the existing contract and the new Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern (TSGN) franchise, which is due to begin in September.

European Parliament MEPs backed railway amendments

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favour of the amendments to the fourth railway package, aimed to improve the quality of passenger rail services, as well as reducing fragmentation of the internal market.

The fourth railway package was presented by the European Commission (EC) in January to contribute to the competitiveness of the rail sector.

Under the drafted rules, national authorities that currently award rail service contracts to a single operator will have to put them out to tender, in a move to provide all operators with access to rail infrastructure.

US DOT issued mandatory rail crude oil tests

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) released an emergency order, or safety advisory, making rail crude oil tests mandatory for all shippers from the Bakken, a region stretching through North Dakota and Montana, US.

The DOT’s emergency order is intended to ensure transport of properly classified crude oil by rail and reduce risks. It also seeks to restrict shipping of crude oil in the lowest-strength packing group.

All Class III crude oil shipments must be designated as packing group I or II, and transport of a lower risk designation. Packing group III will be restricted until further notice.

The order is the fourth in the last seven months and serves as a response to recent derailments that involved transport of crude oil by trains from the Bakken region.

Siemens introduced new series of ICE 3 train

Siemens

Siemens introduced its new eight-car Series 407 ICE 3 train that can run at a top speed of up to 300km an hour in Germany.

Based on Siemens’ Velaro platform, the new trains can accommodate 444 passengers, including 111 in first class.

Siemens will deliver a total of 17 trains to Deutsche Bahn (DB). So far, DB has received four ICE trains, with four additional trains due by the end of March 2014.

Britain launched £600m Northern Hub rail upgrade

The £600m Northern Hub project, which includes upgrades to the railway in the North of England, was launched by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne when he flagged off the £20m platform upgrade at Manchester Airport station.

The project is expected to create up to 20,000 new jobs, and is estimated to generate £4bn for the northern region while offering long-term benefits to passengers by enhancing capacity and reducing journey times.

As part of the project, existing railway network in the North of England will be electrified, while major renovations will be made to the network in and around Manchester.

BNSF Railway to spend $2.3bn on core network in 2014

BNSF

BNSF Railway has agreed to spend $2.3bn on its core network and related assets, and about $1.6bn on locomotive, freight car and other equipment acquisitions in 2014, as part of its $5bn capital commitment plan.

The North American freight transportation provider will also spend about $200m to install positive train control (PTC), and over $900m for terminal, line and intermodal expansion and efficiency projects in the Northern Corridor.

BNSF Railway currently operates on 32,500 route-miles of track in 28 US states and two Canadian provinces. It reported that the current year capital spending will be $1bn more than it spent last year.

CTA to begin Blue Line upgrade work in March

CTA

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is set to begin the first project for the $492m Your New Blue improvement programme for the Blue Line O’Hare branch in March 2014.

The move is in line with CTA’s strategy to provide faster, smoother commutes and improved stations along the Blue Line O’Hare Branch.

Funded by several local, state and federal sources, including $86m from Governor Pat Quinn’s Jump Start programme, Your New Blue is a part of more than $4bn transit improvements announced by mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011.

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