JICA offers $1.53bn loan for Philippine rail project

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) agreed to provide a JPY167.199bn ($1.53bn) loan for a rail project in Metropolitan Manila, the Philippines.

The agency signed an agreement with the Government of the Philippines to provide an official development assistance (ODA) loan for the North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project.

Co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the extension project is expected to improve urban transportation and reduce air pollution in and around Manila.

Wabtec completes $11bn merger with GE Transportation

Wabtec completed its $11bn merger deal with GE Transportation to become a major player in rail equipment, transportation and associated services.

The merger combined Wabtec’s freight, locomotive, transit vehicle manufacturing and electronics products portfolio with GE Transportation’s solutions for various industry verticals.

Wabtec president and CEO Raymond T Betler said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring together nearly four centuries of collective experience to create a technologically advanced leader with a highly complementary set of capabilities to move and improve the world.”

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Network Rail to invest £42bn in infrastructure to boost performance

The UK’s Network Rail unveiled plans to invest more than £42bn to upgrade trains, tracks and stations to boost reliability and improve rail performance.

Network Rail is working closely with train operating companies and make investments in the areas that matter most to passengers and freight users.

Network Rail said that the funding will be provided over five years. Control period 6 (CP6) began on 1 April and will continue until 2024.

Cambodia and Thailand resume rail services after 45 years

Cambodia and Thailand revived a cross-border railway link 45 years after its closure to cut travel times and encourage trade between the countries.

It was inaugurated by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The rail link connects Poipet town railway station in Cambodia with Ban Khlong Luek railway station in Thailand’s Aranyaprathet district.

First phase of ION Light Rail Transit in Ontario becomes operational

The first phase of the ION Light Rail Transit (LRT) in the Canadian province of Ontario began commercial operations.

The 16km light-rail line was implemented by GrandLinq Consortium under a contract awarded in May 2014. The consortium comprises Plenary, Meridiam, Kiewit, Aecon and Keolis local subsidiary Keolis Grand River.

Keolis Grand River will operate the line for the next ten years and will be responsible for maintenance for 30 years.

India allocates $9.62bn for railways in union budget

Indian Railways received a budgetary allocation of Rs658.37bn ($9.62bn) in the union budget this fiscal year, compared to Rs550.88bn ($8.05bn) last year.

In her maiden budget speech, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a capital expenditure outlay of Rs1.6tn ($23.4bn) for railways, the highest ever for the sector.

The outlay figure included the annual budgetary allocation, as well as funds from the Nirbhaya Fund, Internal Resources and the Extra Budgetary Resources.

The Italian Senate approved the long-contested transalpine high-speed rail link with France, which is opposed by one of the ruling coalition partners.

The Senate rejected a motion brought by the opposing 5-Star Movement, deepening its rift with the other coalition partner, the League, which supports the construction of the rail line.

According to a Reuters report, the motion was rejected by 181 votes to 110. Subsequently, another motion, brought by the opposition Democratic Party to support the project, was passed 180 to 109 in favour.

Indonesia and Japan sign deal for $4.3bn Jakarta-Surabaya rail project

Indonesia signed a project agreement with Japan for the medium-speed train project to link its two largest cities, Jakarta and Surabaya.

The deal for the construction of the 715km railway project was signed by the Government of Indonesia and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which commenced a conducting preparatory survey in June.

The project, which incorporates some existing tracks, is expected double the present speed of the existing train to 160kph.

Nigeria awards $3.9bn Abuja-Lokoja rail line contract to CRCC

The Nigerian Federal Government awarded a $3.9bn public-private partnership contract for the new Abuja-Itakpe-Lokoja rail line to China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).

Passing through Baro, the rail line will have a branch line to the Kogi State capital Lokoja.

As per the agreement, the Chinese firm will also construct a seaport at Warri.

Crossrail suffers new delay to 2021 and rise in costs to £18bn

Londoners will have to wait until 2021 for the opening of Crossrail, a project that is now estimated to cost more than £18bn, up £2.35bn compared to the original £15.9bn budget, Transport for London (TfL) revealed.

In a statement announcing the delay, TfL said that more time is required to develop signalling software and to get safety approvals for the railway, hence the need to postpone the opening.

Crossrail, designed to connect Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf from east to west across London, is the UK’s biggest infrastructure project in decades and was originally due to open in December 2018.