UK Government published HS2 hybrid bill

The UK Government published a hybrid bill that included the powers necessary to construct and operate phase one of High-Speed 2 (HS2) railway line between London and the West Midlands.

HS2 will connect eight of the ten major cities in the UK and will particularly benefit the midlands and the north.

Construction of the line from London to Birmingham is expected to begin between 2016 and 2017, with the line estimated to be operational in 2026. The new line is vital to relieve capacity requirements on the other main rail routes into London.

Crossrail project completed first train tunnel


London’s £14.8bn Crossrail project unveiled its first train tunnel, marking a key milestone in modernising the transport network in the city.

Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander, infrastructure minister Lord Deighton and deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring gained a glimpse of how the tunnel will look when it opens in 2018.

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In addition, they helped enclose a time capsule in the remaining section of ‘Phyllis’, Crossrail’s first tunnelling machine. Phyllis bored 6.8km between Royal Oak and Farringdon stations in an 18-month period.

Queensland to build world’s first bus and train tunnel


The Queensland Government in Australia announced the $5bn Underground Bus and Train (UBAT) project in Brisbane.

In a reputed world-first, the project will have a 5.4km-long, 15m-wide double-decked tunnel underneath the Brisbane River to carry both rail and road traffic; two train lines will run in the lower section and two busway lanes in the upper.

The tunnel will be built 35-45m underground and will be dug with the largest bore ever used in the country.

China opened world’s longest high-speed railway line

China opened a 2,298km high-speed rail line, the longest in the world, connecting Beijing to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.

The new service will run at speeds of over 300km/h, reducing travel times between the two cities from 20 hours to eight hours.

With a design speed of 350km/h, the high-speed route has 35 stops connecting 28 cities, including five provincial capitals.

MTR introduced new ultrasonic testing vehicle

Rail Detective

Hong Kong’s MTR introduced a new ultrasonic testing vehicle (UTV), the Rail Detective, which can reduce track inspection time by half and identify small changes to rail conditions or the budding of a crack.

The new HK$46m ($5.8m) vehicle will be operated at night on the MTR network after other trains have stopped service, joining the two existing UTVs currently serving on the 211km MTR network.

The new UTV is designed to run at a top speed of 35km/h and will be able to check the complete Kwun Tong Line in one overnight period of three hours, while the older UTVs take two nights to complete the same work.

PHX Sky Train opened at Phoenix airport

Sky Train

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, US, opened the $1.58bn automated, inter-terminal train system, PHX Sky Train.

Designed by HOK and Gannett Fleming, the airport rail link connects Phoenix Sky Harbor passengers between Terminal 4, the East Economy parking area and the Metro light rail station at 44th Street and Washington in Phoenix.

The 2.7km double-track elevated guideway crosses an active taxiway at a height of 30m, with enough clearance for a Boeing 747 aircraft to pass underneath.

Turkish State Railways opened Marmaray rail tunnel

Marmaray Tunnel

The 13km-long Marmaray rail tunnel in Istanbul was opened by the Turkish State Railways for revenue services, which links rapid transit lines between Asia and Europe.

The new $4bn rail tunnel, which commenced work in 2005, runs almost 200ft below the Bosporus seabed and is claimed to be one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects in the world.

The new underwater railway tunnel will now allow trains to operate at intervals of two minutes and transport up to 75,000 passengers per hour, easing traffic congestion and environmental impact in the city.

Panama Metro Line 1 neared completion

Panama Metro

Spanish infrastructure company FCC announced that the $1.8bn Panama Metro Line 1, Central America’s first metro and the ninth in Latin America, was over 90% complete.

A consortium comprising FCC, Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and Alstom, revealed that dynamic testing is currently underway along the 14km route.

The dynamic testing allows the examination of all operational components concerning the circulation of the vehicles.

Bombardier unveiled first Omneo double-deck train


Bombardier Transportation unveiled its first Omneo double-deck train, the latest addition to the company’s double-deck EMU range, at its site in Crespin, northern France.

The new train, named Regio 2N by the French regions, is wider than conventional electric multiple units (EMUs) for increased onboard space, maximum seating and large access platforms with two wide doors.

The new Regio 2N vehicle is available in several configurations, from six to ten cars, with a total length of between 81m and 135m, and has capacity to travel at speeds between 160kmph and 200kmph.

European rail closer to silent braking technology

silent brakes

A two-year study carried out by the International Union of Railways (UIC) and supported by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) showed that usage of composite brake blocks can reduce the noise caused by train brakes.

The EuropeTrain project, undertaken with the participation of 27 railway operators and eight railway manufacturers, delivered its results after successfully testing the LL brake blocks.

During the programme, a test freight train made up of 30 representative freight wagons from a number of European rail freight undertakings, was equipped with LL-type composite brake blocks and operated over 200,000km across Europe.