Future Rail: Issue 21 | December 2014

San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system currently runs the oldest big-city fleet in the US, with much of its rolling stock having been in operation since 1972, but the network is set to enter the 21st century with 1,000 new and improved railcars rolling out over the next three years. We take a look at the Bombardier-built ‘fleet of the future’. We also check in on progress of the first fully automated network in the US, a 20-mile light rail network being developed for the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu.

Meanwhile in France, SNCF reported a 74% drop in net profit for the first half of 2014, blaming disruptions caused by strikes in early summer, but business is going well abroad. We investigate how these results could affect the French operator’s future investment strategy at home and abroad. We also find out how a technology known as StreetMapper has been used to map large parts of the French rail network to provide more accurate data for maintenance tasks.

As commuter services to and from London get ever more overcrowded, with some trains carrying nearly double their intended capacity, we explore potential solutions for the capital’s transport crisis. And, with Network Rail having being reclassified as a public sector body and made subject to the Freedom of Information Act, we find out how the UK operator is preparing for being more transparent and open to public scrutiny in the future.

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In this issue

Changing Track
SNCF reported a 74% drop in net profit for the first half of 2014 due to strikes in France but its foreign business is booming. Ross Davies asks, could the current political climate force the French company to focus on investments further afield?
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Saving the London Commuter
As overcrowding on London’s rail network increases and new capacity projects are slow to catch up, Chris Lo asks Guy Dangerfield of watchdog Passenger Focus how this key component of the UK capital’s brewing transport crisis can be tackled
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Inside the HART of Honolulu
A new light rail network in Hawaii’s capital city is also set to become the first fully automated railway in the US. Ross Davies asks, will US mainland metropolises follow suit in going driverless?
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Fleet of the Future
San Francisco’s transit operator is overhauling its rolling stock for the first time since it launched in 1972. Abi Millar explores how the new railcars are being designed and what role passenger feedback is playing in the process
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Totally Connected
As the role of automation and smart data grows, we piece together the world’s most connected train from the latest innovations in communications, autonomy and security
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Putting France’s Tracks on the Map
Hundreds of kilometres of the French railway network have been surveyed using a 3D laser mapping system developed by FIT ESIC. Frances Marcellin finds how data is captured and what benefits the project brings to safety and maintenance
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Cards on the Table
With Network Rail set to be covered by the Freedom of Information Act, Matt Burgess asks Justice Minister Simon Hughes and Network Rail’s Mark Farrow how this will leave the operator more open to public scrutiny
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Next issue preview

With High Speed 2 still in the planning stages, the UK Government has already proposed the next leg of the country’s high-speed journey – but given the controversy caused by HS2, is it too early to think of HS3? We review the proposal and lessons learned from planning HS2.

We also take a look at Mexico’s vision of a cross-border high-speed line into Texas and explore China’s involvement in various major rail projects in Africa.

Moreover, we find out how Cisco’s ‘Connected Transport Challenge’ programme is encouraging new technical, operational and commercial models for future stations, investigate the economics of ever-increasing rail fares and talk to Cranfield University about its world-first MSc in safety and accident investigation for rail transport.

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